In the first episode of “Top Chef,” Charlotte-based chef Jamie Lynch burned his vegetables. In the second episode last night, Lynch . . . burned the vegetables. (See how I worked in a “Top Chef” pause there? Yes, this stuff in getting in my head.)
When my clever colleagues at Charlotte Five came up with a drinking game for watching Lynch on this season’s “Top Chef: Charleston,” maybe they should have added one more: When Lynch goes near a vegetable, empty the whole bottle.
His first victim was vegetables he was caramelizing in butter for a chicken dish. This time, it was a pan of over-roasted broccoli that was (inexplicably) bound for a version of a classic squash casserole.
Apparently, though, there is a trick to surviving when you’re standing in front of the judges’ table in the bottom three, for turning in a riff on squash casserole that judge Gail Simmons called a “watery, scrambled” mess: Hope that another chef did an even bigger hatchet job on a tomato pie. Bye-bye, Annie Pettry.
There’s one more Charlotte link this week: That bushy-haired guest chef was the great Frank Lee, recently retired from the iconic Charleston restaurant S.N.O.B.: Lee will be at Park Road Books from 2-4 p.m. Monday to sign copies of his new book, “The S.N.O.B. Experience.”
OK, spoiler alerts ahead. Our 6 favorite moments from this week’s episode:
1. Do not deny Padma Lakshmi a biscuit. When a woman piles up her hair and puts on lipstick that red, you shouldn’t deny her anything. Luckily, the winning team understood that and made sure Padma got both biscuits and fried chicken, with a dipping sauce for the chicken and a sticky sorghum topping for the biscuits. Smart idea to fry chicken, Sam Talbot.
2. Could someone get Jamie Lynch a new T-shirt? The one he was wearing in that mad-dash shopping trip through the Mount Pleasant Whole Foods had a hole in the back. It’s national TV, dude. Maybe 5Church could spring for one of those “Team Jamie” shirts all the staff was wearing at their premiere party last week.
3. When Frank Lee demonstrated a classic shrimp boil, Charlotte-raised Sam Talbot said he dreams of shrimp. Let’s just put that down and back away.
4. Stop calling the new guys “The Rookies,” Padma and Tom Colicchio. They have knives and they know how to use them.
4. Which city is Lynch representing? Once again, it sounded like he only has a restaurant in Charleston. Yes, there’s a Church Street in Charleston (try to find a Southern city without one). But does Charleston have a corner of 5th and Church? I think not.
5. Never touch vegetables again, Jamie Lynch. Please. Our hearts can’t take it.