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.
- So here’s a funny story: My wife and I were making risotto in our Instant Pot this evening—on the advice of Top Chef Master Rick Bayless!—and, *brushes dust off shoulder*, it turned out absolutely perfect, so we joked about how hilarious it would be if Top Chef’s Curse of the Risotto™ sent home yet another chef tonight. Our jaws just about hit the floor, then, when Bruce started cooking a barley risotto and they just about smashed through the boards when it started going south. Despite some heavy, Chris-centric editing and plenty of piling on his dish, the fundamental failures and lack of imagination on Bruce’s plate made it pretty obvious who was going. I’d tell him to use an Instant Pot next time, but it surely doesn’t compare to the traditional, stir-crazy method, right? (It did, actually ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.)
- Also, holy shit: It took 15 seasons, but Top Chef fulfilled my two biggest fantasies: A Stephen King-themed cooking challenge and Padma goddamned Lakshmi talking about ghosts. “I believe in spirits,” she says, her voice soft, thoughtful, and demure, during some dizzying shots of the Stanley Hotel, the hotel that inspired King to write The Shining. What perfect heaven did I enter that gives me Padma eerily sitting alone at a table, silverware laid out before her, in the room where, as she puts it, “Stephen King had his nightmare.” Call me crazy but Padma was legit acting possessed throughout the entire Quickfire. Her reactions were delayed and dreamy, and more than a few snippets of her voice had to be ADR’d in.
- Just look at this smile and tell me that’s not a woman possessed:
- All this scene needed was Joestachio pulling out his crystals.
- Forgive me, I’ve been watching too much Ghost Adventures. Speaking of, how much fun were the editors having inserting those peals of creepy children’s laughter and zooming in the camera on Carrie’s dream about tater tots. It isn’t often they’re given that kind of freedom, one might imagine.
- Quickfire: Anyways, the challenge here was to create a dish based on your worst nightmare. The chefs didn’t get as creative as the Texas chefs did when cooking for Charlize Theron—remember Grayson’s morbid-as-fuck black chicken monstrosity?—but Chris topped his chocolate cake with a “marzipan dead man” so credit where credit is due. Also, please come see my vaporwave band Marzipan Dead Man play our first gig next week.
- Chris’ creativity gives him the win, while Joe’s no-doubt delicious egg yolk ice cream was perhaps undone by the tangibility of his fear: Finding a bloody chicken fetus inside an egg. Christ, who wants to eat something goopy with that image in your head?
- Can we all just take a moment to appreciate Bruce manufacturing a fear of seeds for this challenge? He says he has no idea how to translate his real fears into a plate a food (a trait of his that factors in later), so dude is literally like I’m afraid of this food. Jokes aside, people suffering from trypophobia—fear of small holes or bumps—are also occasionally freaked out by tiny seeds, so there’s something to it. Still, I love the idea of Chris being like, “I’m scared of marzipan so I made this little dead man out of it.”
- Also, who besides me and Padma loved all of Chris’ old nicknames?
- My favorite was “creamy brown brother.”
- Elimination Challenge: Simple, classic, and becoming more and more of a staple at this stage of the challenge—make a dish that illustrates your Top Chef journey thus far. Adrienne, Carrie, and Joe all zero in on specific lessons they’ve learned throughout the competition, and show just how good they are at absorbing criticism and pushing themselves as chefs. They cooked the food that best represents them—Joe made pasta again, but had a good reason for making pasta again—but also highlighted the ways in which they’ve grown. They all land on top, and Carrie takes it home with an hearty-looking elk dish with spicy shishito peppers and a blueberry sauce. The judges were fanatical in their love for it. EDIT: Joe actually won! Oops! Not changing the caption of the below image, though.
- Chris, on the other hand, bungled the challenge by getting a bit too emotional about it. It was lovely to hear how he was dedicating various components to the chefs he’d grown to love throughout the course of the competition—especially when he tied it back in to his previous struggles with substance abuse—but in doing so he veered away from what makes his cooking special.
- Bruce, meanwhile, just seems to struggle with the concept of translating abstract ideas into coherent dishes. That’s not a knock on him, necessarily, as creativity manifests in a myriad of ways in the kitchen and we’ve seen some incredible stuff from him. But, as with the Quickfire, he almost seems kind of annoyed at the concept of intellectualizing food in this way. Makes sense, I guess; he’s a soul chef. It was his time to go, I feel. He was a welcome presence in the house, but he was inconsistent and almost shockingly sloppy on occasions considering his pedigree. Don’t worry about him, though; dude has like an empire of restaurants.
- I didn’t mention it above, but Adrienne’s “nightmare” dish was also a masterpiece of concept and execution. The vision of blood seeping through a forest floor with every footstep is some Sam Raimi shit.
- Of Padma’s several ADR’d lines in the Stanley Hotel, my favorite was “It looks like you guys could use a little jolt, so let’s see what you got.” God, I just couldn’t with Padma this episode. The longer this show goes on, the more I am drawn into her weird-ass orbit.
- One of the guest judges was named Tommy Lee, who is a famous chef and not a slime-covered drummer. Still, it made me kinda long to see rock and roll’s Lee as a guest judge. Who wouldn’t want to see a spread of Motley Crudos?
- Tom throwing some serious shade! He says the cooking’s been better on Last Chance Kitchen than on Top Chef and he might bring two chefs back! Does he? Well, you’ll just have to keep reading.
- Also, a moment of celebration for Fatima, who, after undergoing surgery, is officially cancer-free.
- Next week on Top Chef: The final four go to Telluride and I really hope that hometown hero Kenny “The Preppin’ Weapon” Gilbert from D.C. is a guest judge (but probably not ‘cause he got smoked on his season). Also, we find out who won Last Chance Kitchen!
- No, Amanda, it wasn’t you.
- Okay, sorry, it’s
- No, Tom! It’s time for Last Chance Kitchen.
- Last Chance Kitchen: Two episodes, totaling roughly a half hour. In the first, Bruce squares off against Chicago Joe and Brother in a battle of the (checks notes) bears? Brother’s not a bear. He agrees, too. “Somehow I got roped into this bear story,” he says. They have to make porridge (Goldilocks, etc.), but, ya know, fancy. Brother topples the big boys with a white quinoa porridge with a chilean sea bass, while Bruce bites it with a farro and barley porridge with scallop. But, hey, he redeemed himself in the barley department.
- In the second episode, Joe and Brother can make anything they want. The result will be judged by Tom, guest chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, and a cumulative vote of the eliminated cheftestants. The winner goes back on the show. Like pretty much every episode of LCK, it’s pretty great, with both chefs pulling out all the stops. Brother goes over the top with a stuffed chicken breast, a brussels sprout hash, some nitro berries, and about a dozen other things. Joe, on the other hand, keeps it simple with a lamb shoulder and fava bean pesto. And...of course we didn’t find out who won.
- In the meantime, weep at this photo of Tyler being sad about Brother taking his spot in the bear den.
- “We knew from the start we were born to be bears,” he says.
- Also, Brother calls Tom’s token stoveside chats “emotional terrorism,” which made me laugh.
- Also, listen to my Stephen King podcast.