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Top Chef sings a song of ice and fire as the chefs take to the snowy Denver wilderness

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.

  • Hey, y’all, remember when “social media influencer” and corpse exploiter LOGAN PAUL was a guest judge a few weeks ago? Something tells me Bravo hopes you don’t!
  • Anyways. Camping. It feels like a Top Chef staple, but, weirdly, it isn’t. There’s almost always an “outdoor cooking challenge,” but I believe the only other time the cheftestants were cast off into the wilderness overnight like this was during Las Vegas. Where that challenge confronted the chefs with boiling heat and boatloads of sand, this one ups the ante with mountains of snow and the possibility of an honest-to-god bear attack. With Tyler gone, our Bear Den wouldn’t stand a chance.
  • Seriously, though, Padma is somber as hell: “You’ll be exposed to the elements. Be prepared for anything.” Somewhere, Bravo’s risk managers are chewing their nails.
  • No Quickfire this week, as we’re transported back to the end of last week’s Last Chance Kitchen. In a fun, necessary twist on the format, one competing chef will be reentering the competition based on the strength of an offal dish. Tom swats away Kwame’s chicken heart sofrito dish, and in an oddly candid moment brings both Lee Anne and Claudette back into the competition, with him and Padma both seeming caught off guard by their own decision. “This was not planned,” Tom says, a statement backed up by the lone apron Padma carries.
  • Like, doesn’t Tom need to confer with producers about this? Doesn’t bringing back two chefs change the structure of upcoming episodes? Maybe it happened off camera? I dunno. It’s difficult to buy moments like these, one Tom describes as “on the fly,” but me? I believe our Papa Bear. I’m not sure I believe him when he says producers have no input in eliminations, but I believe him here. I have to. Because, if nothing else, can’t we agree that Chef Tom Colicchio exudes honor?
And charm. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • Regardless, it’s a good decision. It’s nice to see one of the veterans back, and Claudette really stepped up during LCK, highlighting a style of Mexican cooking that isn’t often represented on American television. Also, in honor of Logan Paul, she dabbed.
She’s not actually dabbing. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • Were y’all happy with the outcome? Any Kwame stans out there?
  • Elimination Challenge: I touched on it above, but the chefs are tasked with creating a dish using local Denver proteins while camping in the snowy, beast-filled Denver tundra. Furthermore, they’ll only be able to cook using equipment culled from a camping store. That means there’s plenty of cooking racks, but no dutch ovens (sorry, Carrie). The pervasive chill makes maintaining consistent heat tough, and that contributes to Tu’s eventual elimination. His undoing, however, is one that’s familiar to countless cheftestants before him: Never make three dishes when you can make just one really good one. To quote awful, mean corporate overlords across the world: “Make more with less.”
  • A moment of silence for Tu, who looked less sad upon leaving than he did for being in the middle last week.
Tu, last week. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • Sad to see him go, especially considering he took home the win on that pivotal first elimination challenge. The good news is that Last Chance Kitchen isn’t over. Not sure if Kwame is done for good (I hope not), but one can assume it’s back next week.)
  • On a more positive note, Bruce takes home the win with his perfectly textured egg yolk cavatelli. He was wise to brag about his use of the mandolin to help carve out the pasta; the judges love a good bit of homespun innovation. It’s not as good as Fabio using the pan racks to grate cheese during All-Stars, though.  
  • It sure seemed like the rest of the chefs were rooting for Carrie to win. Her upbringing in the Colorado area made her well-equipped to the terrain (she was only one who knew how to put up a tent), and her self-made oven in the snow was a sight to behold. And, seriously, it takes stones to wanna make an upside down cake when you’re operating in unpredictable conditions with limited tools. She’s a dark horse, y’all.
  • My episode MVP (and yours too, I imagine) was Fatima, who is not only hilarious (“I’m gonna poop my pants,” she crispy enunciates), but she’s also on the Casey beat of delivering stone cold face.
(Screenshot: Bravo)
  • “Look at the squab ohhhh baby,” Tom said, almost giggling in delight, when Chicago Joe set his plate down. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him so giddy in anticipation. Well, Outside of Last Chance Kitchen, at least. I swear he’s at least three beers in when they film those.
  • Seriously, though, how good did all of that food look?
Mmmmmm. (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • Okay, who brought the guitar? Bruce? Nobody likes the guy with the guitar, Bruce.
  • “I don’t fuck with ghosts,” says Brother Luck, not sounding in any way like he was kidding.
  • Every week, my wife and I gasp when Padma first appears in the title sequence.
How does this even happen? (Screenshot: Bravo)
  • Meanwhile, I’m over here like:
Screenshot: Bravo
  • No Last Chance Kitchen this week. How do you guys think they’ll run with it? Will they run for another five episodes before bringing someone back? Or will this contestant need to fight their way all the way to the finals? Will there be a Last Chance Kitchen for Last Chance Kitchen? Does Marcel get another shot?
  • Next week on Top Chef: German food and carnivals! Blais? Nope! It’s featured judge Graham Elliot, whose hand I shook at last summer’s Lollapalooza. He’s truly a nice man! See you next week, foodies.

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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.