‘Top Chef’ Recap: “Jalapeño Business”
This week’s Top Chef involved a few of my favorite things: saucy wordplay, Teriyaki beef, and flannel. It also involved some of my least favorite things: oysters, Lizzie’s accent, and paisley. The episode started off with some cute baby pictures of Bart, which seemed to foreshadow his departure. As soon as they started talking about Bart’s childhood, I knew he was a goner. I mean, they don’t just go around showing baby pictures of random chefs for no reason. It’s like an early sendoff tribute. Although I will miss his endearing smile and his inexplicably flamboyant fashion sense, I think it was Bart’s time to go.
For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs got to feel the satisfaction of picking their own oysters fresh from the sea. This was really just an excuse to get them all out in the mud so one or more of them would fall down/get stuck, which of course they did. The sacrificial lambs were Josie and Micah (who fell down while trying to help Josie get un-stuck from the mud, classically). Now that’s some quality TV programming, folks.
John made some comment about oysters being “nature’s candy,” (if by “candy,” you mean “earwax,” then sure); Micah compared Emeril to God; and Josie broke her sauce—not to mention the patience of most of the other chefs. Drama alert! Whatever, the inter-chef melodrama has never been my favorite part of Top Chef. Except for that time Stefan was in love with Jamie. That was hilarious.
Anyway, blah blah, oysters, blah. Micah won, which I guess could be some kind of religious metaphor, like he was Moses on the mountain and he created a worthy tribute to his God, Emeril. Or something. Then the chefs all piled into the waiting fleet of Toyota Camrys and proceeded to tell us all about how spacious and fuel-efficient they were. Let’s hear it for product placement!
Not even the luxury features of the Toyota Camry could help the chefs escape the dreaded partner challenge, only slightly less reviled than the team challenge. They let the cheftestants choose their own partners, which got a little awkward for the people that no one wanted to work with, by which I mean John and Josie. Brooke couldn’t say no when John asked her to work with him, and it actually didn’t turn out that bad. He said she reminded him a little of his daughter, and then he proceeded to talk about his divorce and how hard it is for him that he doesn’t get to see his daughter more, and WOAH THERE, SHOW. I see what you’re doing, and I refuse to feel sympathy for this self-righteous douchebag. Okay, maybe I felt a little sorry for him, but that stops now!
For the Elimination Challenge, Padma brought in a few guests…roller derby girls! For a second, I totally thought they were going to make the chefs cook while wearing roller skates. (Note to Top Chef producers: never do this for a challenge… Make a whole new spin-off show about it called Roller Chefs!) Instead, the chefs would have to create a dish inspired by the names of these sassy roller girls, like Teriyaki Tantrum, Jalapeño Business, Kutta Rump, and a few others.
To give the chefs a little down time, they went on a field trip to go watch a roller derby match to help inspire their dishes. Josie was so enthusiastic (read: obnoxious) that you would have thought her own mother was out on the rink. This created some tension between the chefs, but honestly I hardly noticed because I was too distracted by Stefan’s blue velour dinner jacket. Obviously no one told Stefan that Bart had already filled the outrageous attire quota for this episode.
The next day at the challenge, Lizzie and Micah made a fancy jalapeño popper. Hugh called it, “better than I thought,” which, coming from Hugh, basically translates to, “This is the most exquisite piece of food to ever touch my lips.” Things looked good for Micah and Lizzie, but John and Brooke did surprisingly well with their “Kutta Rump”-inspired dish. It was sort of refreshing to see someone actually getting along with John, even if he was sort of douchey when he said he would rather have won it by himself.
Bart, Josie, Sheldon, and Josh were not so lucky. They were in the bottom, where they got an exasperated lecture from Tom on the importance of seasoning. He made a lot of hand motions and rubbed his shiny head in frustration as he tried to explain to them that this is Top Chef, not Intro to Cooking. In the end, it was Bart who was sent home. As a final farewell, let’s take a moment to appreciate Bart’s unique style choices this week, among which were a bright red flannel shirt, a decorative scarf that looked like something Mary-Kate Olsen found at a flea market, a ski vest, and—my personal favorite—a lime green paisley button-down. Bart, you may not have won Top Chef, but you’ve certainly won the title of Top Dresser in my mind. You had a good run, Bart. Now please pack your ascots and go.
P.S. Don’t forget to vote to save your favorite chef!