If last week was for curveballs, this week was for all the stuff you’d expect from a Top Chef episode in San Francisco: Hubert Keller, Michael Chiarello being smug, artisanal toast. Artisanal toast is to San Francisco what the Jesus statue is to Brazil now, apparently. And that’s the reason the terrorists hate us. And the reason the Republicans hate us. And the reason the people who live here hate ourselves.
The quickfire, in fact, was a toast-cooking challenge. Just re-read that phrase a few times if it hasn’t hit you how stupid it is yet. It’s f*cking toast. There isn’t much you can do with it, and everything you can stretches the limits of calling it “toast.” Basically, there’s bruschetta, jam, paté, or maybe a garlic cheese thing if you want to keep it super basic (all things that are only slightly more boring to watch someone make than to eat). It was bad enough for them to have a toast-based challenge, but to make things even worse, the contestants didn’t even have to bake the bread. Which is kind of, like, the main component of toast, isn’t it? This was basically a garnishing challenge. Why not give them all plates of fresh pasta and see who grates the best parmesan?
Anyway, the challenge was introduced by Tracy Des Jardin, who said, “Artisanal toast is a classic San Francisco item now,” which feels like a bit of an oxymoronic statement. Oh, it’s a classic now? What will be a San Francisco classic next week?
Padma then added that this quickfire would be an ELIMINATION challenge. The bottom two toast makers would go head-to-head in an open-ended “make me a good plate of food” challenge, because not even the Top Chef producers are bastards enough to send one of the top five contestants home over a toast-topping challenge.
The first of those bottom two turned out to be Amar, on account of trying to put an entire menagerie of cured French meats and a reduction sauce atop some raisin bread. Dear God man, not even an eccentric Bourbon monarch would’ve eaten truffled duck-breast prosciutto on raisin bread with balsamic reduction or whatever you made. The restraint it must’ve taken not to add an oyster beurre blanc-glazed sweetbread with lobster hollandaise. Amar naturally landed in the bottom two with Carl, who tried to pair burrata and shrimp to go on top of some sourdough. Which leads me to…
Vince’s Random Food Rant Of The Week
By the way, sourdough sucks. I mean, I guess it doesn’t suck, it just annoys me that it exists. It’s not because it’s terrible, or because it isn’t better than a lot of breads, but I ask you: Is there any situation in which sourdough is preferable to regular French bread? Sourdough is like French bread, only sour, less flaky, and harder to bite through. So, like French bread, but worse in every way. Basically, sourdough is bad French bread that’s been skating by thanks to French bread being so good. But it’s not like French bread is some exotic delicacy. If you’re going to give me sourdough, just give me French bread instead. The only situation where sourdough works better than sweet French is as a bread bowl. Which is only barely food. Congratulations, sourdough. You might not taste good, but you’re great at mimicking furniture. F*ck sourdough.
Anyway, Des Jardin and Padma both objected to Carl’s seafood and cheese combo, no matter how much Carl tried to explain that it’s actually quite popular in southern Italy . “I appreciate that there’s a historical reference, but it’s just one of those pet peeves that I have,” says Judge Des Jardin.
Dammit, Carl, didn’t you learn anything from Karen? It doesn’t matter what regional cuisine actually consists of, only what the judges think regional cuisine consists of. Carl then defeated Amar in a head-to-head battle, despite making ANOTHER GOD-DAMNED CRUDO. What a travesty. This was like the food-TV version of Eddie Redmayne winning Best Actor last year.