Episode 4 of “Top Chef” Season 12 brought the contestants to the bar where everybody knows your know name, Cheers. In “12 Chefs Walk Into A Bar” the remaining contestants were greeted by the star of the hit sitcom “Cheers,” actor George Wendt, and ordered to cook him a tasty bar snack as their quickfire challenge. Later in the episode, the Boston cast was joined by two other famous faces for their elimination challenge, “Shameless” star Emmy Rossum and “Top Chef Masters” alumnus Michael Schlow.
Despite Gregory Gourdet's two consecutive wins in last week's episode, he was unable to impress George and host Padma Lakshmi with his bacon burger after running into trouble plating his dish at the end of the 30-minute challenge. Ultimately, it was Katsuji Tanabe who won over the actor with his mahi mahi and tuna ceviche with roasted tomatoes and jalapeño salsa.
“You really nailed the creativity, and it was just so dang yummy,” George said. “I think it’s time for the king to step down and somebody else to take his place,” Katsuji said after beating Gregory and winning immunity ahead of the elimination.
Immediately after the quick-fire challenge, the cast was introduced to “Top Chef Masters” Season 1 alumnus and restaurant owner Michael Schlow. Padma told the chefs that their elimination challenge would require them to take over Michael’s Boston, Massachusetts, restaurant Via Matta. Working in teams of three of their choosing, the chefs were instructed to create a classic, three-course Italian menu including antipasto, pasta and seconde. The group with the most orders at Via Matta would be declared the winners and would be exempt from a double elimination.
With two chefs on the chopping block, the prep time at Via Matta was noticeably tense. The added pressure of cooking for their celebrity guest, actress Emmy Rossum, who midchallenge revealed she needed the dishes to fit her gluten-free diet, didn’t help defuse any tension behind the scenes.
Despite purple team members Katsuji and Aaron’s verbal spats during the prep time, the team, which also included Gregory, was awarded the winner after receiving the most orders for their scallop and ravioli menu items. Unfortunately for gray team member, James Rigato, and blue team member, Rebecca LaMalfa, their subpar dishes and uninspired menu writing didn’t make the cut.
James’ seafood salad, which Padma, Emmy and Michael each called one of their least favorite dish of the night, was what ultimately sent him packing. “I think it’s a fatal era not to go with your absolute gut," James said. "I should have done a louder, more seasonally relevant dish."
According to the judges, Rebecca’s scallop and fennel dish was too simple and one of the least inspired of the entire challenge. “Top Chef All-Stars” winner and judge Richard Blais described her dish as “mediocre room service” and slammed her not charring the fennel as advertised on the gray team’s menu.
Despite being sent home, Rebecca said she hoped to return for another “Top Chef” installment. “I know I have grown throughout this ‘Top Chef’ experience, and that makes me want to do it again so I can do it better the next time,” she said. “I want another chance.”
“Top Chef” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on Bravo.