Whether trying to find hilarity in that hot mess of a progressive dinner last week, or focusing on the delightfully nerdy Chris Jones, I’ve been working hard to see the good in this season. But the fact is, this group of chefs has been totally underwhelming, and that came to the forefront even more so this week. The steak dinner challenge was a “team” challenge only in that the chefs had to coordinate a single menu (they were judged on their own individual contributions), yet their fear of standing out led them to work as a lame committee. The great seasons of Top Chef, such as the Vegas year, featured contestants with some level of ego and swagger that fueled their ambition to be great. For the most part, these chefs lack any of that grit and mostly seem petrified of being eliminated. We need some Texas outlaws up in here!
But first, we were treated to an intriguing Quickfire Challenge that tested the chef-testants’ skills as sauciers. Guest judge Dean Fearing said that the saucier is the most prestigious position in the kitchen, and Nyesha said she’d love to be a saucier for the rest of her life. I can see why. I imagine a famous sauce master as being a total diva who cooks up a single vat of brilliant sauce per night and goes around the kitchen with a ladle saying, “THAT’S ALL YOU GET!” to the ordinary chefs who are slaving away. (I’m sure that’s exactly how it works).
Each chef chose one of five “mother sauces” – béchamel, espagnole, hollandaise, tomate, or velouté – and had to use it as a basis for their own spin-off sauce. One thing everyone should know about Quickfires by now: You’re supposed to take the challenges pretty literally. Like if you’re supposed to make a dish using snake meat, it better taste really snake-y. So this week, the flavor of the mother sauce had to come through prominently, which is why Beverly basically ignored the espagnole aspect of her dish and instead concocted the Asian sauce she wanted to make (pretty sure soy wasn’t one of Auguste Escoffier’s five “mothers”) and promptly landed in the bottom. Heather, who has taken it upon herself to criticize Beverly as much as possible while still referring to her affectionately as “Bev,” complained that Beverly only makes Asian food, which seems quite true. Nyesha, despite her saucier ambitions, also landed in the bottom for muddling too many flavors.
NEXT: I know he’s a famous Dallas-based chef and all, but did anyone else think Dean Fearing was the most off-putting guest judge in recent memory?