Adam Platt on Top Chef: ‘Carla Is Clearly a Savant of Some Kind’

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Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

Last night’s episode of Top Chef was the final one in New York, and as if out of last-minute guilt, the producers finally hauled out some actual food-world luminaries who didn’t have books to plug. Wylie Dufresne played out his egg fetish in the Quickfire, and though Fabio tried to please the master with some reverse spherification, nobody went so far as to steal one of Wylie’s dishes. The Elimination Challenge found Dufresne, Lidia Bastianich, Marcus Samuelsson, Jacques Pepin, and James Beard Foundation president Susan Ungaro eating their “last meals” — a contrivance we suspected wouldn’t rest very well with Platt.

Maurer: Damn it, the baldies soldier on.

Platt: As we knew they would. They should have given Stefan the boot for that insipid salmon preparation. But the Don saved him. He was the one who signed poor Leah’s death papers.

Maurer: Alas. The jump-cut from Stefan saying “I’ve been doing this for 25 years — I can cook a fish” to him packing his knives would’ve been so sweet.

Platt: Carla’s survival is a miracle. That green eggs and ham dish she cooked for Wylie Dufresne looked like it had been dipped in liquid antifreeze.

Maurer: You don’t believe she succeeded in “coaxing the stove”?

Platt: Carla’s clearly a savant of some kind, and maybe her food actually tastes good. But the whole episode was a little lugubrious. That silly Last Supper ritual, with the overlit table and the Vaseline-smeared camera lens. The endless insipid debates about the quality of Leah’s eggs Benedict and Carla’s peas. And I have to say, for last suppers, those great foodie luminaries picked very tedious dishes.

Maurer: True, but I didn’t envy Carla for having to compete with Jacques Pepin’s mother’s squab. How embarrassing that Leah went home because her eggs were watery.

Platt: It was a coin toss. Carla was saved by her peas. Fabio shocked everyone by cooking a palatable dish, even though his chicken looked like it had been run over by a truck. And the two baldies were too good not to make the finals. Now we get to see them flail around in New Orleans for three more product-placement-packed episodes. I noticed Fabio will be sporting a mohawk for the event.

Maurer: The fauxhawk makes a comeback! I’m disappointed that the New Orleans challenge won’t involve feeding Bourbon Street drunks.

Platt: With any luck it will. But judging by the New York segment, we’re in for a long slog. And like we all predicted, Stefan the Baldie will prevail.

Maurer: At least we got some action this episode, though it was never explained how exactly Fabio broke his finger. But you had to love this line: “I’ll chop it off and sear it on the flat-top so it doesn’t bleed any more, and tomorrow I’ll deal with nine fingers.”

Platt: There’s no one to loathe in this group, like the Gorgon last year. And there’s no one who’s really a standout chef either. Colicchio professed to liking all those dishes, but I thought he looked bored off his rocker. Only chef Pepin managed a little glimmer of excitement, when confronted with Carla’s peas, and the sight of Padma in her sheer, scarlet red outfit.

Maurer: Sheer indeed! On that note, I bid you a good night.