“Top Chef: California” recap (13.8): Meat Fest

Previously on Top Chef: Glasses was sent packing, Lil’ Puppy Kwame faced some not so great memories from his past (and his cooking suffered because of it), and Bunhead was just super Bunhead-y. This week’s episode picks up with Marjorie, the winner of the last challenge, and Karen, the winner before that, deciding that they’ll just alternate wins every other challenge from now on.

img1I am 100% here for this.

The chefs head over to meet Padma at the Top Chef kitchen, and she introduces some mystery chef who has 30k followers on Instagram. Y’all, I already hate everything about this challenge. The mystery chef appears on screen like a goddamn FBI informant in a baseball cap and greets the chefs with a voice-garbled, “What’s up, bros?” He also describes himself as feeling “soigné,” which the internet tells me means well groomed, but I guess is also a semi-pretentious chef word that means perfect. Top Chef, you’re better than this. If you guys are running out of challenges, I have some ideas, and you can contact me on Twitter @jennalykes.

Anyway, the Quickfire Challenge is that the chefs have to make a visually stunning plate out of junk food. The catch is that the winner will be picked by the Instagram community. The only good thing to happen in this challenge so far is this lovely exchange via magical editing:

Bunhead: I love this challenge. Food is such a visual experience, and I truly believe you eat with your eyes.

Cajun: I will straight up murder anyone who claims you “eat with your eyes” with a variety of weaponized meat products.

The challenge begins, and I am feeling at one with Boston Carl, who seems to be frantically shoving samples of the junk food into his mouth at every possible free moment. “You gotta taste your product,” he says, and I agree. The chefs get through the challenge, some being silly and getting into it (Boston Carl), some hating it (Cajun), and some being really annoying (Bunhead).

After time is called, Padma introduces the mystery chef, and it’s actually a woman who created a satirical dudebro alter ego instead of an actual dudebro! Things are looking up. No one is taking themselves too seriously as they photograph their food, except, of course, for Bunhead. Y’all, I just can’t deal with it for too much longer, and I don’t think Padma can either.

img2Look at this fake ass smile.

Padma thanks the mystery chef, Christine Flynn, and announces all the dishes have been uploaded to Instagram. The chefs will find out who won immunity tomorrow. She moves right into the Elimination Challenge and introduces guest chef Neal Fraser. Fraser describes the 100-year-old tradition of “beefsteak,” which is basically just a fundraiser where people get hammered and eat a ton of meat. This seems relevant to my interests.

The chefs will team up in groups of threes to create, prepare, and serve a traditional beefsteak menu (a seafood dish, a meat dish, and two sides that everyone will eat with their hands). The teams are:

  1. Baldy, Amar, Bunhead (Gonna call you guys Team Bro)
  2. Cajun, Marjorie, Beardy (Y’all are Team Wildcard because I never know what Cajun is going to do)
  3. Kwame, Karen, Boston Carl (You shall be Team Boston [sorry Kwame])

The only team actually making beef at beefsteak is Team Boston, which I think is a smart move. The other teams are doing lamb and chicken/bacon sausage, so we’ll see how that goes. They still don’t know who won immunity, so no one can play it safe this week.

The next day, the chefs go to a beautiful cathedral to prep before the big event. The judges arrive and Padma looks amazing, as per usual. Team Bro serves first, and the judges think the food tastes good (especially Bunhead’s lamb, unfortunately), but it’s too dainty for the event. Also, Padma sucks some yogurt sauce off of her finger.


She also does this in the background:


Team Wildcard’s food doesn’t go over too well—except for Marjorie’s bread and pickled veggies. Cajun’s sausage is a little dry and underseasoned, and Beardy’s tuna was also too dainty. Last up, Team Boston serves their steak, shrimp, and sides. The judges like the look of Kwame’s shrimp, but unfortunately not the flavor. On the other end of the spectrum, Karen & Carl’s steak looks small when presented, but everyone seems happy with the flavor. Karen’s sides are very tasty.

At Judges’ Table, Padma announces the winner of the Instagram Quickfire: It’s Karen, and she is shocked!


This is such a relief! I wasn’t really worried about Karen going home this week, but now I have to worry zero! Tom asks the chefs to describe Beefsteak (meat, decadence, etc.) and then asks why they didn’t do that. The chefs are kinda like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . Anyway, the best meal of the night is apparently Team Bro. Woof. And Bunhead wins. Double woof.

The least favorite meal belongs to Team Wildcard. I feel confident that Marjorie is safe though, so that’s good. It’s going to come down to Cajun’s bland sausage and Beardy’s dainty tuna. I guess I’m rooting for Cajun to stay because he’s funnier. And he does! Beardy has to pack his knives and go. Bye, Beardy!

Next week on Top Chef: Restaurant Wars! With new twists this year (a lunch service and a dinner service!). Everyone must be executive chef at some point! Every chef must do front of house at some point! Buckle up y’all, it’s a two-part episode.