“Top Chef: California” recap (13.3): Surf & Turf

Previously on Top Chef, Floppy Hair and Chef Sassy were sent packing, which is pretty unfortunate (for me) because they were two of the few contestants I could kind of tell apart. Also, and potentially more importantly, Padma and Gail graced our screens with their presence.

This week, the episode opens with Grayson lamenting her poor showing in the challenges thus far. You’re right, girl—step it up. Padma tells the chefs to get a good night’s sleep because the first leg of their season-long road trip is starting tomorrow. They’re off to Santa Barbara!

On the road trip, we get to know a few of the chefs a little better. Kwame used to sell candy to make money to start his business—which, I’m realizing as I type this, probably sounds a lot creepier than it actually was. One of the bald dudes (let’s call him Baldy 1) has a daughter—v cute. Frances had a rough childhood and used to be addicted to drugs—v sad.

The chefs stop and taste some sea urchins – so pointy! They take a cooler full of urchins over to meet Padma at a winery. Padma and Dana Cowin are waiting for them in the field, looking gloriously statuesque as the wind billows through their shawls and hair. Dana apparently awarded one of the white dudes (Glasses) with the Best New Chef Award, so they’re bros from way back.


Padma announces that it’s about to be on because it’s time for a Sudden Death Quickfire. Oh, snap. The chefs have to create a dish that pairs the uni they tasted earlier with wine from the vineyard. Frances adorably cannot pronounce her wine. Another white dude (Beardy) quit drinking, so he’s trying to rely on the tasting notes from the wine. He doesn’t really have time to fully read/comprehend them, though, so he’s kind of winging it.

The chefs frantically race to prepare their uni dishes. Giselle is kind of pissed because she really wanted to make eggs, but the white dude from Boston had them. Eye Roll Karen’s idea for a play on egg drop soup goes sideways. Oh no, Karen! Before you know it, Padma is calling time.

After Padma and Dana taste all the dishes, they announce the top three: Grayson, Wesley, and Boston guy. Grayson is the winner and she’ll have immunity! She kept it super simple and paired her wine perfectly, so she’s definitely going to thank her sommelier boyfriend.

On the bottom: Angelina, Karen, Giselle. Giselle is the loser—womp womp—but she’s not out of the competition just yet! She gets to choose one chef to face off against head-to-head. If she wins, both chefs stay in the competition. If she loses, she goes home. She chooses Angelina and the have to make a dish that uses ostrich eggs! There are your eggs, Giselle, are you happy now?

Angelina has never had ostrich eggs before, but she tastes them and thinks they seem like regular eggs. She’s super focused and she wants to send Giselle home. Time runs out and the judges come by to taste. It’s scrambled egg vs. scrambled egg. Both dishes had flaws, but there can be only one scrambled egg champ and today that person is Giselle! She’s staying in the competition.

The great egg-off of 2015

Elimination Challenge: The chefs have to pair up and create a surf & turf dish.

Grayson has immunity, so she’s working on her own. Angelina and Giselle are paired, though neither seems happy about it. (#TeamScramble) The chefs race over to choose their proteins and there are some odd pairings, both in protein and types of cuisine the partnered chefs usually make.

The chefs do their menu planning and shopping before ending up in a lovely kitchen. This is all way too easy, obviously, so Tom comes strolling in to throw them a curveball. Instead of creating surf & turf dishes together as a team, they now must compete against each other in head-to-head surf vs. turf battles. The loser of each battle is up for elimination. Grayson gets to choose which team to compete against and whether she wants to use surf or turf. The teams divvy up their ingredients, some more easily than others.

The next day, the chefs prepare their dishes as the judges sit outside at a beautiful table. Cat Cora is a guest judge this week! Hey Cat, you’re great! Anyway, the first battle of the day is Wesley vs. Amar (vs. Grayson). Wesley didn’t manage his time well and also his meat is garbage, so things aren’t looking too great for him. Grayson takes the win, she’s on a roll! Which means both Amar and Wesley are up for elimination.

The next battle is Baldy 1 vs. Bunhead. Please please please Baldy, I hope you win. The judges really enjoy Baldy 1’s dish, but they also liked Bunhead’s plate. Baldy 1 is the winner! But it looks like Bunhead isn’t going home this week. ::deep sigh::

Next up: #TeamScramble. Angelina was doing too much with her ingredients, and it did not work. Giselle’s dish is definitely better, so she wins. The next pairing is Kwame vs. IDK another white dude with a beard. Both dishes were really nice, and it’s up to Tom to pick a winner—it’s Kwame! The next round is Boston guy vs. Cajun guy. The dishes are really similar, but Boston guy comes out on top.

In battle Karen v. Marjorie, Karen comes out short one piece of fish. That is… definitely not good. Padma misses out on the fish, which sucks for her because Karen’s dish is probably the best one so far.


She easily beats Marjorie and is safe, yay! But I’m also sad, because I like Marjorie, too. Too many feelings. The last battle: Glasses vs. Frances is not a great round, overall. Glasses obviously wasn’t comfortable with the flavors, and Frances’ plate isn’t very good either. Jason barely wins, so Frances is up for elimination.

Wesley is very upset with himself after his performance, so Kwame gives him a pep talk and a bro hug.


The top three are Baldy 1, Kwame, and Karen. Padma is holding a grudge because she didn’t get to taste Karen’s fish, so Karen is not eligible for the win. The winner is Kwame!

On the bottom are Frances, Angelina, and Wesley. Wesley is clearly better than what he cooked today, Frances added way too much stuff to her plate, and Angelina was trying to do too much to her mussels. In the end, Frances is going home. Aw, Frances! We barely knew you. I hope you keep cooking and keep being hilarious.

After Frances heads out, Padma announces that the chefs are heading to Palm Springs next!