Top Chef recap: Captain Vietnam (2023)

Top Chef Recap

Top Chef recap: Captain Vietnam (1)

Credit: David Moir/Bravo


Top Chef recap: Captain Vietnam (2)

Top Chef

S11 E4

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Who better to start off a very Asian-themed episode than badass BaoHaus proprietor Eddie Huang? (Sorry, Travis, but I’m afraid Eddie Huang is indeed way more Asian than you are. Much more on this later). Eddie and Emeril magically appeared in the Top Chef house, making Nina believe there was a secret guest room just for the judges. Hint: Look in the cupboard under the stairs.

The judges announced the cancellation of this week’s Quickfire Challenge, which sucks, because the Quickfire is one of the most entertaining parts of Top Chef. Instead of skipping the Quickfire for the second time, why not have more Elimination Quickfires to thin out the herd? But the Elimination Challenge this week is a good one: to make a Vietnamese meal for a Vietnamese crowd, and to highlight prawns in at least one dish, paying tribute to New Orleans’ large Vietnamese population, who originally immigrated in the 1950s to get involved in the shrimping business. As a crash course in the cuisine, Eddie and Emeril would take the chefs to various Vietnamese landmarks in NOLA, including a bakery and a shrimping dock. Some of the chefs, like Carlos, had never eaten Vietnamese food in their lives, whereas Travis, who dubbed himself “Captain Vietnam,” thought he should be the one giving Eddie and Emeril a crash course in Vietnam. After all, he’s BEEN TO VIETNAM to taste all the flavors, and he’s even cooked for the family of the Vietnamese boy he’s dating.

[Please feel free to skip over this bit of editorializing, but I rarely get a chance to talk about this: As a gaysian myself, I took some offense at Travis’ whole attitude about being the Asian expert. I’ve met guys like this who learn about all things Asian and even take lengthy pleasure-trips to Southeast Asia to help them meet Asian guys, and then later think they can “school” us on our own culture. It’s an arrogant and kind of colonialist attitude. I definitely believe that Travis has a genuine interest in Vietnamese cuisine — because it’s awesome — but the fact that he thought he knew better than a roomful of Vietnamese Americans who didn’t like his Vietnamese food indicates a bit of cultural cluelessness.]

Shirley was humble enough to realize that she didn’t know all things Vietnamese, and took the time to talk to the fishermen and, more importantly, their wives, to learn how they actually like to prepare their shrimp. Michael continued to impress upon everyone else the fact that he lives in New Orleans, much to Nina’s annoyance. She called him, “Faker than Pamela Anderson’s breasts.” Not very original, but I applaud any attempt at throwing tasteful amounts of shade on Top Chef.

NEXT: Is Lemongrass-Gate the next Pea-Puree-Gate?

The Green Team — consisting of Travis, Janine, Sarah, Stephanie, and Bene — had lots of chefs who had an interest in Asian food, but Travis, to the team’s detriment, took the lead, suggesting that Janine and Bene work on a tomato-based sauce. Sarah challenged Travis on his knowledge of Vietnamese food, including the use of romaine lettuce. (I consulted a Vietnamese friend on some of these points. Romaine lettuce: Often used in Vietnamese American restaurants, but not exactly authentic. Tomato sauce: Fresh tomatoes, tomato soups, and tomato fried rice are found in Vietnamese cooking, but hell no to anything resembling marinara). #TeamSarah, except that it looked like it was her fault that the lemongrass was left behind. Oops.

When Eddie came around the kitchen, Travis offered up the info that his team didn’t know where the lemongrass was. Sarah wished he could keep his mouth shut so Eddie wouldn’t even know about the missing lemongrass in the first place. Travis did a poor job explaining away the mistake, saying the lemongrass was “lost in translation.” I don’t blame Eddie for being hard on Travis after that — in part because the joke was racially based. Eddie got Travis to admit that he was “not fully an expert” on the cuisine, but later, Travis said, “Eddie’s Taiwanese-Chinese. He only knows a little bit of what he knows. Sorry, Eddie, you’re kind of a douchebag.” Wow, if only he had the nerve to say that directly to Eddie’s face. If you’ve read Eddie Huang’s excellent book Fresh Off the Boat, you’d know he wouldn’t take that comment lightly. This is the point where I stopped cutting Travis any slack.

