Week two of Top Chef is generally a time for the season’s favorites to further separate themselves from the middle of the pack and begin to consolidate their power, like Stalin. Instead, last week‘s losers became this week’s winners, and last week’s winners fell back, leaving us with a giant ball of middle-pack ambiguity, like my sexuality when I watch Tom Colicchio berate someone for undercooked farro.
This week’s quickfire was “mise en place relay,” during which the chefs broke into two teams and competed to brunoise shallots, portion beef filets, and chop and peel mushrooms — the last of which I didn’t even know was a thing. Have you ever peeled a mushroom? Who the f*ck peels mushrooms? The outside part is the same texture. This makes no sense.
Anyway, knife skills and being super fast at mise en place is more like a parlor trick, in that it’s kind of related to being a good cook but not really. It’s something you probably would’ve developed on the way to becoming a good cook, but it doesn’t make you one. It’s kind of like hitting the speed bag for a boxer. In any case, they’re fun tricks, and good TV. The guest judge for this challenge was Troy Guard, who is known the world over for his extremely tiny soul patch.
There must’ve been some TV magic going on, because the way the show told it, the winners of the mise en place challenge then had eight minutes and 20 seconds to make a dish. Uhhh, what? What are you making, ramen? We were led to believe Chef Tyler somehow cooked beef with glazed carrots in that time. The f*ck? You can’t glaze a carrot in eight minutes. I can barely peel a carrot in eight minutes. Moreover, what the hell does this prove? Is speed really the most important consideration here? You better take that shit over to Top Microwave.
Other things that happened this episode:
- They visited a cheese farm, to taste delicious rocky mountain cheese (which sounds like a euphemism)
- …at an “artisanal sheep dairy and creamery,” which also sounds like a euphemism
- The big boys sharing a room managed to run their “bear den” joke into the ground (ha ha ha that was very funny okay stop)
- Only one chef made a “cutting the cheese” joke (bless you, Fatima)
- At least three people had head colds, which isn’t super fun to listen to… (Christ, man, take a Mucinex, listen to Steve Bannon’s brother)
- Gail Simmons disappeared again. BRING BACK GAIL, GOD DAMN YOU. Don’t you bastards dare take Gail from me and try to compensate with more Graham Elliot. That’s like trying to trade lobster for cat turds. Yes, I know I don’t have any good reason to hate Graham Elliot, beyond his dumb outfits and bland inoffensiveness, but you know what? That only makes me hate him more! Get off my TV, you gormless bow tie monkey!
14 (-4) ((Eliminated)) Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins — AKA Frames, aka Young Susan Feniger
Ah, Frames, we hardly knew ye. She got kicked off this week for an undersmoked trout and cheese dish, a fish-and-cheese pairing that Frames wasn’t stoked on but went with because she was partnered with Adrienne, who apparently specializes in fish-and-cheese pairings at Le Bernadin (you actually have to pronounce it with the italics). Did you guys know Adrienne works at Le Bernadin? I think I heard that somewhere.
Did Frames really deserve to go home for not knowing how to smoke trout? Eh, maybe. All I know is that if there’s one eternal truth of Top Chef, it’s that you’re never going to score any points trying to make a gross-sounding thing not gross. I mean, your ceiling with cheese and fish is basically “better than it sounds.”
She also made some crack about being “the only Mexican chef cooking Mexican food” in the competition in the first challenge, only to get booted attempting some Frenchified nonsense. Ouch. Oh well, now she can go home and nurse that head cold she seemed to have. Maybe she caught it from Padma? We’re going to have to de-mucus that whole state.
13 (-8) Tu David Phu — AKA Johnny Football, aka Jake Ryan, aka Tu David Phu Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar
There’s no way to sugar coat it, the guy I pegged as the handsome cool kid last week absolutely got his ass handed to him this week, both competition wise and socially. It was actually hard to watch. First he got yelled at by Mustache Joey for scorching his stew (…again), for which he actually apologized (ouch). Then he was so bad at tying up his lamb that Tom bumped him out of the way like an embittered company IT guy to show him how to do it so he didn’t screw it up worse than he already had. Which basically makes him a lamb cuck. Finally, he meekly attempted to justify his crappy lamb grilled over straw for some reason (mmm, I love charred bits of straw with my lamb…) — a dish described by Tom as having “no redeeming qualities at all” — by saying he wished he could’ve told them to pick it up and eat it with their hands, a suggestion that rightly fell flatter than the brim on his backwards cap. “Because… uh… when you eat with your hands, it’s a completely different dining experience.”
Have you ever watched a slick handsome dude used to bullshitting his way out of everything wilt under cross examination? Yeah, it was like that. It was rough. Julie Newmar still seems like a chill dude so I hope he turns it around, but it’s always hard to watch a guy get lamb cucked so bad.
12 (-1) Rogelio Garcia — AKA Scholarship, aka Backstory
Rogelio served broken sauce (*Papa Roach voice* Broooken saaaaauce…) in the quickfire and undercooked lamb torchon in the elimination challenge, making three challenges in the row where he was on the bottom. I realize one of those was an eight-minute steak challenge which essentially proves nothing, but any way you slice it, Rogelio is not looking like a world beater at this stage of the competition. Start cooking Mexican comfort food, man. Incorporate your childhood. I like to imagine Rogelio is going to turn this around when the ghost of Kwame from two seasons ago comes to him in a dream exhorting him “Rogelioooo, use your backstoryyyyy…”