Top Chef S09E13: Welcome Back, Beverly

Historically, in writing Top Chef recaps, I would try and come up with a fun headline. You know, just something kicky and fun. Maybe some wordplay. Maybe a pop culture reference. Something about the food they cooked, but in a light and joking manner? Anyway, as you can see, the headline on this post is straight-forward because this show has become almost unbearably dull. If they’re not going to make this enjoyable and entertaining, I’m not going to beat my head against the wall trying to do their jobs for them. On this episode, the winner of Last Chance Kitchen, the lowest rated Internet webseries of all time, is revealed and it’s Beverly. OK? Beverly is back. They try to make it into this whole thing. “Did you even know they were doing Last Chance Kitchen?” Yeah, I knew, and I couldn’t have cared less. Right from the get-go by starting the season off with 400 contestants and whittling it down to 15 over TWO HOURS this season of Top Chef has been tedious and insulting to its audience. Just because people like something doesn’t necessarily mean they want a TON MORE of it (with the exception of Justified, which should be on every single night and/or just be a 24-hour network of its own with brand new episodes every single hour). It is actually possible to contain yourself to a 12-episode season and make that season interesting and compelling and fast-paced and not slog it down with 10 extra episodes of absolute garbage. But hey! If the Top Chef producers want to run this thing into the ground so that no one even has the energy to stay tuned for Watch What Happens Live! that is their business. Literally. That is their job. But I still think they should be fired.

Welcome back, Beverly. Everyone hates you.

Well, mostly Sarah hates you. It is actually ridiculous how hard it is for Sarah to contain her disappointment and disgust that Beverly is back on the show. Hey, here’s an idea, why don’t you act like an adult. Or even better yet, why don’t you act like an adult who is CONSTANTLY BEING FILMED BY TELEVISION CAMERAS FOR NATIONAL BROADCAST. Ed punches Sarah in the shoulder like, tough break, pal, but the fact of the matter is it is not a tough break. We all live in a world of other human beings and we don’t have to all like each other but we do have to be fucking RESPECTFUL of their RIGHT TO EXIST. Especially when you’re fucking SARAH. I’m not sure what she thinks gives her the license to be a public b-hole about the whole thing, but it certainly can’t be her cooking or her attitude or her…well, let’s just leave it at cooking and attitude. Or maybe Sarah’s just mad that she lost her bet to Ed for a pack of cigarettes and a banana (?!?!?!). Anyway, Tom points out that if Beverly continues to cook the way she did on Last Chance Kitchen, then the other chefs are in for some tough competition. Haha. Let it go, Tom. No one will ever watch Last Chance Kitchen.

For this week’s Quickfire Challenge, the contestants will be blindfolded before entering the pantry, and will have to use every ingredient they put in their basket in their dish. The winner will be given a choice of prizes: a brand new Toyota Prius V, whatever that is, or free passage into the final four. Lindsay says something in an interview about how the smart choice would be taking immunity so that you get to go all the way to the end, but then you’d spend the rest of your life thinking you should have taken the car because no one came to Top Chef to play it safe, or something like that. It honestly makes no sense. No one is going to take the car, be realistic. You are all hanging on by the skin of your teeth, just waiting for Paul to DEMOLISH YOU, so any leverage you can get to wait until the last second for Paul to just CRUSH YOUR FACE is a chance you’ll have to take. When you lose this show, which you will, to Paul, you can buy yourself a Toyota Prius V and drive it off a cliff.

Everyone stumbles around in their blindfolds. Tom and Padma stand in the background laughing at all of them. Haha. Tom and Padma are such assholes. I love it. Padma was on Watch What Happens Live last night, which I did not watch, and will never watch, because I don’t care what happens live, apparently, but I did see the bumper trailer for it and holy moly what a Stone Cold Bitch. She just oozes Bitch Vibes the way Pig Pen oozes stink lines. Marry me, you asshole.

Anyway, bumble bumble bumble, baskets baskets baskets. Finally everyone takes off their blindfold and starts cooking. Beverly didn’t want avocado but she got avocado. I’m not sure how that works. There were lots of mystery blindfold items in the pantry, but an avocado actually seems pretty recognizable by touch and smell. Ed on the other hand got pork casings, which is disgusting. Who put pork casings in the Top Chef pantry? And how did he choose those? “These are slippery and smell like diarrhea. Vidalia onion?” Cook cook cook. Toyota Toyota Toyota.

