Tuned In

Top Chef Watch: The Impossible (Almost) Happens

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Spoilers for last night’s Top Chef, translated from the original French, coming up after the jump.

“Everybody likes to say that everything’s better with bacon. This is one case where it wasn’t.” –Tom Colicchio

And another of Poniewozik’s Rules of Top Chef falls by the wayside. As regular readers now, my paramount advice to Top Chef contestants has always been: use bacon whenever possible. It’s like the blood doping of cooking competitions, an automatic, applewood-smoked boost in the judges’ esteem.

Yet last night in the French-cuisine challenge, Ashley and Mattin—a Frenchman, yet!—damn near baconed themselves out of the show, producing a velouté flavored with bacon, which overpowered the delicate sauce. If not for Hector’s brutal mangling of his chateaubriand, I suspect Mattin would have gone home. (Speaking of which, Hector’s for the underrested beef was one of the lamest excuses I’ve heard on the show in a while. Even an amateur like me knows that a piece of beef needs to rest to reabsorb its juices if you don’t want them to end up all over the cutting board, and since a filet need relatively short cooking, it was a failure of simple math more than anything.)

I will claim partial validation for the bacon rule, however, thanks to Kevin, who produced a bacon jam and won himself the Quickfire. But really, I think Ashley and Mattin deserve some kind of special prize: it takes real skill to turn bacon into a liability.

All in all, though, one of the better episodes I’ve seen in a while, with a simple but interesting challenge and a good guest turn by Joel Robuchon. The French subtitles made me feel classy!