''Top Chef'': Trapped in Newark! | EW.com

TV Recaps | Top Chef

''Top Chef'': Trapped in Newark!

On ''Top Chef,'' in order to get to New York City, the contestants have to pass a tough challenge in Newark; plus, CJ and Padma seem to have a love connection


”Top Chef”: Trapped in Newark!

The ads have promised that the Miami season of Top Chef would be ”muy caliente,” but I’d venture to say it’s been more like ”muy harsh” with the judges seeming more catty and critical than ever. (Tonight featured more helpings of the same, which I’ll get to later.) Still, muy caliente might have finally been delivered, and I’m not talkin’ about a flaming stove burner: What’s with the heat between Padma and CJ? Did anyone else feel the love tonight?

The episode opened with dawn breaking on our favorite cheftestants, and it wasn’t long before an almost frisky Padma, in what’s supposed to be her morning look (less makeup, mussed hair, casual clothes, belly bared), let herself into the suite, making a personal wake-up call in the form of a quickfire challenge. I swear it seemed that CJ might just grab her and pull her into his narrow single bed. But there was breakfast making to be done as a giddy Padma gave them each a blender and 20 minutes to answer the call of her grumbling stomach. While they all scurried about in their pajamas, I found myself marveling at how refreshing it was to see the frost melt a little off the chilly Padma; she sure must love breakfast!

CJ hoped to impress her with crepes (”women love crepes”). Hung said that he doesn’t usually eat breakfast because he’s too busy running around, but he opted to make steak and eggs. (Of course, while in mid-hustle, he broke a bottle of oil, or so his colleagues said. He denied it.) Dale declared he’s basically a breakfast expert but usually has four hours to create, instead of 20 minutes. (There are breakfast foods that take four hours?) To prove she hadn’t completely thawed, Padma told Hung she doesn’t generally like steak and eggs, but she pronounced him the winner because his papaya and Grand Marnier drink ”hit all parts of my palate.” Siz-zizzle!

Everybody’s hearts started to race when Padma announced the show was hitting the road and would be in transit until the Aspen finale. Adios, Miami! (Cue hugs and high fives all around.) First destination: New York City. But after they landed in Newark, the chefs learned that between them and the Big Apple lay an elimination challenge. (The loser would be left behind in the Garden State.) Once again the group’s excitement was for naught (just like when they thought they were going to get to go clubbing and instead had to sweat it out in catering trucks cooking for drunk people).

COMING UP: A fond farewell