John Tesar Goes Veg on Top Chef Episode 6

Tesar thinking about curry burgers in episode six in that oh-so-Tesar way.
Tesar thinking about curry burgers in episode six in that oh-so-Tesar way.
Courtesy of Bravo
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Hey, you know what sounds effing delicious? A healthy vegetarian chicken pot pie made by a chef who ran over the whole damn kitchen. And by effing delicious, go ahead and lay me down on shattered glass now.
But let’s review last week. Sylvia Barban is gone from Top Chef and Dallas chef John Tesar sends his condolences. “I’m sorry she’s gone because she’s an awesome person,” he says. Touching, Tesar.

But back to that pot pie. This week’s quickfire challenge is something I’m pretty sure the Model Host Woman made up herself with her other model host friends. I imagine she and Project Runway’s Model Host Woman Heidi Klum sat around one night doing whatever model hosts do and came up with a challenge for the Top Chefs that would make everyone miserable. Then they probably laughed and drank their pinot grigio.

The quickfire challenge is to make a healthy version of traditional comfort foods. You know, those foods that are so good and comforting, you don’t care about the calorie intake. Well, Model Host Woman wants to eff it up for everyone. But there’s more, Model Host Woman smirks. The dishes have to be vegetarian. Tesar quietly exclaims “Yes!” to himself. No one notices or knows why. But there’s still more. Model Host Woman’s smile is becoming larger. The chefs can only grab one ingredient from the pantry at a time. Model Host Woman is high with joy at this point.

The chefs pull knives to determine what dish they must cook. Tesar is lucked into a hamburger, which is funny because that’s the dish that sent him home last time he was on Top Chef.

It’s amazing watching all these chefs run back and forth from the pantry. Jim Smith brags that he spent hours on the treadmill prior to the show. Sheldon Simeon, however, falls in slow motion, adding incredible insult to his pasta-related back injury. The running hits home with me because before the show I ran from my car to my apartment after eating Fuzzy’s and nearly threw up. I wish a chef would throw up.

But even with slow-motion falls, the cooking must go on. Tesar makes a veggie burger with curry. When it comes time for Model Host Woman and guest judge, an Indian chef wearing an admiral-looking jacket, to taste the dish, Model Host Woman quips at Tesar, “Did you put curry in your burger just because he’s an Indian judge?” Tesar is politer than me and says no.

The quickfire challenge is done and Tesar didn’t stand out by having an excellent or horrible dish. We’ll take it.

The elimination challenge, though, is to make a dish like the great Southern chef Edna Lewis would. No one knows who Lewis is but of course Smith, or as I like to call him Dennis the Menace, recites her entire Wikipedia page from memory. Model Host Woman pretends to know who she is and compares her to Julia Child.

The chefs head to Whole Foods with their $300 budget, then to the kitchen to prepare the food for the next day’s cooking. Tesar uses a technique that he read Lewis did, which is to pan-broil the chicken. Tesar also thinks that Lewis and his mother are similar because his mother was a civil rights activist and Lewis was a descendant of a slave. Practically twins. Tesar’s dish is a pan-broiled chicken thigh with watercress, roasted sunchokes and peas. The Model Host Judge and the other judges at the table are seated at Middleton, a plantation where Lewis used to live and work and cook. When they take tiny bites of Tesar’s dish, they smile. That means they enjoy it. Tesar is dismissed. However, in the end, his dish doesn’t stick out as either horribly bad or disgustingly good. But that doesn’t matter because Tesar is safe for another week.

Brooke Williamson is in the bottom three, which is shocking, but ultimately, Amanda Baumgarten packs her knives and is sent home.

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