Monday, January 23, 2017

Two weeks of Top Chef: Charleston recaps in one convenient bite

"He fell on his pirate sword"

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 11:55 AM

click to enlarge Chefs Jamie Lynch and Emily Hahn were in the bottom three on Episode 7 of Top Chef - PAUL CHENEY/BRAVO
  • Paul Cheney/Bravo
  • Chefs Jamie Lynch and Emily Hahn were in the bottom three on Episode 7 of Top Chef
Forgive me readers for I have sinned. My last Top Chef: Charleston blog post was three weeks ago.

I know, I know, I'm sorry. What can I say? I find recapping TV shows about as much fun as watching Kellyanne Conway spew alternative facts. Well, that and, you know, I've been a little busy what with covering an entire gender rise up against our new Celebrity-in-Chief. But I digress. When it comes down to it, it's the tediousness of the task, you see. Why regurgitate what viewers have already seen in some kind of Bravo circle jerk?

That said, there were some juicy tidbits that came out of the last two episodes, so let's discuss.

First off, can we talk about the fact that 5Church's Jamie Lynch is a recovering heroin addict and a Top Chef hero?

On Ep. 7, our local cheftestants — Warehouse's Emily Hahn and Lynch — found themselves in the bottom three contestants following a local pirate-themed treasure hunt. Yes, that's right, not only did our locals come in last in navigating their own city, they also delivered the judges' least favorite dishes — see: Hahn's chicken skin-topped lobster chowder and Lynch's trainwreck chicken satays.

Between the two, it was clear Lynch's was the worst, but he had immunity. However, rather than Cha Cha Slide into the next episode, he took on a tattooed Captain America persona and made Top Chef history giving his immunity to Hahn for the first time in the show's run. Now that's friendship right there.

But what I found even more interesting from the episode was the short confessional Bravo dropped in the middle of the show in which Lynch revealed his struggle with drugs. According to the clip, Lynch's addiction to heroin happened while he was living in New York City.

"Struggling with addiction and trying to work in a kitchen, it’s not pretty," Lynch said on the episode. "If addiction doesn’t ruin you or kill you and you can pull yourself through it, it can make you one of the strongest people out there.”

Considering experts place heroin recovery rates at roughly 20 percent, the fact that Lynch is alive is incredible. And as Charleston begins to address its opioid problem, Lynch seems to be a great example of what Mickey Bakst and Steve Palmer are promoting with their Ben's Friends support group — the idea that you don't have to leave F&B to be sober. For more information on Ben's Friends, click here.

Restaurant Wars

Meanwhile, last week's episode was the heavily anticipated Restaurant Wars. For Top Chef fans, you know that means that the remaining eight contestants were divided in two teams and asked to design an entire restaurant in basically two days. I had the opportunity to attend one of the team's restaurants (perhaps you saw my giant red Dolly Parton-wig of a mane sitting behind Padma's halo). I went to Latitude created by Brooke, Emily, Shirley, Sylva — and come to find out, they won, crushing team two's Southern Belle (for real? That's the name y'all came up with?).

All credit is due to Shirley who does not play. That woman ran the kitchen like an efficiency expert and her efforts helped her teammates crush it on the plate. I personally loved Sylva's pan-roasted halibut and Emily's poppy seed buttermilk cake.

But the highlight of my dinner was sitting next to a Top Chef super fan. I'm blanking on his name (sorry dude), but as he shared, he and his wife had gotten on the waiting list to attend Restaurant Wars and had been sitting patiently, hoping to be picked, for about four hours when, at the last minute, just as they were ushering people into the restaurant, their name was called. Even better, it was his 40th birthday. No one enjoyed Top Chef Episode 8 more than that guy, lemme tell you.

Second Chances

As we head into episode 9, Lynch and Hahn are still in the game. Hahn remains on the regular show, while Lynch saved himself on Last Chance Kitchen against Jim and Katsuji.

"I'm stoked to slay the Katsuji dragon for sure," Lynch said after winning the last round.

Will he pull a Kristen Kish and become the second contestant to take the Top Chef title via Last Chance Kitchen?

Keep tuning in on Thursdays at 9 p.m. to find out.

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