Ever wanted to go back to college for the day? Don’t miss: 3 top lecturers in Baltimore

'Top Chef' recap: '12 Chefs Walk Into a Bar'

For The Baltimore Sun
'Top Chef' recap: '12 Chefs Walk Into a Bar'

Gregory is on a roll.

He’s won two challenges in a row and Katsuji jokingly says he going to hit Gregory in the face when he’s asleep. That’s not funny, and it makes no sense. Though I think Aaron would like to hit Katsuji in the face, asleep or not.  

Aaron thinks Katsuji’s strategy is to wage a “mental war” on the other chefs. If by “mental war” he means to annoy everyone into quitting then Aaron’s probably right. And why the hell is Katsuji popping the collar of his polo shirt and wearing sunglasses on his head when he’s inside? Oh right. He’s from Beverly Hills. 

Maybe it’s working. Because Kerriann is in tears and ready to go home. After being called out by chef Colicchio for trying to braise short ribs in two hours she says that she misses her kids way too much and she doesn’t feel like being part of this anymore. Four episodes in and it’s time for that formulaic emotional phone call home. 

Ever notice nobody calls home when something good happens? 

After a reassuring pep talk from her husband,Kerriann is ready to get back on the horse. Crisis averted. As if anyone ever actually quits. 

In the morning, the chefs find a note fromPadma that reads,“My Dearest Chefs- Please meet me at 84 Beacon Street. Cheers!”

Subtle enough for ya? For today’sQuickFire, the chefs take a road trip down to the bar made famous by the sitcom “Cheers.”

Cheers was originally known as the Bull and Finch Pub and is located in the same building as the Hampshire House Restaurant. For the entire duration of the series the producers only showed the outside of this famous bar. Later on, the owner built a replica bar’s interior upstairs in the Oak Room of the Hampshire House. And that’s where this segment was shot. 

That’s why you first see the chefs head downstairs into the basement towards the bar only to serve their dishes on what appears to on the street level.

This week’sQuickFire special guest is none other than GeorgeWendt, who played iconic barfly Norm Peterson on “Cheers” for 11 years. 

“Norm!” hailed the chefs.

He’s so over it already. Can’t say I blame him. George is actually a Chicago native and when it comes to baseball, the“Sox” he’d root for would be White instead of Red.

Padma tells us that by law, all bars in Boston must serve food. So this week’s challenge is to come up with a tasty bar snack. Seem straight forward enough. 30 minutes, winner gets immunity.

The kitchen is small so theysplit up into two groups. Inspired by her phone call home,Kerriann is pushing the envelope with a beer battered onion ring with crab salad. Uninspired by anything,Rebecca is makingponzu glazed chicken wings. Yawn.

Aaron goes off the deep end with acaramel-bacon burger with peanut butter, mayo and a sunny side up egg. George thinks he might need a shower after that gooey mess. 

Is Aaron trying to kill Norm? Poor George had a coronary by-pass surgery just two years ago! 

In the“what were you thinking” moment of the day, JamesRigato is makingcrudités. He ends up serving Norm pickled and grilled carrots with red bean puree. Hell, you might as well give him some non-alcoholic beer while you’re at it.

Adam from Brooklyn took the words out of my mouth,“I don’t look at Norm thinking he came back to cheers for somecrudités.”

To no one's surprise James’ pickled carrots is a loser. The surprise came when front runner Gregory stumbled when plating his slider and ends up servingPadma and George two small patties, three slices of bun, and some sorry looking fries.

The rest of the chefs smirk in satisfaction. Haters gonna hate.

The other surprise is thatKatsuji won theQuickFire with amahimahi and tunaceviche with roasted tomato andjalapeño salsa. Seems like if he limits himself to less than 10 ingredients he could actually make something delicious! If only we can limit him to speaking 10 words or less per day.

“I think it’s time for the king to step down and someone else to step into his place,” saysKatsuji. Sigh. That’s way more than 10 words.

Also, one win does not a king make. But this is an important immunity because this is a Double Elimination Challenge. 

This week’s special judge is“Top Chef Masters” alum MichaelSchlow. ChefSchlow is the owner of seven restaurants in the country includingTico in Washington, D.C.

The chefssplit up into teams of three and create a classic three course Italian menu including antipasti, pasta, andsegundi. 

The key to this week’s challenge is the art of writing an enticing menu. Diners will be presented with every teams’ menus as they sit down. And the team whose menu gets ordered the most will be safe from elimination. Everyone else is fair game. 

This time they get to pick their own team. 

