Top Chefrecap: Banannaise
The chefs get hopped up on beer
Oh Wesley, Wesley, Wesley. Even though he’s (very) far from being one of the worst chefs in Top Chef history, he was probably the biggest mess in the kitchen. There might as well have been a goofy trombone honking every time he came on screen, but more on that later.
Speaking of messes, we’re still not over Potato Paste-gate, which started last week when Phillip claimed that his potatoes were gummy on purpose and that they were never supposed to be mashed potatoes. Jason got extremely red and called him out in front of the judges, but after the Judges’ Table, even Kwame got in on the Phillip digs. I still don’t have Phillip figured out — on one hand, he appears to be extremely full of it, but at least he has a lot of off-the-wall ideas and he’s not getting by on decently cooked food.
For the Sudden Death Quickfire, the chefs headed to San Diego to make one of the regional specialties: fish tacos. Karen placed near the top with her Korean-spiced oyster tacos with kimchi sesame salsa, and Kwame also impressed guest judge Javier Plascencia with his yellowfin tuna and black truffle taco, but ultimately Chad won on his home turf with a fancy, super-spicy sea urchin taco. Toward the bottom, Wesley flailed when he misplaced his lobster and ran around accusing everyone of stealing it before he realized that, of course, he had just misplaced it. Some of that disarray made it to his dish, which was barely a taco and more like a seafood Fruit Roll-Up. But no one messed up as much as Angelina, who didn’t necessarily run out of time but neglected to plate her dish and just left it on the cutting board. Weirdly, I can kind of imagine making the same mistake, and I felt just a bit bad for her when Padma and Javier icily refused to even taste her dish.
Obviously, that huge mistake landed Angelina on the bottom, and she challenged Wesley to the Sudden Death round, which was all about Caesar salad, or making a non-salad dish using only ingredients from Javier’s Caesar salad. Of course, Wesley got sloppy with egg yolks and Worcestershire sauce right away. Wesley’s dish looked ugly on the plate, but apparently all of this was clever editing because Angelina was sent for an early trip off the dock back home.
The Elimination Challenge this week was a fun idea — Padma and three of the judges, Tom, Emeril, and Richard — created a craft beer infusing a bunch of different flavors, and the chefs had to create dishes in the kitchen of Richard’s restaurant Juniper & Ivy that would draw those flavors out.
Padma’s golden ale had notes of jalapeno, ginger, and tamarind, which seem like innocuous enough flavors. Chad and Amar both had strong dishes in that group. Richard’s beer had some “mysterious chocolate” in it, and Richard couldn’t stop calling chocolate “mysterious.” Wesley, who’s an exec in one of Richard’s restaurants, way overcooked the lamb and didn’t seem motivated to fix the problem. Emeril’s beer had a robust coffee scent to it, and even though Marjorie didn’t do much with the flavor, she made a good chicken ragu with roasted mushrooms.
Tom’s beer threw the chefs for a loop, particularly Isaac, who was overly intimidated by the hint of banana. He decided to concoct what he called “banannaise,” which was a funny and intriguing idea but looked like Phillip’s potato paste next to a piece of corn.
Amar, Karen, and Kwame placed in the top for their dishes, with Karen taking the win for her roast duck breast with cocoa nib beet purée. It’s good to have another woman on the board again, although Kwame is really positioning himself as the one to beat this season.
In the bottom were Wesley, Jason, and Isaac, all for cooking problems. I thought Jason was in huge trouble for his unappealing squid meatballs with exposed tentacles — he gave the judges a weird lecture on ancient Catalan dishes, but Padma made the point that some dishes are forgotten by history for a reason. But Wesley ended up going home for his simple technical errors, and with his exit, the editors added a sound effect of crashing pots and pans. Wesley, you were entertaining, but you deserved to go for double-dipping your spoon.