Janine didn’t feel confident about her shrimp marinara. She made the fatal error of dipping the shrimp in hot oil one last time before plating. Justin was about to tell her it was a bad idea, but he got all Machiavellian, misquoting Napoleon (close enough): “Brilliance is winning but also not telling your opponent when they’re losing.” He also neglected to share his bounty of lemongrass with the Green Team. Dastardly, yet cunning.

NEXT: What’s worse, Hooters-grade shrimp or inedible rice?

First up was the Orange Team. The judges didn’t like Nicholas‘ under-seasoned black pepper squid with cabbage and peanuts at all; Emeril wanted more fish sauce to wake it up. Best of the lot was Brian‘s gulf shrimp and pork belly spring roll, which Tom said was the only thing that saved the team. Everyone thought Carlos‘ fish head soup needed more acid; Tom thought it tasted like a dessert. And Louis, who hasn’t had a single shining moment to date, failed the Vietnamese food experts as well as the judges with his pho, which was “weak in the flavor department.” After the Orange Team’s presentation, Tom still had a craving for Vietnamese, because this wasn’t doing it.

Luckily, the Red Team satisfied that craving. Justin‘s pho was “light years ahead of Louis’,” according to Eddie. Tom didn’t like the texture of Nina and Carrie‘s raw beef salad — the beef should have been shaved — but the flavors saved it. Shirley won the challenge, though, with her Vietnamese BBQ shrimp with creole spice butter. Unlike some of the other chefs, Shirley managed to stay true to Vietnamese cuisine while adding some of her own elements and some NOLA spice to her dish. Oh, and Patty just kind of sous-chefed for everyone else.

Now for the arrogant but losing Green Team. Travis‘ grilled pork sausage with lettuce wraps and pineapple shrimp paste split the judges. Gail thought the shrimp sauce just smacked you in the face, but Padma said, “I was happy to be smacked in the face by something.” Nice try, Padma. Stephanie and Sarah made a dim sum duo that confused the judges with its texture, but the biggest fail of the night was Janine and Bene‘s shrimp dish, which was conceived by Travis. Not only was Janine’s shrimp terrible, but the rice was downright unfit to be served. Stephanie‘s macaroon with Vietnamese coffee was totally blah, but compared to everything else from this team, it was practically an edible orgasm.

There was a case to eliminate any of the members of the Green Team except for Stephanie. I personally thought Travis deserved to be sent home since his vision inspired each of the failing dishes — and he kept insisting that the roomful of Vietnamese experts “didn’t get” his food… after all, he’s been to Central Vietnam THREE TIMES — but ultimately, it came down to Bene for the crappy rice and Janine for the “twice-fried” shrimp. Janine ended up getting eliminated, which I thought was the wrong decision. It’s sad that there are still so many non-starters sticking around, like Louis, Bene, and Patty. At least Janine, and even the insufferable Jason, showed promise in the early episodes. What have Bene, Louis, or Patty done yet? I mean, Louis stuck cold watermelon on some sticks two episodes ago, but still.

Am I being too hard on Travis, or did he deserve to go? Was Janine the right choice to leave? Did anyone else think the judges seemed to hate the Orange Team’s food more than the Green Team’s?

Episode Recaps


Top Chef recap: Captain Vietnam (26)

Top Chef

Tom, Padma, and Gail tell the cheftestants to pack their knives and go.

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What is hung from Top Chef doing now? ›

Hung Huynh (Season 3)

After parting ways in 2015, he took a job the culinary consultant for Hilton at Resorts World Bimini in the Bahamas in 2016 and, in 2018, served as chef de cuisine at Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs. In late 2019, he opened the Asian-fusion restaurant and bar Warrior on the Sunset Strip.

Who is the Vietnamese Top Chef contestant? ›

Hung Huynh (born January 25, 1978) is a Vietnamese-born American chef, best known as the winner of the third season of Top Chef, a reality cooking competition series on Bravo. He was the Executive Chef at Catch, The General, and Catch Miami.

What season was Justin Sutherland on Top Chef? ›

Known as a competitor on season 16 of "Top Chef" and a winner of "Iron Chef America," he was working toward the release of his first cookbook and appearances on Food Network this fall.

Did hung win Top Chef? ›

Chef Hung Huynh, the uber-talented chef and winner of Top Chef Season 3, has signed on to become Director of Culinary Innovation for the Omei Restaurant Group just three months after leaving his post as executive chef of Ava MediterrAegean.

