Top Chef recap: Fifties Food Fight

This week's flashback challenge shows what all the cool cats were eating in the '50s
Ep. 04 | Aired Nov 28, 2012

MEATHEADS After this frustrating challenge, I finally get why Carla yells so much. Male chefs are infuriating.

David Moir/Bravo

Last season, drama overpowered the food as Heather and Sarah gave the whole competition a stanky flavor; I'm a little worried that this season, which has gotten off to a much better start overall, might be veering in the same direction. This time, though, the men are the culprits, and I think the worst one is actually Oklahoma Josh. He comes across as an angry, defensive little man who's constantly looking for a reason to fight — insecurity and perceived slights are what give his mustache its starchy curl — and there are always instigators like John and Stefan around to push his buttons.

At the top of the episode, John was acting like a real b-hole, trashing his former muse Kuniko's chef cred in front of the cameras, causing Josh to explode, calling him a "prick" (sounded like "prig") and accusing him of starting and failing restaurants in Dallas; John retaliated by insulting Oklahomans. It took so little to turn that awkward little pissing contest into full-blown personal attacks. Stefan said it best: "I feel like the Real Housewives of Seattle." But it's all so boring.

What wasn't boring was the Quickfire Challenge, which tested the chefs' butchering skills — they had to hack off a primal cut of beef and use it in a dish for guest judge and Top Chef: Masters alum Naomi Pomeroy, who knows her way around a steak and possesses a knack for fierce nostril-flaring. As they attacked the skinned cattle, not all the chefs knew what they were doing. Carla and Chrissy struggled getting the carcass back on the meat hook, which reminded me of an unwatchable scene in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake starring Jessica Biel.

Lizzie didn't make the cut with her braised foreshank with turnips and dill. You could tell how tendon-y and tough it was just by looking at it. Eliza failed to impress Naomi as well with her flank steak marinated in soy and spices, served with cherry cognac reduction, asparagus, and potato cake. Naomi thought the steak was cooked well but asparagus and cherry apparently don't go well together. There goes my business plan for an artisanal candied asparagus food truck. Tyler, who fell short last week as well, looked completely dejected as he made a Hispanic bottom round crudo with charred tomato sauce, and his attitude showed up in his food. "I can't do anything right," he said pitifully, practically doing an Eeyore impression. Not a great look for a grown man.

NEXT: Do you think Betty's cooking on Mad Men looks good? No? Well, here's the gourmet version of that, for what it's worth.

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