Top Chef Charleston Recap: Episode 6

By Jason Lee

January 10, 2017

Frantic in the kitchen!

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Welcoming the cheftestants to the kitchen in our latest episode is Surgeon General (but not for much longer) Vivek Murthy. Noting that chefs can be “changemakers,” he says that those in the culinary world can do much to help people to eat healthy and view vegetables and whole grains as things that can be delicious to eat. Though the Top Chef producers have tried to make this point before in past challenges, it’s a nice move bringing it front and center with the Surgeon General of the United States.

And, similar to past challenges, the cheftestants will have to take Southern comfort dishes (drawing knives to see which one they get) and transform them into something healthy. In fact, not just healthy, but vegetarian dishes. Certainly, certain dishes (like Brooke’s lasagna) will have an easier time than others (like Amanda’s beef stroganoff).

Oh yeah, and one more thing. To help encourage people to get moving, the chefs will do so, too. In taking tools and ingredients from the pantry, each chef will only be allowed to bring one type of tool or ingredient at a time. Thus, you want two different herbs and a blender to puree them? Enjoy making three trips back and forth.

This results in a lot of running and scurrying and colliding by the chefs. I’m aghast. Thank god the chefs leave their knives at their station, but what happens when someone wants a mandolin?!?! I hope Top Chef has a top quality legal team. Especially when Sheldon, who already has a bad back and has received freaking INJECTIONS IN HIS SPINE TO DEAL WITH PAIN, trips and takes a belly slide onto the floor.


Paging Attorney General Loretta Lynch . . .

The cheftestants miraculously make it through without too many additional disasters. Oh, except for a few of the dishes. Sylva had to make a healthy version of chicken and dumplings by using seitan and masa, which rendered the dish very tough. Casey had a ruinous topping for her chicken pot pie, attempting to crumble (and then brûlé) a farro-crumb topping over her silken tofu mixture. Finally, Katsuji totally oversauced his (zucchini) spaghetti and (zucchini) meatballs, which lacked flavor.

Receiving better news is Jamie (whose tofu sloppy joe with bell peppers had great flavor), Brooke (with a not-super-complicated vegetable lasagna with tofu that was creamy and rich), and Emily (whose vegetarian meatloaf tasted very much like the standard). Jamie takes home the win and immunity. He dedicates it to his son, who’s a vegetarian.

The Elimination Challenge will be a bit more complicated. The cheftestants will pay tribute to Edna Lewis, an incredibly famous and influential Southern chef who, apparently, almost none of the chefs have heard of. “What Julia Child was for French cooking in America, Edna Lewis was for Southern cooking,” Padma says. The chefs nod understandingly. To get a better understanding of Edna and her legacy, which apparently is much needed, the chefs sit down with two individuals whose lived were touched by Edna Lewis - guest judge Alex Smalls, a restaurateur and opera singer, and Toni Tipton-Martin, an accomplished soul food writer.

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