After last week’s clusterfuck of an epic novel for Top Chef, I’m going to scale down this week. I don’t need to comment on everything on screen. Welcome to the condensed, edited version of awesomeness.
Spike is convinced that people want him gone because he’s a threat. People most likely want him gone because he’s a cunt. Richard’s Lesbian Twin is finally able to fully cement her personality outside of being Zoi’s lover, and all she can talk about is how she’s in love with Zoi and will win this show for her. Vom. Meanwhile, Ryan says people are stewing over Zoi leaving, which gives him an advantage since he doesn’t give a shit. I wrote in my notes, “Ryan goes home tonight.” I quickly realize that I watch too much reality TV. Dale and Lisa have a mini-confrontation to discuss how Lisa doesn’t want confrontations. Dale calls Lisa out on always being negative, and Lisa responds with the maturity of a 12 year old. I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I agree with Dale. Fuck, I’m even starting to like Dale. But he will never beat the True Dale in terms of perfection.
We move on to the Quickfire Challenge, and it’s one of the best they’ve ever done. The chefs have to pair a dish with beer, one of my all time favorite things – they have sixteen from which they can choose, but they’re only allowed to sample three before they make their choice. Beer is so underrated in America, it’s not even funny, so I’m stoked to see them use it as part of a challenge. Unfortunately, in true Top Chef fashion, they forgo beers like Arrogant Bastard, Magic Hat #9, and Flying Dog’s Tire Bite for…shitty beers like Michelob Ultra. The guest judge this go-round is Koren Grieveson from Chicago’s Avec. I get the silent lez vibe from her, and she barely says a word through the entire challenge, which totally pisses off the chefs.
Andrew is insane like usual, and it totally creeps out Koren and Padma. Spike gets his ass handed to him by Koren, but since he never takes responsibility for anything, he says she didn’t understand the dish. Not that he screwed up, but that she didn’t quite get it. Go fuck yourself, Spike. Once the bottom three are announced, my notes say this – “SPIKE’S AT THE BOTTOMMMMM. WHERE HE BELONNNNNNGS.”
The bottom three are indeed Spike, Nikki, and Dale. Nikki’s shrimp were too large and unseasoned, Spike’s dish lacked unity and because he stupid enough to attempt tapas in 2008 when they’re sooo 2004, and Dale’s miso/caramel pork tenderloin with a faux pretzel crust since it sucked and was too dry. Sorry, but that sound like way too many sweet versus salty battles in one dish. Then Lisa redeems herself by showing she’s actually 8. She called Dale a bitch for losing – so not hot.
The top three are Richard, Stephanie, and RLT/Jenn. I’m easing myself into typing Jenn, but she has to stop referencing Zoi to fully lose her moniker of Richard’s Lesbian Twin. Unless she wants to be Optimus Lez or Queen Elezabeth. Those are definite possibilities. Anyway, Richard had a tuna sandwich with pickled vegetable, mustard seeds, and coriander. Steph did a steamed mussels dish with a cilantro vinaigrette, finished off with some Hoegaarden. There are so many reasons why she’s my favorite, and this just adds to the list. This girl is solidifying her place in the finals early on. RLT picked Landshark beer since her fauxhawk resembles a shark fin. She made shrimp and scallop beignets, and both of the girls loved her. Queen Elezabeth just wanted to win something, and she finally got her wish – she’s now immune from the Elimination Challenge.
Spike is yet again a misogynistic douche by calling Optimus Lez out on winning from a lesbian judge and how she should feel like she’s on top of the world. For someone who’s been in the bottom twice and seems to be a pretty mediocre chef, he sure gets a lot of airtime. At least Ilan, Marcel, and Hung made it to the finals, and two of them even won.
Back to the Elimination Challenge – make a tailgate dish for hungry Bears fans at Soldier Field. Hot damn, this shit is on. Tailgating is a sport in and of itself, so I expected some great things and the contestants really delivered with this challenge. Dale is beside himself, since he’s from Chicago and seems legitimately stoked about participating. On the other hand, Mark says he knows nothing about American football and only came here to cook. The fans will place the top and bottom three, and the judges will decide from those groups who will win and who will pack their knives and go. Finally, after five episodes that claim the other diners have a say in the challenge, this one actually will. Before we head to commercial, Queen Elezabeth comments that she’s winning for Zoi, which is getting annoying, but she also calls Spike out. Spike still being in the competition is “bullshit,” which I think we, as a country, can get behind.
