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Top Chef recap: Gone Fishing

The remaining chefs must impress the guest judge, Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert, with their seafood skills. Some rise to the top, while others flounder under the pressure.

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Stefan Top Chef
Heidi Gutman/Bravo

Top Chef

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

Wow. Last night’s Top Chef was a bit of a shocker, no? (And no, I’m not making a pun about those eels.) After weeks of impressing our judges with killer scallops and yellow-colored soups, the final member of Team Rainbow was sent packing, thanks to a salty dish that completely missed the mark. And though the elimination was probably the fairest one of the season — Leah and Hosea did make mistakes, but ultimately managed to deliver dishes that didn’t make Padma gag — I am surprised that the Magical Elves wouldn’t decide to keep Jamie purely for the sake of drama. After all, we’re talking about a chef who regularly sulked and often insulted the cuisine of other chefs (including Michelin-approved ones…but we’ll also get to that later). Plus, don’t forget that Jamie was actually a talented chef, likely to cook circles around the likes of Leah and (sorry!) Carla. Of course, I’m guessing the Elves are still hanging onto Leah in the hopes that they’ll catch some black light footage of Hosea-Leah hanky-panky. (All you need is a hot tub, Elves…Haven’t you ever seen The Real World? Just trying to help here.)

Last week, we were forced to say goodbye to Dr. Jeff, which is an unfortunate loss for two reasons: (1) I can no longer paw my television and say, ”So pretty…” whenever he’s on screen (despite your post-elimination objections, Dr. Jeff, I will continue to use you as a sex object. Sorry!), and (2) because we can no longer just sigh and stare, we have to start actually listening to the remaining Top Chef contestants. And what they say isn’t always so pretty: Hosea constantly alternates between mentioning that yes, believe it or not, he cooks fish and has to cope with competing with the cocky Stefan…who doesn’t seem so cocky as soon as Hosea mentions that he’s ready to take ”these Euros” down. And as for Jamie…well, we’ll get to Ms. Rude-y McScallops later. Seriously, unless I have Fabio whispering sweet Italian nothings in my ear, or Carla unleashing her cuteness on us all, I’m not sure I want to hear from these contestants at all.

But onto the quickfire. Padma told chefs that they would be competing head-to-head in a fish-filleting tournament. Sounds kind of boring, yes, but that was before you saw what kind of fish they were working with. First, the chefs had to fillet a set of sardines, which led to the elimination of Jamie and Carla (the latter chef, when confronted by guest judge Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, copped up to her failure to accurately slice the small fish, and cut off his criticism by hilariously saying, ”You don’t have to say. We all know what it is.”). The second round featured Arctic char, which frustrated Leah so much, that she simply gave up in the face of difficulty (Fabio was also eliminated — if only our chefs were slicing monkey ass…) As for the third fish? Hosea and Stefan were instructed to fillet fresh water eel, which sounds innocent enough until we learn that OH MY GOD, THE EEL CONTINUE TO SLITHER AND MOVE EVEN AFTER THEY ARE KILLED. The next few minutes looked like a scene out of Saw, as Hosea and Stefan figured out the only way to fillet the eel was to nail the fish to a board to hinder movement. Cue: me, nearly vomiting and never seeing Flotsam and Jetsam the same way again. Hosea put up a good effort, but to his embarrassment (did you hear he cooks fish?), he ultimately lost to Stefan.

Apparently, our chefs appetites were somehow unaffected by the challenge. After the quickfire, the cheftestants were ushered to Le Bernardin, where they were treated to a five-star meal. What followed was a giant product placement ad for Ripert’s restaurant: Padma & Co., fawned over Ripert’s meal, Carla compared his food to the Garden of Eden, and Leah was so impressed, she announced her plans to suck Ripert into her she-claws. I half expected Padma to interrupt the meal to say, ”Alright gang, it’s time to pick up your Le Bernardin forks, brought to you from France, and place some of this fantastic Le Bernardin fish into your mouths, which — if you’re lucky enough to land the title of Top Chef — will be under contract to pimp Le Bernardin for 18 months. Did I mention we’re eating at Le Bernardin?” To which Hosea would respond with, ”Did I mention I cook fish?” and Jamie would respond with, ”Did I mention I hate everyone and everything?” and Carla would respond with, ”Did I mention I hear voices? Hootie-hoo!” These producers were one step away from forcing the chefs to eat their Le Bernardin lunch out of Glad bags (not that the restaurant pimping isn’t deserve. In fact, the endorsement of a five-star restaurant might be the most logical form of product placement for a show like Top Chef. Because not every chef is inspired by, you know, Dr. Pepper and Spam).

NEXT: Getting schooled