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Top Chef Power Rankings Week 5: Sympathy For Giselle

That’s right, folks, Top Chef is back! Did you miss it? I know I did, spending all that time with my boring old family. BRING BACK PADMA. Padma is your family now.

This week, the gang trekked out to a date farm in Coachella to cook for Chrissy Teigen. The quickfire challenge was to use dates to “tell us the story of the best date you’ve ever had.”

Get it? Dates? Dates? That in turn initiated a METAPHOR ROUND, in which Chef Chad made a foam (that’s Top Chef drinking game rule #1, finish your beer), saying “the froth represents my daughters, like how bubbly they are.”

That’s good metaphoring, Chad. Though I question him not being challenged on “my best date is hanging out with my daughters.” I think there’s an unspoken Top Chef rule where you can flout the guidelines of the challenge so long as you invoke the existence of your wiener kids. “It’s all for my kids!”

Chrissy Teigen then dropped a magnificent bombshell of passive aggressive critique, telling Phillip, “I love this peach pureé, I feel like a little baby!” Can we get Chrissy Teigen on every show? She really brings that special understated something. After that, she and Padma kissed. Or maybe I just imagined it.

From there, it was on to Human Teddy Bear Art Smith’s giant gay wedding for 25 couples, which I assume was the producers’ ingenious ploy for uncloseting the last remaining gay contestants. Said Chad of cooking for Art Smith, “This guy is no joke!”

Chug another beer, a contestant explaining a guest judge’s resumé is rule two of Top Chef drinking game. Everyone buzzed now? Good, onto the rankings!

1. Jeremy (even)

Nickname: Fratdad, Totino

Dish: Citrus roasted carrots with harissa yogurt and shaved radish.

Judge Reviews of Said Dish: “I really love the idea of the this dish.” “Citrus is such a great complement.” “These carrots look festive.”

Notable Quotes: “I train jiu-jitsu. Cooking food is actually a lot like jiu-jitsu when you think about it.”

Oh God, he has a red beard, trains jiu-jitsu, talks like a surf bro, and loves food? Is Jeremy me? Crap, Jeremy is me, isn’t he? That’s not why he’s number one though. It might seem odd putting Jeremy number one, seeing as how he wasn’t on top during the quickfire or the elimination challenge, but if you read those reviews of his dish, it wasn’t because they didn’t like his food. He’s been in the top on virtually every challenge so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if he saves all his screw-ups for one challenge and goes home that day, but until he makes some kind of mistake I have to have him up top. But if he keeps not making mistakes, Jeremy might just roll into the finale. (That was a jiu-jitsu joke, y’all.)

2. Kwame (+2)

Nickname(s): Wormser, The Prodigy

Dish: (With Wesley) Pickled shrimp with cucumber onion salad, citrus vinaigrette & cashews. (With Phillip) Center cut New York steak with potato cream & eggplant tomato relish.

Reviews of Said Dish(s): “Sometimes when you use fish sauce it’s a little pungent, there’s a really good balance here.” “I also love how they pickled the shrimp.” “Kwame’s sauce saves Phillip’s dish.”

Notable Quotes: “I’m definitely romantic… when I need to be. [Anyone else think this was a little ominous sounding?] “Even if that’s what you’re trying to make, that is not good.” [in regards to Phillip’s Gummy Potato Disaster]

Rather than making a dish of his own, Kwame played utility saucier for Wesley (nước chấm for some shrimps) and Phillip (eggplant tomato relish for a steak), which turned out to be a brilliant move. People always remember the sauce, and you won’t get blamed if your teammate botches the protein. Kwame also helped out the producers, by looking all lovestruck when Chrissy Teigen was in the room. Much like the producers need the chefs to act blown away by a guest judge’s resumé, they also need at least one lovestruck chef-testant when a guest judge is a model to really drive home the “this woman is attractive” storyline. Anyway, Kwame is certainly doing well, but excuse me if I’m not a true believe based solely on sauce. Sauce is pretty easy, you just keep tweaking and tasting until it’s good. Also, how have we gone two full episodes without a follow-up mention of the fact that Kwame sold candy on the subway to finance his pop-up restaurant?

3. Jason (+3)

Nickname(s): Mr. Uptight, Chefzilla, Chef No Chill

Dish: (with Angelina) Niño envueltos – Swiss chard stuffed with braised chicken and caramelized honey sauce.

Reviews of Said Dish: “I’m loving this dish.” “They did a really good job.”

Notable Quotes: “Don’t say dolma. It’s not really a dolma.” “This guy is completely delusional. Phillip, shut up.”

Jason is dancing a fine line between “Lovable Bitchy Guy Who Says What Everyone’s Thinking” and “Uptight Guy Who’s Always Defensive About Something.” Jason won immunity in the quickfire, which you’d think would’ve made him relax, but conversely it seemed only to magnify his uptightness. He got more screen time for sh*tting on Angelina and Phillip than he did for his dish, which actually looked and sounds amazing. Stuff a leafy veg with some braised meats and I’m yours, just sayin’. Maybe he got drunk after winning the quickfire? He kind of seemed like he was in one of those “I’m drunk and now I’m going to let everyone know how I really feel about them” moods. Jason seems to be turning it on at the same time this competition is starting to get to him. Time will tell, folks, time will tell.

