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May 24, 2019

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Naughty chefs and armpit hair: Our favorite “Top Chef” moments

Top Chef Finale

BravoTV / Virginia Sherwood

TOP CHEF — “Episode 614” — Pictured: (l-r) Toby, Padma Lakshmi, Michael, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons — Bravo Photo: Virginia Sherwood

Las Vegas' Top Chef moment in the culinary sun came to a close Wednesday with the crowing of Michael Voltaggio as this season's winner. But before we rededicate Wednesday nights to spending time with friends or watching The Sing Off, let's look back at a few of our favorite moments from season 6.

Michael V. as Picasso

Many have cracked under the pressure of the judges' table, but maybe none so badly as Ash in episode 7. When asked why he allowed himself to play sous chef to Michael V., the likable Ash raved about baby Voltaggio's talents and dropped this self-defeating bombshell analogy, "It's kind of like saying, 'Do you mind washing paintbrushes for Picasso?'" Oy. Ash's foot met his mouth. A week later, Ash met the door.

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Jennifer gets to work on homemade pasta during "Top Chef: Las Vegas".

Jennifer reveals her naughty side

Balancing strength and sex appeal can be a difficult task for women, but Jennifer did it beautifully. She created enough kick-ass dishes to land herself in the top four, and she was willing and able whoop ass as a leader during team challenges. Best yet, she was never afraid to let her hair down — and suggest someone could pull it. During the TV Guide Quickfire, the chef'testant chose The Flintstones and commented on her appreciation of Pebbles' cute boyfriend, Bam-Bam. Jennifer even suggested that getting pulled by the hair "could be fun sometimes." Hot.

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Eli channels Circus Circus via blender on "Top Chef: Las Vegas."

Circus Circus-inspired catastrophes

Eli was the youngest contestant on Top Chef this season, so when he picked Circus Circus as his property during the casino-inspired challenge, he should have been able to channel the themed casino better than his competitors could have. Instead, like a little child, he was cranky and threw a tantrum because — get this — there's no real circus inside the casino (and no elephants, so the acts performing on the Carnival Midway don't count). His creation of peanut-and-apple soup topped with popcorn did not impress the judges. Maybe he should have tried something with cotton candy instead.

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Michael rocks a red scarf in honor of booted French chef Mattin.

Mattin's red scarf tribute

"Aw" moments are few and far between on Top Chef, but after chipper Frenchman Mattin was ousted in episode 5 for a trio of ceviches so bad that Tom literally spat them out, the remaining chef'testants set out to honor their former competitor. The chefs showed up for the next episode's Quickfire all wearing Mattin's trademark red handkerchiefs. Hipster-wannabe Basque chefs all over the country (or at least in Brooklyn) likely are sporting the look right now.

Choose-your-own-adventure Quickfire race

Top Chef Quickfire challenges have to test the chefs' food while entertaining viewers that won't come closer to tasting those dishes than licking their TV screens. (Unwise, though tempting). This season, none was more devious than episode 9's tag-team cook off. Two teams of four faced off with each chef having 10 minutes to cook before leaving their dish to the next chef on their squad. As if trying to take over someone else's partially prepared mess wasn't bad enough, the chefs wore blindfolds while they waited to cook, and communication of any kind was banned. Delightfully diabolical. There's a special place in hell for whoever designed that challenge.

Armpit vs. armpit

Known for his vicious one-liners, Toby Young was disappointingly pleasant this season. He did, however, make one remark that was strange enough to warrant hitting the rewind button. Toby described the contrast between American Pinot Noirs and the European Pinot that Jennifer picked to pair with food in one episode as "the difference between a shaved armpit and a hairy armpit." Better yet, which one he preferred wasn't clear.

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