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Top Chef: How To Lose Chefs And Shut Up Toby Young

Because it was Christmas, no chefs were eliminated last time. But everyone has realized that they better drumline. Hosea feels great about having won two elimination challenges, but Stefan doesn’t care. I’m pretty sure he says “I run circus on that dude.” Meanwhile, Fabio is making breakfast: spam and pork and bean issa breakfas’ of champion. OK.

The special guest judge for the Quickfire Challenge is French pastry chef Jean-Christophe Novelli who Padma tells us is getting his own show on Bravo, Chef Academy. I haven’t heard of this show before, but from the looks of Mr. Novelli, there are going to be a lot of open-collar shirt challenges, and disdainful glower eliminations. For this challenge, the chefs have to prepare a dessert without any sugar. Padma and Chef Novelli actually push the sugar out of the kitchen on a cart. Actually, Padma and Chef Novelli push the sugar out of the camera frame on a cart, and then promptly hand the cart over to a production assistant to put back in the pantry for later, because let’s be honest about stuff. Padma describes it as the Diet Dr. Pepper challenge? And then there is Diet Dr. Pepper everywhere? But it’s never really explained what Diet Dr. Pepper has to do with delicious gourmet sugar-free desserts? I know that this show uses product placement in order to lower production costs, but what about using explanation placement in order to lower WTF?

Sure.

Chef Novelli hates everything. He describes every dish as “very interesting” or “[supercilious eyebrow raise]”. Fabio thinks that Novelli’s being tough on him because of the World Cup, because that’s something European that American viewers will have heard of. Similarly, Stefan keeps making “jokes” that he’s French. Do you get it? Because he’s not French. That’s the joke. Europe! Carla, Ariane, and Jamie are Novelli’s least favorites, although what does that even mean? That’s the problem with being a caricature of a snooty French food snob: there’s no sense of proportion or scale. If everything is terrible then nothing is terrible, or something, sorry, I was just smoking so much weed in my dorm room and thinking about infinity. Radhika, Leah, and Jeff’s desserts were Novelli’s favorites (please see previous college-grade philosophical ruminations on the bankruptcy of Chef Novelli’s critical impact), but in the end it’s Radhika’s bread pudding that wins. Immunity Town, Population: Radhika.

This week’s elimination challenge is in “honor” of the new permanent judge, Toby Young, author of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, and future author of How I’m the Worst and Top Chef Proved That. It’s a family style meal with blind judging, so everyone’s dish will be served anonymously. The chefs split up into two teams, and the twist is that the “family” for whom this family style meal will be prepared consists of the judges and the other team of contestants. Zap.

When Eugene thinks of family style he thinks of whole fish. OK, Eugene. He grew up in Hawaii, he interviews, so he grew up around a lot of different kinds of cuisines. Um, it’s the ’90s. Things have changed. We all grew up around a lot of different kinds of cuisines. Besides, the only cuisine Eugene seems to have grown up around, based on past performance, is garbage plate cuisine.

Jamie wants to make scallops because last time the judges “totally dogged” her for serving raw scallops. She’ll show them. She will cook the shit out of some scallops. Dog this, motherfuckers. This leads to the great Fabio moment that was used in all the ads, but is still so funny.

For all these years, I’d always thought Gail Simmons was mildly bland and unassuming. Little did I realize that she was the greatest judge on Earth and that I would miss her so much. Toby Young is like Simon Cowell without the talent (or the hair, BABA-BOOEY). Here are some of his choice one-liners:

“The UN weapons inspectors were looking in the wrong place in the run-up to the Iraq war because I have found the weapons of mass destruction and they are in this bowl.”

ZING.

“It was the bland leading the bland.”

POW. And the absolute fucking worst thing anyone has ever said ever:

“The avocado sorbet was like Tom Cruise’s cameo in Tropic Thunder: an unexpected treat.”

Here, Toby Young, try my bullet sorbet.

In the end, Stefan’s duck, Ariane’s skate, and Jamie’s scallops are the judges favorites, and it’s Jamie for the win, so maybe Fabio was wrong. Maybe it is Top Scallops. Ariane wins for Top Jersey Face.

The bottom three are Carla with her scallop risotto, Eugene’s family style fish and daikon fettucine, and Melissa’s ahi tuna crudo tacos. Carla explains that with her, as a chef, she’s not going for pizazz, she’s going for flavors, but admittedly she missed the boat on flavors. Eugene, meanwhile, took a chance by cooking a dish he’s cooked before. He and Carla should get together after the season and set up a think tank. Carla and Eugene’s Krazy Konsulting. Since no one was eliminated as a Christmas Miracle, two people are eliminated this week, because that’s how Christmas works, eventually you have to give your present back. Eugene and Melissa are the weakest links goodbye.

Chefs to watch: Fabio, Ariane, Stefan, Jamie