4. Isaac (-1)

Nickname(s): Cajun Man, Cornbread, Roux McClanahan

Dish: Dirty rice with smoked chicken and jalapeño sausage.

Reviews of Said Dish: “It’s delicious, it’s so savory.” “You can taste the distinctness of the peppers.” “It really tastes bright and clear.”

Notable Quotes: “Hey, y’all, I’m just a good ol’ boy from Looziana and I’m jus’ tickled to be here. Wan’ some cornbread?” (I’m paraphrasing)

Isaac has really solidified his place as the most likable contestant, and this week his food looked delicious. As a smoked meat, I think we underrate chicken. I had some smoked chicken wings the other day that made me wonder why we ever do anything else to chicken wings. Anyway, Isaac is in that position of always being just shy of the winner in every challenge. I doubt he’ll win this competition but he’ll probably end up on a food show somewhere anyway. I just want to get drunk and eat po’boys with him.

5. Amar (+2)

TopChefAmar
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Nickname(s): Big Sleazy

Dish: (With Chad). Sherry-glazed pork belly with smoked orange marmalade.

Reviews of Said Dish: “Mmmmmm.” “Tons of flavor.” “The pork belly is really nicely cooked.” “I’m liking this dish.”

Notable Quotes: “Oh, she’s coming back.” [in regards to an ex-girlfriend]

Big Sleazy is kind of just hanging around the middle of the pack, getting almost universally positive reviews on his food without winning. Amar seems to have the highest “Top Chef IQ,” cooking stuff he knows the judges will like (pork belly is a slam dunk) and not screwing it up. You probably won’t see Amar messing with foams or lecithin, and he avoids lean meats like I avoid those people with clipboards standing outside Whole Foods. I think Amar is the dark horse of this competition.

6. Marjorie (+3)

Nickname(s): Mike Ms.abella, Sad Sack

Dish: (With Carl). Grilled apricots with cherries, mascarpone cheese & hazelnuts.

Reviews of Said Dish: “Carl and Marjorie knocked it out of the park.” “Every ingredient pops.”

Notable Quotes: “I’m not, like, looking for that right now.” [Marjorie’s thoughts on finding love.]

If they turned this into a dessert competition, Marjorie would win it going away. Without desserts she’s a perennial middle-of-the-pack-er. I hope she does well, but more so than that I just want her to find some happiness in this world. All I want to do is give her a hug, though I get the feeling she’d hate it.

7. Wesley (-2)

Nickname(s): Pig Pen, Chef Tomsula

Dish: (With Kwame) Pickled shrimp with cucumber onion salad, citrus vinaigrette & cashews.

Reviews of Said Dish(s): “Sometimes when you use fish sauce it’s a little pungent, there’s a really good balance here.” “I also love how they pickled the shrimp.”

Notable Quotes: “My wife, love of my life, she really likes cheese plates, but I’m lactose intolerant.” “I’m not a hippie, I don’t do yoga.”

Jesus, Chef Tomsula couldn’t have Tomsula’d any harder this week if he cooked with a dip cup in his hand. He’s a perfect character. He goes high, but not that high this week. High after being part of the winning team, not that high because his contribution to said dish seemed to consist solely of pickling shrimp and cutting onions. Pretty sure Kwame even cut the cucumbers. I like Wesley, but I envision him eventually going home when the judges find an old sock in one of his dishes. Followed by a slow pan down to his sockless foot, then Wesley burying his face in his hands when he realizes what he’s done.

8. Carl (even)

Nickname: Charlie White Guy, Ol’ Whatshisface, The One You Can’t Remember

Dish: (With Marjorie). Grilled apricots with cherries, mascarpone cheese & hazelnuts.

Reviews of Said Dish:“Carl and Marjorie knocked it out of the park.” “Every ingredient pops.”

Notable Quotes: “My wife made me a milk shake when I had my tonsils out, so I made for you a milk shake on account of I’m super literal.”

Carl made a date milk shake for the quickfire. Bro, on what planet are you going to win a challenge with a milk shake? This isn’t Jackrabbit Slim’s. Of course, he came roaring back in the elimination challenge, but I have to think that was mostly Marjorie’s doing. One of these days Carl is going to do something that make us remember him. Hopefully not a spree killing.

9. Chad (+1)

Nickname(s): Rad Chad, Rockabilly Bob, The Bad Boy of IT

Dish: (With Amar). Sherry-glazed pork belly with smoked orange marmalade.

Reviews of Said Dish: “Mmmmmm.” “Tons of flavor.” “The pork belly is really nicely cooked.” “I’m liking this dish.”

Notable Quotes: “The froth represents my daughters, like how bubbly they are.” [Nice, bro.]

