- Schnitzel! Radler...? In episode six of Top Chef, the chefs tackle German cuisine, while Lee Anne makes an important decision of her own.
Welcome to Talking Top Chef, a weekly blog where we review the latest episode from the best reality show on TV. Shortly after the season premiere last month, I discovered Top Chef is extremely popular at Sports Illustrated. From Crossover writers to our very own managing editor, this show is loved by so many over here. (Even Rob Gronkowski's been on it!)
And why shouldn’t it be? It has everything: Amazing food, intense competition, plus the chefs are insanely talented but more often than not they can also be erratic and unpredictable, which makes for great entertainment.
As a result, we decided the logical move would to be start reviewing the show here at SI Eats. So let’s get down to this week’s episode:
Season 15, Episode Six; “Now That’s a lot of Schnitzel”
As the episode begins, Joe explains to the camera how this season has been extremely demanding, physically and mentally. And I gotta say, I agree. From all the previous seasons, this one seems to have an additional level of difficulty. From high altitude conditions to camping in the woods or cooking for thousands of annoying college students, you can’t deny the show producers and judges are making it really tough for our chefs.
Everyone is really feeling it, especially Lee Anne, who is three months pregnant. She confesses how she’s not feeling well and that the demands of this competition have really taken a toll on her.
“We push our bodies to the max as chefs,” says Claudette. “But once you have a child growing inside of you, that needs to be a priority.”
As someone who grew up in house full of women (I have four sisters) I can tell you this straight up: There’s no one tougher than a woman; that’s why I’m always rooting for a female chef to win this competition.
Consequently, right as the contestants leave for the Top Chef kitchen, Lee Anne asks the show for some medical help to see how she’s doing.
High blood pressure, high pulse rate, headaches, dizziness…all are enough for Lee Anne to come to a decision. She won’t compete today.
“It’s more important that I go to the hospital and get checked out.”
We’re rooting for you, LA.
More on her status later on.
Now, let’s get this show on the road.
In the quick fire challenge, Padma is joined by Top Chef’s familiar face Richard Blais. Padma gives an update on Lee Anne, stating that she’s fine and just getting checked up at the hospital.
“Chefs have a tendency to complicate things,” says Padma. “Sometimes, simplicity is key.”
Uh-oh. This sounds tricky.
Inspired by tasty online videos, the challenge is to transform a complicated dish from their own menus into a quick, 30-minute plate for home cooking.
Aside from immunity, the chef’s dish will also be featured in one of Buzzfeed’s tasty videos.
Some, like Fatima are all about it, but old-school Bruce is not so sure as the issue here is that many of these signature dishes take two-to-three days to make…and the fact that you have to do it in THIRTY MINUTES IS CRAZY.
Well, Brucey. Welcome to Top Chef.
The person who I really feel sorry for at this point is Brother. My man is making paella. Are you serious?
By the end, there were many mistakes, including some made by Claudette, who appeared to be eliminated from the get go as her grilled octopus didn’t even make it on the plate. But Padma brought her wrath on Fatima, who made a buttermilk chicken biryani with cumin yogurt sauce and Kachumber salad. This was about the fact that the dish didn’t represent the flavors of Pakistan and Padma’s South Asian palate was not happy.
“Last week when you cooked western food, it was so flavorful. Why aren’t you cooking our food like that?”
As for the winner? TURN THE MUSIC UP, CAUSE CHRIS WON!
His pepper pot shrimp with jerk spice, peppers and onions killed it and now my man is safe for the rest of the show.
Before the elimination challenge is announced, Padma announces the guest judge: Keegan Gerhard is well-known for his pastries and was raised in Germany until he was thirteen, so for this one it’s all about a German festival.
The chefs have to create a German dish for 200 diners, as well as their own version of a Radler, which is a mixture of beer and fruit soda.
“Where I come from if you order one of those you get kicked in the nuts” says mustache Joe. Thanks for that, Joe.
Before they can begin, chef Gerhard takes them to a local beer garden to get a feel of the challenge ahead, tasting beer, sausage and of course, radler.
This is a tough one for Chris, as up to three years ago, he was an alcoholic, something that runs deep in his family. His mother passed away the day before he got married because of it, and that led him down a dark path. Stay strong, my man. You’re a warrior.
After eating some quality German food, the chefs are inspired and ready to go. Bring on the elimination challenge.
Ok, time out. Before we carry on, Brother decides to tell us that when he was a kid his parents would travel around Asia as both of them were EXOTIC DANCERS.
His dad’s stage name was Mandingo.
Okay, folks. Brother just went up a few spots in my favorites list.
Also, a quick but big update on Lee Anne: She’s suffering from dehydration and altitude sickness, and after she returns to the house, she informs the chefs that she is bowing out of the competition altogether. It seems to be the right decision for her.
Hopefully she’ll return next year and kick some serious a--, because I really think had she stayed, she would have made it to the final. All the best in the future, Lee Anne.
Back to the challenge, which by the way includes 200 guests in a super awesome German festival. The chefs have to deal with two major obstacles: first, they need to make sure their main dish is up to standards and second, the radler needs to be flavorful and complement whatever it is they’re serving—you can make a great dish but if your radler is not good enough, it could hinder all the good things that were on the main plate.
Decision time: Bruce, Claudette and Tanya were the favorites but it was Tanya’s peach and ginger radler with pork apple and croquettes in cheddar mustard sauce that ended above the rest.
Tanya wins the sixth episode! So happy for her, especially since she is the fighter for diversity in the restaurant industry. “The more people see people more like me, doing what I’m doing, the more they’ll feel ‘why can’t I do that as well?’”
You go, Tanya.
As for the bottom three? Brother, mustache Joe and Adrienne. They’re all there mainly for two reasons: over-complicating the dish or a misrepresentation of German cuisine (Brother made spring rolls.) Also, Adrienne’s Achilles heel continues to bug her—her reluctance to add more salt.
Ultimately, our boy Brother loses out. You just can’t enter a task where you have to cook something inspired by German food and then make a spring roll.
Come on, son.
I’ll miss him, but remember y’all….LAST CHANCE KITCHEN IS BACK for another round so he still has a shot at coming back.
My top three after episode six:
See you next week!