Top Chef Recap

By David Mumpower

November 13, 2013

Wait, vegetables are supposed to have colors?

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Previously on Top Chef, Lea Michele threw a Halloween party somewhere around the 4th of July. I’m sure it made sense at the time. The contestants were informed that the Glee star loved cheese more than Don’t Stop Believin’, and so a bunch of them chose to make arancini. Just to be clear, those are fried rice balls covered in breadcrumbs. The actress tried to put a positive spin on the proceedings. The judges were less kind.

New Orleans is host to innumerable legendary Halloween galas. The mid-summer celebration hosted by Ms. Michele will not be remembered as such. The guests clearly relished breaking out their costumes during beach season. Other than that, the meals were a total bust. Half a dozen chefs legitimately could have been eliminated for their cuisine.

The worst remaining chef, Michael, took the fall for all of them, which was a source of relief to his challenge partner, Nina. I suspect that Michael’s heart has been broken repeatedly this season as he has watched the snide remarks about his personality, many of them coming from Nina herself. Undeniably one of the best chefs this season, Nina almost allowed her dislike of Michael to torpedo her own candidacy. The judges strongly considered eliminating her for poor teamwork instead of (or possibly in addition to) Michael. They would have been justified to do so; however,the viewers are the winner due to the display of mercy by Tom and Padma. Nina can win this season, and the antipathy she felt toward Michael should not cost her that opportunity, even if it was decidedly immature.


At the start of this episode, Nina is unapologetic about her behavior. She confides to Stephanie that she said (at least in her imagination), “Michael, suck my dick.” I…did not know that about her(?). She adds during a confessional, “I’m sorry, Boo Boo. You’re a douche.” Even when Michael is gone (and he lost at Last Chance Kitchen as well), Nina is still assailing his character. I hope for his sake that his cable went out before the episode aired. Yes, he was annoying, but Nina is behaving like she is in act one of a romantic comedy. That’s right, Michael. I’m saying you’ve got a chance!

Carlos, one of my favorite players this season, takes this opportunity to recount some of his life history. When he immigrated to the United States, the Mexican native lacked the money required to enter a high profile culinary institution. In his own words, he needed money so he worked for free a lot. Get that man a financial advisor. Anyway, the strategy has worked because he is a bona fide stud in the kitchen. And Lea Michele seemed to find him studly in other ways as well.

Rockabilly hipster Sara is glum the morning after elimination. In her mind’s eye, the start of the season had played out much differently. Instead of being the dominant player from day one, she has struggled to differentiate herself from the rest of the pack. In fact, she is closer to the bottom of the group than the top thus far. She is also homesick for boyfriend/best friend, and she tears up mentioning his absence in her life.

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