Top Chef Recap

By Jason Lee

February 5, 2009

I would rule on Top Scallop.

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Is Leah a decendant from Houdini or something? Does she headline as an escape artist on the side? Does she have her own Vegas show? If not, then she sure could have fooled me. I'm not sure why she's still around on this show.

Granted, in the early episodes I thought that she had talent and pluck, but lately, it just feels like she's been going through the motions, haphazardly cooking bad-to-worse food while passively watching more talented chefs go home. I can't explain it. How does she stay around in this competition? Did the Supreme Court give her all the electoral votes from Florida or something?

The show opens with Stefan and Fabio complaining about their time in the Bottom 3 last week - it was the first time for either chef to be on the bottom and they each swear to cook better food the next time around. Fabio, in particular, seems driven - saying that he wants to win the title for his wife. Uh oh, that's a bad sign. Anytime Top Chef contestants start thinking about their loved ones back home, it turns out to inevitably be a distraction and they're typically sent packing in an episode or two.

Someone who's not feeling the blues is Carla, who thinks that she's being underestimated by the other chefs and wants to take her momentum from the last challenge and use it to propel her into the final four.


The chefs enter the kitchen for the Quickfire Challenge and they see frequent Guest Judge on Top Chef, Eric Ripert. We learn something that we hadn't known about him, though: apparently his forte as a chef is cooking seafood. This makes Hosea nervous, as he cooks in a seafood restaurant and is feeling some pressure to deliver something great.

The Quickfire is a good one: test their precision and speed via a three-round Fish Filet tournament. For Round 1, they will have five minutes to filet two whole sardines using a sardine that Eric had done himself as a model. Carla is not happy, seeing as how the sardines are itty-bitty little rascals.

Sure enough, she doesn't do well. In fact, she does so badly that she has to use all the charm at her disposal to disarm Eric and ask that he move onto the next contestant's fish without actually judging hers.

"Girl," she says to Padma but also addressing Eric," it was just so small and my hand was shaking. You don't have to say what it looks like, just make my life easier, hun." She ushers them along, not wanting to spend a minute discussing her fish.

As for the other contestants, Leah does great, Stefan's is not half-bad, Jaime looks like she used a chainsaw to butcher hers, Hosea is pretty good but Fabio's super clean, super smooth looking fish blows the competition away. As expected, Jaime and Carla get eliminated and the remaining four go onto the next round where they find an arctic char waiting for them. They have five minutes to filet the damn thing.

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