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It's all about beer, pretzels, and sausage as Top Chef celebrates Oktoberfest

Photo: Bravo
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Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • Oof. So much for that unprecedented act of bringing two chefs back from Last Chance Kitchen. Still, it was a delight watching Lee Anne kick ass through five LCK challenges and land on top of her only elimination challenge, but that altitude wasn’t doing any favors for the future cheftestant in her belly. Safety first.
  • Nor, it seems, is it doing any for Chicago Joe. I can empathize; us flatlanders weren’t made for the mountains.
I hear you, brother. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • Quickfire Challenge: Something unprecedented! The producers dug through the chef’s menus to find their most laborious dishes, then tasked them with making them in under 30 minutes. I truly can’t think of another instance where the chefs’ IRL menus played a factor in a challenge. I loved it, too, as it offers a deeper, more personal glimpse into the kinds of dishes they serve in their own restaurants, as well as the style of cuisine they feel most comfortable cooking. It also makes the concept of simplicity an integral part of a challenge in a way that’s both organic and challenging.
  • Very challenging. How does one boil down two days worth of prep work into a half hour? That’s like asking me to turn a 10-page essay into a 2-page one, or the kinds of Top Chef recaps I do into a “discussion post.” The prize, however, is a juicy one: Your own Insta-friendly, quick-cut instructional video to be shared via Buzzfeed.
  • Before I realized this was the prize, I thought it was simply a Buzzfeed plug, which then made me marvel at the idea that Buzzfeed would want a Top Chef endorsement. Obviously, it was the other way around, but, boy, between Buzzfeed and Logan Paul, TC’s really angling for that millennial market, eh? Let’s just keep the Buzzfeed staff away from any infamous Japanese suicide forests now...
  • ANYWAYS, yes, this was hard, and several of the chefs bungle it, as finding quick, alternative methods to days-long prep doesn’t sound like the easiest thing. Chris comes out on top by upholding the bold, spicy flavors of his pepper pot shrimp, earning him immunity.
  • Several chefs got slammed, but none so hard as Fatima, who got a severe verbal lashing from Padma. After praising the big, rich flavors she culled from Western cuisine last week, she literally yells, “Why aren’t you cooking our food like that?”
Ouch. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • Considering Fatima has mentioned on several occasions that she grew up watching Padma’s travel show, that’s some hard shit to hear.
  • What do y’all think? Was Padma too harsh? Or is it just some tough love for someone she clearly believes in?
  • Anyways, here comes Richard Blais with his purple sweater and matching glasses.
“Teacher, teacher, you forgot to give us homework!” (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • I love how Blais was essentially introduced by Chris being like, “He always sous vides stuff.” Bring back gawky, rotund season four Blais, please.
  • Elimination Challenge: A challenge after my own heart: Create their own beer garden, complete with elevated German fare and a radler (half beer, half juice) of their own creation. It’s not often a drink is bundled into a challenge, but it’d be dumb to invoke the spirit of Oktoberfest without it.
My happy place. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • My wife says Padma’s comments about people’s costumes at the event were subtly “Regina Georgian.” I, however, can neither confirm nor deny.
  • Lots of hearty, delicious-looking dishes on display, but Tonya takes it home with her pork croquettes, which she pairs with a peach and ginger radler. But Claudette also deserves props for making “pepper dust” that judge Keegan Gerhard describes with a German word that roughly translates to “somewhere between cozy and a hug.” Oh, if I could live forever within that weird-ass German word.
  • With the way they were building up Joestachio’s anxiety regarding his dish I thought he might be the one to go home. I might’ve preferred it, too, what with the cruelty that is sending Brother Luck home on the same episode you tell us his parents were exotic dancers. His background has only gotten more interesting with every episode!
Oh, dear. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • What do you think? Was Brother the right one to go? They dug his dish, but say he didn’t really adhere to the challenge. In Last Chance Kitchen he says he was eliminated because of a technicality, and aggressively tells Tom he “shouldn’t have gone home.” Do you agree? 
  • Tom’s bemused visits to the kitchen are my favorite. He refuses to have a laugh with anyone. All he does is make ominous “okays” that give everyone panic attacks. His cruel refusal to even slightly indulge Carrie’s “Hasselhoff Potatoes” was both hilarious and painful.
  • “I don’t like hanging out with chefs all day long,” says Tanya. “My tolerance for bullshit is low.” I think we all feel that way about the people in our given professions, yeah?
  • Adrienne’s incorporation of the German rauchbier into her radler gives me an opportunity to rep Chicago’s Dovetail Brewery, who make a killer rauchbier. It’s like if bacon were a beer.
  • Chris opening up about the difficulty of even being around a bar-like atmosphere as a recovering alcoholic was powerful, and touches on the moral grey area of having an alcohol challenge when one of the contestants is in recovery. That he found himself reflecting on his past mistakes in the wake of his current ones in the elimination challenge was heartbreaking.
  • Did anyone else see the boom mic dropping nearly halfway into the shot while those old ladies were discussing Joestachio’s dish? Methinks the cameramen were enjoying a few radlers too many.
  • Me when I saw the boom mic:
Sorry, been wanting to bring this photo back. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • Last Chance Kitchen: Tom says we’re back to the “old school rules” of Last Chance Kitchen, which means that it’ll be one-on-one rounds until, I presume, the final four is decided. Brother and Tu square off in a challenge that tasks them with using Colorado’s most plentiful ingredient: TREES. Well, more like leaves. Tu uses curry leaves and bay leaves in his chicken curry, while Brother makes ash from an avocado leaf. Brother comes out on top, but there’s a bit of underhandedness in that he kinda-sorta hid the plastic wrap that Tu wanted to make his dish a roulade. Anyways, Brother’s now calling himself “The Boogeyman.”
  • They’re still making the eliminated chefs come and watch all the LCK battles, but the returning chefs—Marcel, Jen, and Kwame—are spared the indignity. What’s bizarre, though, is that they didn’t put out chairs for them until the challenge actually started. They’re just standing there like gumps as Tom outlines the rules.
Screenshot: Bravo
  • Something tells me Last Chance Kitchen isn’t the tightly-run ship we all think it is.
  • Next time on Top Chef: Tanya drops some pans and drama ensues. Bruce’s wife has a baby and the chefs celebrate by drinking Bloody Marys from...baby bottles? I think?

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.