This week’s Top Chef was either part two of the three-part finale, or part one of part two of the two-part finale, depending whether you use the Gregorian or Euclidean reality cooking challenge calendar. In either case, only three chefs remained. Meanwhile, Top Chef‘s producers decided the fairest test of the chefs’ cooking abilities at this late stage of the game was to send them to Mexico to make them buy strange produce in a foreign tongue and cook it over metal trash cans.
I exaggerate only slightly. But for the most part it was an episode of extended backstory montages and whack challenges. Not that I’m really complaining. If this show was on Food Network, Shirley’s poignant comment about her disapproving mom would’ve been repeated in six mid-show promos and been the basis for a 15-minute montage. Instead of having to cook traditional Mayan food in a cenote (“sinkhole”) using primitive tools, because that’s what the Mayans used, Alton Brown would’ve made them cook with a flyswatter and ceiling fan, because he’s a prick. All things considered, this was pretty good.
Anyway, after some schmancy resort product placement (“Am I in a Jay-Z video?” -Sheldon) and gratuitous sea turtle footage, Mexican chef and “Mexican food anthropologist” Roberto Muñoz Zurita showed up to introduce the quickfire: creating a dish using the local habanero pepper, which has apparently been cultivated for 8500 years. You’d think my butthole would be able to handle them by now.
All the while, the judges sweat and the local birds interrupted conversation with their raucous squawking. “Shirley Birds,” as Brooke calls them. Oh, also, Padma got resort braids: