The most anticipated challenge of Top Chef is “restaurant wars,” and this season it came early (not that there’s anything wrong with that). As one contestant noted, restaurant wars usually doesn’t happen until week eight! That’s how you know this show has been on a long time: the contestants are so well versed in how it works that they can “well actually” the timing of a challenge.
Early restaurant wars meant a few things — three teams instead of two, a two-part episode, and no Graham Elliot in this one, which meant I didn’t throw things at the TV, but also I can’t just post a screencap of his silly outfit in my recap for easy dunks. This episode also had a double elimination. Wait, scratch that, it teased a double elimination, but it won’t actually happen until the next episode, because this one was a To Be Continued. They still have these? Sheesh. Delay my gratification?! What is this, the 30s?
The lack of a proper ending means these rankings are less scientific than usual (and they’re usually incredibly scientific). Top Chef‘s editors are certainly setting a few contestants up as the villains, incompetents, and nincompoops, but the question is, are these storylines background or just fodder for big exciting twists? Are they serving us confirmation or surprise? Time will tell, folks, and I for one can’t wait.
The elimination challenge left unfinished, but there was a Quickfire challenge based on the amuse bouche. “Amuse bouche” is, of course, a French phrase meaning “fun mouth” — which was also your mom’s nickname in junior high. It refers to a bite-sized dish that teases the palate and gets you all horned up to shove more food in your dumb face. Imagine the chips and salsa you get at a Mexican restaurant, only you only get one chip with a dollop of salsa on it and the food costs ten times more. ¡Cuisine!
Restaurant Wars Teams
Orange Team. “Northeast”: Adrienne, Brian, Eddie, Eric (We’ll call them The Favorite)
Blue Team. “Third Coast”: David, Justin, Kelsey, Nini. (The Underdog)
Gray Team. “Thistle”: Brandon, Michelle, Pablo, Sara. (The Dark Horse)
1. (+5) Michelle Minori — AKA: Screen Time. AKA: Who? AKA: Yung Shaman.
Michelle has gotten about five minutes combined screen time this season (when we learned that her grandmother was a drug shaman) and she managed to stay in the middle of the pack in every single challenge until this one. But she amused many a bouche with her tiny take on halibut ceviche. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, Top Chef judges f*cking love a crudo. Crudo is the reverse risotto.
It helps her ranking that Michelle is on a team that doesn’t look like it’s going to lose this restaurant wars (with Sara as front of house manager) and the agnolotti that she was working on looked pretty good. “Those are good looking agnolotti,” said Tom Colicchio, and you know that dude would just love to jump on you for sub-par agnolotti. Tom Colicchio lives to mansplain stuffed pasta, so they must’ve been good. Therefore, Michelle is my slight favorite to win this next challenge. Maybe we’ll even learn something about her.