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Top Chef Recap: Be Quiet, You Creative Monkeys

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So, despite two wholly ridiculous challenges—one which involved Pads wearing quite the referee outfit, the other testing how well our final seven chefs can coat things in oats—last night's episode of Top Chef was rather enjoyable in a weird kind of way. Hometown rep Jamie Lauren found herself among the winners not once but twice, Stefan awkwardly threw a lemon to everyone's amusement, Fabio talked about monkey asses again, Carla meditated, and for the first time on the show, the elimination came down to three strong competitors. The recap is right around the corner, and as always, your thoughts are welcome in the comments.

1) Quickfire Challenge: In the aforementioned Quaker-sponsored challenge, the majority of the chefs struggle, because you know, oats. Who isn't disappointed about the Quaker challenge? The season's new runaway hit, the lovable-but-bonkers Carla: "I eat Quaker oats four times a week! I am like the oats girl! I am so excited!" She's the best.

2) In a sign of things to come, Fabio and Jeff finish on the bottom. Fabio concocts awful-looking oats-crusted eggplant rolls that are basically eggplant granola bars. Meanwhile, just like Hannibal Lecter does with Clarice Starling and her crying lambs, Carla astutely points out that Jeff "cannot silence the creative monkeys in his head." See, Carla has the innovative hummingbirds in her head under control.

3) Elimination Challenge: Alongside guest judge Scott Conant, Padma announces the first Top Chef Bowl, a head to head to competition with "all-stars" (losers) from past seasons. Restaurant wars, it isn't. The "all-stars" are introduced and there is clapping. Lots of clapping.

4) Speaking of those "all-star" cameos, The Mothership's Max Silvestri has this to share in his always-excellent recap: "Andrew lets everyone knows that he will be peeing on their bodies. Good to know! For warmth? Guys, nobody go camping with Andrew. Miguel says, 'They ain't never gonna be able to outbeat, uh, the grandfathers.' Guys, nobody go to language camp with Miguel."

5) Each chef chooses a city and is tasked to create a regional dish. Ms. JL takes San Francisco, because if she didn't, she says she'd get shit for it. Instead, she'll only get shit for her unfortunate pronunciation of "cioppino."

6) Quote of the episode: "It's not cooking ... that's rushing" —Fabio, speaking the truth on the challenge's 20-minute time limit.

7) We're not even going to discuss the scoring system—even Tom admitted it was silly. In any event, Jamie gets significant judge love from Conant. However, Carla gets the win for her gumbo and of course bounces off the walls as a result.

8) Losers: Because they lost their individual matchups, Stefan, Fabio and Jeff go on the chopping block, meaning that three of the stronger chefs are all up for elimination. Miami's fair prince Jeff eventually gets axed, mostly because his 20-minute ceviche was, in fact, poached shrimp with vinagrette, but also because of those damn creative monkeys hopping around within his dome.

9) Final Six Outlook: We're probably jinxing it now, but Jamie, Stefan and Hosea seem like the strongest of the final six, with Leah and Carla hanging around well beyond their expiration dates. Agree/disagree?
· All Top Chef Coverage [~ESF~]

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