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Endless Breadsticks for Marilyn, Chris, and Anna

Hugh Acheson goes crazy for Chris Pratt and Anna Faris.

By Hugh Acheson


How to Watch

Watch Top Chef Season 21 Wednesdays at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

There are a dozen chefs left, not a baker's dozen. This grouping of 12 meet Marilyn Hagerty and I am very hopeful for an endless bread stick competition. Marilyn explains virality and her lesser known role as the wood chipper fixer in Fargo. It’s been a hoot, Marilyn. 

I am not on this episode but you’ll be seeing more of me soon. More than you probably want. 

The Quickfire Challenge is to create a sweet and savory dish based on your family lineage. Hagerty wants a dried beef ball, Cool Whip, and ham pickles… North Dakota has some strange food traditions. I wish I could make this stuff up. Truvia baking blend in the house. Marilyn is concerned about your holiday waistlines and figures that the best way to control the portion size is to give the chefs only one knife to use. Ridonkulousness ensues. The knife may end up in someone’s back. Danyele is trying to replicate her mother. Cloning in the Top Chef kitchen will not be tolerated. 

Stefan is making his Jewish ex-wife’s latkes. Wow, this is a lineage stretch but it was pretty vaguely defined. Eliza is recreating a String Cheese Incident/Phish/Widespread Panic acid trip of a dish from years back. It’s a foggy dish that she can’t really remember, but it involves hush puppies and a chunky child. 

The Belgian is making a waffle and then muttering expletives in Flemish. He is so affable. Disliking him is very difficult. 

So Josh made a Johnnycake. Marilyn she likey. Danyele made a bread pudding and Marilyn likey that too. Lizzie made a Bobotie with lamb. Kind of looks like Shepherd’s pie. Marilyn she likey this too. I am getting the impression that Marilyn is no Pete Wells in the criticism department and is really only prone to the positive. Sheldon has made a Lumpia with Truvia. Oompa Loompas suddenly appear but only Eliza can see them. Micah has made an untraditional tamale to further confound the Dakotan, furthering his feelings that Marilyn is a country bumpkin who won’t know what a regular tamale is. Sadly he’s spot-on with his foodie radar, and Marilyn confesses to not knowing what the heck a tamale is. Guess the Miliken/Feniger PBS show never made it to North Dakota. When your “border grill” is the Tim Horton’s on the road to Winnipeg your foodie culture may be a little limited. 

Bart’s waffle is chicken ‘n’ waffles for the Brussels set. Brooke’s apple crostata with cheddar is deemed homey, which may or may not be a compliment in Grand Forks. Stefan has been married to the same woman twice, strange but true. His dish looks pretty good. Josie is on the tamale truck too, but her example may be understood more clearly than Micah’s big city nonsense. Tesar is adopted, but more importantly is wearing glasses in the regular way. He has made a bondino that he usually feeds to children as they consume alcohol. Marilyn is all for this totally European Bacchanalian ritual. Eliza has made hushpuppies and clarifies that a family that gets fried together stays together (legal only in Washington and California; some rules and restrictions may apply). Gonna call this as I see it, but those looked pretty delicious. I’d eat that. 

Bart and Micah are bottoms. Marilyn does call Micah’s dish a taco. Take that you Blaxican! Josh, Stefan, and Brooke are tops with Brooke winning this thing. Homey is a positive in some Red States. Brooke is immune.

The EC is brought forward by Anna Faris and Chris Pratt. They are having a baby. I am so excited because they are my T.V. friends, who I have never met (I wasn’t around this episode remember?) And they are funny. I now am officially a crazy person. 

It’s a David Mamet moment and the winner gets a Prius C. Loser gets fired. Google that. 

Anna and Chris want game and stuff. Bring it. But before you do let’s have a Toyotour. Prius gang. Then condo time at the Olive 8. Josh calls Stefan “douchy” but he likes him. Ouch. But true.Kristen, beautifully but not-paid-attention to in this episode, is making pasta. She can cook. Her boss is friggin’ Babs Lynch who will probably put me in a headlock for calling her Babs, but oh well. 

They cook. Tesar is going to make an ocean dish harkening back to his time with Rick Moonen. Rick is oddly enough about to be judging this circus, and that’s going to put Tesar’s panties in a wad. Danyele realizes that her boar is a shoe and confides this to Josh who, as any good friend would, wishes her good luck with that failure. Guests come in to the party time. 

Rick arrives and Tesar is edgy, which is pretty much the norm. 

Meat-tastical Menu:

Bart Vandaele

Loin of Elk with Cherry Beer Sauce & Mushroom Couscous

Micah Fields

Braised Pork Ribs with Celery Root Puree, Grilled Apples & Celery Leaf Salad

Kristen Kish

Delice de Bourgogne Tortelloni

Sheldon Simeon

Braised Okinawan Pork Belly with Seared Scallop & Rice Congee

Lizzie Binder

Crusted King Salmon with Radish & Beet Salad

Danyele McPherson

Pan-Roasted Wild Boar, Hoppin' John & Tomato-Bacon Marmalade

John Tesar

Seafood Chowder with Cockles, Manila Clams, Crab, Mussles & Sockeye Salmon

Joshua Valentine

Roasted Pork Shoulder & Grilled Corn Puree with Succotash & Fennel Apple Salad

Eliza Gavin

Elk Ribeye with Elk Sausage Polenta, Spiced Carrots & Huckleberry Port Sauce

Josie Smith-Malave

Malbec Braised Short Ribs, Pork Belly, Polenta with Cippolini Onions & Figs

Stefan Richter

German Gulasch with Marjoram Bread Dumplings & Sour Cream

Brooke Williamson

Lamb-Stuffed Squid on Black Rice with Coconut Milk

The tasters seem to be loving it all. Brooke’s squid is killing it. Love it when people don’t recoil with immunity. Sheldon is doing good too. That boy has great palate understanding. He knows when things need lift from acid and when they need balance with oil or whatnot. Bart’s elk looks good and Rick likes it. Stefan’s dish gets pretty OK reviews, but maybe needed seasoning. Micah’s food has too much cream, but then again that rises to the top sometimes. Lizzie’s salmon is self-described as horrible. Eliza’s carrots are dragging the elk down like a .375 cartridge on the tundra. 

Chris Pratt is a very funny guy. Loved the Bachelorette thing. 

Danyele’s boar is not the favorite. Josh’s big boy delight is not seasoned well. 

Josie’s dish lacked contrast. So far this quartet is out of tune. But then Tesar’s chowder kills it. It’s revered and held on high. 

Overall everything seemed so much better than the last challenge. SO MUCH BETTER. 

Off to the judging table. John, Kristen, Brooke and Sheldon are first and they are obviously tops. Winner is Brooke with an impeccable squid stuffed with lamb, a dish people really were still talking about the next day. It was apparently amazeballs good. It’s a good day for her with twin wins. 

Bottoms are Eliza, Josh, Stefan, and Danyele for not-so-good dishes. Padma skools Josh on self-promotion. You want to be known as the “good pork” guy, not the “can’t cook pork” guy. Gail wants to analyze Danyele. Gail Simmons, therapist of reality TV. Tom joins in on this advisory counsel. You’ll be fine, Danyele. 

Eliza is outta here. With class too. You go Southern girl. We’ll catch a WSP show sometime soon. 




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