Top Chef: Meet You at the Drive-In
May 1, 2021 3:24 PM - Season 18, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Amar Santana joins Padma for this week’s Quickfire Challenge honoring Mother’s Day and one of Portland’s nicknames “City of Roses.” The chefs are tasked to create a dish featuring roses or rose products inspired by the mother figure in their lives. Then, the chefs will go head-to-head at the first-ever Top Chef Drive-In where each team must create dishes based on popular movie genres. Not only will they have to impress the judges’ table with Richard Blais, but they will also need to win over the diners who will help decide who wins each round.

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posted by everybody had matching towels (7 comments total)
That corndog.... just no.
posted by kathrynm at 8:23 PM on May 1, 2021

This episode was pretty silly, but you can appreciate their trying to lean into the pandemic-imposed restrictions on what they could film (normally like half the episodes involve them catering events, usually indoors!).

That s'more looked great. I would also like some of Dawn's popcorn, please.
posted by praemunire at 10:13 PM on May 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

(Also, can I say, I appreciate that Blais seems to have toned down his self-centeredness somewhat and is giving pretty generous-minded critiques. He's been insufferable for a while now.)
posted by praemunire at 10:13 PM on May 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

I appreciate the producers' effort in making this concept but it did seem set up to fail. Dawn's popcorn worked & so did the milkshake but if they had all done something like that, it would have been a boring meal. Hard for me to imagine 12 dazzling foods that are all eat-in-the-car appropriate.

Padma's ridiculous announcements were funny to see paired with her cracking up at her own efforts.

Amar doesn't eat vegetables?!?!?!?!?

I like Chris and I can't figure out why he is so unreliable. From the top to the bottom and back all the time.

I also felt for Maria - it would be so frustrating to get no feedback and just hang around the middle wondering what they are looking for that you are missing.

It's nice to see how well all the chefs get along.
posted by Emmy Rae at 9:11 AM on May 2, 2021

This is a classic issue with these challenges though, they say all the food has to be blue, or make it horrific, and when the chef does, they complain they were following the brief. Here's a genius thought, if you don't want food that looks like X don't ask them to make it like X!
posted by Carillon at 11:26 AM on May 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Once again, chicken sends someone home - last week raw, this week flabby. It's probably the meat people cook the most, yet it does seem to trip people up on cooking shows.

I thought the concept was fun, and I enjoyed seeing how each chef interpreted their brief, obviously some more successful than others.

I am cross that I fell for the Bravo frauding though - usually when a chef is featured heavily, talking to loved ones on the phone, questioning why they're still here, they are usually the next to be told PPYK&G. So I was all prepared for my favourite to be shown the door, but I'm very happy she wasn't.
posted by essexjan at 4:42 AM on May 3, 2021

The problem with this episode is a classic Top Chef error of too many criteria:
- catering challenge (large crowd, limited kitchen facilities)
- movie genre themed courses
- food to be eaten in a car
- food you'd eat at a movie
- head to head team challenge

And so it's hard to fulfill all the boxes and it's impossible to judge fairly. The winning dish had nothing to do with comedy; Byron(?) didn't even try and sell it, really. It seemed pretty clear that the green team did better than the yellow one; they won the first three courses clearly, where yellow barely won sci-fi where both dishes were good, barely won horror where they both sucked and only won romance by any margin. So it should be a green team dish as the winner, but none of them really fit the theme.

If you showed me the dishes in random order and asked me what dish was what genre, there's only three I'd definitely get right, the smore molecular gastronomy thing for sci fi, the horror corndog and the romance milkshake. The smore lost it's round and the corndog seemed awful, so the milkshake should have won if the theme was important.

I think that they were just trying to be too clever setting the challenge; a menu inspired by movie genres would be a great challenge without all the other restrictions - because it's so hard to cook a dish inspired by say action movies - and would give more freedom to fulfill the brief.

A drive in challenge with a more straightforward theme, like "movie snack" theme, or themed around a food movie would work. Or even each course a different food movie - Chef, Tampopo, Eat Drink Man Woman, Babette's Feast, Big Night, Willy Wonka.
posted by Superilla at 10:46 PM on June 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

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