Top Chef: Always A Guest Judge, Never A Bride

This week’s episode was “supersized”! That means 15 minutes longer! But there wasn’t, like, a special segment or anything. It was just 15 minutes strategically woven into the normal structure of the show. Bonus interview segments and Stew Room backbiting. I understood when they used to make supersized Friends for sweeps week or whatever, but since reality TV is mostly stitched together filler and it’s December don’t do me any favors Top Chef. An hour is PLENTY.

But they probably needed those extra 15 minutes because this week it’s blind taste test Quickfire week! And also Gail Simmons is getting married! To a man!

For the blind taste test, everyone pairs off to go head-to-head (mouth-to-mouth?) in a sauce tasting contest. Everyone gets a few seconds to taste the sauce, but then they have to announce how many ingredients from the sauce they can name…and then the other chef has to either beat that number, or call the first chef’s bluff…and if the first chef answers correctly they win…but if they are wrong on an ingredient then they lose. That sounds exciting and intense, and it would be if all the chefs didn’t seem to stall out at offering to name four ingredients, and especially when they all remember that “salt” and “olive oil” are ingredients. UNIMPRESSED. The first sauce is a shrimp and lobster bouillabase. Ariane and Leah move on by default when Jeff and Eugene biff it on the ingredients, but Hosea, Stefan, and Carla demonstrate their abilities to taste things. Radhika also makes it to the second round by offering to name three ingredients, which Fabio does not challenge? Fabio, come on! I think he just forgot the English words for “quattro ingredienti, stupido.”


The second sauce is a thai green curry. Hosea crushes it. With his mouth. Stefan names eight ingredients to trump Leah, which gets Leah “pissed off” because he’s “an asshole.” They’re really trying to turn Stefan into the villain this week, but I don’t think it’s going to work. He’s too talented, he has too charming of an accent, and he doesn’t rap (MARCEL CALL BACK!). Carla moves onto the final round, but only because Rhadika doesn’t know the difference between chili powder and thai chili. N00b. But then Carla immediately eliminates herself on the first ingredient in the Mexican mole sauce taste-off when she guesses “peanut butter.” In the end, Hosea beats Stefan, so he has immunity in the Gail Simmons Is Getting Bridal Showered Elimination Challenge.

The chefs split up into teams based on that old wedding expression “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” so there is “team old,” “team new,” “team borrowed,” and “team blue.” Ariane knows that expression because she’s married. I wish I had a condescending way to explain why I know that expression, but I guess I’ll just have to settle for BECAUSE EVERYONE DOES. Right away, it’s obvious who the weakest team is. It’s “team new,” which is composed of Danny, Eugene, and Carla. I’m not even going to play games and say it was an exciting competition. If this show was a pack of wolves, team new would have been left behind at the last canyon. It’s called Darwin, look it up. They end up as the losing team with their “deconstructed surf and turf sushi” garbage plate. If you can’t take the heat, go back to the circus, clowns.

But first, can we talk about how “team borrowed” needed to cool it with the weird, intense exoticizing of Radhika’s heritage? Before watching Top Chef last night, I watched the “Diwali” episode of The Office from Season 3, so maybe I was a little hyper-sensitive towards the cultural ignorance that us gringos are exhibiting to the people of India on a daily basis, but, like, WE GET IT, Radhika is Indian and you made Indian food. Considering the fact that one of Jamie’s secret weapons from home is an Indian spice, the insistence that they were just “borrowing” Radhika’s culture actually seemed even weirder. Give her back her culture now, creeps. Racism aside, “team borrowed” wins over “team old”‘s tomato trio, and “team blue”‘s boring hotel-ballroom-grade fish. Even exploiting Fabio’s smoky foreign sexuality couldn’t save their hospital food course. Not that it matters. Sorry, ladies, he’s taken.

At Judges’ Table, Ariane wins the entire challenge, which does seem wrong. She cooked the lamb perfectly, but Food & Wine’s Editor in Chief, Dana Cowin, claimed that the winner had created “the most flavorful element of the evening,” and surely Jeff’s savory heirloom tomato sorbet or Jamie’s carrot puree were more inventive and flavorful than not fucking up the lamb. But whatever, a win is a win, and Jamie gets STRIKE TWO for this episode when she petulantly claims that “no one expected anyone but me to win this challenge.” Ew. She should enroll at the Culinary Institute of Jail. Who cares about winning anyway, Ariane gets a Calphalon George Foreman grill. Just what every chef wants. Not!

Team new is on the chopping block and we could do this two ways: we could play footsie all day and pretend like it wasn’t Danny who was going to go home the whole time and who it’s amazing even lasted this long, or we could not play footsie, but once the footsie’s out of the bottle? Something something baba-booey. Of course he’s the one who says that the judges just didn’t “get” what he was doing. Oh, we all got it, Danny. And of course he’s the one to compare his elimination to how bad calls are made in football? Goodbye, Danny. Good luck with being an actor who is also in movies but has his own TV show and is a chef what?

Chefs to watch: Stefan, Hosea, Jamie, Jeff, Fabio, Ariane