Top Chef Canada recap, episode 5: the Thicke of it
TOP CHEF CANADA Season 2 | Episode 5
The opening of last night’s episode of Top Chef Canada revived a time-honoured trope from season one: chefs in their skivvies. This time around, it was Victor’s David Chrystian (last episode’s victor, as it happens) who launched himself, shirtless, out of his top bunk to quell a screaming alarm clock. The episode was also a return to form for the show’s fabled product placement division, with an entire challenge focused around a sponsor’s product, and a nice showcase for some cheffy temper flare-ups. Oh, and it featured a guest judging spot by “Canadian icon” Dr. Jason Seaver Alan Thicke, for reasons we can’t quite fathom—not that we’re complaining.
Host Lisa Ray introduced the quickfire challenge with two big reveals: first, Toronto Maple Leafs alternate captain Colby Armstrong would be judging the challenge; and second, the chefs would have to incorporate (product placement drum roll) various flavours of Tostitos into snacks both appropriate for watching a hockey game and “worthy of a Top Chef.” Cue fallen faces from the two remaining contestants who weren’t born in the land of hockey and nachos: Frenchman Xavier Lacaze (whose perplexity was even accompanied by some “I’m-the-token-Frenchie” music) and Peruvian Elizabeth Rivasplata.
Near the end of the 45 minutes of cooking (which contained much pulverizing and battering of mass-market flavoured chips) came a preview of simmering tensions to come, as the chefs vied for the lone deep fryer. David got there first, with an insane-looking Double Down–like concoction (the bun was made of tempura-fried nachos), followed by Trevor Bird. But before he could get his jalapeño poppers into the hot oil, Elizabeth butted in line and dropped in her Tostito-crusted chicken nuggets, causing much harrumphing. Among the worst dishes were Joel Aubie’s onion rings, whose crust (guess what it was made out of) kept falling off, and Jonathan Korecki, whose jalapeño poppers, according to Armstrong, did not pop sufficiently (“I don’t think I would tell him how to skate,” the chef muttered to the confession cam). At the top were Elizabeth, Gabriell Cruz, who made an haute take on the Works, and the winner, Xavier, who made a chicken finger with candied tortilla and salsa.
Pivoting 180 degrees from the quickfire challenge, Ray proclaimed, rather gnomically, that “to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve come from”—at which point, the camera pulled back to reveal a dozen faux time capsules wreathed in dry ice smoke. Each chef was assigned a decade, with the contents of the capsule designed to serve as an inspiration for a cocktail canapé that would represent that decade (no, this really didn’t make a whole lot more sense on screen). And who better to judge a survey of the past than, as Ray actually put it, “a fellow Canadian who’s been a pop culture icon for more than four decades: Alan Thicke!” (Various chefs then offered not-altogether-convincing avowals of how excited they were to see the icon in the flesh.)
As the cooking got underway, major sparks started emerging between Elizabeth and most of the rest of the kitchen. First, she grabbed an oven that Jimmy Stewart had reserved, to dehydrate some tomatoes. He challenged her on it, she refused to back down, and pretty soon, F-bombs were going off left and right—and not just on the confession cam. “Thanks for the help, Liz,” barked an exasperated Stewart sarcastically. “I’ll never fucking help you again!” Trevor, once bitten during the quickfire, opined that she was being “needlessly bitchy.” The whole sequence was reprised right before the cocktail party started at the Distillery District’s Fermenting Cellar, when Liz got in a tiff with Gabriell over the presentation table and prep space they were sharing. “Don’t touch my shit!” she called out. “Don’t ever do that again—’cause I’m going to embarrass you!”
When the tasting finally got underway, it soon became clear that Thicke was there to provide a little schticky comic relief (after eating Liz’s 1920s garlic butter escargot vol-au-vent with eggplant caponata, he quipped, “My breath feels fresh as a daisy”). Trista Sheen’s 1970s-inspired take on a fruit punch bowl, meanwhile, served as a reminder that that decade was when “people started smoking herbs, and I think there was a munchie factor here.” (Zing!) Munchie factor or not, Trista ended up at the top of this week’s heap. She was joined by Xavier, who made a chicken liver profiterole to evoke the hard times of the ’30s; Curtis Luk, who again showed off his dessert chops, this time with a cute little lemon meringue pie with ginger-spiced shortbread that somehow evoked the ’40s; and the winner, Carl Heinrich, who went the diner route for his ’50s-inspired dish—a homemade burger concealing a little piece of foie gras, served on a homemade bun with aged cheddar and Branston pickle. Adventurous? Probably not. But he did manage, as Thicke put it, to “take our taste buds back in time.”
Less successful were usually badass Gabriel, who served ’20-inspired tea sandwiches with a sad little fruit cup; Ryan Gallagher, whose 1970s olive oil poached salmon melt was judged worse than his mom’s tuna melt; Jimmy, who raised heady judge Mark McEwan’s ire by trying (and failing) to aerosolize camembert (had it worked, it would have been pretty awesome); and Joel Aubie, who served a perfectly nice-looking ’50s glazed ham with pineapple. Sadly for Joel, the judges all agreed that a bit of ham just wasn’t going to cut it for Top Chef Canada. As Thicke put it, “You’re not going to walk into a cocktail party and say, ‘Whoa, you got ham? Can I get that on a cracker? Is that a pineapple glaze? Let me at it!’”
