Top Chef Recap: Episode 11 – Padma Lushmi


This episode of Top Chef was down to a mere six cheftestants, and you know what that means: less stupid cooking, more Padma Lakshmi.

The chefs were rudely awakened by a cheerful Padma for their 6am quickfire challenge – a perfect fantasy morning making breakfast for Padma. Without any pesky guest judges around, pleasant Padma was free to like everything. The best part was the not-so-surprising revelation that Padma is a total boozer, and all the chefs found it hilarious that Hung took the easy road to victory by spiking Padma’s breakfast smoothie with Grand Marnier. Brilliant idea – I’m drinking one right now as I type this – hey, I’m a blogger.

So Padma breaks the news that the remaining chefs all get to fly to NYC for the next challenge. They arrive at Newark airport, and in a shocker, are not allowed to go to New York until they complete a challenge right there by the airport, which clearly was just an excuse for flight jacket Padma to emerge.

The chefs have to make first-class airplane food, with flight attendants serving as the tasters (total blown opportunity for a stewardess Padma). Casey steals the show again with her veal medallions– is she emerging as a frontrunner? But Anthony Bourdain was a guest judge, so of course this episode was all about how much he thought everyone screwed up.

Brian’s lobster hash put him on the bottom, even though he followed gansie’s advice and stirred in some purple Peruvian potatoes (trend alert!) But the real shocker was CJ, who served up some brocollini that Mr. Bourdain described as looking like it was just found in Bob Marley’s closet. Padma, pushed to the edge of tears as she usually is when an attractive male is kicked off, sadly announces that CJ is gone.

Not that his brocollini didn’t look disgusting, but come on, Top Chef, how is Sara still on this show??

Photo: flickr user wzl no nick

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  • Dan September 13, 2007  

    Because she’s hot. That’s why Sara’s still on the show.

  • BS September 13, 2007  

    really? sara?

  • JoeHoya September 13, 2007  

    So Casey has now won back-to-back elimination challenges…still think they’re keeping her around for her looks? I’d say she’s hit her stride at just the right moment to make a run at top 3…or 4, if they do it like last season.

    Brian, on the other hand, has fallen on some hard times. He’s been in the bottom grouping three weeks in a row.

    But I maintain that he will end up in the final three, and I’m still feeling good about my dark-horse call on Dale.

    Hung seems to be riding the “good enough” train – he hasn’t won an elimination challenge yet, but he’s rarely horrible. He may very well make it into the finals by default as others flame out.

    Anyone NOT think Sara is gone next week?

  • BS September 13, 2007  

    good points…I like casey but do you think she is good enough to win? i like most of the ones left, but honestly none of them seem as talented as the season one and two winners (as much as you can gauge talent from this show, anyway)

  • Edouble September 13, 2007  

    Are we really going to keep showing pics of Padma in her undies? 🙂

  • JoeHoya September 14, 2007  

    I don’t know if Casey is good enough to win, but I think she’s definitely earned some respect with her performance in the past couple of episodes. More than anything, I just wanted to point out that she seems to be putting the ‘keep her around, she’s good looking’ argument to rest with results.

    Do you really think these guys are inferior to Ilan? I have nothing against the guy, but he came across as a bit of one-trick pony. If you could dress it up with saffron or serve it paella-style, he was on it!

    I have similar concerns about Brian in the current cast. He’s got seafood pretty much nailed, but he seems to be having a tougher time with dishes that are outside that comfort zone. I think he gets points for effort, though…he’s certainly taken the judges’ criticism that all he was doing was seafood to heart.

    Of course, it may not be a bad thing that these guys are specialists – I find myself drawn to restaurants that do a limited menu very well far more often than to restaurants that have a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ approach. If I were in the mood for a quality Spanish meal, I would absolutely trust a restaurant with Ilan at the helm. Same goes for seafood and Brian (the DC outpost of the Oceanaire chain gives me reason to believe they’ve got a Brian in every one of their restaurants across the country – it’s really damn good).

    The remaining chefs (with the possible exception of Sara) are all decent in their various rights, but I think Dale is the one with the most interesting takes on his dishes. I find it amusing that Hung (who apparently knows Marcel from Vegas, as seen in the Season 1 vs. Season 2 cook-off) has pretty much followed in Marcel’s footsteps: No Elimination Challenge wins, but consistently hanging out in the top ranks.

    Maybe it’s nostalgia or the novelty of the first season, but I really think Harold shines in comparison to everyone that has followed. He was good at what he did, but it didn’t feel like he was limited or easily pigeon-holed.

  • BS September 14, 2007  

    I’ll have you know, edouble, that padma and her undies are bringing this blog all the way to the top

  • BS September 14, 2007  

    agreed on Harold — he’s just so great though…I’ve liked casey from the start – I just think there were two clear times when she made horrible dishes but wasn’t punished for it, as opposed to other chefs, like say, CJ or Micah (remember her?) who were just as good but got kicked off when they made just one bad dish

  • gansie September 18, 2007  

    I really thought Micah was going far on that show, actually. But I guess she wasn’t emotionally strong enough for reality TV. I know this is just wrong, esp. coming from someone with height difficulties, but CJ is just too tall for the kitchen. He should be doing good elsewhere – like, um, rescuing kittens from trees. And, I actually think Padma looked hungover for that b-fast challenge.

    I second Edouble’s comment. Padma needs to be clothed. Or Tony B needs to show off his boxer briefs.

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