Top Chef New Orleans Recap: Episode 4
By David Mumpower
October 30, 2013
Previously on Top Chef, Bret’s largely disappointing run ended. The currently unemployed Floridian finished in the bottom group in three consecutive elimination challenges. One of those was a Quickfire wherein he was explicitly instructed not to craft a Kale salad then he proceeded to create exactly that meal. He also ran afoul of Nicholas by discussing previously eliminated contestant Jason’s mistakes in front of his Philadelphia pal.
Simply stated, Bret never seemed confident or comfortable in this setting. While his elimination had to be disappointing, I doubt Bret will shed a lot of tears once his run in Last Chance Kitchen ends. He does not seem like someone who enjoys participating in Top Chef. A lot of great chefs on Top Chef Masters have behaved similarly. This format is not for everyone.
Tonight’s episode begins with a focus upon one of last week’s players who narrowly avoided elimination, Louis. As the other players console/congratulate him over the recent turn of events, the executive chef of Spoonbar (awesome name!) describes the shame and humiliation he feels whenever he loses. He somewhat casually mentions the first negative review he received, and notes that the emotion it stirred drove him to improve as a chef. I worry about how much focus Louis has received over the past two episodes, but I will note that many of the most triumphant chefs on Top Chef have shared similar characteristics. The ability to respect criticism and learn from it is a profound skill in any profession, particularly one that involves as much feedback as cooking.
Speaking of Nicholas, he calls his wife early in the episode. Her reaction is one of unbridled joy. An aspect of the competition that is rarely highlighted is that all of the players are required to uproot their lives as well as those of their families in order to take a run at glory. Joshua from last season had to leave a pregnant wife behind. Nicholas has abandoned his wife and children in the short term in order to attempt to make their lives better in the long run. Clearly, his wife is feeling the burden that comes from that combination of increased parental responsibility and isolation from one’s life partner. Nicholas is getting a winner’s edit thus far. On Top Chef, that doesn’t actually mean that he will win, but a deep run is usually in the offing for players who get the winner’s edit. As an example, Sheldon, Josh and Brooke were all recipients of the winner’s edit last season.
As likable as Nicholas is, Travis happens to be exactly the opposite. The brash 27-year-old is the one with the Asian dude fetish if you don’t recall. He is currently dating a Vietnamese man, and he has been to Vietnam. Ergo, he is a walking encyclopedia of Vietnamese lore, at least in his mind. His massive ego is the focus of the rest of the episode, because we are about to have a Vietnam challenge. Spoiler: he will not win. Second spoiler: he will not handle his defeat with grace. Travis is a know-it-all punk whose presence on Top Chef lessens the show this season. I will say that now so that you have no doubt how I feel the rest of the recap.