We’re four episodes in, and still precious little is taking place on the Ambien-esque Life After Top Chef, in which the plot wanders aimlessly like a lost sheep on a winding road in rural Virginia.
If you’re wondering who set that sheep loose, it might well have been Jen Carroll. She spends her segment with Spike Mendelsohn at Border Springs Farm, where she reveals a serious lack of sheep-sorting skills. Yes, we actually watched Jennifer Carroll count sheep. Oh, but it wasn’t all that bad—at least Fabio’s life coach didn’t show up. Grab a shot of espresso and let’s get to it.
“In my head I’m like, ‘Wow, I really suck.’”
Richard is invited by Food & Wine magazine to cook at the Best New Chefs event. Quite an honor, and one most people might enjoy. This being Richard, however, he spends the whole time fretting that his dish—braised oxtail and bone marrow, looks like a bone luge—isn’t good enough. We’ve always been big Richie Blais fans, but the stressed-out, self-effacing business is wearing a little thin. “It’s the worst feeling in the world, you know: not thinking you’re going to make it,” he says of his pre-event anxiety. “It’s every day of my life, and I need to change that.” Hopefully he’ll change it by the next episode, because enough already.
In New York, Richie meets up with Fabio—there for a Good Morning America segment—who accompanies him to the sharp-object wonderland that is the Korin knife shop. Why are they there, you’re probably (not) wondering? Because Richie plans to present a blade to his wife on their sixth anniversary. Yes, that wife. Jazmin. The same one who confessed an urge to stab him every time she wrapped her fingers around a butter knife. For their sixth wedding anniversary, he is going to offer her the sharpest knife money can buy. Is anyone else, like, really worried about this guy?
Next up, Richie and Fabio head to Dale Talde’s Talde in Brooklyn, where they are joined by Carla Hall and Angelo Sosa. And surprise, surprise, the success of Richard’s cohorts makes him feel bad about himself. When Hall tells him how good his Food & Wine dish is, does he say thank you and take her at her word? He does not. Why? Because Richard Blais is the worst-ever person to win Top Chef All-Stars and be invited to cook at Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs and open a hotly anticipated fine-dining restaurant and have a beautiful wife and kids and generally be regarded as a massive culinary talent. The worst.
“When Good Morning America asks you to be on the show, you have to say yes.”
Fabio demos a chicken dish at Good Morning America, and we learn a little bit more about the impoverished past that drives him to say yes to television appearances even when he’s sleepy and occasionally gorge on Animal-Style fries in the darkest part of the In-N-Out parking lot while rain drops patter poetically on his dashboard. Fortunately, though, this episode does offer some relief from Oliver Twist Fabio. Instead we see him making fun of Blais, using his signature a-idiomatic expressions like “Sloppy Suzie,” and just generally having a good time. More of this Fabio please, Bravo.
“I just always leave you wanting more.”
What else? Jen Carroll and Spike road-trip it out to Border Springs Farm, where they spend the day doing sheep stuff, wrestling turkeys, and performing other farm tasks in a slapsticky manner. Later, a bunch of local farmers come by for a potluck dinner. Throughout the segment—in which sexual innuendo abounds—we’re supposed to wonder whether there is any romance between the two friends. “Not going to happen,” says Jen. That doesn’t prevent her from engaging in some flirtatious repartee with Spike, particularly after she begins to get “well lubed” (Spike’s words) on wine and hard lemonade* at the potluck. When Spike complains that the stew Jen serves him only contains one clam, she retorts, “I just always leave you wanting more.” Later they return to their roadside motel, where—sorry, guys—nothing happens.
“It’s all about the initial sear.”
On the farm, Spike is asked to give everyone a little burger-flipping lesson, leading him to ponder his culinary status as a greasy patty guru. After all those years of hard work, how did he get here—barbecue smoke billowing in his eyes, hands flecked with dark bits of burning grease? Ah, but all this will change, Spike predicts, with the opening of his “steak frites spot” (when he says it, “frites” rhymes with “knits”), Bearnaise. Everything, dear viewers, will be different. Cut to lonesome sheep zigzagging down the road as the sun sets over the Virginia hills … and scene**.
*If Jen were an alcoholic beverage, she’d totally be hard lemonade.
**Some of the stuff described in this paragraph didn’t actually happen on the show.