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Top Chef Recap: Jason Stratton's in the Middle of the Pack

At least he's not up for elimination?

Jason Stratton
Jason Stratton
Top Chef [Official Site]

In this fourth episode of Top Chef California, the chefs head to Palm Springs to cook in the desert.

The episode opens with our very own Jason Stratton explaining that Palm Springs is a gay mecca where he and his pals go to hang out in the sun and drink white wine spritzers. So there's something revelatory for you.

The Quick Fire challenge involves cooking on solar ovens and solar stoves for none other than José Andrés. Jason makes an insalata russa (Russian salad) with potatoes, scallops, and asparagus. It's not the winning dish, and once again, it seems Jason's stuck in the middle of the pack. As much as he's blown us away in Seattle, he just hasn't done that thus far in Top Chef. Here's hoping that changes soon.

Before the elimination challenge, the chefs unwind in their fancy digs. We see Jason  drinking and soaking in the hot tub with a bunch of the men. He looks sad. "I feel like generally I'm a pretty gregarious, open person, but there's a lot of bros being loud. It frankly reminds me of high school and that irritates the shit out of me. I've worked in kitchens that were very like, macho, and that's something that is not my kitchen. I kind of feel out of step, a little out of sync."

But once he starts the next competition (on a golf course, on a refreshment cart, for crying out loud), Jason says he's feeling better and ready to cook. Phew. He and Marjorie are paired together for a team-based challenge involving a progressive, four-course meal. They create a summer squash with eggplant puree, grilled shrimp, and tomato and celery salad that goes over well with the judges.

When it comes time for judging, Jason's team is safe, though he isn't picked to win. Grayson is out.

A preview of the next episode seems to hint at Jason in some hot water (should we be worried or is that just creative editing?) as the group cooks for a big gay wedding.

For a full episode recap, head over to Eater National.