Top Chef: Charleston wrapped filming around June 10, 2016. If you are aware of the hurricane season in the Atlantic, It technically begins on June 1st. But 2016 was a crap year and Hurricane Alex showed up in JANUARY. Because I enjoy going to the beach on my birthday in mid to late June, I often roll the dice in the Caribbean and have never had a hurricane or tropical storm disrupt my trips. If the Top Chef staff took hurricane season into consideration, I imagine they felt they could risk the last half of filming being the first week of June. But again, because 2016 was a merciless bitch, Tropical Storm Bonnie showed up the very last weekend in May and Tropical Storm Colin showed up around the time the finale was being filmed. So this is the first of a double wallop for filming. That must have been hell on production.
Meanwhile, Jim Smith is just a little love bug. He’s getting a great edit which I fear they may be doing to just crush all of our hopes and dreams. This was filmed in 2016, though frankly I’m not fond of 2017 either.
The quickfire is a SUDDEN DEATH COOKOFF! The challenge has each chef cooking with ingredients based on whether their zodiac signs are Fire, Water, Air or Earth. There seem to be a lot of fire signs in this group. I am pulling for Sheldon because #TeamWater. There seems to be a heated debate online about which sign is which element. I don’t think there were any earth signs.
Jaime (AKA Burnt Veggies) has found his rhythm and is a force to be reckoned with. Emily appears to be on her meds this episode and is kind of ….pleasant! Katsuji should have just fire roasted tomatoes and peppers and did a Mexican dish. Instead he fire roasted an onion and made a cauliflower mash and a fire roasted jalapeno or something. Why? Fire roasting screams Mexican food and he did some sort of NYC fancypants appetizer that cost $30 famous chef crap. The guest chef agrees with me and says Katsuji’s dish is definitely not what he expected. Shirley is another fire sign, she did a fried cauliflower as well. Are we sponsored by the Cauliflower association tonight? Like the Mexican chef before her, and Asian chef could have gone with a spicy Asian dish. She did make a soy chili sauce for the damn cauliflower, but come on, this is sudden death. And it is starting to feel very scripted.
After all that fire, Sheldon provides some relief for the judges palates with a Filipino ceviche with coconut milk. Finally someone staying in their lane. However, ceviche is one of the things I hoped to leave behind in 2016. So played out in my opinion. Following Sheldon was Jim who did a charred bison with watermelon. Padma points out there is a lot of water in his fire dish. Ut oh. Again, Jim should have stayed in his lane and used fire roasted elements in a southern dish. Casey is Air. She did chicken, as did Emily and it was clear they didn’t get her “pickled egg cream” because why would they. Emily beat her this round. Because EMILY STAYED IN HER LANE.
The top three were Katsuji (he’s more shocked than even I am about this), Sheldon’s ceviche, and Jaime’s dish won. I really thought Emily had a shot at winning this round. The bottom three were Jim! Silva! and Emily! Surely Emily will go home, the other two are monsters at this game. Since no one had Earth, the three chefs in the bottom will pick a dish to make from that pantry. It sounds like they will all be making the same dish. Graham Elliot is back as the tie breaking judge.
Jim wants to make steak and potatoes. The other two want steak tartar. UGH, this will be bad for Jim. Down here in the south, we tend to actually cook our food, especially meat. I am behind so I am going to skip most of the drama. All three of these chefs are roommates. Jim says even though he doesn’t serve tartar much in the Governor’s mansion, he is quite familiar with it. WHEW! Why is Silvia cooking his meat? Apparently, searing is part of a certain type of tartar. That went by super fast.
Michael Cimarusti, am L.A. chef, was the co-judge with Padma for this round. Because, why? Did they run out of Charleston chef’s halfway through the season? I had to Google him. At any rate he said that Jim’s raw cow dish was the most refined of the three, so there is that. Jim served a Lisa Rinna portion to him and Padma. I think that is what they mean in L.A. when they say a dish is refined. Graham said he would have liked to have seen a real sized dish from Jim.
WHAT? I thought I saw Jim in the previews for the next challenge. Fuck them all in the ear. REALLY?
EMILY IS STILL THERE AND JIM IS NOT?
I’m gonna need a moment.
