Top Chef Recap

By David Mumpower

January 21, 2014

This is something I'm planning to throw at Tom's head.

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Previously on Top Chef, my favorite player this season and possibly ever was eliminated for being exceptional during an Elimination challenge. The person in question is of course Stephanie and if you follow Top Chef at all, you know all the sordid details by now. Stephanie was part of a three player team that also included Nick, who had immunity. Nick also failed completely in the challenge. Since he could not be voted out of the winner’s bracket, the judges determined that Stephanie was slightly less wonderful than her partner Shirley.

As I stated during last week’s Power Rankings, I was initially quite irritated with Nick, as was most of the social media realm. Upon reflection, I appreciated the fact that nobody on Survivor is ever asked to give up immunity because they have done something wrong. Okay, it did happen one time but that kid was an idiot who made ice cream for a living. And he was manipulated by a sultry woman. The point I am no longer making is that if a game provides immunity, the player who earns it should not be asked to give it back.

Instead, the flaw with last week’s challenge was simple. A group of six people should not be divided into teams. That goes quadruple if immunity is up for grabs. The producers of Top Chef, people who consistently provide one of the best programs on television, made a rare mistake. I do not want to belabor the point because that would cause me to ignore the regular excellence of their work. Instead, what I will note is that Nick earned further advancement into the game.


Stephanie should not have been voted out, but I am confident that she will be invited to return during a future season. She has already “won” this year because she is a popular player who redeemed herself as a chef. The fact that she will not be able to claim the title of Top Chef is unfortunate; still, Louis beat her fair and square in Last Chance Kitchen. Ergo, she clearly was not the best player this year. With another couple of years of experience, the sky is the limit for her.

As one would expect, the mood is somber at the beginning of the episode. Shirley is sobbing uncontrollably. Nick’s expression is grim. Throughout the season, he has described Stephanie as his younger sister. I am not being the least bit melodramatic when I say that Nick has SACRIFICED HIS KID SISTER TO THE GODS OF TOP CHEF!!! OH, THE HUMANITY!

After Nick has been castigated to the satisfaction of the Twitterverse, we cut to the Quickfire challenge. Roy Choi makes a return appearance. You may remember him from last season’s final few episodes wherein he confided that Emeril Lagasse changed his life. It was a heartwarming story that resonates with me to this day. Alas, Roy Choi will not enjoy his latest visit to Top Chef Kitchen nearly as much.

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