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Top Chef recap: A Pot Full of Luck

The chefs throw a Nawlins potluck; Kermit Ruffins guest-judges

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Top Chef Jazz Hands
David Moir/Bravo

Top Chef

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons
Reality TV

Potluck (n): used in reference to a situation in which one must take a chance that whatever is available will prove to be good or acceptable.

Based on the above definition, every challenge on Top Chef is basically a potluck. But in my world, “potluck” refers to those parties where the hosts want your company but want to expend minimal effort, so you’re treated to your friends’ special-recipe meatloaf crusted with Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust, you put forth as little effort as your hosts by bringing a box of Shake Shack burgers, everyone else volunteers to be the cups-and-ice person, and no one eats any vegetables. This episode’s New Orleans-themed potluck was slightly different from the proposed scenario, but more on that later.

First up was a very creative but overly elaborate Quickfire Challenge, for which jazz trumpeter-slash-vocalist-slash-chef Kermit Ruffins was on hand to blow his horn and judge. I can now say that I adore Kermit Ruffins — everything from his name, his sick wardrobe, his brief yet wholly adequate assessments of dishes (“This is good!”), and the constant, full-blast volume of his voice charmed me to no end. As Brian put it, this challenge was “musical chairs gone cheffy.” The chefs had to walk around the kitchen where there were different cooking stations set up while Kermit went to town on his instrument. As soon as Kermit would end his riff with one abrupt, fart-like blast, the chefs had to stop at the station and cook using the ingredients and appliances available; when the music started up again, they had to move on and add to whatever dish was already cooking at the new station.

I get the whole “jazz improvisation” theme of this challenge, but there were too many ways to game the system. If you were a terrible person with no pride in your work, you could just spit on the pan at your first station because you know you’re going to move on, or deliberately sabotage the next person. As Justin observed, “It’s not where you land first, it’s where you land last.” Wow, isn’t that some sort of ancient Chinese proverb? Justin’s deep, man.

NEXT: Illness almost destroys one chef’s dreams…


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