Top Chef Episode 11 Recap: Tom, Nick Took My Oven…

Back to school. Back to school. To prove to Tom, that I’m no fool…

But first, Questlove. If you don’t already know, Questlove is the coolest person in the world. Seriously, the old man who doesn’t always drink (shit) beer has nothing on him. He let me judge a cooking competition once, and everybody says that this famous guy or that famous gal is super humble and blah blah blah, but unless they’re talking about Questlove, they’re a bunch of filthy liars. And you shouldn’t lie around Christmas time, because lies make baby Jesus cry. It may also net you a lump of coal in your stocking.

See? That’s me right there. I’m not risking Santa’s wrath this close to the big day…

Anyhoo, the Quickfire is all about drumsticks (get it?) and the legs of poultry creatures great and small are laid out in front of the cheftestants. It’s first come, first pick and, like the opening of the Hunger Games, they all rush to the drumstick cornucopia. Shirley fakes takes a spill and our hero Nicholas helps her up. Instead of a thank you, she snatches the duck legs out of his nice guy hands like an old Chinese lady cutting in front of you at the East Broadway stop on the F train (if you’ve ever commuted in Manhattan, you know what I’m talking about), leaving him with quail. He fries them twice, serves them with a sesame sauce and rolls them in gomasio. It looks delicious, but it’s too salty for Questlove. Joining him at the bottom is Justin, whose chicken drumettes with smoked aioli, herb salad and sorghum vinaigrette wasn’t creative enough, and Carlos, who served goose leg with bone fragments. Delicious.

Up top, it’s Carrie’s squab, Nina’s jerked guinea hen, and Brian’s chicken soup. Yes, Brian made a soup for a drumstick challenge and it went over well. I’m just as surprised as you, but it’s actually Carrie who takes the immunity with her to college, which is where this week’s elimination takes place. The cheftestants must cook for 500 freshmen at LSU, and the winner gets a TOYOTA RAV4 (plus a bullshit tax bill for said RAV4).

Most of the chefs have never cooked for this many people, and they’re also in a cafeteria, so…drama. There’s hot stations and cold stations and a plancha and a lot of disagreements on who gets what. Carlos strongarms the plancha away from Shirley (perhaps a bit of karma for her NBA-style fall in the Quickfire?), so she settles for the wood burning oven. His stock slips a bit. Nicholas calls dibs on the ovens and doesn’t share with Carlos, who tattles on him. Carlos’s stock plummets.

With only 8 left, there are few missteps, even with the volume of cooking the cheftestants had to undertake, and although Carlos had time issues that he blamed on Dr. Elmi (snitch), he’s in the top 3 with stoner Brian and Shirley. Brian was smart about making a shrimp cake atop spinach with a chipotle aioli. Justin accused him of “cooking down” to the students, but his refusal to do so landed him on the bottom. The last of the top 3, Shirley, was also the best. Her roast beef with potato puree and fire roasted tomato relish won her the TOYOTA RAV4, despite giving up the plancha.

At the bottom along with Justin is Stephanie, who combined a bunch of cheeses that shouldn’t be combined (ever) into a soggy, lumpy and chunky grilled cheese sandwich, and Nina, who had some serious hand-blender issues that made her corn puree wet and gray. Neither of them, however, were stupid enough to be stubborn about what college kids should eat, and so it’s Justin who’s sent to the Last Chance Kitchen. Hopefully he loses there, too. I really don’t like that guy.

And what of our hero Nicholas? His roasted pork, parmesan grits and bacon brown sugar gravy kept him alive for next week’s crawfish Quickfire. Looks good, doesn’t it?

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