Top Chef Episode 4 Recap: Cooking Your Way In The World Today Takes Everything You Got…


Okay, I take it back. Grissom’s not gonna sleep with Keriann. He’s gonna sleep with Katsuji. Hate turns into love faster than you can burn bacon, or so I’m told. I’m a marginal cook at best, certainly nowhere near this crop of cheftestants, who get to cook at Cheers for this week’s quickfire. Doug, the little guy, thinks that one of the most highly rated sitcoms in the history of sitcoms was based in Chicago because people had moustaches (is he confusing Ted Danson with Tom Selleck?). At the risk of aging myself, this—along with their sense of entitlement and their general being younger than me-ness—is what’s wrong with millenials.

In any event, Norm himself, George Wendt, is here to judge the Quickfire. The cheftestants must prepare a tasty bar snack for him and Padma while they get to kick back and drink Sam Adams (presumably, it being Boston and all). The cheftestants embrace the challenge, because who doesn’t want to cook artery clogging food for George Wendt? I mean, that motherfucker’s the Norm from Cheers. It’s a lot of fried this and wings that until poor Swayze Tattoo drops a crudité and completely misses the mark. Then Gregory, the guy who’s supposed to win while everyone else just stands by their dish, loses the buns and toppings on his burger. Tell me this shit isn’t scripted. He winds up on the bottom with James, whose mistake wasn’t execution, but serving PICKLED CARROTS AND RED BEAN PUREE AS A BAR SNACK.

On the top is Katsuji, who served a ceviche tostasda, and Keriann, who served crabmeat in an onion ring (seafood wins challenges). Although I wouldn’t consider ceviche to be a bar snack, even atop a tostada, George Wendt was pumped about the flavors, and our talkative Mexican friend wins the challenge and immunity.

Next up is the Elimination, presided over by Michael Schlow. The cheftestants will team up to serve a classic three course Italian dinner of antipasti, pasta, and secondi in his restaurant, and the menu that is ordered the most wins. In addition to executing the food properly, our young cooks must choose their words wisely in order to sell dishes. Expressions such as “we cooked this shit in a microwave” aren’t going to fly. They also need to make good food, which, in my worthless opinion, is secondary to a team of cheftestants presenting a “giant ribeye steak” versus “cold seafood salad.” You might eat with your eyes first, but you’ve got to sell it with the description.

The cheftestants get to pick their own teams, and in totally unscripted Bravo TV fashion, the people that hate each other wind up on the same team. There’s also a team where one person (Swayze Tattoo) decides against pushing his own agenda for the good of the team. You know this isn’t going to pan out well. And of course, it doesn’t.

There’s been multiple mentions of Swayze Tattoo putting out food from bygone eras, but you can’t blame him for living outside a major metropolitan area. For arguments’ sake, I didn’t know New Balance sneakers were cool until I was 20 years old, and some of my friends from Salt Lake City still refuse to wear ankle socks. In any event, he’s on the bottom for being too agreeable, along with Boston, who overcooked her vegetables, and Rebecca, whose dish was utterly forgettable, just like her, and she’s sent packing along with Swayze Tattoo.

I would have liked to see him go a bit farther. He seemed like a nice guy and a good cook. But the girl from Chicago? Whatever. I’d rather have George Wendt in the Top Chef kitchen.

Not surprisingly, the teams with the most friction wind up selling the most food, even though Katsuji’s dish was universally disliked by the judges. If it weren’t for immunity, he probably would have been sent packing.

Oh yeah, and the bitter little white thug from Washington state won. He could be a dark horse, although much like Matt Damon’ character in School Ties, he’ll always be a prick.

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