“Life After Top Chef” Recap, Episode Three: The Week in Quotes

Hide the butter knives—this one’s all about family.

This week, our four cheftestants take on their families. Photograph courtesy of NBC Universal.

It’s all about family in episode three of Life After Top Chef. Fabio gets a visit from his mom; Richard celebrates his wife’s birthday—attempting to win her over with a backpack and a visit to the shooting range; Jen heads to the track with her dad; and Spike travels to Montreal with his kind-of girlfriend Julia and the rest of the fam for a wedding and a little steak-frites research. Oh, but there’s so much more. Let’s get to it.

“At every turn, I have to make sure I’m still qualified to be her husband.”

Yikes, Richie. This show is preoccupied with Fabio’s dangerous stress levels, but the code red situation is really in the house of Blais. It’s Jazmin’s birthday, and Richie has bought her some kind of purse/backpack thing in honor of the occasion. Does she like it? Does she not? Blais explains how astute he’s become at examining the nonverbal queues. After nail-biting through the gift offering, we head out with the Blaises to shoot some (gulp) guns, and although artillery isn’t his thing, Richie must prove his manhood by firing away. Meanwhile, the sight of his wife packing heat causes our hero even more consternation, since “every time she picks up a butter knife in our house she tells me she’s worried she’s going to stab me.” Frankly, we’re a little worried, too. Hope she likes that backpack.

“No cold butter. That’s where I draw the line.”

The Mendelsohns’ visit to Montreal cuts in on our precious Washington time—watch that, Bravo—but the fact that they spend most of the time discussing plans for Bearnaise, the steak-frites spot destined for the piece of Capitol Hill property next to We, the Pizza, pretty much makes up for it. It’s supposed to be Spike and sister Micheline’s joint, but Mama Mendelsohn just can’t help herself from weighing in at every turn. While dining at Bearnaise inspiration L’Entrecôte Saint-Jean, she criticizes a salade frisée with lardons and poached egg planned for the Bearnaise menu—“too heavy”—and insists they serve cold butter. But Spike has some early trauma from a cold-butter-related childhood task, and draws the line. Cute! Funny! In an unexpected turn of events, the Spike segments might be becoming our favorites—just keep that mother onscreen. (Also, more Micheline, please.)

“Why you have white hair? You stressed.”

Spike isn’t the only one who has to deal with a meddling mom this episode. Fabio’s mother visits LA from Italy and is alarmed to find her son has bags under his eyes and a smartphone surgically attached to his right hand. Meanwhile, at a dinner party, life coach Dean takes a break from his wine glass to tell Fabio once again that he has to slow down, and Fabio says—you know what? Let’s not even do this. Fabio’s busy, we got it. There’s really no need to talk about it more.

“I think my dad’s going to yell at me, but I look over and he’s like, ‘Wooo!’”

Last week, commenter MoHub reminded us that Jen Carroll’s intense perfectionism may have roots in a hard-driving dad—on her two separate Top Chef stints, she quoted him as saying something to the effect of “second place is still losing.” This week, we get an inside look at that relationship when Jen races a “dirt-modified” car—apparently her dad is a big deal in the dirt-modified scene—in front of the old man. And although she doesn’t win this thing she’s never done before, he seems okay with it. In voiceover, Jen says that after her early dismissal on Top Chef All-Stars, “he said, ‘Jen I don’t care if you finish last, I’m just proud of you and so happy to have you as my daughter.’” So what’s really going on here? Why does Carroll always think her dad is going to be disappointed if, in fact, he’s totally not? Seems like a pretty complicated dynamic—but at least we don’t have to worry about him stabbing her with a butter knife, right? Speaking of which, has anyone heard from Blais lately?