Who is the most successful Top Chef alumni? ›

Carla Hall has become one of the most successful Top Chef alum, becoming a cohost on ABC's The Chew in 2011 and also working as a contributor on shows like Good Morning America.

Are Hosea and Leah still together? ›

Our relationship was never the same. We are no longer together.

What is Top Chef Buddha doing now? ›

Lo is currently an executive chef at Huso and cook at Eleven Madison Park in New York City. Lo was the head chef at Matteo's Restaurant in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and in 2014 worked at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, United Kingdom. Lo received the Gordon Ramsay Excellence Award while working in London.

Where is chef Marco now? ›

Since filming the reunion for BDSY season 3, Marcos has opened his restaurant Marlou, which was originally a food truck. The food fuses together cuisine from his home country of Venezuela, Korea, and the U.S. The restaurant serves brunch and dinner with an array of many delicious sounding, and looking, dishes.

Where is chef John Zhang from? ›

He grew up in Shanghai where he apprenticed under a master chef. Later he went abroad, and in 2009, he won the Huaiyang Cuisine Gold Award at NTD's International Chinese Culinary Competition in New York City.

What happened to chef Justin? ›

The Minnesota-based chef revealed in July that he suffered serious injuries after an accident in which he fell off a boat. "I hit the water and the boat just drifted right above the spot where I went in, and as I was swimming back up, I swam under the boat pump into the motor," he told PEOPLE in July.

What happened to Sarah from Top Chef season 16? ›

Following Top Chef, Bradley has continued to do what she does best both in Paducah and away. She has traveled to participate in events across the country including a return to the James Beard House for the launch of Taste America, the James Beard Foundation's annual culinary tour.

Who was season 6 Top Chef fan favorite? ›

In the season finale, Michael Voltaggio was declared the winner over runners-up Bryan Voltaggio and Kevin Gillespie. Gillespie was voted Fan Favorite.

Has there ever been a black Top Chef winner? ›

“Top Chef,” like many reality shows, could be more diverse. There has never been a recurring black judge on the show, and only one winner: Season 7's Kevin Sbraga is black.

Who is the most respected chef? ›

1. Dabiz Muñoz
  • #1 Dabiz Muñoz. Spain.
  • #2 Rene Redzepi. Denmark.
  • #3 Joan Roca. Spain.
  • #4 Massimo Bottura. Italy.
  • #5 Andoni Luis Aduriz. Spain.
  • #6 Bjorn Frantzén. Sweden.
  • #7 Disfrutar. Spain.
  • #8 Alain Passard. France.
7 days ago

Who is the most respected chef in the world? ›

Joël Robuchin holds the number one spot amongst the world's top 10 chefs, making him the best chef in the world according to Michelin star ratings.

Who is number 1 chef of all time? ›

Joël Robuchon, 31 Michelin Stars

He holds number one spot among the world's top 10 chefs, making him the world's best chef according to the Michelin star rating.

Was Hosea divorced? ›

Legally, Hosea had the option of divorcing Gomer. But God doesn't allow him that option, nor is there any thought of justifying divorce on the grounds of Gomer's infidelity — although one would expect that to have entered in.

Did Hosea and Leah hook up on Top Chef? ›

Yes, Hosea was at best a middling-to-goodish contestant for the entire season. Yes, he was memorable for little more than arguing with Stefan, hooking up with Leah and (seemingly) not being as hot at cooking seafood as he claimed.

Who did Hosea marry with? ›

According to the first chapter, Hosea is commanded to take a harlot for his wife, and children of harlotry; he accordingly marries Gomer bath Diblaim, who subsequently has three children, to whom the prophet gives symbolic names, which become the texts of prophetic messages concerning Israel.

What restaurant does Buddha from Top Chef work at? ›

Buddha Lo is the Executive Chef at Huso, the Michelin plate restaurant inside Marky's Caviar serving an 8-course tasting menu.

Is Padma still host Top Chef? ›

Padma Parvati Lakshmi (Tamil pronunciation: [ˈpəd̪mə ˈləkɕmi]; born September 1, 1970) is an Indian-born American author, activist, actress, model, philanthropist, and television host. She has hosted the cooking competition program Top Chef on Bravo continuously since season 2 (2006).
Padma Lakshmi
Eye colorBrown
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Is Gordon Ramsay still friends with Marco? ›

Vernon chuckled and prompted his guest to delve deeper into where things stand between Gordon and his former boss. Thankfully, the cooking star confirmed their friendship is still intact, despite Marco's insistence on using his former student's nickname from their training days.

