Top Chef Recap: College Try Try Again
Previously, on Top Chef, Travis the secretly gay (NOT ANY MORE) expert on bad Vietnamese food, went home, and we were surprisingly sad about it! Not as sad as Nina, but sad enough! Boy wasn’t much of a cook, but once we saw him be good at something, we felt like we’d watched our baby bird fly, only to get swooped up and devoured by a bald eagle (probably named Small Government), its little bird bones snapped and crunched one-by-one.
The Roots’s Questlove, Time’s Coolest Person of 2013 — yes, even cooler than you — is here to make the chefs do drumsticks. GET IT? GET IT? (It is because he is a drummer.) Nina is doing guinea hen, jerk-style, and she has a heavy hand with spice. She tells us she started at Sandals Resort, and would you ever have imagined? Resort food! Learning how to cook, we don’t know, eggs benedict, at a resort, piling in that institutional sugar, salt, fat and citrus, and now Nina is leaving all America’s other hot young star chefs in her freaking dust. Eat it, culinary school bitchsnobs. Chefing, like pool, is a game best learned in the street.
Carrie is doing squab with fig jam. Nick is doing quail legs frogleg style, twice fried in duckfat. Nick will eventually put in too much salt. Justin is doing smoked chicken drumsticks but who cares we are not even listening because Justin has become our number one villain since all the other douches who can’t take criticism and think they’re perfect have already been kicked off this season. Questlove says not Justin’s not creative enough with his drumsticks, and we are so not into Justin that we don’t even take bitchy satisfaction in it. Brian is doing a chicken soup, of which I approve EXCEPT FOR HOW IT TAKES SIX HOURS. How do you make chicken soup in 30 minutes? That cannot be possible? (Apparently it is possible, but we do not approve of whatever newfangled “pressure cooker” (we assume) allows him to do this, harumph.
Carlos is doing goose, and Padma got a shard of bone, but she did not even murder him or anything. Top is Carrie, Nina and Brian, with his 30-minute chicken soup. Carrie wins. Nina is straight-faced, disappointed, humble Nina no more.
They are feeding 500 college students at Louisiana State University, and the winner will win whatever car this is a commercial for. They will be staying in the dorms, too, so get ready for some dank stank. Brian is going on and on about college at UCLA, where he played tennis and got drunk. How did I not figure out earlier that Brian was from Los Angeles, seeing as how he is LA-styley the worst, with the highlights? I guess I assumed he was Brooklyn-styley the worst, with hipsterness.
OK, some weird shit just happened. Carrie did not know how to make a bed and made Shirley do it for her. That’s right, Carrie claimed that she literally did not know how to put sheets on a naked mattress. Stephanie went to boarding school, but not because she “was bad” or her parents couldn’t handle her. That combined with the mac and cheese and McDonalds that was her entire diet growing up is painting an intriguing picture of Stephanie’s mom. I am picturing Erica Jong, popping in a tampon to soak up the jizz after an airport-bathroom zipless fuck, on her way to the Greek isles, or Cairo.
“The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game . The man is not “taking” and the woman is not “giving.” No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one.”
They are in an awful food court, the kind every college has now, where you get mediocre branded chain nonsense instead of just getting in line and getting your damn buffet. (HappyNiceTime shoutout to Santa Barbara City College’s hospitality program in 1991, which trained cooks and hotelworkers by having them cook us $3 swordfish in the cafeteria. IT WASN’T ENDANGERED YET.) All the colleges are spending all the money on new food courts instead of dumb stuff like, oh, anything that would allow a teacher to plug in a laptop and show her students something on a screen.
Carlos is trying to steal the station that Shirley has already claimed, for her fried rice, and she lets him? Who are you, and what have you done with Shirley? The Shirley I know and love would have pistolwhipped him and then stood atop his prone body, planting a cleaver in his shoulder like a flag. Since she no longer has her “plancha” station (the plancha being a wide cooking surface kind of like at Benihana?) she is just going to change her fried rice to roast beef instead, because piece of cake. She has a pizza oven in which to roast her beef? But we only ever see her roast her tomatoes in the pizza oven, and you cannot possibly roast a beef in a pizza oven can you? The editors seem to have left out some key details here, in their quest to redeem themselves for having given us two really strong, interesting episodes in a row.
Coming up, Nick and Carlos are fighting over the ovens, and Nick is using the oven to warm his plates when Carlos actually needs it to cook foods. So that seems like bullshit? But then, Carlos also has the plancha, and poor Carrie didn’t have any oven or plancha at all, and, the editors do not see fit to tell us how many ovens there actually are. Are there eight? Are there two? What is the policy on oven bogarting, Top Chef? Let’s ask Gail!
