Top Chef Recap

By Jason Lee

December 23, 2015

You'll always get our vote for Miss Congeniality, Grayson!

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We check back in with the cheftestants as they head to their next set of challenges from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara to Palm Springs, which if you’re at all familiar with Southern California, will surely leave you scratching your head (just Google Maps it).

As the cars trundle down Interstate 10, one chef wonders aloud what Palm Springs is like. “Lotsa gay, lotsa old people,” Jason informs them. Sounds right to me. Jason notes that his friends go down to what he describes (accurately) as a “gay mecca.” They “spend the weekend and drink white wine spritzers.” Okay, now we’re just delving into stereotypes.

Instead of heading to one of Palm Spring’s famous resorts, the cheftestants are dropped off in the middle of the desert (Welcome to California!). Meeting them are Padma and Jose Andres, along with a lot of mirrored contraptions. Padma informs us that, in the spirit of Palm Springs’ commitment to clean energy, they’ll be using the cleanest energy available to cook their dishes: solar power.

Jose explains that next to each cook station is either a solar oven (a long silvery tube swaddled in mirrors), or a solar stove (hot plate atop mirrors). The chefs draw knives to find out which apparatus they’ll be using before kicking off their dishes in an effort to win immunity. As they get started, Jose reminds the chefs that they’ll need to orient the mirrors to the sun to get any type of heat.


As the Quickfire progresses, there’s an interesting number of calamities. Giselle tries to make some couscous in her oven and adds water to the tube, which almost instantly explodes, sending shards of glass everywhere. Keeping with the “how do these things work?” theme, Grayson has no idea how to work her oven, forgetting to orient it to the sun. She reminds me a bit of my mom trying to work her first non-flip phone. Meanwhile, Hipster Phillip wanders out to the mountains behind him and picks up a big grey stone. He’s going to use it as a serving platter for his RAW OYSTER dish. Ick. Such a bad idea. Does he not realize how much heat that stone is gonna soak up?

Padma and Jose visit each of the 14 remaining chefs, and I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say that the three chefs with the worst dishes are Grayson (her skirt steak and tomato salsa is far too dry), Giselle (her Mediterranean couscous just didn’t come together after the explosion), and Phillip (who Padma calls out specifically for the disgusting texture of his oyster and Italian sausage).

On top are Jeremy (his seared halibut with pickled mushrooms had beautiful simplicity), Wesley (his shrimp with coconut broth paired salty-sweet in a great way), and Isaac (who had the balls to cook CORNBREAD in his solar oven).

I predict that Jeremy wins but instead immunity goes to Messy Wesley. Good for him. After narrowly avoiding elimination last week, he’s managed to turn things around quickly.

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