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Top Chef loses two of its best in an episode that pulls no punches

Screenshot: Bravo
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  • Well, shit.
  • Joestachio is into crystals.
  • Wait, no...
  • Sudden Death Quickfires. We’ll get to crystals later.
  • If you’ve been reading my recaps you know this: I do not like Sudden Death Quickfires. Like, I’m okay with them early in the season. When we don’t know the chefs, when we need to separate those who embrace the pressure and those who crumble beneath it, then, yes, give us your Sudden Death Quickfire. But when you’ve winnowed it down to, say, the final seven, all of whom have proven themselves worthy to the throne, holding an all-or-nothing Quickfire halfway through an episode is a cheap-ass way to conjure up some drama. As I’ve written before, this gimmick feels like an attempt to fix something that wasn’t broken. These contestants deserve better. Chicago Joe, you deserved better.
  • Let us summarize my thoughts by gazing upon Casey’s face when she was sent home via Sudden Death Quickfire last season:
Yep, that says it all. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • Also, Joestachio is into crystals.
When someone says they’re into crystals. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • Okay, sorry. It’s...
  • Quickfire: So. We begin with flowers. Edible flowers. Squash blossom. Mustard flower. Lavender. Make something delicious from them. Carrie does, making a “fancy toast” with lavender that the other chefs sniff at but nevertheless puts her up top. Chris, Chicago Joe, and Joestachio end up on the bottom, all guilty of allowing their dishes to smell like a high school hunk’s boutonnière.
  • Sudden Death Quickfire: Make something from cauliflower, which, if you didn’t realize, sounds like it’s a flower. Actually, the real task was to make the cauliflower function as your plate’s main protein, which is a pretty solid challenge. Chris stays safe with his cauliflower caponata, while my man main Chicago Joe takes the fall by taking the biggest risk with a cauliflower risotto. Guest chef David Kinch says it’s biggest problem is that it wasn’t chopped finely enough to resemble risotto.
  • To that I say:
Screenshot: Bravo
  • Come, let us play a song as a means of tribute:
Scereenshot: Bravo
  • Oh, but there’s more tragedy to come, isn’t there? Yes, there is.
  • Elimination Challenge: Make tailgate food for 300 hungry Denver Broncos fans. I love this challenge, not only for the casual aspect of it all but also because it reminds me of season four, when the chefs cooked for Chicago Bears fans and Dale Talde lost his goddamned mind making ribs for Gale Sayers. The six remaining chefs are split into teams of two—Adrienne and Joestachio; Chris and Carrie; and Bruce and Fatima—and none of them impress Tom, who declares nobody here is worthy of a culinary “Super Bowl.” Ouch. Carrie and Chris come out on top, regardless, with their pork and green chile poutine, while Bruce and Fatima land on the bottom due to Fatima’s soggy, subpar nachos, which were mostly notable for incorporating black lentils.
  • Fatima goes home, because Top Chef producers hate me and decided to send my two favorite cheftestants home in one episode.
Screenshot: Bravo
  • I’d also like to point out here that Tom described Joestachio and Adrienne’s St. Louis-style ribs and fried mac and cheese thusly: “I’ll tell you what was wrong with your dish, because everything was wrong with this dish.” Then why not send them home, Tom?
  • Also, Fatima says she’s into cricket, not football.
  • Also, Joestachio’s into crystals.
  • Also, why was Fatima sent home?
  • Also, Padma threw some serious shade at Bruce and his penchant for pasta. “You guys are killing me with this pasta and polenta,” she muttered during the Quickfire.
  • Who else is reminded of the most recent California cast’s love for crudos?
  • Last Chance Kitchen: In terms of challenges and cooking, this season of Last Chance Kitchen has been genuinely amazing. In terms of its lack of Sam Talbot fucking around with limes, it’s been a massive disappointment. Anyways, a great challenge this week: Chicago Joe, Fatima, and Brother Luck need to construct their own taco bar. Now, they’re not making a taco; rather, they’re providing a series of ingredients that Tom can choose from. Brother stays traditional, opting for drunk beans, while Fatima corrals chana masala and a tamarind chili sauce for Pakistani tacos and Joe goes Korean with a ponzu and cilantro cod and gochujang salsa. To my delight, Joe wins! To my eternal sadness, Fatima doesn’t. So, Joe and Brother move on.
  • Meanwhile, Sam Talbot’s still over here fucking around with a lime.
Screenshot: Bravo
  • Next Time on Top Chef: In a challenge that was created literally for me, the chefs cook at Estes Park’s The Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining. Guys, I have a Stephen King podcast. What did I do to deserve such a blessed merging of delights?

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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.