Marc Naimark's writing and interviews _____________________________________________________

Top Chef 12.3 / In which TPTB ensure that the drama-worthy are saved

Posted in Top Chef by marcnaimark on 2014/11/02

tcIn the cold open, Ron and Aaron argue about why whoever lost. Blablabla. Aaron’s a jerk. We don’t need more of it.


Aaron and James are now BFFs. Ugh, James. I cannot support you if this continues. Why are they simpatico? Because they are underdogs, from small towns, bad families, self taught. Who cares? Aaron grew up in a broken home! Can you imagine? He knows he’s seen as the cocky little asshole who likes to talk shit. Yep.


It’s SUDDEN DEATH! They’re really running through them.

It’s a Boston Tea Party theme, with Ming Tsai. The challenge is to make something with tea. Yum! Aaron’s pissed because he’s got an unknown tea, gunpowder something or other, and Adam got the yellowtail before him. Hey, Aaron: Be faster next time. Now cook those monkfish cheeks.

James is making something with rainbow trout: Michigan!

Ron got chocolate tea, so he’s making a mole. He’s burned his duck breast. He cooks a new one. But Aaron’s overcooked his fish, and doesn’t cook new ones. James has made a beurre blanc, and that’s so old fashioned! (I don’t get the “that’s so 80s” or “that’s so old”: If it was a good thing then, it’s a good thing now. Stop with the fads!)

The winner is Gregory with tuna and strawberry tea. Immunity!

The loser is Aaron, who now has to win a cookoff to stay. Who will he choose? Katie! It’s because she teaches cooking, and he never went to culinary school. The constraint for the cookoff is that the only heat source is boiling water. Is that much of a constraint?

Aaron does a spring roll in which the wrapper is smushed shrimp. Katie does pasta but the pasta machine doesn’t work. Everyone wants Aaron to go, which of course means that TPTB won’t let that happen. But let’s see… Aaron wins (duh). So he’s here for the rest of the episode, at least.


It’s at Fenway Park. They need to use a ballpark snack to make their dish.

Ron’s making popcorn soup with a haddock croquette that will look like a baseball. He says he likes to take his son to the ball game because cheffing doesn’t leave time for family. Well, nice to have known you Ron, because reality TV editing rules require that the guy who talks about his family goes home.

Katsuji got stuck with fried dough. What is that??
Katie’s doing a popcorn dessert in honor of her late father, who’s last outing was to a Twins game.
James is using pretzels, but he only cooks fresh food, so he’s at a loss. Suggestion: Pretend they are foraged pretzels.
Keriann is making beer-braised shortribs, but will she have enough time?
Adams precooking his halibut. Uh oh!
Katie’s made huge pans of creme brulee: Are they set? No way to know until tomorrow!

Next day, Gregory explains his history as a partying dude who came back from the brink and who hopes that TC will cement his new life.

Turns out that Katie’s creme brulee has not set, so she’s making it a “free-form creme brulee” by whipping cream and mixing it all up into a mess. This neither sounds nor looks good. She’s running around like a CWIHCO.

Aaron’s sounds nice: a “hot dog” with pretzel cracker bun and pork rillette “dog”. The judges like it, except maybe for the rillettes: they would have preferred a firmer sausage.
Ron’s soup is fine, but they don’t think much of the croquette.
Katie apologizes for her fail, which is stupid, because the mousse version is well liked.

Doug’s scallop with popcorn may be tasty, but IMO does not impress.
Have Keriann’s shortribs cooked enough? Her dish does sound nice. But the ribs are undercooked and underseasoned, and there isn’t much pretzel in the dish.
Katsuji made his fried dough into a bread pudding, topped with pork belly. (Kosher pork belly.) Lots of complaints about it being confusing, poorly cooked.

Melissa made corn and ramp soup, but it’s not green enough. Ming Tsai likes it a lot. I wonder about both truffle oil and bacon, but, OK.
Mae made pork loin with lots of peanut stuff, including peanut brittle salad. Yum. But her pork was overcooked.
Stacy made pickled peanuts she’s happy with. She does lots of other pickle stuff with her scallop. The judges like it.

Rebecca’s made salmon with pretzel streusel. The judges like it, it gets the job done.
James’s lobster cake is mushy.
Adam’s fish has been overcooked by an evil convection oven. It’s served with a watermelon curry. Yum?
Gregory has made a Cracker Jack-inspired roast duck. Definitely yum.

In the stew room, Katsuji keeps an ongoing patter at everything others are saying, and Aaron tells him to STFU. In the edit, it was earlier stated that Katsuji talks too much.


Melissa, Gregory, and Katie are on top. Gregory wins with a perfectly balanced dish.

On the bottom are Ron, Keriann, and Katsuji. TPTB need Keriann and Katsji for conflict, so Ron’s got to go. Let’s see. Yep, he’s packing up his knives and crying.


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