The Daily Gazette
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Top Chef: Drunk Chicken Gumbo

Top Chef got this season's required Hurricane Katrina centric episode out of the way on Wednesday night.

There were inspiring young people, resilient old people,uplifting music, poignant stories from contestants and even some prodding from host Tom Colicchio to remind people of the flooding. The episode tapped into Katrina by having the chefs operate food trucks that served people rebuilding homes.

Like most "touching" episodes of Top Chef it was a heavy handed mess, which had way too much sappy flavor and could have benefited from understated seasoning, as the tragedy stands on its own.

Photo by BRAVO

The episode picked up immediately at the conclusion of episode 1 and the chefs were still reeling from the first departure, a kickboxing ninja who will be forgotten once he loses in Last Chance Kitchen. Padma assigned the chefs a quickfire, which required them to make a gumbo.

Immediately, things did not bode well for Aaron Cuschieri, who asked the same question as my girlfriend, "What's in gumbo?"

The fact that he wasn't prepared for the possibility of cooking gumbo during a season in New Orleans blew my mind. I would have learned what creole meant and how to make grits, jambalaya, beans and rice and a po-boy. His lack of preparation was astounding.

The more telling sign, due to predictable editing, was the bragging of New Orleans chef Michael Sichel, who was definitely not going to win the quickfire when he announced that this would be his to lose.

Winning the quickfire with green gumbo was chef Carrie Mashaney, who won immunity, but didn't need it, as she also won the main challenge. This strong performance came on the heels of making the top three in the first episode.

Unfortunately, the best parts of this episode were probably the commercials, with two very awkward performances from Top Chef alums gracing the screen.

Power Rankings
1.Justin Devillier: I believe in this New Orleans chef. He was again in the middle of the pack, but his skills and demeanor will ensure his presence deep into the season.
2. Carrie Mashaney: She jumped out of the middle of the pack and distinguished herself.
3. Nina Compton: Nothing about her performance stood out, so she laid low after her episode 1 win.
4 - 14 (in no particular order)

  • Michael Sichel: He will definitely stick around to annoy people
  • Sara Johannes: Blah!
  • Janine Booth: The departure this episode made her the sole hot blond, which should guarantee her a few more episodes.
  • Brian Huskey: He is just a Bieber haircut to me.
  • Carlos Gaytan: Blah!
  • Louis Maldonado: Had no idea who you were when you showed up this episode, but you quickly cemented yourself as the guy with a smile. It wasn't a remarkable smile, I just remember that you smiled.
  • Nicholas Elmi: He only established the fact he won't win.
  • Shirley Chung: Was she even in this episode??
  • Stephanie Cmar: Show me something.
  • Travis Masar: Blah!

    15. Benedetto Bartolotta: After pitching sloppy joes and being relegated to sous chef, he will being packing knives soon.

    16. Bret Pelaggi: He is seriously outclassed and is not long for this season.

    17.Patricia Vega: She shouldn't getting too comfortable in the Top Chef house, as her run could end very soon. Start packing your knives

    18. ELIMINATED Jason Cichonski: His exit was poised to be an explosion, but it was mostly just a whimper and a flip of the surfer hair. The best looking dude of the season is off to Last Chance Kitchen after wrapping his salmon hand roll too early and causing it to lose its crispness. Despite heading to judges table saying, "If they’re constructive I’ll be nice. If they’re rude, I’ll be rude back," Cichonski didn't put up a fight.

    19. ELIMINATED EPISODE 1 Ramon Bojorquez

    Best Quotes
    There are crockpots everywhere
    A challenge beyond everybody else’s challenge
    The pope quit, but I have to keep going
    We’ve got the Mexican on the Mexican taco truck
    Whatever this yellow stuff is, it is very good
    That’s a lot of taco
    I’m not a good loser. I’m bitter and angry

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