Top Chef Recap: A Better Obsession Than Cocaine or Heroin

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This face was just too good. Photo: Bravo

Last night's Top Chef went back to form, kicking off with everyone being shocked at Jen's elimination. But we jumped right into the Quickfire, where Padma split everyone up into four teams for a race against time. We got excited that perhaps this was mega-Restaurant Wars come early, but no. Instead, the chefs were asked to prep three ingredients to guest judge David Chang's mise en place standards. Whoever finished first got to hit the Staples "that was easy" button, setting off a timer that counted down fifteen minutes until the hatch imploded until everyone had to be done with both prep and a finished dish.

Despite finishing first, the green team Fabio, Tiffany, Mike I, and Angelo (wearing black aprons, though, hilariously, because apparently it would not be okay to have a black team) and their lamb with garlic and tandoori-spiced yogurt ended up in the bottom, along with the red "Hi ladies ... and Dale" team (Antonia, Jamie, Casey, and Caucasian Dale)'s lamb carpaccio with capers and Reggiano cheese. Chang liked the white team (Marcel, Tiffani, Asian Dale, and Carla)'s lamb carpaccio with artichoke salad and garlic oil (apparently having a white team is okay), but gave the win, and $5,000 each, to the blue team (Spike, Richard, Tre, and Stephen)'s crispy lamb chop with artichokes three ways.

The teams were then each assigned an elite New York restaurant to eat dinner at, which would be followed by each chef cooking a dish that could go on that restaurant's menu. The white team met Wylie Dufresne at wd~50, blue met Michael White at Marea, red met David Burke at David Burke Townhouse, and green met David Chang at Má Pêche. Obviously, Angelo was beside himself at getting the Asian restaurant, prompting Tiffany to complain about how annoying he is. The blue team got an annoying dinner companion, too, as Stephen talked about Marea like he wrote his thesis on it, while Tre (who some people call the black Italian) marveled at how perfectly cooked the food was. O rly? Never would have guessed that! Carla got nervous at wd~50 while Marcel bugged out in excitement, and we just wondered why Wylie's hairstyle reminded us of Betty Draper. Oh, and the folks at David Burke had fish swimming in their cocktails.

Thankfully the producers skipped over the shopping at Whole Foods and went straight to the cooking (though not before showing us a shot of Stephen in a white suit and polka-dot tie). Marea was the first stop, where the judges loved Tre's grilled swordfish with artichokes and mushroom panna cotta, but couldn't get over how fennel-y Stephen's salmon with black mission figs was. Anthony Bourdain compared the flavor to a head shop and, well, chances are he would know. The judges then hailed a cab (sadly, not the Cash Cab) to Má Pêche, where they loved Angelo's tumeric-marinated fish with chorizo, salmon roe, and white chocolate, but were overwhelmed by all the flavors in Fabio's roasted lamb with hoisin plum barbecue sauce and homemade ricotta.

At Townhouse, most of the judges seemed to favor Casey's halibut "scallop" with tapioca "caviar," but David Burke himself really loved Antonia's seared scallop with carrot puree and, of course, pea puree. There was one thing the judges did agree on Caucasian Dale's roasted veal loin with peanuts, popcorn, French toast, and thyme caramel was just an overly sweet dish with veal on it. The last stop was wd~50, where the favorite was Asian Dale's sunny egg dumpling with braised pork belly and milk ramen with bacon, probably because Dale smartly played to Wylie's favorite food, the egg. Tiffani's broken summer heirloom tomato, frozen melons, and powdered ham and cheese was not nearly so successful.

Judges' table was fairly quick, as they've finally stopped supersizing the episodes. The judges gave the win, and a trip to New Zealand, to Asian Dale, while sending Caucasian Dale and Stephen (who was feeling a lot of different emotions) packing. Dale suggested he'd return for season sixteen, Top Chef Seniors. Perhaps we'll recap that one from the retirement home.

Next week: Cooking at the U.S. Open! Someone's bleeding! Angelo schemes! Everyone's mad at Jamie! Something is flaccid! That's still what she said!