Top Chef Recap – Season 13, Episode 12 (and Last Chance Kitchen)

Wok This Way
Aired 25 February 2016

Wok This Way? After last week’s MC Hammer visitation is it too much to hope that title is an indication that Run DMC might put in an appearance?

Quickfire Challenge

Unfortunately my Run DMC hopes get fried when we meet famous chef Martin Yan. It’s use a wok this way, or his way at least. The challenge is to create the perfect chop suey at a wok station. There’s no more immunities available but the winner does get a leg up on the main challenge.

That reminds me, there haven’t been many (any?) additional prizes this season. In past seasons cheftestants picked up money and overseas holidays in the quickfires but this season has been stingier than Santa to bad children.  Production budget cuts?  Lack of sponsors?  My guess is that all the prize money has been soaked up buying oversized glasses for Richard Blais.

The wok stations prove a challenge to Amar who immediately starts a five-alarm fire. Kwame on the other hands obviously knows what he’s doing, oil-blanching his vegetables before adding them to the mix.

Bottom: Carl (his lobster chop suey was low on vegetables), Kwame (his blanching technique was off and the oil leeched from the vegetables into the rest of the dish) and Isaac (his chicken was starchy).

Top: Jeremy (who made a delicious looking crab chop suet), Marjorie (her lobster dish was appropriately balanced between meat and vegetables) and Amar (who is told “you did a good job putting the right element together”, whatever that means). The winner is Marjorie! Hooray! Not that I’m biased or anything. But I totally am. Go Marj!

Elimination Challenge

The guest judge is founder of Umami Burger and attractive husky male Adam Fleischman.

Dinner and a show.

Dinner and a show.

The challenge is fun but tricky – create one dish from your brand new fast-casual chain of restaurants.  Also they must come up with the menu for that chain. Adam Fleischman then said some stuff. I think he was giving the cheftestants tips on casual dining concepts. Apologies.  When there’s a bearish looking guy on screen I just zone out.

The internet has A LOT of pictures of Adam Fleischman holding hamburgers.

The internet has A LOT of pictures of Adam Fleischman holding hamburgers.  Thank you, internet.

Since the task is daunting Padma brings in the last seven ousted cheftestants. Marjorie’s prize for winning is that she gets to pick first – and assign the other pairings. So who will she stick with Man Bun? My guess is Kwame.

Marjorie decides to makes picks based on discordancy. Oh Marj, you and I would make such good friends: Marjorie/Angelina, Jeremy/Jason, Carl/Chad, Amar/Karen, Isaac/Wesley, Kwame/Man Bun.

Marj had been protective of Angelina in earlier episodes and apparently “Dangerous Minds” is “a beast with prep” which explains that pairing. I too would have paired one of the bro-ish guys like Jeremy with Jason – the bruh and the uptight homosexual will make an unhappy marriage.  And true to form as they begin to discuss concepts Jeremy tells Jason “I have a two and a half inch dish”. “You have a two and a half inch, what?” Jason replies. Jeremy seems oblivious. Yeah, this ought to be a mess.

Marjorie admits she saved Man Bun for Kwame – she watched them fight during Restaurant Wars and this is evidence that despite his bad showing lately everyone still considers Kwame a front-runner. Kwame pretends Man Bun will actually be a great help. Sorry Kwame, you are awful at lying. Carl, of course, gets the sweetest deal by being paired with hot hipster bear Chad. Hi Chad!

Sigh.

Sigh.

Concepts

Savory Med
Carl (with Chad)
Lamb and Piquillo Pepper Stew With Couscous, Yogurt, Feta Cheese and Fresh Herb Salad.
The judges like the concept and they’re impressed with the fresh, tasty food. One diner dubs Carl’s restaurant “investor worthy” which is the biggest compliment you could give. This thing needs to be renamed though. Savory Med sounds like the name of an NBC hospital drama.

Gumbo For Y’All
Isaac (with Karen)
Gumbo Ya Ya With Chicken and Sausage
The soup and stew concept gets a thumbs up – especially since Isaac points out you can buy one serving or gumbo for 100.  It also helps that the gumbo tastes great. I’d tweak the name to read Gumbo 4 Y’All but otherwise I could totally see this concept working – great job, Isaac.

