Another week of quarantine, another week of very accomplished chefs forced to fight over ingredients like cotton candy and pomegranate seeds in an attempt to appease the palates of Hollywood’s finest.
Welcome to the “Top Chef: All-Stars L.A.” recap for Week 4. My name is Daniel Trainor and I love “Top Chef” like Bryan Voltaggio loves legumes.
I’m Sam Stone, and while I’ve never seen a season of Top Chef, I definitely know what a legume is.
DT: Have you settled into the show yet, Sam? Does the Top Chef Kitchen feel like home?
SS: No! Everything is crazy and none of this makes sense! Who are these people?! Why are they addicted to cooking with candies?
DT: It’s a great question. Not only are some of these chefs addicted to candy, some are also addicted to criticizing what dear, sweet Nini is wearing.
SS: Pretty rich for three dudes in ill-fitting black t-shirts to start passing judgments on other people’s clothes, but it’s not called “Fashion Chef” (That is the show that I am currently pitching to Bravo where chefs have to make soup out of pants).
DT: Please don’t forget sartorial icon Brian Malarkey who was standing around wearing, and I cannot stress this enough, a button-down denim shirt that had only one button done and the collar turned up.
SS: Thankfully Malarkey quickly abandons his mid 90’s wardrobe choices in favor of his chef’s coat as we dive into the Quickfire Challenge hosted by early 2000’s icon and self-proclaimed “crunch lover” Kelly Clarkson.
DT: In the immortal words of Steve Carell: KELLY CLARKSON!
SS: Words to live by. Kelly Clarkson enters and Karen immediately (bravely) raises her hand (?!) to exclaim that she’s seen Kelly in concert “SO MANY TIMES!”
DT: In testimonial, Karen also claims that “Since U Been Gone” is a notorious lesbian anthem, which is what legal experts would call “a lie”. Kelly is here to promote “Trolls World Tour,” which she’s in or something. The contestants are asked to create a dish using an ingredient that represents every one of the Trolls tribes? We weren’t really sure what this one was about, to be honest…
SS: Before the chefs ere allowed to cook, though, they’re forced to watch a clip from the Trolls movie and manufacture some kind of reaction, while Padma, based on her expression, remembers some unpleasant memory from earlier that day.
DT: Not only does the winner get immunity, but a chance to attend the “Trolls World Tour” premiere, which feels like some sick joke from THE WAY WE USED TO LIVE.
SS: After rushing the ingredients table, Malarkey comes out of the gate confident declaring “I have the greatest idea of all time: curry ice cream” which leads me to believe that we have different understandings of the phrase “greatest idea of all time.”
DT: It’s like we learned nothing from Stephanie and her “Indian nacho.”
SS: Eric pulls out a tank of liquid nitrogen from somewhere, which Malarkey soon steals when his ice cream goes horribly, horribly awry, and after a few more perfunctory compliments towards Kelly Clarkson we’re ready for judging.
DT: Once the dream team of Padma and Kelly arrive to Brian’s curry ice cream, Padma asks “did you mean for it to come out curd-like?” Meanwhile Kelly, (seemingly just happy to be away from Blake Shelton for five minutes), doesn’t mind the curds and generally enjoys every dish!
SS: Humble king Gregory wins, while Nini, Stephanie, and Bryan are in the bottom three. “I don’t like mushy things!!!,” Kelly Clarkson proclaims in response to Bryan’s shrimp dish – and with that she wooshes out of the studio leaving the chefs to think about what they’ve done.
DT: Before we get into the Elimination Challenge, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Karen’s ecstatic reaction to a very middling gift basket full of promotional Trolls movie paraphernalia back at the chefs’ house. It’s like she’d never seen promotional paraphernalia before. She calls it “the sweetest thing that I have ever seen,” which if you think about it is actually devastating.
SS: In the Elimination Challenge, the chefs are divided into two teams of six and sent to the Santa Monica Farmers Market to shop for a six course progressive vegetarian tasting menu. Malarkey isn’t happy about his teammates, which is ironic for a grown man who just made curry ice cream.
DT: Nevertheless, the chefs grab their totebags and start walking thr….OH MY GOD LEE ANNE THERE’S A POLE!
SS: Yes, Lee Anne, in a fantastic act of foreshadowing, does walk face first into a pole, but who among us hasn’t walked into a pole while on a cooking reality show in the middle of Los Angeles carrying a tray of some kind of herbs or whatever? Daniel?
DT: I don’t want to talk about it! I do have a few questions, though. Lee Anne is just making hummus? Bryan just slams down a full beet on a plate? WHO TURNED UP THE HEAT ON JENNIFER’S CORIANDER CASHEW BUTTER?!
SS: Why is Malarkey wearing a newsboy cap in the kitchen?
DT: That’s an evergreen question. So, ultimately the Blue Team (Karen, Kevin, Eric, Melissa, Gregory and Jennifer) is victorious and Melissa, for the second week in a row, takes home the win.
SS: When it comes to elimination time, Malarkey gets some heat for his dish which was just tomatoes with, and I can’t stress this enough, burrata. The judges felt it was uh…a bad idea? And, reader, these two know-nothing recappers would agree.
DT: The Red Team is in deep shit, thanks to Malarkey’s genius tomato move, and it seems to all come down to Malarkey, Lee Anne and Lisa. Lee Anne’s hummus dish gets criticized for underseasoning (THE GOLDEN RULE OF HUMMUS!!!!!!).
SS: Lisa’s Brussels sprouts are described as “dried-out” and “greasy.” Lisa, however, says that her food is “rustic!”
DT: “Rustic!” Like, you know, when things are busted and bad and you call them “rustic?”
SS: Malarkey valiantly steps in to rescue Lee Anne, assuring the judges he did the final seasoning of her dish so she shouldn’t be blamed, and then immediately throws her under the bus reminding everyone that the hummus itself was under seasoned too. Brian…why?
DT: Why should we expect more from a man whose aesthetic can be described as “Thomas The Tank Engine, but make it cooking?”
SS: In the end, it’s Lisa and her rustic food that are CHOP’T this week – is that this one?
DT: Wrong show, you know-nothing recapper. Alas, rustic queen Lisa gets sent packing, and the rest of the chefs live to walk into poles for at least another week.
Daniel Trainor is writer, podcaster, son and friend from Los Angeles, California. Originally from Michigan, his love for all things pop culture started early, once using pancakes to bribe his way onto the Oscars red carpet bleachers with his mother. In addition to writing for AwardsWatch, he is an huge sports fan and hosts the LGBTQ sports podcast “Same Team.” One day, he hopes Jane Krakowski will win an Emmy.
Sam Stone is a writer and actor based in Brooklyn, New York. He writes humor, culture, and travel among other things, and spends his free time reading about all those things. You can find him on twitter @sam_the_stone or on Instagram @samstone000.