A lot of chefs have wanted to win Top Chef very, very badly. But I think Nicholas’ need to win has gotten out of hand, and it’s turning him into a kitchen-monster. I don’t blame him for not giving up his spot for Stephanie last week — rules, including immunity, exist for a reason, and it would undermine the integrity of the game to bend those rules just because it’s the nice thing to do. But at the same time, it doesn’t make me like him. I actually consider his behavior in the kitchen this week a full-on meltdown. His desperation to win reminds me of a Bachelor contestant’s psychotic need for validation. More on that later.
Despite the tears of last week, everyone, especially Nicholas, seemed ready to move forward. Roy Choi, one of my favorite guest judges from last season, was back to preside over this week’s Quickfire Challenge, which was to create a po’boy — the “taco of New Orleans” — that represented each chef’s signature style. The trick for the chefs was to balance their flavors against a large amount of bread. I actually think the way Roy presented the challenge might have confused the chefs. He basically seemed to be directing them to make a taco but wrap it up like a po’boy, but tortillas and buns are two very different animals.
And according to Roy Choi’s assessment, everyone totally failed. This was one of the harshest judgements I’ve ever seen during a Quickfire. I wasn’t sure how much of it was grandstanding on Roy’s part and how much of it was truly a disaster on the chefs’ part. After tasting the po’ boys, Roy said, “You missed the boat on this. I don’t know what’s going on in your heads right now … y’all f—ed this s— up. … If you were in my kitchen, this is the point where we go in the walk-in and start straight-talkin’.” I expected a “JUST KIDDING” fakeout after all this, but Roy meant it. To Carlos, he said there was flavor lacking in his al pastor — as a Mexican, Carlos thought Roy the Angeleno didn’t know what he was talking about. Nick’s New England-themed po’boy was too salty. Roy couldn’t taste Brian’s gochujang. Nina didn’t quite make him “dance.” Roy settled on Shirley as the winner for her pickled vegetables and “fun” black vinegar, although the whole thing wasn’t “Chinese” enough for him.
Once again, Shirley won immunity. Once again, Shirley emerged as the new frontrunner.
NEXT: The Elimination Challenge gets a bit cinematic, although I doubt these chefs will win any Oscars…