Next time on Top Chef Canada
Susur Lee presides over Restaurant Wars—wait, what? Doesn’t this usually take place when there are only eight chefs left, not 11? Also: how do you make two teams out of 11 chefs? And why would you want to? Find out, we suppose, next week.
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8 thoughts on “Top Chef Canada recap, episode 5: the Thicke of it”
This may be the first time that the magic of TV has really disappointed me. I have know Chef Elizabeth Rivasplata in a profession capacity for over 4 years. I have always considered her one of the most level headed and talented chef that I have ever known.
Perhaps in an effort to create controversy and ratings or perhaps showcasing the heated spirit of competition, a woman I know to be completely delightful was villanized on national television!
Elizabeth and I worked very closely for several years and never once did she ever swear at me or speak to me in a “bitchy” way. Although she is a spirited and passionate chef, I have always known her to be diplomatic and thoughtful.
Obviously in a one hour show, substantial footage would have to find its way to the cutting room floor, but I would like to know what Gabe said or did to provoke Elizabeth to the level of frustration we saw in episode 5???
At first I thought I was being biased because I know Liz, so I consulted with friends and family members who have never met her and we all agreed that this was clearly an example of the gender biases that still exist in our kitchens and in Canadian society as a whole. Men who want to win are competitive and women who want to win are bitches.
Interestingly enough, 2 of the 3 male chefs who made comments about Elizabeth found their way to the bottom 4, a spot where Elizabeth has yet to stand. Seems to me like a case of sour grapes in the Old Boys Club…
Win or lose, Elizabeth Rivasplata will always be Top Chef in my books!
jason rosso is a hack,..hey jason time to hit the gym again we can see the double chin.
I would like to know what Gabe said to provoke Elizabeth this reaction we saw in episode 5?
Elizabeth has proven to be excellent, professional and very talented, to over reality we have seen the ability to Elizabeth as a chef.TV often focuses, directs and edits the show for convenience, but do not forget the technique and professionalism demonstrated by elizabeth, is a person, a woman, is an incredible chef.Go LIZ Go!
“Don’t ever do that again—’cause I’m going to embarrass you!” while waving a spoon in someone’s face, kinda speaks for itself. Elizabeth was determined to have her own way no matter who she stepped on, inconvenienced or even inadvertently sabotaged. Not that anything less is expected on Top Chef, we all know these things are produced for maximum effect but if it acts like a bitch and sounds like a bitch, then people will start tossing names around.
Cheryl, you must have missed the part where Elizabeth pushed fellow chefs out of the way to get to the fryer, throwing her food in with no respect for fellow chefs who were waiting in turn. She all but admitted that she butted in line. It is clear she is having issues working with not only the men on the show, as she also had it out with the other female last week. I don’t think the editing elves have had to work too hard to make her look like a selfish, rude and bitchy person. Obviously there is a recurring issue with her, she can’t seem to play nice in the sandbox.
Cheryl, I appreciate that you want to stand up for your friend, but I don’t think that Elizabeth is representing female chefs (or Canadians in general) very well. There is no excuse for an all-or-nothing egocentric attitude; even in a competition. All people deserve respect, and Elizabeth is clearly the one who was disrespecting the other chefs first. I have a rule where I show everyone respect until they fail to show me respect, and then I disregard them because rude people are not entitled to my attention simply because they are louder and more in-my-face than others. I think Elizabeth has serious problems handling the pressure of being on the show, and it is likely effecting her personality, as you say she is otherwise kind and thoughtful. Perhaps that is the case, but she certainly isn’t demonstrating that very well. In reference to your sour-grapes comment, I’d like to point out that assuming that men are jealous because a woman is beating them, is the same as assuming Elizabeth’s bad attitude makes her a bitch. We are all guilty of gender bias, but blaming the men and the editors is not really helpful. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and words and Elizabeth Rivasplata did, and said everything that was aired. If she did not want to be portrayed that way, she simply should not have said what she did and then they would have no fuel for their “fire”.
Bye Bye The Witch is Dead. Elizabeth is gone after last night’s episode and of course, blames everyone else for her defeat. No doubt she is talented, but I would say she is also a b*tch. CUL8R
This message is really for Cheryl and others who defended Elizabeth. For you to pull out the gender bias card pretty much puts you in the same category as Elizabeth who represented herself truthfully to be the entitled female bitch she feels she is. Now before you go ballistic, you need to know that I am a woman who has worked in the most challenging male dominated profession of all, the army. And I will defend the guys to the death. I really can’t stand the likes of the Elizabeths and Cheryls in Canada who continue to see a gender problem where none exists. It is you, Elizabeth and Cheryl, who have problems. And for further evidence of the LACK of gender bias, let’s all revisit that girls gold medal hockey game when all the guys from our other gold medal team were up in the rafters cheering them on. Dang, Cheryl, go stick your head in the sand. I am really fed up with people like you and Elizabeth who do NOT represent my Canada.
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