“Top Chef: California” recap (13.11): Culinary Time Machine

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Previously on Top Chef, Restaurant Wars happened and, more importantly, Bunhead went home!

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This week, the chefs are heading to the Bay Area! They arrive in Oakland to find Padma just chilling with M.C. Hammer. That is pretty random, but okay. Boston Carl apparently used to “write rhymes” and “make beats” in his younger days—again. Okay. After some M.C. Hammer historical facts, Padma segues into the Quickfire Challenge. The chefs must come up with their own “rapper names” and create a dish that visually and conceptually expresses it.

Amar, or “Santana Lovah” is making Chilean Sea Bass with love. For the ladies. Or something, IDK. Baldy decides to call himself “Spicy J-Rock 305,” and that is the last straw for me. With Bunhead gone, Baldy is my new least-fave. Kwame, who actually did have a short-lived rap career when he was younger, is now “Bay-lish” and he’s making a cioppino. Risky, considering where they are. “Toups Legit” aka Cajun, is making a New Orleans style grits dish. Karen is the “Pink Dragon,” for her hair and her attitude in the morning, and she’s making hot and sour soup.

img1The Great Pink Dragon and the Spice from the Soup

Boston Carl is “Dr. Funky Fresh.” His first idea was “Soigné Ploosh,” but felt it sounded too much like a stripper name. Boston Carl, you are rapidly slipping down to Baldy’s level. He’s making raw beef, Vietnamese style. Marjorie has become “Miss Punch-A-Lot,” and she can barely get the name out before she starts laughing. She’s making sriracha-honey glazed chicken sandwiches.

The chefs serve Mr. Hammer and Padma, and when Dr. Funky Fresh brings up his dish he decides to rap. Padma feels the same way about it as I do:

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Oh the other end of the spectrum, Padma asks Kwame to rap because he mentions that he used to. Kwame looks like he might puke, but he does it and is rewarded with a Padma hug. Kwame is living his best life in that moment.

Anyway, back to the food. On the bottom in the challenge are Amar, Marjorie, and Kwame. The best dishes belong to Boston Carl, Cajun, and Karen. Cajun takes the win, and it looks like he’s on a little bit of a roll. Cajun is kind of a crazy motherfucker, but I like him.

Padma says goodbye to Hammer and welcomes Chef Jonathan Waxman, the guest judge for this week’s Elimination Challenge. The chefs have to create a dish that evokes a significant culinary period in history. The chefs draw knives to figure out the order they can pick their time periods, and poor Karen is last.

Cajun goes first and selects the Viking age; Boston Carl is next, and he goes for ancient Greece. Amar picks Paris during Belle Époque (late 1800s-early 1900s), and Chef Waxman mentions that would be his first choice. Marjorie grabs ancient India, and Kwame goes for China during the Han dynasty, which sucks for Karen because she loves Chinese food. Baldy goes for San Francisco during the gold rush, and, last but not least, Karen selects the Empire of Japan.

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