“Top Chef” Recaps: Episode 4.3 “Block Party”

THIS WEEK’S KITCHEN ESSENTIALS:

Quickfire: Yo quiero Taco Bell.
Elimination: Won’t you be my neighbor?
Padmaism: "The wonton was genius."

Boys will be boys — It’s morning in the casa and
Spike and Andrew have apparently turned 14 overnight. They slap each other with
towels and mock-wrestle. Look, desirable 18-25-year-old demographic, Top
Chef
is just like The Real World. Later they’ll all get in
the hot tub and make out. Please, watch our show.

While the boys parade around half-naked, the women (fully
clothed) bemoan the loss of one of their sisters, Valerie, in the last
Elimination Challenge.

Stephanie: It’s definitely a little sad to see, like,
another woman leaving. We all just want a woman to make it to the finals and to
represent.

Amen, sister, amen.

Chefbian couple Jennifer and Zoi share another snuggle
moment on the bed. I notice they’ve taken a bottom bunk; very wise, very wise
indeed.

Zoi muses on the state of female chefs in the food industry.

Zoi: It’s not common to have one lesbian in the
kitchen; it’s not common to have one woman in the kitchen. That I think
is probably the biggest struggle as a female, is just to break people’s image
of what a chef is.

The producers then cut to Spike and Andrew faux-smashing
each other into a wall. Yep, they look like chefs to me. Andrew explains his
actions by saying he thinks part of the job of being a chef is also to be an
entertainer. Hmm, last time I checked no one wanted their steak cooked by Bobo
the Clown.

Run for the border — Enough horsing around; time to
cook. The Quickfire brings back Padma and new guest judge Rick Bayless,
chef/owner of Chicago
restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. Bayless is known for turning
Mexican food into fine dining, ergo the challenge is to — you guessed it — turn
Mexican food into fine dining.

Our 14 remaining cheftestants must take on the simple taco
and reinvent it as a gourmet dish. Great, would you like mild, hot or fire
sauce with that?

Erik — he of the neck tattoo, blingy chain and silly hat —
immediately has a problem with the concept.

Erik: Mexican food is about the people and it’s about
the streets. It’s a soulful kind of a thing. To put fine dining in it, it just
kind of bugs me.

OK, so Mexican food can’t be fancy? A whole country’s cuisine
and none of it is gourmet? It’s all from the street? Dude, you’ve eaten
at way too many taco trucks.

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