This week on Top Chef, the remaining five chefs all hopped on a plane to travel to Macau (where da fuq you at, MA-CAU), the Portuguese-run, barely-legal province of China where gambling is legal and seafood is plentiful. Actually, we never actually saw the contestants get on a plane, presumably because Bravo couldn’t convince an airline to sponsor. Bummer. I wonder if they had to fly coach.
The Macau trip was a perk for the chefs who made it to the final five, except not really, because the five previously eliminated chefs also got to go, so they could be sous chefs for the remaining contestants. It happens every season. I bet it’s even more fun to just be in Macau without the pressure of trying to win the competition. I wish they’d done a spinoff episode that was just a montage of Sweaty Eddie traveling around Macau — riding on the back of a scooter, having awkward interactions with locals, getting chopsticks stuck in his sunglasses, etc.
Sidenote: can you believe Lurky Brian got to go to Macau and not Nini? Life is so unfair.
Judge Graham Eliot apparently owns a restaurant in Macau, which meant he and his stupid white frames got to play tour guide. Oddly, on his home turf in this tropical setting, Graham’s wardrobe was the most subdued it’s been all season. This meant he looked merely like a ska fan rather than a ska frontman.
The quickfire involved a trip to the market and some local seafood — including the famous stinky egg. It was a bit of a letdown to introduce the stinky egg and not make anyone eat it. Come on, Top Chef, Chekhov’s stinky egg. At the end of the challenge Graham chose a winner, which he described as, and I quote, “the person who threw down on some sick flavors.”
Graham is the dork’s Guy Fieri. I can’t decide whether he got wedgied too much as a child or not enough.
After that, the sous chefs were introduced, holding a collection of ingredients, which the remaining contestants would have to incorporate into their dishes for a Chinese New Year Celebration at the MGM Macau. In a season disappointingly light on Padma smirking at sexual entendres, we did at least get to watch her sensually slurp a shrimp head:
4. (Tie) (-3) Eric Adjepong — AKA: Ghana. AKA: Sports. AKA: Thesis.
Quickfire Protein: Snails
Quickfire Finish: Bottom Two
Elimination Partner: Justin
Elimination Dish: Coconut curry, braised pork shoulder, and crispy pork ears, with lychee glaze and Thai chili
Elimination Finish: Bottom
Okay, look, I’m ranking everyone tied for fourth this week. There just isn’t a favorite this season! Everyone is up and then they’re down and then they’re up again! This is the closest to a pick ’em I’ve ever seen on this show.
As for Eric, he desperately needs a good friend to come and slap the coconuts out of his hand as soon as he picks one up. The man essentially makes two types of dishes, dishes that win and dishes with coconut in them. Everything about that elimination dish sounds great… if it hadn’t been weighed down by the coconut.
This after he worried about the texture of his snails in the quickfire — “they’re a little chewy…” he said charitably — which Padma went on to describe as “a cross between chewy and rubbery.” Ouch.
During the judging, Padma started to criticize him because “I can’t pick out individual flavors and spices.”
To which Eric responded, “I have to respectfully disagree…”
Oh no, Eric! What the hell are you doing? I mean, yes, not being able to identify individual spices is a bizarre criticism of curry, but there’s nothing to be gained from clapping back at Top Chef judges and my God, man are you really going to mansplain curry to the Indian lady? Incredibly, this turned out not to be Eric’s undoing (we’ll get to why below).
Another fun moment was when Eric got Justin as his sous chef, who dubbed their team “the Wayans brothers,” before doing the Carlton dance. Work on your references, Justin.
Eric’s strengths this season are seeming like the class president, having a clear point of view, and making food that sounds good as hell. His weakness is execution.