Top Chef: Colossal Coliseum Kaiseki
May 22, 2020 8:30 AM - Season 17, Episode 10 - Subscribe

With only six chefs remaining, the challenges get even more difficult, when pastry super-chef Sherry Yard awaits the all stars for a dreaded dessert Quickfire; chefs endure a blindfolded taste test to pick their ingredients.

The blindfold tasting is always one of my favorite Quickfire formats. The elimination seemed a little weird. My understanding is that kaiseki is a very well-defined and highly-refined culinary and aesthetic tradition and while I wasn't paying attention to every line of the episode, it seemed like only Melissa had meaningful experience with it, so having them sort of improv their way through it wasn't entirely satisfying.

I don't know why they keep torturing us with offering us a potential Malarkey elimination and then snatching it away.
posted by praemunire (12 comments total)
Karen really seemed to have trouble with that grill, which was such a bummer. I get that was the challenge but I'd have hoped they'd provided a better set up for the chefs.
posted by Carillon at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2020

I think Karen's mistake was the duck. I don't think a more traditional wood-fired setup would have served her much better. Great protein in the best of times when it has a ton of slow rendering time but not trying to completely cook it over coals. IIRC a fish is traditional here and wouldn't have suffered as much if undercooked.

(Side note: I wonder if pork was off the menu? Not that it's traditional kaiseki but it'd make sense to be a stipulation here.)

Maybe it was the editing but man did the remaining contestants seem bummed about being roped into LCK.
posted by supercres at 12:11 PM on May 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Yeah I could see that, sometimes with the editing though these hyperspecific challenges can come across a bit like ok you 6 just have a normal time and this one person has to do something totally different on the fly, but isn't provided any of the specialized equipment. It's probably taken care of behind the scenes and we don't see it, but can produce a narrative I don't love.
posted by Carillon at 1:13 PM on May 22, 2020

I'm not a fan of the tasting challenges, but it went ok. Was STOKED to see Niki and Carole, as I'm a fan of n/naka and was fortunate to dine there before (it was amazing but that initial res is quite frustrating to get!).

Interesting how they showed Karen lifting weights, and her saying she would compete in powerlifting, which isn't an olympic sport (weightlifting is, similar but uniquely different). Semantics for a weightlifting nerd like me, but I suppose they wanted to bring a human element to the olympic narrative.

Was disappointed in Melissa's outcome, but I think the taste wasn't so much an issue but execution. Taste was definitely lacking in the others in addition to execution. Minute I saw Karen get duck she was doomed for sure.

Sooo happy for Stephanie though, especially since she hasn't been to Japan before. It is sad that we know she won't be there this year but I'm hoping they do reschedule her for next year.
posted by xtine at 12:58 PM on May 23, 2020

On rewatch: seems like they edited out all references to 2020. Makes total sense in retrospect but it was seamless initially.
posted by supercres at 9:31 PM on May 23, 2020

Maybe it was the editing but man did the remaining contestants seem bummed about being roped into LCK.

Stephanie’s anxiety and dread was palpable.

Also noticed in LCK: Kevin only took on the white guys before being all I DON’T KNOW YOU TELL ME and Gregory eventually going. Kevin is clearly good, but man, if we are heading down the path of Yet Another Dude winning, what is this show even doing.

I’ll miss Karen. More queer cheftestants please.
posted by hijinx at 7:59 AM on May 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

More queer cheftestants please

I don't have lists to run numbers, but I would guess that 60% of the women chefs on Top Chef overall, if not more, are queer. Melissa is. (And I think I remember that Lisa is.)
posted by praemunire at 10:34 AM on May 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

and Gregory eventually going

ah! what? I don't watch LCK, did Gregory somehow get kicked off the show???
posted by Emmy Rae at 5:46 AM on May 27, 2020

Gregory is still on the show. He volunteered to go against Kevin in LCK but it just means Kevin is back, not that Gregory is out
posted by donnagirl at 12:24 PM on May 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to say I appreciated they made a kaiseki challenge. Kaiseki is this incredibly fine art of cuisine, very subtle and sophisticated with a long history. And it's mostly unknown in the US. I don't think any of these chefs had ever really cooked this kind of food before, a couple of them I'm not sure have even eaten it. Interesting to see them have to tackle something so demanding and relatively unknown.
posted by Nelson at 10:03 AM on May 29, 2020

I'm a bit annoyed with the editing of the show. The way they focused on Melissa and Stephanie, both talking about their lack of wins, and need to focus. Then they both end up getting wins this episode. The foreshadowing is a bit overbearing.

Same for Melissa's loss. They get her to say how she got kicked off her last season for a Japanese dish, and oh, look, here's another Japanese dish - what will happen?
posted by hydra77 at 1:07 PM on May 29, 2020

And LCK... They really tried to force the issue of the current Top Chef contestants wanting to keep Kevin out of the competition. I really don't think any of them cared about it at all.

I was thinking... well if Kevin does come back, then by numbers alone, they have better odds of not going home on the next elimination challenge (1 out of 6 vs 1 out of 5), right?
posted by hydra77 at 1:09 PM on May 29, 2020

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