Top Chef California: Episode 5

By Jason Lee

January 20, 2016

Terrible and a mess. Farewell.

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We rejoin the cheftestants in the aftermath of Giselle's elimination. Karen acknowledges that she dodged a bullet in the last challenge, but stands by her argument that Giselle was acting like a line cook and “this isn't Top Line Cook.” No, it's not, but what a glorious show that would be.

Meanwhile, the chefs are still going after Philip for his disingenuous assertion that he intended to cook gummy mashed potatoes. Philip doesn't care. He's got his eyes on the prize. Namely, the prize money. That money would secure the financial viability of his restaurant. And he wants it.

Philip is the Marcel Vigneron of Top Chef: California.

The chefs arrive in sunny San Diego, not 12 blocks from Chad's restaurant. He vows that he won't let San Diego down by going home. Meeting the chefs is the hugely famous (or so we're told) Javier Plascencia - a Mexican chef who specializes in contemporary Baja cuisine. He'll be serving as Guest Judge for this Quickfire - actually, this Sudden Death (!) Quickfire-which will focus on a staple of San Diego's food scene, the fish taco. The cheftestants will have 20 minutes to come up with the best version they can, and the winner gets immunity.


Messy Wessy immediately grabs a lobster and sets it on his station before running to grab some foie gras. When he returns to his station, the lobster is gone. Wes then proceeds to interrogate other chefs with lobsters on their station - he will NOT abide by this sabotage! Jeremy protests that his lobster is the one he personally grabbed from the outdoor pantry. Marjorie says that she was given her lobster by Angelina.

“I didn't give you no lobster,” Angelina says, confused.

Ha ha, turns out that Wes didn't actually put his lobster down on his own station. Rather, he set it on Marjorie's station (who assumed that Angelina had fetched it for her) and scampered off to get foie gras. Wes's ugly accusations are forgotten (or at least he hopes so) and the cooking continues.

Twenty minutes later, time is called and the chefs step back from their plates. Including Angelina - who has nothing on her plate. Apparently, she plated her dish on her cutting board and never moved it onto the actual plates. In what has become almost a comedic reoccurrence, a steady stream of expletives usher forth from Angelina's mouth as she realizes her mistake. She's screwed and she knows it.

Javier and Padma go around to each station, and for the most part, it sounds like the chefs have done well with their fish tacos. Either Javier is a pretty easy judge, or fish tacos are simply not something that can be messed up (I'm thinking the latter). Ending up at the top of the challenge are Karen (her oyster taco with kimchi, sesame salsa beautifully blended Asian flavor), San Diego-native Chad (his grilled thresher shark taco with oyster and sea urchin had just the right amount of heat), and Kwame (his wahoo taco with truffle cream was moist and delicious). Taking home immunity is Chad, who sees this as one small step for him, and a giant leap for San Diego.

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