Why did Marco give his Michelin stars back? ›

So, in 1999, he retired and returned his Michelin stars. I was being judged by people who had less knowledge than me, so what was it truly worth? I gave Michelin inspectors too much respect, and I belittled myself.

Why did Marco and Gordon fall out? ›

In 1987, Marco opened up Harvey's Restaurant in Wandsworth Common, South London. Gordon Ramsay worked under Marco while he was an up and coming chef. I think perhaps Gordon was jealous of Marco but will never admit that. Marco regularly ejected patrons from his eatery if he objected to their comments.

Who was Michael Jordan's chef? ›

Craig Couper - Michael Jordan's Steakhouse | Grand Chefs Experience.

Where is chef Brother Luck from? ›

Chef Brother Luck (Yes that is his real name…)

After relocating from the San Francisco Bay Area to Arizona, Brother enrolled in a vocational school for high school students to learn the culinary arts.

Who Is Top Chef host married to? ›

Personal life. In April 2004, after living together for five years, Lakshmi married novelist Salman Rushdie.

What is Leah from Top Chef doing now? ›

Leah is the chef and owner of acclaimed New York City restaurant Pig & Khao on the Lower East Side.

Where is Top Chef Gabe now? ›

He then opened the award winning Comedor restaurant, where he made famous the "bone marrow tacos". In 2021, Erales competed in Top Chef: Portland, winning the season and its $250,000 grand prize. He is currently in the process of building a new restaurant called Bacalar Restaurant that is scheduled to open in 2023.

What is chef Ryan doing now? ›

Ryan, who has continued to defend his time on Below Deck Down Under, is still involved in cooking and has offered glimpses at his creations online. He reunited with Jamie and Magda Ziomek in September 2022.

Does Padma have a child? ›

Is Jo from Top Chef a girl? ›

Jo Chan graduated from San Diego State University before attending the San Diego Culinary Institute. In 2012, she moved to New York City, where she began her career at Nobu Fifty-Seven. From there she went to work under Jonathan Waxman at Barbuto in the West Village.

Who is chef Leah Cohen married to? ›

Leah Cohen and Ben Byruch have added another little boy to their family! The Top Chef alum and her husband welcomed their second baby together, son Baker Scott, on Tuesday, Feb. 22, PEOPLE can exclusively announce.

Who is Leah Cohen's husband? ›

Leah continues to find culinary inspiration through her travels, and helms the kitchen with the help of her husband, Manager of Operations for both restaurants, Ben Byruch.

Why did Gabe from Top Chef get fired? ›

To clarify, unbeknownst to my wife, I had a consensual relationship with a co-worker and later reduced her work hours, which in combination was a poor judgment call and led to my termination after I filmed Top Chef.”

Why was Top Chef winner fired? ›

Erales was fired from Comedor and issued an apology, but many fans remained outraged that the show had chosen a winner that had been accused of harassment.

What is the controversy over Top Chef winner? ›

So when news came out around last season's finale that winner Gabe Erales had been fired from his job as executive chef at Austin's Comedor for alleged violations of the restaurant's sexual harassment policy—two months after Top Chef's 18th season had wrapped—fans demanded answers.

Is Ryan still the head chef at Yardbird? ›

Post Hell's Kitchen

After her appearance on the show, Ryan took up the Head Chef position at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar at The Venetian Las Vegas, but was given the Sous Chef position instead.

Why did chef Ryan get fired? ›

Below Deck Down Under Fans Were Excited Chef Ryan Was Fired

After Captain Jason gave Ryan the bad news, the chef started packing while venting about the Captain and calling him derogatory names. Captain Jason overheard and advised Ryan to leave with grace, but the cranky chef didn't listen.

Did Captain Jason fire Benny? ›

Viewers also thought Benny was going to get fired for his subpar work ethic, but in the end, stew Magda Ziomek and Chef Ryan McKeown were the ones to get the ax. Fans were glad to see Benny finish the season, and out of all the Below Deck Down Under cast members, he showed the most growth.


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