Chad was in the bottom three during the quickfire, despite winning the metaphor competition and apparently successfully convincing the judges that hanging out with your kids counts as “a date.” His pork belly with Amar was a hit (leading to a great belly-bump high-five clip), but I’m going to need to see him cooking something the judges like while not paired with Amar to put him higher on this list.

10. Phillip (even)

Nickname: Chef Top Knot, The Weez, The Reason People Hate L.A. Personified

Dish: (With Kwame). Center cut New York steak with potato cream & eggplant tomato relish.

Reviews of Said Dish: “Something about the potatoes, it has a raw flavor to it.” “There’s a gumminess to them because he overcooked them.” “I really like the eggplant relish.” “I think Kwame’s relish saves Phillip’s dish.”

Notable Quotes: “I don’t know if that’s a flaw, that’s something I was going for.”

Phillip managed to stay in the competition despite committing a classic Top Chef sin: defending a dish no one liked. “No, see, I meant for it to be rubbery. It’s this new thing they’re doing in France.”

This was also the week Phillip’s inherent unlikability seemed to bleed into the reviews of his food. He managed a number of feats this week, receiving both the most passive aggressive of critiques (“I feel like a baby!”) and the most Top Chef-y (“It didn’t feel ‘date-y’ to me,”). He also managed to get dinged for his potatoes being simultaneously raw tasting and overcooked, which I think is some kind of scientific paradox.

It was a little unfair that everyone ganged up on him for saying he was going to cook mashed potatoes when all he said was that it was going to taste like mashed potatoes. Also, it’s Phillip. Did you really think he was going to make a straight mashed potato dish without making it finicky and obnoxious? You guys clear don’t know Phillip.

Only Phillip could think putting a potato-based puree into a whipped cream charger was a good idea. He is not going to win.

11. Karen (-9)

Nickname(s): Rosie the Riveter, Hot Topic

Dish: (With Giselle). Charred eggplant pureé with asparagus, smoked mushrooms, citrus vinaigrette & kumquats.

Reviews of Said Dish: “Asparagus is slightly undercooked.” “Severely underseasoned.” “It’s not wedding food.” “It’s not elegant enough.”

Notable Quotes: “I found it hard to collaborate.” “At least I was trying.”

Karen became the last gay chef to come out (so far…) in a moment that was a lot more touching than you’d expect of anything on the Bravo network. Unfortunately, she then got paired with Giselle, which is always the kiss of death. I don’t even think Giselle did anything with that dish other than chop some mint, but her presence alone was enough to ruin it.

12. Angelina (even)

Nickname: Tough Girl, Da Bronx, HOW ARE YOU STILL HERE?!

Dish: (with Jason) Niño envueltos – Swiss chard stuffed with braised chicken and carmelized honey sauce.

Reviews of Said Dish: “I’m loving this dish.” “They did a really good job.”

Notable Quotes: “I’m like a chihuahua but if you talk to me I’m gonna turn into a pit bull.”

Solid quote, Angelina, you can tell she’s young enough to have grown up with reality shows. Angelina wisely hitched her wagon to Jason this week, which had the dual effect of sabotaging one of the top competitors by slowly driving him insane, and keeping her off the bottom. Nice work, but does anyone think she’s going to last more than two more episodes? She might get kicked off after Phillip, but I wouldn’t take that bet.

13. (eliminated) Giselle (-2)

Nickname: Nosering Girl, Poutypants

Dish: (With Karen). Charred eggplant pureé with asparagus, smoked mushrooms, citrus vinaigrette & kumquats.

Reviews of Said Dish: “Asparagus is slightly undercooked.” “Severely underseasoned.” “It’s not wedding food.” “It’s not elegant enough.”

Notable Quotes: “I went on a date, and I liked the way it was really spontaneous.” “I’m like the nicest person here!”

Poor Giselle. I actually felt sorry for her this week. Everyone was really mean to her, and only because she’s intensely personally obnoxious. So unfair. She also ended up going home for a dish that seemed to have been planned, cooked, and expedited solely by Karen, but I kind of agree with the “cooking bad is better than doing nothing” conclusion. Feel better, Giselle! Maybe try not to think out loud so much? Everyone seemed to really hate that.

Predictions for Next Week (The Chefs Go to San Diego!)

-Angelina spends the first 15 minutes of the show wearing a grey hoodie, shadowboxing to “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.

-Isaac introduces the cheftestants to his pet iguana, Peppah. Peppah drinks all the house’s bourbon, and Isaac chases him around the house shaking his fist, yelling “You ain’ gon’ git away wit dis dis time, Peppah!”

-Richard Blais arrives to announce the next challenge in a hot air balloon, tossing sandwich cookies to all the girls and boys.

-Annoyed that the other judges didn’t pick up on her obvious sexual double entendre, Padma deepthroats an entire cucumber.

Vince Mancini is a writer and comedian living in San Francisco. A graduate of Columbia’s non-fiction MFA program, his work has appeared on FilmDrunk, the UPROXX network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator. Fan FilmDrunk on Facebook, find the latest movie reviews here.

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