Top Chef Recap

By David Mumpower and Kim Hollis

July 14, 2010

They can't even get along in the picture.

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Previously on Top Chef...wait, does Jason do "previously on Top Chef?" Either way, we're slaves to convention, and this is the way we're comfortable doing it. What's important here is that your regular host, Jason Lee, is off performing at the world championships of his sport, which means that you're stuck with us until he comes back and shows off his gold medals. Note that this is not sarcasm. He is in fact a world-class athlete in a relatively unheralded but challenging event. Thus, you're stuck with us doing Top Chef recaps for the next couple of episodes. Conveniently, we like food enough that we eat it several times a day, so everything should work out all right.

Before we get started, we want to make one general comment about the current season of Top Chef. Obviously, the producers of the show would have been greatly challenged to assemble a similar level of talent to last season's final five contestants. Jen was one of the strongest contestants in the show's history, yet she was clearly outperformed by all three finalists - and there aren't enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe the abilities of the Voltaggio brothers. Rather than try and fail to live up to those standards, Top Chef: Washington, D.C. has instead been character driven, by which we mean that they've brought in a bunch of bitchy, dislikable egomaniacs desperate for any scrap of celebrity they can acquire through their Top Chef appearance. If you can't tell by our tone, we're less than enthusiastic about what is proving to be the Real Housechefs of Washington, D.C.

We start tonight's episode with Arnold, who is still celebrating the previous week's Elimination Challenge win. We were a little unsure about him at first, but we were impressed by the fact that he'd primarily been working the front of the house in his recent career, but managed a solid victory against some badass chefs like Kenny and Angelo.


Today's Quickfire Challenge is a great one. Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi have been breeding Top Chef: The Next Generation's hosts, with Tom having an eight-month-old and Padma's baby being three-months-old. They instruct the chefs to create an adult dish that will satisfy their palates, as well as a pureed baby version. Padma announces that the Quickfire is a high stakes challenge, with both Tom and Padma picking a winner that will get $10,000. At this point we see the difference between the various contestants. Arnold wants to help his charity, orphanages in Thailand that work with children infected with HIV. Alex wants to spend it on hookers and blow. Since money will awarded, there will be no immunity.

As the contestants describe their planned dishes, Kenny takes a moment to talk about himself on a more personal level. It's pretty clear that Top Chef is trying to make him the relatable everyman this season, and his cause is furthered when he talks about being a single father because he was widowed when his wife died in a car accident. We presume there will be a Lifetime Movie about it any day now.

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