Top Chef recap

John Tesar fades into the background as drama heats up on Top Chef

John Tesar fades into the background as drama heats up on Top Chef

Top Chef season 14 episode 3
Top Chef contestant Sam Talbot (left) tells Silvia Barban her cake is great. Photo courtesy of Bravo

The latest episode of Top Chef, the Bravo cooking reality show we're recapping weekly to track the adventures of Dallas chef John Tesar, was sneaky.

For most of the episode, everything went swimmingly. No Tesar outbursts. None of the conflict between rookies and vets that fueled the drama of last week's episode. Everyone got along. Every dish they made was awesome.

The drama came all at once during the finale, when the judges axed a veteran chef who'd seemed like a sure thing for final contender. Sam Talbot, viewed as one of the most skilled chefs, was sent home for doing a lousy version of a banh mi.

The first challenge was the "mise en place" race, where they do mundane tasks like opening oysters and chopping onions. Then the chefs made seven-course meals using a key ingredient: radishes.

For Tesar watchers, things initially seemed promising. He'd had a prior run-in with the guest judge, so there was history. He was getting hazed by another judge. And when his team won, he was the one designated to hit the big red button. His hitting of the big red button was such a big deal to the producers, they did it in slow-mo and added slow-mo sound effects.

But sadly, JT faded into the background. It was time for the climactic battle of the desserts. Returning chef Brooke made a panna cotta. Newbie chef Silvia made a yogurt cake her grandmother made for her when she was young.

Time to set up Talbot. Silvia was on his team, and he could not say enough good things about her magic cake. She was a brave warrior for tackling dessert. Her cake was divine. Their team was going to win based on that cake.

Instead, her cake lost to the panna cotta. The judges apparently don't know jack about dessert because they failed to note that Brooke cheated by thickening her panna cotta with corn starch.

Sam's dish — a bite-sized snack he called a banh mi that unfortunately was nothing at all like a banh mi — was deemed the worst. But it was liking that cake that did him in.

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Top Chef airs Thursdays at 9 pm CST on Bravo.