Recap: Top Chef 1853
Episode 9: “Much A-Gruel About Nothing”.
It’s Friday, and you know what means! It’s time to kick back and watch the five remaining competitors duke it out in the kitchen amid the filth, despair and poverty of 1800’s era London for the chance to be “top chef” .
This week’s quickfire challenge was gruel. Again. The guest judges were a group of grime-streaked seven year-old orphans fresh off a hard day’s work at E.W. McGrergan’s Industrial Threshing Factory. They had just finished a 16 hour shift, and those who were able stand or crawl through the raw sewage and freezing snow drifts that clog London’s cobblestone avenues to the kitchen were hankering for a bow-full of the grey, tasteless mush that’s the city’s signature dish.
Chef Artimus Steambottom, who won the last two quickfires (both gruel), was the favorite going into this week’s challenge. While it was clear the orphans appreciated the watery texture and unidentifiable bits gristle in Steambottom’s dish, Chef Jedediah “Ratgrinder” Johnson won the day with his “gruel-on-the-go” bar. The easy-to-eat bar was a smash hit with many of orphans, especially those who had lost arms or fingers at the threshing factory and had trouble using spoons.
Johnson won immunity, and he’d definitely need for this week’s main challenge. In a stunning twist, the judges asked the chefs to cook meat pies. After eight episodes of cooking nothing but gruel, the chef’s were stunned. Chef Thomas Vanderblood actually fainted after hearing the news. The show’s doctors soon discovered Vanderblood was a woman posing as a male chef. The doctors attributed the fainting to “hysteria” or “some unknown female malady” before throwing her out into the cold London night for “sullying manliness of the competition with feminine wiles”.
The remaining four chefs were left to prepare their meat pies for the judges, which included Mr. E.W. McGregan himself. The wealthy industrialist promised a new pair of fingerless gloves and a lifetime supply of cod-oil to the winning chef.
While the other four chefs stuck with the traditional horse/old leather boot filling for their pies, Steambottom chose to use the orphans from the earlier challenge. McGregan declared said the dish was a “stroke of genius”, and stated that using the recipe on an industrial scale would solve the problem of what do with his many workers when their hands became too big to clean the threshers in his factory.
Sadly, Steambottom would not be able to enjoy his victory, as he and the remaining chefs died of consumption during the meal. The episode ends with their bloated bodies being tossed into the Thames.