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

At the Judges' Table, the judges mulled over the best dishes, which were all the simplest — that makes sense for a 50s challenge, but it seems to be a theme so far in the season as a whole that simplest is always best. That might be true most of the time in cooking, but I don't see anybody being rewarded for doing anything crazily ambitious and wonderful yet. In fact, there doesn't even seem to be a front-runner. Just take a look at the words the judges used to describe the top group, which included Lizzie, Tyler, Kristen, and Stefan: "straightforward," "respectful," "traditional," "simple," "clean." Kristen won for her very simple, clean, and straightforward side dishes. Again, that makes sense for a challenge that's about no-frills food, but in general, I hope future elimination challenges push the chefs to make outré, visually exciting dishes — and soon. The testosterone-fueled arguments are already getting boring.

Speaking of which, the firing squad for the bottom group got pretty nasty. Everyone made absurd excuses for their dishes except for Carla, and I respected her for staying quiet (for once!). Josh, whose French onion soup was inedibly salty and cold, directed attention to John's expediting job, calling him a "monkey." Far be it from me to defend John, but he had nothing to do with Josh's soup being salty, and it looked as though Josh took way too much pleasure in throwing another dig at John behind his back. His 'stache just got a little bit curlier. In the end, both Chrissy and Carla were eliminated, which is sort of a shame. I find Carla as annoying as the next person, but some of the judges liked her squab, and it was much more difficult to prepare than a bunch of unevenly cooked carrots and turnips (Micah) and a by-the-numbers French onion soup. I also liked her final, teary quotable: "I don't play games. I don't even play cards."

Cool challenge in theory, but it didn't produce many "wow" dishes. (I'm sure the food at the Canlis of today is much more interesting). Who are you rooting for in Last Chance Kitchen? Do you think Carla deserved to get cut? Who's more insufferable, Josh or John? And what's with the cranky dudes this season? Sound off in the comments below and tweet me at @EWStephanLee!

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