Needless to say, nobody really wants to work with eitherKatsuji or Aaron. So they end up on the same team. I have no idea how Gregory got roped into being the third wheel on this tricycle of doom. They’re the Purple team.

Adam, Mei and Doug quickly huddles up and form the Orange team. Since all three of them are Sous chefs they don’t have much experience in constructing a creative and delicious sounding menu. For example, Doug immediately wants to do a warm radicchio salad withpancetta and goat cheese.

I’ll pass. Thank you.

Keriann, Melissa and James are the Gray team. James’ last name ends with a vowel(Rigato) so he think the team should follow his lead. Nope. The girls want to do an all seafood menu. So instead of sticking to his guns, James opt for team harmony and relents. It’s like these people have never seen the show before. 

Lastly there’s the Blue team.Rebecca, Katie and Stacy are saying all the right things. Their menu’s going to have seafood, home made pasta, and red meat. That’s pretty much the standardtrifecta of what people want in a menu. 

The chefs take over Michael Schlow’s kitchen at ViaMatta. There will be 60 diners and one surprise celebrity guest. Just to make things even more perilous, chefSchlow will be in the kitchen throughout the evening expediting. 

Five minutes to go.

As if on cue, Aaron andKatsuji gets into it. I hope one of them gets booted because their fights are getting old.Katsuji would say on purpose just to incense Aaron, who then gets frustrated and fights back. 

Time for service. Here comes the diners.

This week’s celebrity guest is actress/singer EmmyRossum. I have no idea why she’s here. She doesn’t have any movie/album to promote, her show "Shameless" is based in Chicago, and she’s born in New York City. 

Protip: Put scallops on your menu. Everybody loves scallops. Right off the bat both Blue and Purple team, who’s antipasti course is seared scallops, gets slammed with orders. Remember, the team whose menu gets the most orders is safe from elimination. 

As the judges order their meal, Emmy Rossum tells the waitress, “Can you make sure the chef knows I’m gluten free?” 

Very cheeky to invite someone withceliac disease to an Italian dinner that has to features a pasta course. At least now we know why Emmy’s here.

Most of the chefs respond well to this curve ball. Katie’s making zucchini pasta, Melissa goes with risotto, andKatsuji? He is clueless. Gregory had to tell him to just go ahead and make the dish without pasta. The end result is a“deconstructed” ravioli, or better known as“just the filling.”

Emmy seems to have gotten the better end of the deal because Katsuji’s ravioliis pretty terrible. RichardBlais, who must have taken someimprov course to prepare for this season, is quick with a zinger: “Katsuji’s pasta makes me want to order a gluten free dish.”*rimshot*

While the other teams are busy, the Orange team is just standing around. You know why? Two words:“Warm radicchio.” Not to mention the dish looks terrible. Emma thought it resemblescole slaw. Luckily the judges are pleasantly surprised that the salad is actually tasty. 

The Gray team’s menu is equally unpopular. Very few people is interested in chilled wild shrimps. Nothing appetizing about how that sounds. Apparently it tastes as bad as it sounds. Tom thought the vinaigrette needs more herbs and oil, and RichardBlais said the dish was“from a different era.”

See what happens when you don’t stick to your guns on“Top Chef?”

During the interlude we’re all asking the same question. How in the world is Aaron an executive chef? All the other chefs chime in on how messy he is. Then Adam fishes a jar of Aaron’s salt out of the deep fryer. 

Back at the restaurant, it’s time for Blue team’s dishes. Rebecca’s scallop is too salty. And though it says“charred fennel” on the menu, it’s not actually charred. Tom just thought the dish was pedestrian and boring. Don’t bore Tom!

The last dish of the evening is Stacy’sribeye. Hometown girl’s veggies are severely overcooked and she made the mistake ofpre-slicing her steak. At least Richard liked the char on the steak and thought it was flavorful.

Service is over. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned today it’s that EmmyRossum is a Mean Girl and can be very opinionated about her food! 

This winner this week was pretty obvious. The Purple team sold the most orders and they walk away unscathed. However, Tom was quick to point out had the Purple team lost andKatsuji didn’t have immunity, he’d be gone. 

On the chopping block is Rebecca’s scallops, Stacy’sribeye, and James’ seafood salad.

Stacy must have cashed in the hometown get out of jail free card because she just manages to slide through this week. 

BothRebecca and James, after wasting space for four weeks with unmemorable dishes gets sent packing.Rebecca is still hoping for Last Chance Kitchen.

Checking with my Magic 8 ball … outlook hazy. 

Next week, more revolutionary war references! 

“Top Chef” feedback

Let me know what you think on Twitter:@ChezWu

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
55°