Waffle Me
Kwame (with Man Bun)
Whole Wheat Waffle Topped With Fried Chicked, Maple Jus, Mustard Seeds, Red Onion and Scallions
During shopping we were shown that Kwame was buying frozen waffles which, of course, was a red flag to longtime viewers! Kwame justifies it by the fact that they’re organic.  Kwame, poop is organic but that doesn’t make me want to eat it.  The stench of elimination sticks around him all episode. At the checkout the other cheftestants rib him about buying pre-made. When he tells Tom and Chef Hotness, I mean Adam Fleischman, on their rounds they stare at him blankly. It’s no surprise when the judges aren’t impressed with the waffles, they’re not crispy, and the tiny waffles make for overly small servings. “No one’s going to order forty little mini-sandwiches for their office,” says Adam.

You might need to order forty just to feed yourself.

You might need to order forty just to feed yourself.

Pasta Mama
Marjorie (with Angelina)
House-Made Spaghetti With Olive Oil-Poached Tuna, Chili, Garlic and Lemon Bread Crumb
Marj’s concept name impresses as does her idea to have a pasta extruder in each store. Marj had been forced to improvise to cook her pasta and she repurposed a deep fryer as a pasta cooker – it works perfectly. Her tasty food and great restaurant name has the judges already picturing the mama in the window, that’s a sure sign she’s captured their imagination.

Taco Dudes
Jeremy (with Jason)
“Bro Ham” Crispy Pork Belly Taco With Caramel Glaze, Savoy Cabbage Slaw, Lime Aioli and Pickled Habaneros
Jeremy clearly hasn’t nailed down the concept – he describes it as a gastro pub with a roof-top garden and “hot chicks serving you”. Padma isn’t impressed at the “hot chicks” reference. “It’s like Hooters” says Tom, digging Jeremy a little deeper into the misogynistic hole he’s found himself in. The taco is hard to eat but mostly everybody is unimpressed with Jeremy’s muddy concept. As Tom says “two dudes wouldn’t be seen dead in a gastro pub”.

Pio Pio
Amar (with Karen)
Rotisserie Chicken With Spanish Yellow Rice, Four Bean Sala and Choice of Sauce
The judge’s aren’t feeling Amar’s concept and find the chicken a little under charred. But mixed altogether his dish tastes good.

Judge’s Table

Top
It’s no surprise to learn that Marjorie and Carl are on top and the winner is Marjorie Carl. Really? I though Marj knocked this one out of the park. In fact, it’s revealed Carl’s food was overwhelmingly the favourite of the diners so that perhaps had something to do with it.

Looked good, tasted great.

Looked good, tasted great.

This is Carl’s first win and he’s delighted.  As a viewer it’s great to see the wins getting shared around the cast – everybody has a win now – the next few weeks will be a real competition.

Bottom
It’s equally no surprise that Kwame and Jeremy land in the bottom. Jeremy is critiqued on his confused concept, Kwame on his fussy plating and pre-bought waffles.

Tonight’s ouster is clearly meant to be a shock – Jeremy and Kwame were the two front-runners, right? Or were they? Neither has impressed for weeks now and Kwame especially has looked lost, turning out poor food at almost every challenge. Given the edit the smart money has to be on Kwame going and yes, he’s sent home. He might as well have started packing his bags the moment he chose to serve frozen waffles.

As he leaves Kwame tells Tom that four years ago he started as a waiter in Tom’s restaurant. Is this the first we’ve heard about this? This moment felt very artificial – was Kwame told to say this on leaving so the producers could cover off having told us there was a connection between him and Tom? Or is this to do with Kwame’s slightly awkward social skills?

Best Line of the Week: Marjorie – “I’ve never been so happy to see boiling water in my life”. Just as well her gamble with the deep fryer paid off!

Worst Line of the Week: Everything Richard Blais said. This week he was wearing a pair of oversized blue glasses – he looked like the animated Chicken Little.  Is it too much to hope the sky will fall on his head?

Last Chance Kitchen
Breakfast Baby!

Jason vs Kwame

Since Kwame was sent home for (not) making waffles the challenge is to make breakfast in 15 minutes. Jason goes Spanish, Kwame goes…Indian? I can’t say I’ve ever eaten Indian for breakfast. I have, of course, eaten an Indian at breakfast-time – more than one – but that’s another story (stories).

As usual the real fun in LCK is with the audience. Angelina and Giselle play live TV presenters, Karen is draped over Renee (you know, the super sassy chef from Kansas City), Chad sits there looking all hot hipster bear-ish…

Sigh.

Sigh.

Jason – Olive Oil Poached Deep Fried Egg With Migas
Kwame – Egg Bhurji, Brioche and Cilantro

Winner: Tom is impressed with both dishes but if he had to eat one dish again it would be…Kwame’s Jason’s!

Wow, Jason, five in a row! Only two more wins and he’s back in the competition. Five weeks ago that looked impossible. Now, and especially after taking down Kwame, it looks very achievable.

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