Top Chef is back to its regularly scheduled format after two weeks of its version of American Idol’s Hollywood Week. We have 16 chefs battling it out in Quickfires and Eliminations with one getting booted and heading to the newly-formed Redemption Island Last Chance Kitchen (RILCK) to face off against Andrew.
Before we talk about the dishes, the challenges, the winners and the losers, there is one thing that has to be addressed immediately. And warning, it will be accompanied by a NSFW link. But the winner of this year’s Hysterically Unexpected Vulgarity came from the lovely Padma. While kicking off the Quickfire challenge of preparing rattlesnake, she went THERE. Ladies and Gentlemen – Padma channels Samuel L. Jackson, by asking for (and here I will use the broadcast TV version of the word as used in Die Hard 2) “Mr. Falcon snakes on Mr. Falcon plates.” I would have liked lines from one of these other NSFW Jackson monologues. But I will gladly accept this one.
But this was classic Top Chef at its best. A fun Quickfire challenge had chefs work with a rarely-used ingredient, followed by a big team challenge where a simple mistake cost a chef his spot in the Top Chef Casa de Amor. This mistake harkened back to the moment where Spike met his demise in Chicago thanks to a package of frozen scallops. It wasn’t the shellfish worthy of Fabio’s disdain this time, but the friendly shrimp. Not sure if it was a shrimp or a prawn, but nevertheless, it was frozen. What’s worse is that it was frozen previously cooked shrimp. Yikes. As Tom has famously said before on the show – this is a cooking competition, they haven’t cooked anything.
What’s worse, I just finished reading a GQ article about the rapper Rick Ross and boy, is that a much better nickname for Keith than Megatron. And now that I have a great nickname for the big guy, he gets eliminated. Now, it was a bad mistake to buy the pre-cooked shrimp, but Ty-Lor the Destroyer (I like it better than Lothar) and Pretty Boy Chris were standing right there and went right along with the decision. What really got him was his failure to make enchiladas with corn tortillas. There was a moment where Sarah seemed to go along with his decision, despite her later claims that she would have directed him otherwise. He essentially made a burrito, according to Mono, and not very well. So RickRoss gets the boot as a result and a berth in RILCK.
The challenge was a very good one – it was a Quinceanera party. This is basically a bat mitzvah for 15-year-old girls of Latin American heritage. Or for those of you without knowledge of Jewish rites of passage – it is a Sweet 16 for 15-year-olds. It’s a giant damn party for teenage girls, an excuse to wear frilly dresses, and a chance to get tons of presents. And Latin American boys get squat – in one of the rare cases where dudes get the big screw in cultural matters.
The girl in question – Blanca – was great. She actually never stopped smiling, and there is nothing wrong for that. She was also very sharp with her culinary critiques and clearly possesses a refined palate for someone so young. The chefs were divided into two groups of eight – Pink Team and Green Team. These colors probably make up a large amount of hideous teenage girl party dresses. Blanca gave them some guidance and the chefs ran with the Mexican food theme. Heather and Vampira volunteered to make the cakes – Heather presenting herself with much more risk as Vampira won the snake-based immunity. It was a good thing because by mailing in her cake she may have put too much postage on it. And when I say postage, I mean super sweet frosting. The Green Team dominated and if there was a winner declared, it would have been Chewie. Say it proud, Chewie!! That was fortunate for him, as he is in fact of Mexican heritage and may have been a tad embarrassed to lose the challenge.
There was not really a lot of drama around the elimination. RickRoss was at the most risk as Susan and Lindsay of the Corn (She really does remind me of someone, but for now, I’ll go with the blonde Children of the Corn look) really didn’t do anything badly wrong. The Destroyer made a bad hush puppy, but really, RickRoss was in the most danger and was kicked out.
Quickfire – Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? Chefs were given a carcass and told to cook. We did not get to see all of the dishes, so here are the ones the show presented to us. Padma is joined by local chef Johnny Hernandez.
Sarah – Flash Fried Rattlesnake in a Brown Butter Sauce – She used some minced lemon zest as well.
Beverly – Rattlesnake Nigri with Thai Basil Aioli – There’s also some jalapeno in there, in what was a very pretty looking dish.
Pretty Boy – Rattlesnake Nicoise with Olive Oil Pudding and Olive Panko – Olive oil pudding? Scariest. Dessert. Ever. Johnny likes the texture.
Glasses – Cumin-Breaded Rattlesnake with Bacon with BBQ Sauce
Paul – BBQ Rattlesnake with Peaches, Fried Peanuts and South East Asian Spices – Johnny was struck by the strong flavors.
Vampira – Beer-Battered Tempura Rattlesnake – She also included a zucchini almond gazpacho.
RickRoss – Sweet Corn Rattlesnake Griddle Cake, Beer-Bathed Rattlesnake Crudite – The included a Tequila Poblano Queso Fondue, which Padma gladly double dipped. How he went from this to the sad enchilada, I will never understand.