Welcome to your Top Chef Power Rankings for week seven. “Carne!” was the actual episode title, but here are some additional suggestions:
AKA: Talk Beefy To Me
AKA: Where’s The Beef?
AKA: Waithe Waithe Don’t Tell Me
AKA: Less Frou-Frou More Soul
AKA: Xantham Gum?? …Get A Rope
AKA: Honey They Shrunk The Cow
AKA: It Never Got Beefy Enough For Me
AKA: What Can Brown Do For You
This week, the chefs got to work with legendary Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini, a guy I first heard about when Bill Buford went to work for him in Heat (a wonderful food book). On the show he mostly showed up as the crazy Italian man who constantly shouts “Carne,” and, frankly, I could’ve done without the editing package of six different competitors saying “Carne!” like Dario.
Yeah, yeah, we get it, carne. How much better would it have been if Dario had a bad Italian accent from the twenties? And all of the judging had been done in it? Bran-done: You beef-a so small. Why you make-a Tom-a Colicchio cry?
The fun thing about Italian is that you can ask an Italian how to say a phrase, and then repeat it back to them in the most exaggerated Chef Boyardee accent possible as a joke and they’ll just be like “Yes! A-just-a like-a this!” (*hand motion like holding an invisible hawk by the feet*)
The show also did that thing this week where they give the chefs an absurdly short amount of time to cook a thing and then berate them for not cooking things that take much longer. I can’t believe you didn’t cook me a standing rib roast! For Christ’s sake you had an entire hour!
Actually, the chefs had two hours to butcher AND cook their meat cuts. What the hell? Come on, we watch this show for persnickety judging, not unfair judging (“You call this a gougére, you cretin? What, did your mother give birth in a stable?”).
Before the butchery session, Lena Waithe showed up to guest judge the quickfire, and if we’re being honest, the editing package where the contestants fluff the judge’s resume was a little sad this time. “Oh man, Lena Waithe! She’s killing it right now, she’s been in, uh… Ready Player One…”
You could tell Eric didn’t really want to bring up Ready Player One as Lena’s only credit but he knew it was the most well known (either that or he felt conflicted about the Aziz Ansari controversy when he thought of Master of None — ed). Nonetheless, Lena was game, there to host a hot brown challenge, in which the chefs were tasked with reimagining the hot brown — an open-faced turkey sandwich covered in mornay sauce, made famous by the Brown Hotel in Louisville. That challenge had rules that were nicely specific — has to have turkey, a sauce, and be plated in a skillet. It’s nice when challenges are specific!
Anyway, it feels like the favorites are starting to crystallize. Call your bookie today!
Quickfire Challenge Top: Justin*, Eddie, Adrienne
Quickfire Challenge Bottom: Brian, Sara, Kelsey
Elimination Challenge Top: Justin, Adrienne, Eddie*
Elimination Challenge Bottom: Sara, Brandon, Brian
1. (+2) Eddie Konrad — AKA: Smiles. AKA: The Accountant. AKA: Seppuku. AKA: Sweaty Eddie. AKA: Calamity. AKA: Nice Guy Eddie.
Eddie is really starting to pull away as both the favorite to win the competition and my heart. After the first episode I honestly just assumed that he’d be the easiest to make jokes about. Instead, he’s out there sweating his ass off, his skin making a crinkling sound like aluminum foil every time he has to smile, but it’s really those moments you live for as a viewer, and they seem to be happening more and more often now that he keeps winning.
This week Eddie made a healthy-ish hot brown (some kind of salad with torn sourdough bread?) and some ground brisket wrapped in romaine lettuce. The latter he said was… a glumpky? I thought he said blumpkin but I know that can’t be right.
Here it is: I’m seeing galumpki, golabki, golumpki, glumpki… maybe that’s why contemporary Polish cuisine hasn’t caught on, no one can spell it. Well, that and they keep trying to put screen doors on the submarine sandwiches. There’s a little outdated race humor for you.
2. (+1) Eric Adjepong — AKA: Ghana. AKA: Sports. AKA: Spader.
This whole time I’ve been thinking of Eric as the cool guy student council president, but he started off this episode dancing way too hard on Brother Luck’s grave. “Thank God he’s gone, he wasn’t one of us.” Whoa, easy there, James Spader, wasn’t the guy doing exactly what you’re doing one year ago?
That being said, why is Eric ranked so high? I don’t know, call it a hunch. He didn’t land in the top or bottom at all again this episode, but the judges seemed to like his braised jowl dish, and seemed to object mainly to the fact that he made a mousse with his beef tongue. “Those little dots of tongue? Really?” Tom asked derisively, making a dismissive wanking motion with his hand.
Eric’s food has looked consistently good all season, I have to think he’s going to put it all together eventually.