Top Chef Recap

By David Mumpower

January 28, 2014

He is making an authentic New Orleans-inspired dish called a taco.

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Previously on Top Chef, Brian’s hot streak finally came to an end. Even the hippest of tang was no match for the strength of the remaining quartet. And his heads up battle with Louis went no better. Brian did cook his finest dish of the season in that battle. The problem is that Louis could beat every Top Chef, Iron Chef and Hamburger Chef in existence right now.

While I like Brian and the news of his elimination is unfortunate, the bigger story again last week did not involve an eliminated player. Instead, the focus remains on the simmering feud between Nick and Carlos, neither of whom I would describe as an alpha male in the conventional sense. For whatever reason, the dudes dumped their bromance in favor of becoming frenemies, which I guess makes them bromenies. Or does that make them sound too much like My Little Pony fans?

The most recent dust-up involved Nick’s claiming the land in the kitchen a la Tom Cruise in Far and Away (google it, Millennials!). Carlos had the audacity to walk within three feet of Nick’s pots, which created an odd form of territorial pissing wherein Nick shouted the word “POTS!” so often that it lost all meaning. Nick possesses the kind of temper that is usually reserved for Tina Turner’s exes. If he continues to behave so erratically, I am dubious that he can claim the title of Top Chef. While I like him a great deal, I have also grown to understand why he was the only person fired (well, not re-hired) at his last job. Nick has so many issues with rage that I wonder if he was exposed to excessive doses of gamma radiation.

Speaking of Nick, tonight’s episode begins with him lamenting his recent misfortunes. He has finished in the bottom group for three consecutive challenges, narrowly avoiding elimination once and being asked to resign in another instance. With only four chefs remaining, Nick has deduced what is readily apparent to the viewing audience. The women are the haves while Nick and his buddy (?) Carlos are the have nots. If something does not change, Nick will not be cooking in the finale.

The Philadelphian confides that his goal this season is to make his father proud. The elder Elmi has been stricken with Parkinson’s disease. Nick wants to demonstrate to his father that his decision to become a chef has been validated. Anyone who has ever wanted to make their parents proud of them can relate.


Coincidentally, Carlos provides a strong argument as to why Nick has already accomplished this feat. Anyone who reaches the final four out of the 19 chefs who started this season has already accomplished much. Carlos is absolutely correct that there are 15 people who would give anything to be in the position currently held by Nina, Shirley, Nick and Carlos. They all deserve a hearty round of applause for their achievements to date. Top Chef has become a brutal exercise in meritocracy.

The final four contestants arrive at Top Chef Kitchen in New Orleans for the final time. They are met by Padma, Gail and Tom, the Decider Trio. The chefs immediately brace for one of those pointless shocking twists that have become the (needless) staple of the show. Instead, there is only good news. The winner of today’s Quickfire will win another car, the Toyota Corolla. So, you know, not a good car.

Simply by standing in the kitchen, all of the remaining people have a 25% chance of a new car, which are the best odds anybody will get this side of The Price Is Right. The challenge involves two phases. The first is Gail’s challenge. It is heavily influenced (i.e. stolen) from Anthony Bourdain’s reality show, The Taste. The chefs must “create the perfect bite & serve it on a cocktail fork." If you have not watched The Taste – and lucky you if you haven’t – that is the core concept of the show. Before we finger wag Top Chef’s producers, I should note that there have been similar Top Chef challenges over the years. It simply feels less ethical now that an entire show is predicated upon the premise.

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