Top Chef Episode 3 Recap: Tea Ballin’


Sorry for the delay on this one, folks. I had a real tough time tracking down my “Sexy Bowl of Ramen” Halloween costume for my weekend’s festivities. But enough about my First World struggles–let’s get to the topic of today’s discussion: this season’s class of hopeful young (and one bitter old) cheftestants.

Episode 3 begins with some residual bickering between Keriann and Grissom. Turns out Grissom has an 8 Mile story about his childhood and that’s why he acts like an adult-sized baby and secretly loves Keriann. These two are definitely going to sleep together before the season’s over. It’s only a question of when…

The Quickfire this week is a Sudden Death Quickfire, and it’s up to Ming Tsai to decide who could potentially go home. The task at hand is to create a dish using tea (Boston Tea Party, get it?), and the cheftestants aren’t limited to Darjeeling. It doesn’t seem like a challenge for most of the cheftestants, but our bitter young chef overcooks his monkfish, and both Utterly Forgettable Girl from Chicago and Swayze Tattoo fail to highlight the tea in their dishes. On the winning end, Fat Harry Potter and Melissa impressed Ming with duck, so either they both did a great job with the tea challenge, or Ming Tsai just really likes duck.

The third person at the top–and the one to take the Quickfire win and immunity–is Hipster Urkel. This is the second consecutive win for him, so he sits back and relaxes while 8 Mile has to cook his way out of elimination. We’re all surprised when he picks Katie instead of Keriann after all the shit-talking, but it turns out to be the right choice, and he squeaks by with the Cichonski technique of using seafood to make a “noodle” for his shrimp spring roll (it was more of a summer roll) to the chagrin of the rest of the cheftestants.

And then, to Fenway for a fancy ball park food challenge! Top Chef Boston is soooo Boston.

In addition to Ming Tsai, sports writer Dan Shaughnessy and baseball Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley will be dining with the judges. I bet Dennis Eckersley makes a mean paella. The cheftestants start with their choice of popcorn, pretzels, peanuts, or fried dough and must elevate it into something worthy of a white tablecloth meal under the Green Monstah. The girl from Boston who keeps mentioning she’s from Boston is over the moon with this challenge. Adam continues to be terrible and claims that he “bleeds pinstripes.” You can bleed a lot of things, Adam, but pinstripes aren’t one of them. I’m also pretty sure he’s lying about being a Yankee fan.

Because it’s baseball and we’re all American, each of the cheftestants gets to tell their own baseball story. The Best New Person Who Cooked for a Couple People That One Time (Keriann) grew up with baseball. Fat Harry Potter tries to take his kid to a game every now and again. And so on.

It’s all very nostalgic and even downright sad in some cases. Cue the breakdowns. Katie’s plan was to make a popcorn crème brulee, but it didn’t set and she shifted gears with a popcorn mousse atop a blue cornmeal shortbread cookie. She loses her shit in front of the judges, all of whom kind of look around uncomfortably and then break the good news to her that the audible was a success. Good for her. The other two in her group, Fat Harry Potter and Grissom, had much less success. Poor Fat Harry Potter took the challenge too literal and shaped his food like a baseball. It was too big and too heavy for the judges, and he lands in the bottom three.

The next group is Doug, Katsuji, and Best New Young Chef Between the Ages of 22 and 23 at the Time of Publication. Doug is the only one who executes properly. Katsuji overcomplicates things again, and Keriann doesn’t know how to cook shortribs. After them, it’s Boston, Mei, and Skrillex. It’s pretty obvious Ming Tsai has a crush on Skrillex, although her corn & ramp soup with fried calamari and bacon popcorn did look slamming. The judges like her dish and Boston’s scallop with pickled peanuts, which begs the question, “Is there such thing as a bad scallop?” Mei, on the other hand, overcooked her pork chop.

The final group is Swayze Tattoo, the girl from Chicago (what’s her name again?), Adam, and Gregory. Swayze Tattoo’s lobster cake was too mushy, Chicago’s dish was elegant, Adam overcooks his fish (and blames the curse of the Bambino), and we might as well just end the season now and give it to Gregory, whose duck with nam prik pao was perfection in the judges’ eyes. He wins the challenge (that’s three in a row), beating Katie’s happy accident and Skrillex’s simple soup.

Fat Harry Potter shares the bottom with Katsuji and Keriann. He suffered from portion control, while the other two failed to cook their meat properly. Based on appearance alone, I’d cut Ron, and the judges agree with me. He’s sent packing and the other two are warned to step up their game. They’re gonna have to if they want to compete with Hipster Urkel.

All Top Chef coverage [f8b8z]