Last night’s episode of Top Chef found the cheftestants in New Orleans, where departed competitors Jeff, Leah, and Jamie returned for a Quickfire. Jeff went on to compete in an Elimination challenge that required them to make two dishes (one in the Creole style) and a cocktail for a group of a hundred Mardi Gras revelers. Stefan ominously promised “there will be a slaughtering” (um?), but in the end it was him, Hosea, and Fabio who were called before the judges. We plopped some Pat O’Brien hurricane mix into a souvenir go-cup and talked to Platt about it.
Platt: Fabio meets the grim reaper. It was that ungodly mullet that did him in … and that god-awful looking Creole-Italian feast. It looked like bomb went off in chicken coop.
Maurer Well put!
Platt: In the immortal words of the odious Stefan: “This isn’t a butt-rubbing competition.” Though we should point out, Stefan escaped by the skin of his teeth. Am I wrong, or has he gained fifteen pounds since we saw him in NYC? He looked sort of pig-eyed. And he was drinking more than usual. Carla, on the other hand, is glowing. I don’t know what's gotten into her.
Maurer Jeff also looked like he had eaten some bad airline food. This challenge was definitely tailor-made for Carla, and obviously threw the Euros for a loop.
Platt: None of the poor saps they flew in at the last moment looked like they wanted to be there. They looked like they were freezing their butts off. Leah barely even tried to cook that dreckish-looking crawfish soup. You know my view on Fabio. He’s not a great cook. He’s charmed his way to the top. I liked how he equated their ludicrous Batman Mardi Gras masks with “an old porno movie.”
Maurer This episode really was bizarre. What did we even learn about Creole cooking?
Platt: Except that it can get unseasonably cold. And people wear ridiculous masks at Mardi Gras time. And a roux is supposed to be dark. And Emeril Lagasse talks in a pseudo Brooklyn accent, and comes up to Padma’s knee.
Maurer There were the requisite gumbos and beignets. But Stefan’s beignet looked like something served at Mars 2112.
Platt: That thing had whiskers. Like I said, Stefan is smoking a lot, and drinking like a fish. If it had been an even competition (without Jeff there), they probably would have booted him. Don Colicchio grows tired of his act. Personally, I’m tired of Hosea, with his bug-eyed earnestness, and his desperate, though I fear doomed, yearning to kick Stefan’s arrogant ass.
Maurer Hosea’s catfish looked like something you’d find in the Bourbon Street gutter. But I love how Emeril confessed to having an affinity for watered-down hurricanes.
Platt: I thought Emeril was friendly and plainspoken, and he refrained from condescending to the poor kitchen slaves, even though he’s the most famous tiny chef in America.
Maurer So what now?
Platt: Stefan has earned the ire of Colicchio, and unless he gets his act together, they’ll toss him next. Like I said last time, Carla’s in a kind of culinary trance. She could always awake and revert to her former ham-fisted form. I still think it’s Stefan’s to lose, if he doesn't fall asleep first.
Maurer I still can’t imagine them letting Stefan prevail, though he’s the best cook. Now that Padma’s crush, Fabio, is gone, I think it’ll be Carla. And we’ll have another mostly forgettable winner just like last season (no offense to Stephanie ... if that’s what her name was ...)
Platt: My money’s still on Stefan. I dimly recall from the past years that on this show, talent usually wins.