This week’s Top Chef celebrated the only constants in reality competition, sudden death and Logan Paul. The High Drama began fresh out of the gate, with the dreaded SUDDEN DEATH QUICKFIRE. The challenge? To “deconstruct” the Denver omelette. Which is to say, make a Denver omelette that’s not. As the guest judge warned, and I quote, “I better not see any omelettes.”
This is the perfect encapsulation of every ridiculous food television challenge, by the way. You could substitute pretty much any traditional comfort food. Someone comes on and says “here in [place], today we’re going to celebrate the proud and glorious tradition of BLAGH, our region’s greatest culinary export! But we’re not going to have everyone cook BLAGH, that’d be much too boring! Who wants to watch 12 chefs cook boring old BLAGH anyway! So, your challenge is to reinvent BLAGH. That means we better not see any BLAGH. In fact if anyone cooks BLAGH, they’re going home.”
This then led into a tearful editing package about Laura, the moose-dodging Pioneer Woman from the wilds of Alaska. The montage was all about how much she missed her kid, lil Trig or Trak or Tug or whatever. Come on, how long have you even been gone, a week? Two? I’m sure the kid is fine. At this point I began cursing Top Chef, whose entire appeal to me is based largely on its lack of the “boohoo I miss my dumb kids montage” that’s in every episode of Chopped. I barely tolerate my friends’ kids, you think I care about some stranger’s? Keep your kids to yourself. In fact that’s just sort of evergreen advice to everyone.
Then we cut back to present action with Alaska having a mini freakout because she couldn’t think of any deconstructed Denver dishes. Really?! You?! The queen of resourcefulness, who made crackers out of cheese rinds in the last episode and famously can’t leave trash without attracting bears, can’t think of a way to repurpose a Denver omelette? I guess it makes sense. Ol Moose Food thrives on scarcity. She freezes in the face of too many options. She was like someone who escaped the USSR in the 80s where there was one brand of everything suddenly confronting a Costco.
Of course, she immediately bungled the challenge and got eliminated. Ahh, NOW the I-miss-my-kids montage makes sense. They almost certainly recorded those interviews after the elimination. Mostly on reality shows you only start talking about how much you miss your kids to make having to go back to them seem like a choice. “Actually, I lost because of how much I love and miss my wonderful children.” It all makes sense now.
After that, the show announced a food truck challenge set at a college, to be promoted by DUNT DUNT DUNNN… former Vine star Logan Paul, who arrived to answer the question of which food looks like a fam. Jesus Christ, Top Chef. First a kid montage and then a Vine star cameo? Are you trying to drive me away?? Graham Elliot was also mysteriously absent this episode. Was that it? Were you trying to make me feel bad about ridiculing the affable bow tie clown by replacing him with someone truly grating? WELL IT WORKED! UGH!
Of course, Top Chef always does the “soundbites to fluff the guest’s resume” thing, where Padma introduces someone, then they cut to one of the contestants looking into the camera saying “Oh my god I’m so amped, Fetch Stryker is like the original gangster of nouvelle Arkansas beef core!”
They essentially tried to do the same pattern with Logan Paul, only with Padma telling us (via sound clearly added in post) that Logan Paul “has over 11 million followers.”
This was followed by a short package of chefs looking at each other impressed, like “11 million followers? My gosh that’s incredible.” “Yes, indubitably, 11 million is certainly a very large number of something.”
Yes, and that’s LITERALLY THE ONLY INTERESTING THING ABOUT HIM. Actually I have to give LP credit for annoying me slightly less than I imagined he would. He only got about five minutes of camera time, and other than crowing about loving waffles, wearing a shirt for his TV (web?) show, and dabbing (what’s next, bro? Gangnam Style? some planking? a round of the ol’ knock out game?), he kind of… wasn’t… that bad? When another judge said a dish was meant to “look good but is mostly useless,” Paul piped up “kinda like me.”
Aw, that’s good self-deprecation, kid. You’re going to need that. Otherwise, like all social media stars, he was vaguely grating and had way too much hair. I think those are the main qualifications for tween fame.
13. (-8) ((Eliminated)) Laura Cole — AKA Pioneer Woman, aka Paula Cole, aka Dr. Quinn, aka Ol’ Moose Food
This was a precipitous and kind of disappointing fall for Ol Moose Food, not that it wasn’t entirely deserved. She really plowed her own moose patch this time. She seemed to show potential in the last episode, only to get eliminated with a bad take on a Denver, followed by a failed, runny omelette in the ensuing head-to-head-to-head omelette showdown. Chef Laura managed to choke so badly that the other chefs could barely watch. She ended up serving an omelette so uncooked and runny that Padma said “I’m scared to eat it.”
Oh please, Padma. How many tartares with a raw egg yolk on top have you eaten during the course of this show? There were two in the first episode alone, and this is season 15. It has to be in the triple digits. So don’t act like you’re suddenly worried about salmonella. Anyway, RIP, Laura. I’ll be rooting for her in Last Chance Kitchen, but somehow I doubt more head-to-head cooking is going to be in her wheelhouse. It’s a real shame, she was by far the easiest to write jokes for. And she gets sportsmanship points for not complaining about getting hosed having to waste the first part of the omelette challenge cleaning off a non-stick pan after Tanya stole the last two clean ones.
Unfortunately for Laura, sportsmanship points are not redeemable… for anything, really.