Bravotv.com: Talking about preparation, do you want to get into OvenGate?
GS: Carlos was out for himself, but again I don’t understand why he wouldn’t be. It’s about yourself. You’re competing against everyone else, solo. It’s funny when everyone thinks he’s selfish. Well, who’s going to look out for you, if not you? On the other hand it did seem like he being a little bit sketchy. He demanded the pancha, because he had to cook his tilapia a certain way, even after Shirley already wanted it.
Then he blamed Nick for stealing his oven, which I really was confused by. At the time I didn’t understand what he was talking about. He wasn’t clear: was it his oven or did he ask Nick to use it and Nick said no. That’s not the same thing as stealing your oven. They had to work that out and if Carlos had an issue with it he needed to go to Nick. It was a little bit of a low blow. He did throw Nick under the bus by telling the judges he stole the oven. Quite frankly we didn’t care that much.
Well, that was not that much help after all.
Now we see Nicholas making his roast park and parmesan grits, and AHA! He marks an oven as his from the beginning! Which doesn’t at all answer the question of “is that kosher?” Thoughts, readers, on the zzzzzzzzzzz.
Justin is doing a composed salad. He doesn’t believe in cooking down to people. Nina finds this to be a mistake. Nina, as per usual, is correct.
Stephanie is making a grilled cheese and tomato soup, like with pimento cheese and ricotta and bullshit like that.
Carrie is doing cold marinated broccoli, because she has immunity and is not about to fight over ovens, like a dick.
Nina is doing fried chicken with corn puree.
Justin does not think much of Brian’s sauce, “a jar of mayonnaise and a can of chipotle peppers.” Oh yeah, Justin? Are you unaware of the American love for mayonnaise-based everything? My friend Valerie was once on a cruise where a woman actually ladled ranch dressing into her mouth, with a ladle. I bet the kids fuckin eat it up and ask for more.
Carrie’s broccoli station has tumbleweeds whistling through it. There is a huge line for Brian’s shrimpcakes and mayonnaise sauce, JUSTIN.
The judges eat some food. The 500 college freshmen in sweats eat some food. You know, in my day we at least rolled our sweats under our navels, and paired them with teeny tiny tank tops. These kids today, no respect for the sexxxy.
Justin, after being in the bottom three times in a row, is glad he did everything right today. But do Gayle, Padma, and assorted college bros think so? It is Justin, so obviously the answer is no.
Carrie’s marinated broccoli is giving them all sads. They “expected a little more from a trained chef” than cold broccoli with herbed yogurt.
They have to wait on Carlos’s fish for more than 15 minutes, and he says “he stole my oven, Nicholas, to warm his plates” Nonetheless, despite not finding his oven, Carlos did a good job.
Stephanie makes a HUGE MISTAKE putting her pimento cheese sandwiches IN the soup, which you already knew because she interviewed that she thought it would be a good idea.
So now we watch, along with the chefs, as the judges straight out ream half of them, and give them lots and lots of reasons why.
Justin’s was bland. Nina’s breading fell off her fried chicken, and they didn’t get any of her special gray corn of sadness.
Padma wished there were more vegetables, but poops on Carrie’s vegetables. Carrie would go home without her immunity. Last week, it was all mellow drunken smiles and ‘let’s have cocktails!’ This week it is more like they all have rectal itch.
Shirley, Brian, and Carlos are top, which we already knew because the judges said they liked them.
OK, Shirley wins, for the beautiful simplicity of her dish shining through. (One bra said it was the best thing he ever put in his mouth, which was just begging for a cock thought balloon.)
Stephanie, Nina and Justin are bottom. Nina smiles bravely because she is sad but knows she can never go home. WELL THAT’S WHAT KIRSTEN THOUGHT, NINA.
Yeah, Nina’s there for running out of corn, which was gray, watery and thin anyway, so they are glad they did not get her corn. She probably is not going home, because there is still Justin in the running.
Stephanie’s problem was soggy sandwich but also whichever cheese she used that remained unmelted had “lot of curds.”
Justin’s bland shrimp wasn’t institutional enough, because he never went to collidge; you have to load it up with salt, fat, sugar, acid to get any flavor out of it. He was being “too cheffy” trying to make “his food” for 500 people.
Nina’s was so gray, 49 shades. Justin’s was consistently flavorless. Stephanie’s was a mess, because she had three nonmelty cheeses. Feta, cottage and pimento? Oh, Steph.
Also: correct, Tom Colicchio.
Justin’s out, and it wasn’t even satisfying. Someone says “we knew it,” like what? That is a very rude thing to say! But oh it was Justin who said it never mind.
He lost for being too uncompromising, he tells us. Sure why not.