This week on Top Chef, the chefs got the chance to cook for “an arena full of Kentucky fans,” as Padma put it. Which most of us probably assumed meant that the contestants would be cooking at the half time of a Kentucky game. As it turned out, nope, there was no game, just an entire arena full of fans in full Kentucky regalia — cheerleaders, face painters, the whole nine — who had turned out to watch a live episode of Top Chef. This was a challenge designed to celebrate another of Kentucky’s natural resources: an abundance of free time.
Let’s be honest, this season of Top Chef has lacked some of the memorable characters of past seasons. In fairness, there are only so many Chef Fatis in the world (and now there are none, this world is a trash can), but whatever this season has lacked in lovable characters and Gail Simmonses it has attempted to make up for in fickleness and cruelty (don’t try it at home!).
This week was the second time this season that the winner of the previous episode was eliminated. In this case, the competitor in question had only just revealed the hearfelt story of overcoming her father’s suicide. Amazingly, that wasn’t even the cruelest part.
No, that would come when one character, a die-hard Kentucky basketball fan, would be publicly shamed for using “boxed waffle mix” in front of Kentucky coach John Calipari and an arena full of fans, complete with 5,000 people chanting “HOME MADE” until she broke down in tears.
JESUS CHRIST, TOP CHEF. Even as a connoisseur of this show’s bitchiest nitpicks, and as someone who runs a feature here that essentially consists of brutally roasting each other over cooking choices… that was still one of the meanest things I’ve seen on TV. And the fact is, I probably would’ve roasted her for pre-made waffle mix too. So not only was it cruel, I felt complicit. …I’m telling you, this episode was quite a journey.
1. (+1) Eddie Konrad — AKA: Smiles. AKA: The Accountant. AKA: Seppuku. AKA: Sweaty Eddie. AKA: Calamity. AKA: Nice Guy Eddie.
Sweaty Eddie was coming off his double-bottom finish in last week’s episode where he almost got sent home, but ended up winning the quickfire. Which was a boullion challenge in honor of the gold bullion in Fort Knox, in which the chefs had to cook a dish using only boullion cubes as seasoning. Eddie made a gold caponata with scallops, and for his win received easily the biggest prize of the season — he didn’t even have to cook in the elimination challenge. He just kind of got to hang around, chillin’.
The subplot of this week’s episode was basically Eddie Bueller’s Day Off, where the other contestants ran around the grocery store or kitchen freaking out about what to cook while Eddie just sat there with a glazed look on his face eating an apple, or noodles, or drinking tea. The editors cranked the volume on Eddie’s eating sounds to highlight the contrast which was a nice choice.
But the best part was Eddie hanging out at the press table, happily munching his messy chicken wings, completely oblivious to the fact that he was on the jumbotron.
He never noticed either. The entire crowd probably would’ve had to cheer “ED-DIE, ED-DIE” for 20 minutes before he noticed what was happening outside his little bubble. “Oh… ha-ha, guys, real funny,” he’d say, sheepishly flashing his gummy smile. Eddie is the most entertaining person on this show and it’s not close.
2. (+1) Eric Adjepong — AKA: Ghana. AKA: Sports.
Did anyone else want to hear more about Eric’s thesis about the uses of boullion cubes in Ghanaian cooking? Subject for another time, I suppose. All I know is that if this competition were being judged by the number of times each contestant had made me say “mmmm” at the screen, Eric would be winning in a landslide. This week he made a chicken lollipop by Frenching a drummette, removing the tendons and pulling the skin up over the meat.
Eric described doing this so that the “meat would be encased in the skin” and forgive me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the skin generally go on the outside of the meat? Explanations aside, that looked good as hell and I’m definitely going to try to make that. Eric was finally rewarded for his amazing looking food with a win this week. He only narrowly lost the quickfire as well. He’s on a hot streak, but knowing this season that probably just means he’ll be eliminated in the next episode.