It turns out that the avocado hash was the best thing on Beverly’s plate. Paul’s prawn was undercooked. Lindsay made some food? But ultimately it is Sarah with her mushroom-peach soup (uhhh) and Ed with his pork casing udon broth that are going head-to-head for the chance to compete against Paul for one more day. Sarah wins. For mushroom-peach soup. Gross. What is this show even about? Sarah decides to take the guaranteed spot in the finale, because of course she does. She doesn’t care what the other chefs think of her, which sounds about right. It’s not about being the best chef, it’s just about scrabbling for whatever you can get to stay on TV! Pussy. The one benefit is that it means she is not around for the rest of the episode.

And then something actually happens: for the Elimination Challenge, Tom and Padma announce that the chefs will be getting a small hand. Beverly thinks that maybe this means her son will be joining her and that would “blow my mind away.” Uh, it’s not your son, Beverly. For that to work, everyone would have to have kids, and none of the other contestants have kids. Although it would be hilarious if EVERYONE had to cook with Beverly’s son. No, it is the chefs’ mentors. Everyone loses it and it is genuinely a very sweet and touching moment. These are the people who made these people want to be chefs. Admittedly, there does seem to be some kind of Prison Camp vibe on these shows where everyone loses it the moment they see ANYONE that they know from the world of freedom and non-studio lighting, but in this particular instance there’s something special about watching people thank the Amistadian shoulders that got them where they are. You just don’t see that very often. It’s really nice!

The chefs will be cooking a dish that will impress their mentors and surpass the expectations placed upon them. Yikes! That actually sounds like a finale challenge. That should have been the finale challenge. It’s not. It’s just this challenge. Everyone wipes the tears from their faces and hops into a brand new Toyota Prius V (have you guys heard about these things? They sound awesome!) and drives to the store for another thrilling installment of Top Grocery Shopping. Shop shop shop. Cook cook cook. Beverly still has the hand-written piece of construction paper that says “Top Chef Winner Beverly” and she feels good because “it is materializing.” Uh, no. It isn’t. As someone who for real just read The Secret in its entirety (that book, holy cow, I need to work for four years at a different blog that is just about The Secret to finish saying everything I have to say about that book) it isn’t “materializing.” You got kicked off and now you’re back and later you’ll get kicked off again. Paul is materializing.

At dinner that night, Beverly is really pushing the issue of her triumphant return. Like, “did you guys expect to see me back here?” No, Beverly, of course they didn’t. And while everyone will definitely begrudgingly accept that this is a reality show and the rules are flexible, even Sarah will accept that, stop trying to get your competition to agree that it’s a real treat to have you back? I don’t mind Beverly because I don’t have to live with her or cook with her, but it is true that sometimes she seems really oblivious of how human beings work.

So, now, let’s just skip straight to Judges’ Table, shall we? I mean, the dining sequence is fine, but it’s a lot of everyone’s mentor talking about how proud they are of their baby chefs and that’s nice but the touching moment already happened and now it’s just rote. Moreover, it seems less genuine. Not the emotion they’re expressing, but their critiques of the food. Everyone’s dish is great and “expresses who they are” and brings back memories or whatever. (It is a little funny how Beverly’s mentor is definitely the one person no one at the table has ever heard of and doesn’t seem to really like having to listen to talk about food and cooking but good for her. She’s on TV! The American Dream!) Let’s just say that everyone is great and makes their Kitchen Mommies very proud.

Everyone is called to Judges’ Table. Everyone loved Paul’s chilled sunchoke & dashi soup with summer vegetables and Beverly’s wok of gulf shrimp & bbq pork singapore noodles. Lindsay’s seafood “stew” over toasted couscous & broth with emulsified cream was good but even her own mentor didn’t understand why she put emulsified cream in it. Ed’s braised pork belly & smoked oyster crema with pickled vegetables had a lot of flavor and everyone wants to buy a jar of his pickles but no one liked the oyster sauce and they’re particularly annoyed when it turns out that he bought canned smoked oysters at the store. (Incidentally, on that note, he “opened” them at the store just to “try” them? What store do these guys go to? Shut that store down!) Beverly is safe and going to the final four. Paul wins OF COURSE. He is not only going to the final four, but he also gets a brand new Toyota Prius V. How many new cars filled with cash has this guy won at this point? I know that he’s a millionaire by now but how many times over? He’s going to need a new car full of cash just to carry all his new cars full of cash home! Oh, and Ed loses.

Bye Ed. You weren’t the worst. Sarah and Heather were the worst. But on this episode you talked about how in your early days as a chef you had a real attitude problem and uh guess what it kind of shows. You still have a bit of an attitude problem that you might want to have a doctor look at before it spreads. And while he’s in there, tell him to check out your perpetually grinding jaw. Good luck! Get well soon!

Next week: the first of what I’m sure is a 10-part season finale. GOOD GRIEF, THIS SHOW ALREADY!