Top Chef Episode 5 Recap: War Is The Answer


We’re getting close to the halfway point, folks, and it’s anybody’s game.

And by “anybody,” I mean Hipster Urkel or Voltaggio’s protégé, Mei. Everybody else will slowly be picked off the Top Chef vine like so many sour grapes.

This week, Jamie Bissonette is judging. He’s part of that whole “probably was in a hardcore band and became a chef instead of going emo” camp. Music’s not for everyone, but cooking is, and as a James Beard Award Winner, he’s definitely one of the greats. I’m just trying to figure out whether it will be Jonah Hill or Zach Galifianakis playing him in the upcoming biopic.

Anyhoo, this week’s theme is all about battling, brought to you by the folks over at Reynolds, whose products are only cutting edge because of the serrated metal thingy on the box. But…they are necessary in the kitchen, and the cheftestants must use them in a head-to-head dish battle. First person picks their opponent, and whoever’s picked selects the dish they will be cooking. Katsuji picks Grissom to “teech heen a layson,” while the rest of the field adopts the strategy of picking the weakest player until Mei and Gregory are left to see whose dumpling is better. Bissonette prefers Gregory’s (no surprise here), and he wins more money. He is this season’s Paul Qui. Everybody else is an also-ran. I did like Katsuji’s sake-infused chipotle broth with smoked jalapenos and smoked salmon, and Katie’s pine nut baked “beans” were creative, just not “Gregory-creative.”

Reminding us all that “Boston is historical as fuck,” the elimination is a second round of head-to-head battles, each representing a field of dead soldiers from the Revolutionary War. The Quickfire winners battle the Quickfire losers. The cheftestants can make whatever they want, but the budget is limited, so they need to keep things cheap. This means meatballs and soups and another tostada from Katsuji.

Stringy Facial Hair gets a lot of airtime this week, confirming that he’s definitely in this for a television career and not a cooking career (good for him). Aaron’s also front and center, and he uses the “shellfish as noodles” technique once again, this time with scallops. I’m pretty sure he’s got a giant poster of Jason Cichonski in his bedroom at home. In a “surprising” dramatic twist, his dashi somehow spills (by “somehow” I mean “the production assistant kicked it over”), but Mei comes to the rescue with some instant dashi packets. Yeah, this thing’s totally not scripted…

Katsuji dons a cowboy hat which makes no sense, but since Katsuji makes no sense, it makes a kind of sense. This makes me love him even more, probably as much as the cheftestants hate him. He battles Skrillex and wins because her soup was too thin. Doug and Adam (Stringy Facial Hair) have a rematch of the Quickfire, and Adam redeems himself with grits and a poached egg. But that doesn’t matter because I still don’t like him.

Grissom takes on Katie, who makes a dessert. Aaron thinks it’s a mistake, but it turns out to be the right choice, especially since the producers stole his dashi and his scallop noodles were nothing like the ones Jason Cichonski makes (single tear). Greg takes on Mei again, and Colicchio says his curry broth is perfect to the grain of salt. Seriously, everybody? Just go home now.

Keriann was another one who made a meatball, and between her meatballs and Boston’s terrible marinated beets, she drew the short straw. The Quickfire losers go 0-for-2 this week and lose again. All the way at the bottom, weighed down by the huge chip on his shoulder about not going to culinary school, is Aaron, our shit-talking white boy, and he’s bid adieu.

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