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Top Chef recap: Gender Wars

The cheftestants must cater a bachelor/ette party in a men vs. women challenge, and Bryan and Michael’s sibling rivalry takes center stage

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Top Chef Bryan
Trae Patton/Bravo

Top Chef

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

Sarah Jessica Parker once said that New York City was the fifth gal at the table on Sex and the City. Well, it looks like Vegas is the 18th contestant on this season of Top Chef. So far we’ve seen showgirls sashaying vices turned into food. And last night, the contestants experienced yet another one of Sin City’s traditions — the bachelor and bachelorette party. The challenge pitted the males against the females, but a battle of the sexes was small beans compared to the battle royale between brothers Bryan and Michael. I don’t quite get their relationship. Bryan seems consistently distant from his bro and wants to beat him every chance he gets. Michael, on the other hand, says he wants his brother to win as long as he’s not in the running, but also always wants to one-up him. Confusing. What is this sibling rivalry about anyway? It can’t just be that Michael wants to emulate and exceed his brother and that annoys Bryan. But we’ll save that discussion for the reunion show.

Getting back to the task at hand. The episode opened with another high stakes quickfire and yet another Vegas reference — the craps table: The number on the dice that the chefs rolled at the table indicated the number of ingredients they were to use for their dish, though salt, pepper, and oil were freebies. High numbers are bad, as are low ones, but if you’re a good chef, you should be able to ”roll” with what you’ve got. Get it?

”I’m not one to marry a whole ton of flavors on a plate together, so I’m hoping to roll a low number,” Kevin says. So of course he rolls a 10. But as I noticed in his vice dish from last week’s episode, Kevin’s a smart cookie and decided to make a dish of fewer components with a lot of ingredients. His instincts were right and his asparagus and celery salad was a hit, as was Jen’s smoked salmon and Michael’s new-age nitro gazpacho. Funny considering big bro Bryan criticized Michael for not sticking to the classics. (Side note: It’s interesting how much their physical appearances represent their cooking styles. Straight-edged Bryan is all about the traditional, while laid-back, tattooed Michael loves to color outside the lines. And by risks, I mean Michael looked liked he was doing drill work with that nitrogen.) Anyway, Bryan’s blood must’ve been boiling when this week’s quickfire judge and Ken Doll-esque chef Todd English deemed Bryan’s poached black cod one of his least favorites, along with Eve’s overpowering grilled asparagus and Jesse’s mushy upon mushy scallop-mashed chick pea combo. To make matters worse, English loved Michael’s gazpacho, calling it a great twist on a classic. So there! Staying safe doesn’t always work in your favor, Bryan. Michael ended up winning the $15,000, immunity for the challenge, and a smug look of satisfaction. Michael: 1, Bryan: 0.

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