Top Chef Episode 9 Recap: Literature-To-Table Cooking

Finally, a Quickfire Challenge for the rest of us. Let’s make some goddamn sausage! For a football player! Because why not!

Gronkowski’s in the Top Chef kitchen this week because he’s probably hurt and is also purported to be a foodie, er, gourmand. Gronk simply says, “I love my foods, and I need a big sausage,” then there’s some weird sexual tension between him and Padma before the chefs get down to the business of sausage-making. The New England tight end is great on the field, but his camera skills are worse than the Eagles secondary.

There’s a whole bunch of foreshadowing with viewers’ choice Katsuji, including a picture of him boiling his daughter and another of him in hockey gear. This clues us into the fact that he’s potentially a cannibal and, like me and Scott Gomez, is one of the few Mexicans who play hockey. It also means he’ll probably be packing his knives this week, but more on that later.

The sausage fest ends with Skrillex and Hipster Urkel at the bottom, one for making a small sausage, and the other for making a sausage that was too spicy. At the top, li’l guy Doug continues to be the one to beat with a giant sausage (per Gronk’s directions), but it’s Kapnos who wins despite struggling to make links, defaulting to patties, and even telling Gronkowski that he hates the Patriots. You gotta admire the testicular fortitude, but more than the sausage itself, it seemed like Gronk was more impressed with the general breakfast-ness of the dish. Kapnos walks away from the Quickfire with immunity. Yup, not scripted!

With Cheers, the American Revolution, the Red Sox, and now the Patriots all used up, the producers now turn to literary works influenced by New England for this week’s Elimination Challenge. Each cheftestant must create a dish inspired by such greats as Stephen King, Emily Dickinson, and Henry David Thoreau. Tony Maws will be judging how well the dishes translate from book to plate. Francis Lam will also be at the table. I will be at home in sweatpants. Stage set.

This challenge is a stretch and, obviously, the best Bravo could do this late in the season, but they equip the cheftestants with some Cliff’s notes about each book/author so nobody winds up looking too stupid. Along with King, Dickinson, and Thoreau, Poe, Seuss, and Hawthorne are in the mix. Mei picks Thoreau and makes a vegetarian dish that puts her on the top along with Skrillex (for the first time in a while, if at all), and Doug (this guy’s on fire). All three were clear winners, but Mei’s translation of the book was most spot-on and she takes the top spot.

The losers are a bit harder to determine. As vague and difficult as this challenge was, the cheftestants all managed to execute well. Some of the translations just missed the mark. Hipster Urkel’s plate didn’t really quoth the raven, but it wasn’t “nevermore” for him (see what I did there?). Katsuji, on the other hand, followed instructions perhaps too literally, and his mess of a plate–meant to represent Stephen King’s “Carrie”–was unappetizing enough to send him packing.

Honestly, I thought it a bit dickish of the judges to tell him, “Boy, we didn’t think you’d make it this far,” but it’s not like we weren’t all thinking it. Still, he was fun to have around for so long. Let’s hope the rest of the season isn’t as boring as we’re thinking it might be without him.

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