Apparently, Blackbeard had this big pirate party in Charleston and that is where he was killed. There are three teams. Red, Yellow and Black. Whatever. Now I get it. God sent in this awful storm to show his displeasure about Jim going home. It will essentially rain God’s tears for the rest of the season. I’m really not in the mood to recap this. If you missed Jim’s short documentary on Crowe’s Chicken, you can watch that here whenever you miss him.
Random thoughts on the scavenger hunt: How hard is it to boil a lobster, Emily? How does Emily not know where things are? Has Jaime lived there for a full week before this show? Why is Emily still on the show? WHY?
The yellow team with Shirley, Silva and Sheldon is cooking first. We see Shirley shaking a GIANT BOX OF MORTON’S SALT into her stew. Do these people really not use plain sea salt like normal people?
The black team comes in to cook second. They are Brooke, Casey and Katsuji. Katsuji was not loving waddling around in a hurry during a tropical storm. Again, they have TWO cauliflower dishes. Katsuji is adding chorizo to his cauliflower soup. I make cauliflower and broccoli soup a lot. I need his recipe.
The red team is John, Jaime and Emily. John plans to saddle Jaime with the worst ingredients which in their case is peanut butter and chicken but John has a great chicken peanut satay up his sleeve.
The Judges Tasting
On the yellow team, the first up is an asparagus soup with lots of weird crap in it. Yet. the weather might give the soup course an advantage. Sheldon has a filet with pineapple. Both of their first two dishes have macadamia nuts, but come on. In these dishes? Shirley did a stew. Why? Why a soup and a stew? The judges seemed to like it.
On the black team, Casey did a salt brined scallop. Which means she is serving salty raw scallops. Why don’t these people fucking COOK THE FOOD? It also has like radishes and Brazil nuts and reminds me of the sort of things the kindergarteners would make in class and bring to me. I do not eat things made by five year olds and I would not eat this either. Brooke fried cauliflower, because clearly they are all being paid to cook cauliflower 47 times this episode, and oh yeah, did I mention Brazil nuts? I do want some of Katsuji’s cauliflower soup with chorizo, hot sauce, lemon, chive powder (why do I not own this?) and cumin. The judges don’t like that the soup is so very thick. He probably should added some more stock and/or milk, but cauliflower soup is always thick. The judges love Katsuji’s soup. I am going to try to make it ASAP. They can barely get Casey’s scallop down.
On team red, Emily made fennel and lobster chowder with crispy chicken skin and kaffir lime leaves and orange zest. Sounds yummy. John made lobster with truffle butter and he made gnocchi with canned peas. I was wondering who had to take on the canned peas. Jaime made the Chicken peanut satay over pickled fennel and orange salad. Go Red Team! The judges hate Emily’s chowder. That is because she should have gone home and you should have been eating Jim’s lobster chowder. I BLAME YOU PADMA. They also hated Jaime’s dish. That means Emily will FINALLY go home because John’s lobster was great.
Yellow is the clear winner. Shirley’s stew won.
Red team is the losing team. John says that they opted to give Jaime the worst ingredients since he had immunity. Emily says that is not true, it was John’s idea to give Jaime the crappy ingredients. Jaime wants to give up immunity and be judged with his team. In the boiler room John and Katsuji both say they have a lot of respect for Jaime doing that. They both say they would never have done it. Jaime feels like he deserves to go home for his dish. He is really upset and anytime anyone in the boiler room wants to say he should not, he gets a bit hostile.
The black team is considered heavily by the judges as a losing team. They seem not to want to send anyone on red home because they can’t decide. Should John go because he had the best ingredients and it was not stellar? Should Jaime for having the worst dish? Was Emily’s dish really better than Jaime’s though? Should they allow Jaime to forfeit immunity? It’s a tough call.
Ultimately, the red team loses. Padma asks Jaime if he is sure he wants to give up immunity. He says he is and Padma tells him to pack his knives and go. I am really pulling for Jaime in last chance kitchen. He has a lot of integrity. Tom makes it clear to Emily that if he had not given up his immunity, she would have been out.
Next Week: It’s RESTAURANT WARS! And Emily has a fucking breakdown about three challenges too late.