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Top Chef Week 2: A Love Letter to Norman Van Aken

Dear Norman,
Come back to LA. After seeing you on Top Chef this week, we realized what it means to have you gone. No more paella. No more pig. No mojitos. Conch chowder. One of our favorite patios. We don't care if no one else loved you. We did. (Ok, and your chef de cuisines.) For all those people who didn't "get" Norman's and Norman Van Aken, we point to you critiquing the cheftestants in episode 2. You were tough. Tougher than Padma, bolder than Tom. And believable. Boy, was it believable. That's the kind of chef we like having in LA. Please Norman. Come back. We promise to bring as much love (ie. business) as possible. We'll do anything. Just say the word.

Eater LA

PS: Isn't it a coinkydink that Crudo Ristorante will replace Norman's on Sunset, and your former sommelier, Peter Birmingham, is now working with Il Grano's Sal Marino, the man who brought crudo to LA?

Now that that's out of the way...this week on TC3, all the chefs had a fruit quick-fire challenge and then a barbecue challenge. Our boy CJ sailed through both. Again, sticking safely in the middle, but notable enough that his food is positively commented on by the judges. Two bulldog chefs---Joey and Howie---got into a pissing fight, which led to...mohawked Sandee getting kicked off. Go figure. But now we're down to the 13 chefs that CJ said were "super strong," which leaves everyone to believe that it will be harder and harder to kick someone off from here on out. But as Sandee proved, any capable chef can screw up at any time. (At least no one picked garbage out of a trash can only to remain safe.) Episode 3 might be a big one for CJ: The teaser had us believe Tom Colicchio singled him out to say there's no more sailing in the middle. Gotta step up. We shall see. And we shall hear: CJ will be back on the phone with us next week, so we'll get the full rundown.

This week, the drama on Hell's Kitchen far outweighed that on Top Chef, even with the pissing contest. But the point once again goes to TC3 because we heart Norman Van Aken. The scorecard: TC, 2 and HK, 0.
· Top Chef 3: LA's Chris Jacobson, the Tallest Guy in the Room [~ELA~]
· Hell's Kitchen vs. Top Chef: The Showdown Begins [~ELA~]