‘Top Chef: Charleston’ episode 4 review: The fright before Christmas

John -

One of the funnier / sillier things about Thursday night’s new episode of “Top Chef” was the simple notion that it forced many of the remaining contestants to celebrate Christmas ridiculous early — they filmed this long before the holiday season rolled around, and it was clear at a few points that not everyone had some holiday cheer.

Quickfire Challenge – The remaining chefs had to do what was effectively a Mystery Box Challenge or something from “Chopped” — they just had to make a great dish using the ingredients that they had. It was complicated, but some of these chefs actually came up with something despite having to use a squab, tequila, chocolate pretzels, and a wide array of other things. While Brooke, by far the best chef so far this season, was at the top of the group again, she did not win and get immunity. Instead, we ended up seeing Casey take immunity home!

Elimination Challenge – One of the big advantages that came with winning the quickfire was that Casey had a chance to work by herself for what was a team challenge for everyone else, one where the remaining chefs basically had to work in teams to create a great dish using what was labeled as a “garbage fish” — not of the variety that people tend to cook with the vast majority of time. The most inspiring pairing of the group was that of John and Katsuji, mostly because they two of them complained about it the vast majority of the time in which they worked together. We almost want to watch a cooking show featuring the two of these guys.

Of course, the irony here is that these two guys were in the top alongside Shirley and Sheldon and Jamie and Sylva — newbies rising to the top! However, John and Katsuji won this — and Katsuji got the top prize of the challenge for his sauce.

The chefs in danger – The story of Emily was one of the most painful ones over the course of the episode, mostly because of the fact that the guest judge in Mike Lata was a former boss of hers who fired her previously. We could understand why she would have some anxiety being back there, and for the first time Brooke was in the bottom this season. They were joined in the bottom by Silvia and BJ and also Jim and Amanda. The Jim / Amanda pairing was the opposite of John / Katsuji — entertaining, but it just didn’t come together.

We do have to say that Katsuji’s commentary after the bottom three teams came back was probably the first time we’ve thought of him as more of a tool rather than a playful rabblerouser, but hey, this probably is still what they cast him to do.

Eliminated chef – It was … BJ? This one actually surprised us a little bit just because he didn’t have that much of a story tonight, but he has been in danger before on the show. Also, he was responsible seemingly for what happened to the fish being a little tough on his team. Given that this was a competition about the fish, this is what unfortunately cost him the win this time. The fact that he didn’t get more airtime tonight is probably the biggest bummer of what was a surprising contentious Christmas-themed hour. Episode Grade: B.

Want some other news on “top Chef,” including our take on “Last Chance Kitchen” and what’s coming up next? Then be sure to head over to the link here! (Photo: Bravo.)

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