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


The chefs have two hours to do research at the San Francisco library today before having three hours to prep and cook before service the next day. On the way to the library, Karen talks about her love of libraries and learning before mentioning that, in college, she minored in Women’s Studies to meet other queer ladies. I love that she owns it. I mean, we’ve all done something like that right? I played rugby in college for a minute for the very same reason. As it turns out, I am made of bird bones (and I also got mono and met my wife), so my rugby career was very short lived, but I was 100% doing it to meet girls. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The next day, the chefs head to the kitchen and begin cooking their historical dishes. Marjorie is making curried lentils, which reminds me of a tangential story and this is my recap, so you’re stuck with my tangents—sorry. So, I lived in D.C. for a few years, and I loved Marjorie’s restaurant Ripple (seriously, if you’re in the area, go there). One night I was there with my wife for dinner, and a waiter described something as “the champagne of lentils.”


Anyway, it’s still one of my favorite things to ever happen to me. And honestly, they were probably the best lentils I’ve ever had in my life, so I guess you win, pretentious waiter guy.

Back to Top Chef. First up to serve is Boston Carl with his ancient Greek marinated mackerel and calamari and he gets really good feedback from the table. Marjorie also presents her lamb kebab with curried [champagne of] lentils and paratha (bread). The paratha does not go over well, and she gets mixed reviews on the other components. Eeep!

Next up is Cajun and his Viking-inspired roasted venison, which he served on smokey wooden slabs for plates. The judges seem to mostly like it a lot. Kwame serves his Chinese coriander-crusted duck, and they love it. Karen is plating next, and she’s concerned there is too much Chinese influence in her Japanese dish. Faves! You’re making me worry!

Baldy’s Gold Rush chowder tastes like a sauce instead of a soup and Chef Waxman calls him out for doing something way too refined. The judges seem to really enjoy Karen’s soba noodles in dashi broth, but they think she made it too complicated and let her Chinese background influence the dish too much. Last to serve, Amar present’s his Belle Époque roasted squab, sweetbread, and foie gras. He crushed it.

At Judges’ Table, Tom congratulates the chefs across the board. They had to cook for an intimidating group of people, and they made Dad proud. The top dishes belong to Amar, Kwame, and Boston Carl. The winner is Amar!

Karen, Marjorie, and Baldy are on the bottom. PLEASE BE BALDY, PLEASE BE BALDY, PLEASE BE BALDY. Karen over-thought her dish; Marjorie’s paratha was a mess, and Baldy didn’t have enough depth of flavor and made something overly fussy. Okay, I know I’m very biased, but I really do think Baldy deserves to go home. I feel like he’s been sliding by lately and the errors in his dish seem more egregious to me.

Motherfucker, Karen is eliminated.


Siiiiiigh. Oh well, she leaves very graciously with her head held high. But DAMNIT, JUDGES! I’m mad at you. (Except Padma. You know I can’t stay mad at you honey.) Unfortunately, Karen could not beat Jason over on Last Chance Kitchen, but you can vote for her as Fan Favorite here.

Unless Karen comes back for future challenges, this is probably my last recap this season. As always, it’s been a pleasure, and until Padma invites me on the show, you can just find me over on Twitter.

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