Top Chef S06E13: Please Pack Your New Haircut And Go (To Napa Valley!)

The final four chefs have had a few weeks to recuperate from the stressful rush of the first 12 weeks (or however many days they actually take to film this show, four?) before coming back to compete in the final two episodes, and you know that that means! HAIRCUT TIME! Everyone has got a new look. Kevin, who managed to keep his bald spot pretty hidden for most of the season has shined that puppy up! You can see that thing from space. Is it winking at us? Yes. It is winking at us. The Voltaggio brothers look mostly the same, I guess, but there’s a crispness to their necklines, and I’m pretty sure Michael got some new Soul Patch Wax because that thing is really POPPING OFF THE SCREEN. Jennifer cut her hair shorter? Look, everyone just looks a little different is all I am saying. They clean up nice! And then there is Padma. Total MILTMATWRWRSHIC! (Mother I’d Like To Marry And Treat With Respect While Raising Strong, Healthy, Intelligent Children!) Yowzas!

But we are not here to talk about hairstyles and true love, we are here to talk about cooking food in beautiful but uncomfortable situations!

This week, the Quickfire Challenge involves cooking grapes on a train. You know, like that Hitchcock movie. “A couple of fellows meet accidentally, like you and me. No connection between them at all. Never saw each other before. Each of them has a grape he’d like to cook, but he can’t cook the grape he wants to cook. So they swap grapes.” (Perfect.) Anyway, this is the final High Stakes Quickfire. You got that, guys? No more of the thing that was only recently made up! You guys have all been getting a little too reliant on there being a prize at the end of these Quickfires, but there are not always going to be prizes. Certainly not anymore. But today there is a prize. So enjoy it. Well, one of you enjoy it. Whoever wins. That prize is a Toyota Prius.

Michael Lohan not included!

Kevin wants that car to store all of his other prizes in, but he is nervous because he has motion sickness.

But for the most part, everyone cooks grapes on a train without throwing up. Good work, everyone! You have passed the test. You are ready to be Space Chefs! (Seriously, sometimes these challenges are very outlandish!) Anyway, guest judge Michael Chiarello likes everyone’s weird grape dishes just fine. He even says that he would make Jennifer’s grape dish at his restaurant. “YOU CAN HAVE ME, I MEAN IT! YOU CAN HAVE IT! HAHAHAHHA” Jennifer says, almost loosing her footing in the pool of flop sweat at her feet. “These trains are so slippery AHAHAHAHAHAHA.” You would think that Jennifer would win, since the chef just said he was literally going to steal her recipe (for her chicken livers and clams in mascerated cabernet grapes with mushrooms–which literally sounds like what comes out of me when I barf), but actually it is young Michael Voltaggio who wins the Prius, for his grapes cooked in grape leaves skewered with a grape vine, or something. “I wanted to showcase the whole grape, especially the parts that would be very disgusting to eat.”

Congratulations, Michael!

For the Elimination Challenge this week, the chefs will each have to prepare a vegetarian dish and a meat dish made from local ingredients only to feed 150 people at the annual Nappa Valley Crush Party (which is the time of year where very rich white people who are not sure what to do with themselves pretend to make the wine they drink too much of to stave off their existential malaise). The chefs get to shop at a very cute looking farmer’s market!

Obviously, I make fun of the rich white people in Napa Valley, because there is nothing I want more than to be a rich white person in Napa Valley. “10 dollars for a dozen eggs? I LOVE EGGS!” I’m 104 years old! Haven’t I earned the right to a little comfort in this world? These guys know what I’m talking about.

“Treat yourself, Gabe!”

Anyway, so, everyone cooks food. That happens a lot on this show. No big deal! And then it is time for the Crush Party. I see an awful lot of eating and drinking and SCHMOOZING going on, and not very much crushing. Get crushing, yuppies!

Obvious, but better.

The judges seem to simultaneously love and hate everything. I mean, there is no clear winner this time. Which makes sense, because this season they have really gotten down to the four most talented competitors. But can we stop talking about that for a second and start talking about Padma? Padma! What’s up! You look crazy, sweetheart! Is there a Sex War on Neptune that I’m not aware of?

Tura Satana called, she wants her Russ Meyer role back.

Condoleeza Rice called, she wants to hang out, but she wants to make sure you don’t both wear the same exact outfit.


The judges call the chefs into the Panic Wine Cellar (every mansion should have one) and deliver their verdicts. Kevin’s beef was too stringy. Michael’s egg was underdone. Jennifer’s duck was delicious, but if she really cared she would have grilled it the way she originally planned. Huh? I mean, cutting to the chase: Bryan wins and Jennifer goes home. But it was clearly such a toss up at this point, and they just couldn’t eliminate Kevin, and Michael V. is our generation’s Richard Blaise, so what are they going to do? I’m not saying Jennifer’s dish was perfect, and as we all know, she has gone mostly INSANE over the past few weeks, but I think arguing that she let the coals on the grill go out but still managed to put together a really delicious confit dish is kind of just grasping at knives. Oh here is one! Pack it and go, Jennifer.