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Top Chef recap: Sum of its Parts

Basic knowledge of classic food dishes are essential for this week’s elimination challenge…and some chefs are sorely lacking

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Top Chef Robin
Trae Patton/Bravo

Top Chef

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
12
performer:
Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons
broadcaster:
Bravo
genre:
Reality TV

It’s that point in Top Chef‘s season when the claws finally come out and last night, those claws were squarely pointed toward Robin. If you’re a Robin-hater like me and you saw all of her shenanigans last night, you had to hold yourself back from throwing your remote at the TV. Am I right?

The episode began when everyone, in an effort to remember recently ousted Mattin, tied red scarves around their necks and collectively expressed their confusion about why Robin was still there. (Hello: cancer story line!) But Robin isn’t as clueless as she seems; she knew everyone was bashing her but defended herself by saying that she likes her simple cooking style because it’s what sets her apart. She’s so right. Her style does set her apart, but not in a good way.

At Quickfire, Padma called upon James Beard award winner Michelle Bernstein, who told them that they would be making a dual dish — one that represented each of the chefs’ angels and devils. It’s important to note, as Kevin told us, that Bernstein is all about simple foods. Like the kind Robin is so good at? I see where this is going, and I don’t like it one bit.

Going with the simple theme, Bryan decided to forgo his usually ornate ways and opted for a more pared down dish that contrasted frozen coconut, lychee, and vanilla with dark chocolate mousse. Nice attempt at simplicity, but it ended up being one of Bernstein’s least favorite dishes; he called it poorly executed.

The other two least faves were from the pot of this season’s usual suspects — Ron and Ash. Though Bernstein didn’t get any herself, Padma found bones in Ron’s Chilean sea bass, and as for Ash, his ambitious custard idea proved too time-consuming, leaving him with no time to make his angel component. Bernstein even threw him a bone by basing her critique solely on what was on the plate, instead of what was missing. Still, what was on the plate wasn’t much to rave about, as his spicy asparagus custard was too runny and overwhelming on the heat. I’m pretty surprised that this New York chef is faring so poorly this season. Usually, the New York contenders are strong. But Ash had time to make only part of his dish and couldn’t even get that part right? That’s pretty bad.

To create conflict the way Bravo producers hope to, Michael V.’s salmon rillettes and salmon confit, an example of modern versus traditional, was one of Bernstein’s favorites. She even said his dish transported her. How does that feel, Bry? Apparently the producers think I still care.

And for all his talk about being the best chef of the bunch, Eli actually had the chops to back it up this time with a scallop with pesto-scallop with brown butter duo that was also one of Bernstein’s favorites. Yeah, yeah, he had a great dish, but Eli is often just as arrogant as Mike I. and I think he may have a Napoleon complex. And while I’m on the subject, this season’s chefs are, on the whole, pretty hard to like. Kevin seems to be the only one worth rooting for.

NEXT: Robin plays her most powerful card