Top Chef Recap

By David Mumpower

December 10, 2013

We are guessing that Padma and her are not Facebook friends.

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Previously on Top Chef, Brian confirmed his long held suspicion. His was the hippest tang in the competition. Conversely, Carrie disappointed the legendary Dr. John. As he lamented the quality of her work, Carrie laughed at the complaint that her hot sauce was too hot. On the plus side, she can honestly state on her OK Cupid bio that she has been described as “Trinidad-ily hot” on national television. Of course, the brutal reality for all of these chefs is that their tang is nowhere near as hip as mine. NASA wants to bottle my hip tang and ship up to the International Space Station.

Also, Louis was eliminated from the competition for crafting popcorn. Apparently, the judges expect more from the contestants than something that can be stuck in a microwave by an eight-year-old. Louis did attain revenge when he stopped Janine’s streak of ending Top Chef careers during Last Chance Kitchen. Also, he stated that he made more friends on the show than he had in the last several years of his life. Louis clearly got a lot out of his Top Chef tenure, and he came across as a wonderful man to boot. Every reality show contestant should be so lucky.

Today’s episode begins with an interior shot of Philadelphia cream cheese. But wait! The shameless promotion doesn’t stop there. The camera pulls back to reveal that said cream cheese is stored in a GE Monogram refrigerator. We are only three seconds into the episode and I’m already annoyed. Be less whore-ish, Bravo.

The focus of the first segment is Carlos. He is riding high after his victory in the pig challenge, a win that proved Beavis and Butthead right. Tacos rule. Our ascending friend from Mexico feels pride as he mentions that his career has taken a different path of his counterparts. He is self-taught, which causes my wife’s eyes to light up. Almost reflexively, the Pixar fangirl shouts, “Anyone can cook!” I hope that Carlos sees the charm in these words rather than focuses on the manner in which she just compared his cooking to that of a rat. Seriously, how has there never been a Pixar challenge on Top Chef? You’re sleeping on the job, producers!

There is no other filler or fluff in this episode. At the one minute mark, the contestants are already dressed for business at the Top Chef kitchen. Padma informs them that there is no Quickfire challenge this week, and that can mean only one thing. It’s time for Restaurant Wars, baby!


You all know the drill by now but let me refresh your memories. Restaurant Wars is the Top Chef challenge that requires the players to split into two teams. They will be asked to start a pop-up restaurant in 24 hours. And the proceedings do not stop in the kitchen. Every aspect from design to plating to menu is the responsibility of the teams. From nothing, they must create something.

The primary dangers in Restaurant Wars are twofold. The first is that any chef who chooses or is asked to be Executive Chef immediately becomes imperiled. The person who accepts primary responsibility for the meals to be presented is the one held most accountable by the judges. There is tremendous glory in being the executive chef of a winning Restaurant Wars team. Losers of this particular challenge have oftentimes been among the most shocking victims of elimination in the history of Top Chef. Look no further than last season when the eventual winner, Kristen Kish, was voted out by the judges because one of her teammates, Josie, delivered a woeful performance. In football parlay, if someone asks for the ball, they better catch it. Anybody handling the role of Executive Chef who drops the ball is at best a coin flip to go home.

The other player whose candidacy is seriously jeopardized is the person who accepts the role of Front of the House. This person must handle all of the accommodations for the restaurant’s diners. In addition, they are responsible for a dish that they will not be cooking. Front of the House requires all of the focus so the player handling this task must trust their teammates to make their dish to a satisfactory level. This particular job on Top Chef is the equivalent of a high tension trust exercise. If the person falls backward and their teammates do not catch them, they can fall completely out of the competition. Stating the obvious, choosing to be one of the players other than Executive Chef or Front of the House is the safest move for anyone more interested in survival than glory.

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