Top Chef recap: Shocker of the Season

A heated Restaurant Wars leads to one of the most inexplicable eliminations ever. Has the show lost credibility?
Ep. 11 | Aired Jan 16, 2013

SABOTEUR?? No, I don't think Josie purposely messed up her Restaurant Wars dish, but I do think that knowing Kristen's head was on the chopping block made her take an overly leisurely approach to the challenge.

David Moir/Bravo

At the Judges' Table, it was clear that Sheldon's restaurant had the better food, although it had worse service. Sheldon got a really deserved win — I've never been to a Filipino restaurant, and Urbano made me make a reservation to one for next week.

On the losing Kwan Atelier team, Lizzie and Brooke were safe, leaving Josie and Kristen on the chopping block. Josie put all the blame for the bouillabaisse on Kristen and took not one smidgeon of responsibility. Sure, Kristen did deserve some blame, but Josie's slow pace, lack of urgency, and total deference to Kristen's "vision" was a huge part of the dish's failure too. Even though Kristen was supposed to lead, there's only so much you can do to control another person. These are adults. Lizzie graciously gave Kristen half of the credit for her dish, which was the team's best. Brooke knew Kristen didn't deserve to go. Why didn't the judges?

Kristen didn't argue much for herself and whispered to herself "Bite my tongue, bite my tongue." If only Josie listened to that advice ... ever. (I hope I don't get more tweets from Josie in response to this recap). As I said in the beginning of the recap, I don't think Kristen's elimination was Josie's fault. The judges said they had equal reason to eliminate both Kristen and Josie. All things being equal (which I don't think they were), shouldn't they have spared the chef who's shown more potential throughout the season? They seem to follow the "You're only as good as your last dish" rule inconsistently, but they certainly enforced it here. (Even though Kristen's dishes were better than Josie's this week. Again, this decision is making less and less sense).

I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but this was ridiculous. Are the judges under the mistaken impression that we found Josie interesting in her previous season or this current season? Did they want to shake up Last Chance Kitchen? This wasn't quite Gretchen-gate on Project Runway, but like that debacle, it might cause a short-term boost in ratings but an irreversible dip in credibility.

Gail even said, perfectly, "We’ve been down this road with Josie many times. I can’t help feeling like she’s skating by because everybody has to take responsibility because she’s not stepping up." Exactly. Tom completely agreed. So what's the problem here? As far as I'm concerned, there was little justification for this decision. I know the judges can only go by what they see, but honestly: Did any one of them really think Josie was a more deserving Top Chef winner than Kristen?

Also, why was Padma the one gunning so hard against Kristen? She couldn't handle another model in the kitchen? And that fake-out — not necessary.

Kristen left the Judges' Table with her head held high. Josie returned to her Stew Room seat acting like a victim. Enjoy your much deserved trip to Korea, Kristen!

So did anyone think Kristen deserved to go over Josie? We need a better answer than, "It was Kristen's vision," or "Kristen was the leader," because that doesn't explain everything. Was Stefan's snub of the judges really worse than a bad dish? Can Kristen go all the way in LCK? Was this the most unjust elimination in Top Chef history? Do you think Josie, in her own subtle way, was being a saboteur?

Follow @EWStephanLee on Twitter.

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