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Top Chef recap: That Ain't Fried Chicken

A deceptively simple fried chicken challenge throws talented chefs for a loop

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Top Chef Joshua Valentine
David Moir/Bravo

Top Chef

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

Not to belabor the issue, but I’m about to belabor the issue, just like Josie belabors her cooking process (zing). Last week’s elimination was such a travesty that it needs to be addressed again. Tom, Padma, and Gail took to Twitter and bravotv.com to explain the decision to send the clear front-runner packing and keep deadweight Josie around. While they all made reasonable points, I still think they had all the evidence they needed to make the right decision but ignored it.

Tom in particular keeps repeating the “You’re only as good as your last dish” rule, which we all know is not consistently enforced. (In fact, you could argue that it wasn’t enforced in this week’s episode, even though I agreed with the end result). The thing is, if the decision between two chef-testants is close, and their past performance is not close at all, it’s totally reasonable to take past performance into account. I understand that the “last dish” rule makes sense to a certain extent — if it didn’t exist, why even have new challenges week to week? — but clearly, Kristen didn’t screw up disastrously compared to Josie. Every judge confirmed that it took hours to make the decision. Gail made it clear that her vote was to send Josie home, so it wasn’t unanimous. If the judges thought Kristen and Josie were about equally deserving of going home for that particular week’s performance, it would make all the sense in the world to take past challenges into account, which would clearly favor Kristen. Sure, Kristen didn’t stand up for herself at the Judges’ Table, but there was still enough evidence that it made sending her home over Josie inexcusable. I wasn’t serious at all when I brought up conspiracy theories last week, but if Last Chance Kitchen didn’t exist, I really doubt the judges would have sent her home. Everyone but Gail, just admit it and we can move on: You screwed up.

At the beginning of this week’s episode, Brooke said about the decision, “If ever in a million years I thought it would go that way, I would have said something.” Hmm, but I bet it’s pretty convenient to be down one serious competitor (for now). Josie woke up crying and feeling about as guilty as Lance Armstrong, admitting that she “didn’t get here the pretty way.”

But as Stefan said, it’s a competition and it goes on. For the Quickfire Challenge, one of L.A.’s four Master Sushi Chefs, Katsuya Uechi, was on hand to judge a simple sushi-off. I loved Katsuya’s English (Sheldon did an amazing impression), and his easy way. He reminded me of Jiro from the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which convinced me that every sushi deluxe platter I’ve ever eaten has been complete garbage. Now I only want to eat one perfect sliver of sushi at a time by hand, with just a light paintbrush stroke of soy sauce.

NEXT: Everyone loves fried chicken … it’s an incontrovertible fact, according to Tom and friends