The return of old school 'Top Chef'
November 10th, 2011
01:31 PM ET

The return of old school 'Top Chef'

If you read last week's recap, then you'll know I was disappointed that the producers expanded the pool of cheftestants and extended the trimming-the-fat phase into two episodes.

I would love to tell you which chefs looked like the real deal and which should go back to flipping burgers (and which had the best tats or dumbest mohawk), but I honestly can’t yet because we had enough cheftestants to fill Kitchen Stadium. Wait, wrong competitive cooking show. See, too much going on! I’m so confused!

Thankfully, though, last night gave us the conclusion of Chefsplosion 2011, wherein the last of the 29 chefs were sorted out.

It began with the 10 chefs in Group 3, who had to cook a dish with one ingredient from a set selection. This being “Top Chef,” there was an inexplicable twist: After choosing the ingredient, each chef was randomly assigned a certain amount of time to cook. How this is a fair measure of a chef’s skills, I have no idea. Give a bad chef 60 minutes and a good chef 20 minutes, and talent is thrown out the window.

Anyway, this little twist immediately threw off one guy who uncovered that he’d get a meager 40 minutes to cook risotto. Now, I’VE made risotto in 40 minutes...but that’s only because I don’t actually know how to make risotto. As expected, he was sent packing after presenting the judges with a bunch of empty bowls.

After filtering out more of the slurry and sending a couple more chefs to the house, it was finally time to burst the bubble, and here’s where things got good: six cooks competing in one challenge for the two final spots. Old school “Top Chef,” and it only took 1.5 episodes to get there.

The challenge was even a throwback: Forty-five minutes, one dish, any ingredients you want. After five contestants chose seafood, Edward wisely went the duck route. Aaaand then immediately jeopardized his status by slicing his finger. Like, the kind of cut that would cause you to pass out while at home making your pathetic excuse for a salad.

But Ed simply threw on a latex glove and powered through the wound, even as the glove swiftly turned a deep red. While the show’s medical staff patched him up, he continued cooking one-handed. GREAT hustle. That should’ve earned Ed a spot in the house right there.

If “Top Chef” is any indicator, cooks cut themselves a LOT. And these are the GOOD ones. I shudder to think how many times I have been eating out and some chef hacked himself and bled all over my food. Um, let’s move on.

Once the 45 minutes elapsed, we were FINALLY treated to the stew room and judges’ table. Oh, judges’ table, never leave me again! Even though you look different this year, with new judges Emeril Lagasse (he of “Bam!”) and Hugh Acheson (he things), I still love you. Now start berating some fools!

Molly, the cruise ship chef, was the first to walk the plank after overcooking her stuffed prawn.

The next casualty was Laurent the Frenchmen, who informed us that in France, either you become a cook, a priest or an “army guy” (what about a mime?). The “two ways” in his scallop two ways dish turned out to be “gray” and “unappetizing.” He’s too old to be an army guy, so I guess he’s off to the monastery.

Next up, Andrew’s mussel dish, which was a hit. But he made the age-old “Top Chef” mistake of adding a mediocre second component - in this case, panna cotta - and it cost him a spot in the sweet 16.

Finally, Janine joined Laurent by falling victim to Death By Scallops, one of the most lethal "Top Chef" traps. If your scallops aren’t perfect, you might as well be serving the judges chum.

As for the two survivors, Ed’s duck with pickled corn, barbecue sauce and a hint of blood was good enough to advance. Lastly, we had Grayson Schmitz who, in addition to having two last names, cooked a mean bacon-wrapped shrimp.

Now that we’ve trimmed all the fat, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season plays out. What did you guys think? Did the right chefs advance?

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Filed under: television • Top Chef • TV recaps

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Older Lady

    He's a little into her...he plays a lot of stick balls

    July 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Usa Travel Tips

    hi!,I love your writing so a lot! share we communicate extra approximately your article on AOL?
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    July 7, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hotpockets!

    Ed aka Coke Mouth really creeps me out but I do find it admirable that he not only cooked the meal one handed mostly, he didn't say what happened to play the sympathy card.

    November 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JohnnyBKK

    Ok. I know he watched this episode for not very clearly. Firstly, they don't get "inexplicable" twists. They get further challenges to push their skills. At home we are watching a taped show, why do they only allow 20 minutes for a quickfire or other severely crunched time frames (or things like one pot, one arm, no kitchen utensils, etc.)? It's entertaining and I'm guessing that out of 1,000 applications that these are all very, very good chefs. So make it bigger and put them in a pressure cooker and see the see the cream rise to the top.

    Secondly, the contestants did not have a "randomly assigned a certain amount of time to cook". Each component had a hidden clock so that the producers knew you would need the maximum time to cook a tough protein versus 10 minutes for a vegetable.

    Lastly, it took a slow-mo on Eddie cutting himself that he was using a knife to open a bottle of sauce to realize that that huge dark puddle that shot off wasn't a major artery being hit. I think everyone will take a few seconds to turn open a jar/bottle now. :p

    November 11, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. carrieanne

    I love judges table! BAM! Get rid of the scallops as a choice. Too much of a copout ingredient.

    November 10, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glenn

      All big fresh scallops do is keep you on the show . All risotto does is get you eliminated .

      November 11, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. edna

    Me too. I like it alot better than the SouthPark version.

    November 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anomic Office Drone

    I'm glad to have the normal version back. It's the only one really look forward to.

    November 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |

    Now this is what im talkin about homies. Cookin. Old school cookin. When im a layin chilly with my homies we all get to talkin bout how our grannies used to fix things. WHAM ! Thats what im talkin bout baby. Old school cookin. Cornbread and turnip greens and collards and soup beans. Wham ! That what im talkin bout ! The good stuff ! WORD.

    November 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |

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