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Top Chef recap: A Nice Family Meal

The chefs get a little help from home before duking it out for the finals

Posted on

Top Chef
David Giesbrecht/Bravo

Top Chef

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

Tracing ancestral lines seems like one of those activities that’s more fun to do than it is to watch others doing. Like sleeping. Or eating food on a competition show. But last night, the chefs confronted their family histories, and it was good television! Even…moving. Let us investigate.

After sweeping their eyes around One Brooklyn Place and dropping mysterious comments about what was “going on,” Antonia and Tiffany guessed Padma would be stopping by. Clearly Padma requires things. Power outlets, servants, coconut milk, whatever it was, the chefs smelled her entrance from a mile away. Suddenly there she was, in a “casual” outfit. She directed the chefs to the roof. Antonia thought this meant they’d be asked to base-jump to the ground while cooking eggs. But it was actually so Padma could point to Ellis Island, the place you go when you want to confront your family history.

The chefs boarded a ferry and found an ANTM-style directive card inside. Tiffany read it aloud in her extremely soft voice. It was the Quickfire Challenge: make a dish using ingredients scavenged from the ferry’s snack bar, with the ferry’s foghorn as the start and stop whistle. This led to a long waiting scene in which the chefs stood forlornly at the counter repeating the line “When is this horn gonna blow?” It wasn’t as thrilling a scene as someone at Bravo probably thought it’d be. But then, the remaining chefs are all so broken-down and familiar by now, why not watch them idle at a snack counter? We’re all friends here, right? No need for drama.

Eventually the horn sounded. Because of the ferry’s particular constraints, Blais didn’t have liquid nitrogen. But he did have a supply of magic bags that soldiers use to heat water to a boil. “I’ve had them in my kit just waiting to unveil them,” he said. He unveiled them and no one seemed that impressed. They continued doing unmagical things. Carla dropped rosemary into a juice bottle, Antonia grilled apple and cheese between raisin bread, Tiffany stirred dried fruit into a bowl of popcorn. They were like the Swiss Family Robinson except with gas-station food.

As the ferry docked, Padma entered with Chef Dan Barber. Carla pondered Chef Barber’s fondness for local ingredients, seeing as they’d all made plates of corn syrup. But Barber was game. He was there to judge them, not to judge them.

Blais revealed his “take on banh mi,” a hot dog and beef jerky sandwich with jalapeño, pork rinds, lettuce, and apple that didn’t look or sound anything like banh mi. He mentioned the magic bags, and again, no one seemed impressed. Mike made a disparaging comment about Tiffany’s nachos even though he was the least equipped to say anything bad about anyone. He had made something called bread soup. This was the exact description: “BREAD SOUP WITH CHEDDAR CHEESE, SOUR CREAM, GREEN CHILI, AND PORK RINDS.” If you ever catch yourself saying, “Hopefully if I keep mashing it, it’ll emulsify,” and the “it” you’re talking about is a hot dog bun and what you’re mashing “it” into is a soup, just please STOP and reevaluate all of your choices, one by one. The judges liked it the least out of everything in the world.

NEXT: Even villains have mothers