Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Top Chef: “Jalapeno Business”

Illustration for article titled Top Chef: “Jalapeno Business”

Every season of Top Chef needs a villain, and in Seattle, it has to be smug Stefan. Or wait, is it over-exuberant Josie? Maybe excessively mustachioed Josh? Or John, who always seems to be wearing his glasses two inches above his eyes? The truth is, a lot of the cast members on Top Chef: Seattle have had some seriously unlikeable moments. This week, the divisive contestant is Josie. After her antics at the berry festival last week, any kind of tense personal interaction would be magnified. But her sniping at Micah coupled with a poor performance in the challenges means that Josie is well on her way to becoming Top Chef Grinch.

Quickfire Challenge:

The chefs awake to a summons: Go collect their ingredients at a shellfish farm outside the city. Clomping around in the mud, collecting the freshest and briniest of oysters, our intrepid chefs return to the kitchen with big net bags full of delectable shellfish. Emeril and Padma meet them with the rest of the challenge. Each chef has to prepare a dozen oysters for Emeril. Five must do a hot preparation; five must do a cold one.

Josie begins her streak of bad luck here, when she manages to break her sauce for the oysters and overwhelm the whole dish with chorizo. Bart also lands in the bottom, and John’s oysters had “no pop.” That’s Emeril for “you forgot to kick it up a notch, bub.” On the winning end of things are some now familiar victors. Lizzie, with her red currant preparation, stole Emeril’s heart, and Brooke triumphed despite getting some bits of shell in the dish. But it was Micah who pulled out the win. I suspect it’s because he compared Emeril to God, but it’s possible that his oysters were just that tasty. It’s good that he got the win, because soon afterward, Josie yelled at him for being “in the closet.” It’s poor form on her part, particularly after Micah helped her out of the mud during their oyster hunting outing.

Elimination Challenge:

After the Quickfire is settled, in come some of Seattle’s finest alternative athletes: Roller Derby Girls. The chefs have to team up and provide nibbles for the arena based on the ladies’ sassy, food-related names. Bart bites the bullet and teams up with Josie to interpret Teriyaki Terror. Their offering is a hot mess. It’s a too spicy teriyaki marinade paired with under-seasoned beef and overcooked forbidden rice. The Terror herself proclaims it “too earthy,” which Hugo correctly translates into “unique crappy.” When they end up on the wrong end of judge’s table, Tom assesses the food as “teriyaki terrible.” Ouch.

Brooke and John’s lobster jasmine rice and Thai beef combo was the most decadent and delicious-looking of the dishes. (Their lady was Kutta Rump, which allowed for more of that straight-up serving a hunk of meat than the others). Stefan and Kristen, who seemed like they would totally own as a team, turned out a just OK dish of “inside out chicken.”

The other contenders for the top dish were Lizzie and Micah, who turned out a humble jalepeno popper. Stefan dismissed the dish as “pedestrian bullshit food” but, as always, you should never underestimate the simple but perfectly executed dish. Brooke and John ultimately nabbed the win, but Lizzie is looking better every week.


The bottom teams were the aforementioned Josie-tastrophe and Josh and Sheldon, team husky mustache. Sheldon and Josh had a good idea, which was to deep-fry yuzu custard and present it alongside a series of little sauce components. But frying is risky business, and the tempura came out badly. Tom berated everyone, and Josh hung his mustachioed head. But in the end it was Bart who ended up packing his knives. Remember kids: Salt your food. Otherwise, Tom Colicchio is going to come knocking.