Top Chef visited Maker’s Mark this week, where they soon discovered what I learned when I visited the distillery a few years back: Rob Samuels from Maker’s Mark is always on message. Seriously though, dude should run for the president of whiskey or something. Also, the contestants got a lot less drunk than I did, which is somewhat disappointing. Though they are chefs, and on a reality competition, so it’s safe to assume they were over the legal limit most of the time.
In the quickfire, the chefs had to cook a dish for Gail Simmons (they brought back Gail! Hooray!) “inspired by Gail’s pregnancy cravings.” This would be cooked on set, and then guest judge Nilou Motamed (Nilou Multi-Pass would be her nickname if she was a contestant) would transport ingredients for the top two entries to New York, where she would cook them with Gail, who would eat them and decide a winner. This format seems eerily similar to our Uproxx Food Challenges, where the judges also have to make the food themselves. I’m not complaining.
After that, they all went to Maker’s Mark, where Rob Samuels schooled them on “soft winter wheat” and such and they got to eat Kentucky classics like black barbecue sauce, burgoo, and hoecakes. It’s a shame Padma wasn’t on set when the Maker’s Mark chef explained that “Hoecakes get their name from being cooked on the backside of a hoe,” because Padma is the only person on this show who regularly acknowledges sex puns like that. I know she secretly appreciates “your mom” jokes as much as I do. Anyway, to Monday morning your-mom joke that scene: There’s nothing I like better than a hoe with a backside hot enough to cook cakes on.
It was also a week for exotic trendy spice blends! It seemed like everyone used one. (*to the tune of Kokomo*) Chermoula, harissa, oooh I wanna take ya to berber-e, zatara, gochujang me mama…
Guest judge Nilou also introduced us (me?) to the word “cuisson,” which we were told was “A french term for cookery, primarily of meat.”
Ah, so one of those French words that kind of means everything and nothing all at once? Feel free to sack tap me next time I used the phrase mise en scene in a movie review. Mise en scene is the cuisson of cinema.
Now then, to the rankings. Basically, everything we thought we knew last week has been upended, so other than the top two and bottom two this whole thing is a mess. It’s going to take a few more weeks before the true favorites and dark horses shake out. Dark hors d’ouvres? Anyway.
1 (+2). David Viana — AKA: Maybe. Frankie Valli.
Notable quote: “I was hoping Gail would be here in person because I’ve had a crush on her for quite some time… [*notices this attempt at levity has absolutely bombed*] Not a creepy crush… heh [*the laugh of quiet desperation*].”
Look, I didn’t want to have a front-runner as blandly inoffensive as David either, but here we are. David is the only contestant to finish in the top for at least one challenge in both of the first shows. This time around, he cooked a ribeye with some chermoula-spiced corn (yeah I don’t know what that is either but apparently it’s Moroccan) in the quickfire challenge, which ended up winning. Then he did an old-fashioned spiced lamb for the elimination challenge, which was apparently good, but not as good as the challenge’s other lamb. But David was on the winning team and blah blah blah…
Anyway, Maybe is the current frontrunner, if not in especially impressive fashion. To put it in sports terms, it’s less like David made a diving touchdown grab and more like the defenders near him all simultaneously shit their pants. He did catch the ball though, you have to give him that. …Perhaps this metaphor has gone on too long.