Top Chef: Wok This Way
February 25, 2016 7:00 PM - Season 13, Episode 12 - Subscribe

The cheftestants compete to chop their best suey for the quickfire challenge. Several previously-eliminated chefs return to help with the elimination challenge: developing a fast-casual dining concept!
posted by duffell (11 comments total)
  • "I teach my daughter that 2nd place is FIRST LOSER." Aaaaaand, my opinion of Jeremy goes from "whatev" to "ummmm, NAW"
  • If someone came at me with live lobsters in the kitchen, I would react on pure instinct. Just saying, I might end up dumping hot oil all over you. Ease off with the crustaceans, Marjorie.
  • Marjorie's chop suey dish looked so damned delicious, though. I'm a sucker for ginger in savory dishes.
  • "Hey, we've brought all these amazing chefs to San Francisco. Let's see, food... San Francisco... food... San Francisco... I KNOW, LET'S DO A CHALLENGE ABOUT STARTUP CULTURE." Fuuuuuuuuuuck yoooooooou.
  • That said, the challenge itself was actually really cool. I just found the initial framing obnoxious.
  • Kwame has no poker face. Did y'all clock his reaction when he realized he was stuck with Phillip?
  • Tom said something about "a couple of doobies." Really dating yourself there, Tom.
  • I would like a gallon of gumbo.
  • As soon as Kwame started talking about frozen waffles, my wife began shouting "noooooooo, Kwame! Kwame, noooooo!" That was really a bizarre judgment call on Kwame's part. I felt bad about the outcome until I remembered that the other chefs had tried to point out what a terrible idea those frozen waffles were.

posted by duffell at 7:12 PM on February 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Well, you can't say he wasn't warned. Phillip tried to stop him with questions (helpful questions from Phillip! Who knew?). The other cheftestants tried to stop him with playful ribbing. Tom and hat-chef tried to stop him with incredulous faces. But Kwame had a young man's determination to speed his own destruction, and he succeeded. I can't be too sad.

Looking away from that flaming wreckage, Hey! Carl won something! Carl's an idea man! (Though in DC, we call that idea Cava Grill or Roti, but it's still a good idea.) I was pulling for Pasta Mama, though. There is a great chasm between good Italian and fast Italian, and I think Marjorie could fill it. I'll admit I'm biased: I've had Marjorie's pasta.

It was actually quite lovely to see Jeremy "Second Place is for Losers" go down in flames with his ill-conceived concept. There's nothing fast or casual about a gastropub or a breastaurant, nor is there anything particularly "taco" about a lettuce wrap. I'm hoping this means he'll be the next to go.

Still can't tell who's going to be in the final. Isaac's pulling up strong, Carl is a pleasant dark horse, Amar and Marjorie are steadily good. It could be anyone who's whisked off to the next finale locale! Except Jeremy.
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 7:23 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's a Top Chef rule of thumb: you say the F-word ('frozen') and you go home.

Kwame has to know this; it's just so easy to get caught up in your ideas and want to stick with them. Maybe contestants can spare a little tattoo space on their arms to tattoo a warning: no frozen food!

It was nice to see other contestants try and warn him. They really do like and respect him as a chef.

And he made Padma and Tom cry!!!!!
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:46 AM on February 26, 2016

Thinking about taking gumbo home by the gallon stresses me out. Surely he has a plan to separate the rice from the rest of the soup so it's not just a solid rice mass when you get home.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:47 AM on February 26, 2016

It could be anyone who's whisked off to the next finale locale! Except Jeremy.

You never know. Jeremy could be this season's Hosea.
posted by duffell at 6:44 AM on February 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, as soon as he said "frozen waffles" I knew who was going home.

But, holy crap, he's been cooking professionally for four years and he made it to the top 6!?!? That's amazing.

Duffell, you could be right but I pray you are not. Right now I'd put my money on Marjorie, but it really is a toss up.
posted by Frayed Knot at 6:58 AM on February 26, 2016

Have to say, despite the frozen waffles, I'm a little surprised at the judges decision. The waffles were a problem, but it felt like they responded well to his concept and to the non-waffle parts of his food. Whereas Brotein Shake had no concept at all and sub-par food. Just felt to me like Teddy Brosevelt had the bigger fail.

But yeah, as soon as he said "frozen waffles" I hid my face in the sofa cushion and sobbed.

(Though in DC, we call that idea Cava Grill or Roti, but it's still a good idea.)

Chicago has Roti also. I like it ok, but they don't have many locations so I don't go often.
posted by dnash at 7:46 AM on February 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jeremy could be this season's Hosea.

I'm still wildly bitter about Hosea. That sound you just heard was me raising my fists in the air and shouting his name in a Kirk-like "Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan."
posted by librarianamy at 8:25 AM on February 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yeah, using a ready-made waffle as one of the main components in your dish, when your concept is all about the different types of waffles you can make ... ticket home.

I wasn't surprised that Philip wasn't an asshole in this episode. In Restaurant Wars, when he was a line cook for lunch service, he got on with doing what he was tasked to do, without arguing with Jeremy, who was Executive Chef. It's only when Philip's exercising any kind of decision-making or creative process that he completely fails. I think once he was out of the competition, he (along with all the other returnees) took the position that their role was to help their partner win and just get on with the job. Unfortunately Kwame's inexperience let him down, but yeah, he's achieved remarkable things for someone so young.

I would eat Carl's food every day of the week, as I love those Mediterranean flavours. I've never had gumbo, but that also looked great. I was surprised everyone raved about Marjorie's start-up concept - it seemed a little unadventurous to me.

Those tacos looked greasy as hell, and Jeremy is on thin ice in this competition. He seems to skate by not by being second best but by being the second worst. I thought when he was getting the phone call home that he'd be told to pack his knives and go this week, as that's a popular trope on this type of show (particularly Project Runway - if they offer you a phone call home - don't take it!)
posted by essexjan at 1:59 PM on February 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Aw, Tom and Padma struggling not to cry. What sweeties.

I was terrified by Marjorie casually tearing live lobsters in half as they flailed their claws. Is that how lobster tails are always prepared? I never realized. What happens to the front half of the lobster? Is it declawed and then just swept into the garbage still alive?
posted by painquale at 5:53 PM on February 26, 2016

So late to this party, but can I say how cranky I am that they spent one quickfire in a generic part of Oakland? Lame, I had been looking forward to Oakland all season. Why weren't the startups there? It still works as a concept.
posted by Duffington at 5:27 PM on December 4, 2016

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