Top Chef Recap: Spines and Vines


NOOOOOOOO. Ugh. Can’t believe we lost Frances this early! She was one of the good ones.

But let’s take a step back. This week, the chefs pack up and go on their first road trip of the season, to Santa Barbara. We learn in the car that Kwame used to sell candy on the train to help jump-start his cooking career, that Jeremy has a daughter at home, and that Frances’ father kicked her out of the house at one point. Plus, she is a recovering addict (you tell us that and then you kick her off? Come on, Bravo).

They get to Santa Barbara, where they’re greeted with the very of-the-moment uni. They’re told that their quickfire challenge will be to create an uni dish that pairs well with a specific type of wine, and that the quickfire will be sudden death.

Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food and Wine Magazine, will be judging the challenge. She already knows Jason, who apparently was one of Food and Wine Magazine’s chef of the year.

We learn that Chad doesn’t drink, so he can’t taste his wine. He quickly tries to read the description, but they don’t call it a quickfire for nothing. Given how little he knows and how big his problem is, I assume he’s going to do well in this challenge. Giselle is in a complete panic (once again), because though she knows how to make uni and eggs, she can’t find any. Carl got to them first. Grayson is thrown by the “sudden death” piece, but her boyfriend is a sommelier, so she feels she has a leg up. And, let’s be honest. Girl needs a win.

Marjorie is cutting things off of the vines, which is interesting. And Phil, once again has an annoying amount of energy. Isaac gives us a gem: “Violence isn’t the answer, but sometimes it’s the only answer.” He’s making a potato salad, which sounds kind of awesome. Time runs out, and Giselle realizes Carl had the eggs. It’s immediately apparent that this is NOT going to go well for her.

Grayson’s dish is simple, but they love it. Dana loves Jason’s (obviously- she wouldn’t want her pick to be doing badly). Padma likes it, but not as much. Giselle’s dish is a disaster, and of course, Carl’s with the eggs immediately follows and is excellent. The potato salad goes great, and I have now become extremely sick of hearing the word uni.

Grayson wins! Giselle loses, and she has to choose who to have a cook-off with to avoid elimination. She chooses Angelina who was also in the bottom three. Giselle wins so no one goes home- an uneventful sudden death challenge.

The elimination challenge is a partnered surf a turf– except for Grayson. She has immunity so she’s cooking alone. Giselle and Angelina are paired together, which feels like kind of a bummer for both of them since thus far this leg of the competition has not been kind to them. Frances and Jason are paired, and they’re both uncomfortable with it since they have very different cooking styles and backgrounds, but they’re both pretty game.

In the kitchen, everyone is checking out their temporary space, when Tom comes in. Instead of surf and turf, it’s now surf vs. turf and the teams are divided. Each pair will present 2 dishes, and the losing contestant will face elimination.

Phil and Jeremy are arguing over potatoes, and Phil is still being the worst. Jeremy gets the potatoes because gnocchi is “his thing,” and I (audibly) applaud him for standing his ground because it means Phil loses.

Kwame helps Chad butcher his lamb because he is a wonderful person. I would not have made the same choice, but to each his own.

Wesley is wasting time stenciling his condiment, which feels like a bad choice because his meat, even according to him, is garbage. And, who’s tasting his dish? Richard Blais, the former chef of the restaurant Wesley currently works out. Bad choice, Wesley. Grayson wins her round against Wesley and Amar, which shouldn’t be allowed since she has immunity, but, whatever.

They like Phil’s dish (UGH), but not as much as Jeremy’s. Jeremy wins their round. Wohoo! Giselle and Angelina are next, and Giselle takes the round. Chad and Kwame both kind of kill it, and my feelings on Chad are changing. Kwame wins in a very close call. Carl and Isaac also both do well, and Carl wins, also in a close call.

Marjorie and Karen are in the kitchen and Karen is racing the clock. She’s missing a piece of fish, and serves her dish to Padma without this extremely important component. Despite this, Karen wins. Frances and Jason are next and both dishes are lacking. Jason wins in another close race.

KWAME WINS THE CHALLENGE and all is right in the world. Unfortunately this euphoria is short lived.

Wesley, Angelina and Frances are in the bottom three, and obviously either Wesley or Angelina should go home. Angelina has been in the bottom three twice today, and Wesley just spent the time in between the challenge and the elimination venting annoyingly to Kwame. But, they send Frances home, and I do not want to watch this show anymore.

But, I will. There are recaps to write! Check back next week for more!


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