Top Chef Episode 7 Recap: Nick Elmi? More Like Sick Elmi…


With a dozen chefs left, we can almost taste the inevitable failure of Restaurant Wars. But before the cheftestants can fight to the death over whose menu to fuck up, we’ve got a few more episodes to get through. And we start this week with our hero, Dr. Elmi, sidelined by what could potentially be strep throat. He’s not his usual almost-as-handsome-as-Cichonski self, and it’s not just the hoodie with the horizontal stripes. The doctor normally responsible for suturing knife accidents puts him on the bench for the Quickfire, and if he’s not better before the elimination challenge, he has to forfeit. But we all know Nick ain’t going out like that (he ain’t going out!!).


The rest of the chefs (of which Carlos and maybe the Asian stoner, Brian Huskey, are the only ones we care about anymore) are introduced to New Orleans jazz legend Kermit Ruffins, who stands in for the tape player in a game of musical chefs. This Quickfire entails multiple stations with different ingredients and cooking tools, and each chef must start at one and potentially finish at another. Only the trumpet knows. In 30 minutes, the rotation happens three times, and the results are surprisingly good. There are only two cheftestants on the bottom; Louis for ruining Stephanie’s frog legs dish, and Justin, who audibled with a too-simple tofu salad with bacon and cucumber.

At the top, Carlos rode Nina and Travis’ pan seared redfish to an almost-victory, but stoner Brian—who may have actually ruined the frog legs—made the best use of ingredients that were already cooked for him, and he gets immunity. I like the idea of this challenge, but the luck of the draw aspect kind of sucks. At least Brian recognizes that by thanking everyone else for the win.

Up next is the elimination, and since the producers are light on ideas this season, they default to a pot luck dinner team challenge. There’s no promotional consideration this week, so the chefs can make whatever they want so long as they understand what a pot luck dinner actually is (looking at you, Patty Vega).

Back at the house, Dr. Elmi appears to be getting better, and he makes the whole of Philadelphia proud by saying “jawn” not once, but twice on national television (fuck yeah, Nick!). Still, he needs a bit more time for recovery, so Kermit sends the rest of the cheftestants to Vaughan’s for some live music and dancing. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re white or because they’re chefs, but whatever movements they’re trying to pass off as dancing makes me sad (looking at you, Carrie Mashaney).

The next day, Nicholas is a new man, and like a bear fresh from hibernation ready to eat a river’s worth of salmon, he springs into action. In the kitchen, he does his best Jen Carroll impression and takes the lead on his team, prepping, directing, portioning. We like this. Stephanie thinks he’s on PEDs, but you can’t underestimate the power of a good night’s rest. As impressive as this is, he may have overextended himself. He also has bottom feeders Patty and Travis on his team, and since Brian’s like “whatever, I’ve got immunity,” the four of them are sent to Judges’ Table. We don’t like this.


Before they send someone packing, however, Colicchio and crew need to pick a winner, and surprise! Nina’s in the running because she made a gnocchi again. I suppose if it isn’t broke, there’s no need to fix it, but she ALWAYS makes gnocchi. It’s her own personal scallop. As good as it was, the judges preferred Stephanie’s fried baby artichoke with lemon and anchovy aioli. Not counting her compulsive scratch-off gambling addiction, it’s her first time winning something since her high school basketball coach gave her a made-up award for being “most improved player.”

Now back to the bad news. We’re all biting our nails because Nick’s fish was underseasoned compared to his team’s fried chicken and barbecue glazed ribs, but the missing heat in Patty’s watermelon and tomato salad was his salvation. Patty, who struggled up to this point, is finally sent packing (whew…).

Next week, Nina makes gnocchi again while the rest of the cheftestants struggle to break down a whole hog. And I’m pretty sure Padma gets drunk. You know, typical Top Chef stuff.

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