The chefs have 30 minutes and $350 to get their stuff together at Whole Foods. In typical douche fashion, Spike runs to the meat section and buys the entire stock of chicken wings, partly to make enough for the fans, but mostly so no one else can cook wings. How many ways are there to say that you hate one person? Richard, on the other hand, is doing a paté melt because he’s a wise ass – love it. Ryan hates sports and would rather buy nice clothes. He then calls two heterosexual men babe/baby within ten seconds of each other. A few more points in the Gay Ryan column, and the assertion that he’s doing California style tailgating further alludes to his exit tonight.
The next part in my notes point out that Lisa is talking about how she likes to beat her meat and how the unnerving and cacophonous music in the background highlights her awkward personality. Spike continues being a douche, Antonia continues to bring some humor, and Jenn is really attempting to establish her personality, and she’s winning me over. Ryan’s dish sounds disgusting and anti-tailgate, and he whines about how he’ll use his time the next day. Going home, going home, going home. I have no comment on the scene of Mark getting drunk and making poor life decisions of whom he chooses to befriend. However, the fact that Steph seems to be double fisting red wine (not white) is added to the list of Why She Rocks.
The Elimination Challenge starts when the chefs get to Soldier Field and Richard does the awkward fat man run to his lot. They all have an hour to prepare and can choose between gas or charcoal grills. Mark is the only to choose charcoal. He claims it’s because he has testicular fortitude, but I think it’s more like he’s a moron. Koren doesn’t make a repeat appearance, and is replaced by Paul Kahan, who is owner of Avec and Blackbird. What, you can have the lesbian chef judge a quickfire, but she isn’t allowed near the EC? I call bullshit.
A few of the dishes start to roll out. Steph is making a pork tenderloin with bacon, heirloom potatoes, and pears in a salad. She then tops with rosemary vin, and everyone loves it. Everyone, that is, except for Gail because she loathes rosemary. Dale geeks out over the Bears, and serves them ribs marinated in tandoori, with a potato salad mixed with golden raisins and mango. Sounds delicious and everyone seems to love it. Spike continues to suck at life, insults the Bears and their fans, and then somehow turns it on them. He’s serving jicama and pineapple slaw with lime dressing and some fired wings on top. A mentally challenged Redskins fan (really? In Chicago?) says “Spicy! Awesome!”
Antonia is serving jerk chicken sandwiches with pickled onion and grilled banana and pineapple on the side. They go over well with the crowd, except that they’re messy to eat and Tom thinks the sides go better on the actual sandwich. Ryan is trying to charm his way out of a horrible dish and working the crowd like there’s no tomorrow. With this dish, there won’t be. Steph adds that he’s a “full of shit schmoozer guy” and “I’m not here to be pretty and talk really well, some of us are just here to cook.” Love. Ryan’s dish is a bread salad with marinated chicken, a poached pear dessert, and some spiced brandy cocoa. Too fancy, too hard to eat, not tailgating fare, and way too many plates. Are you trying to get eliminated?
Andrew is either extremely socially retarded slash an attention whore, or he legitimately suffers from Asperger syndrome. He’s running around in a helmet and insulting Gail, but his food seems to be pretty decent. Beer and dijon glazed shrimp with potato/parsnip puree, bacon, and apple chutney. Is this season sponsored by a bacon conglomerate or something? What’s up with all of the bacon this year? Lisa serves a skirt steak and corn cake with salsa verde to top. Optimus Lez serves chicken marinated with harissa and quinoa tabouli. Richard made his paté melt with spicy mayonnaise and picked cucumber. Since none of the three received any face time, none of them will place.
Mark, on the other hand, is a trainwreck. He’s serving chicken and scallion skewers with a soy and onion glaze and a side of New Zealand corn chowder. His station is a mess, and the judges go on and on about how disorganized and weeded he is. Obviously going to be bottom three.
Nikki is making sausage and peppers, and adding a random grilled shrimp to everyone’s plate, which doesn’t make any sense. Then we discover that she’s been giving out seconds all day and barely has anything left for the Big Four. One of the first rules of this game, besides not mocking your judges, is to make sure your judges can actually taste your dish. She’s running out of food quickly and the judges aren’t able to eat her full dish. My notes are crazy prophetic – “Nikki thinks she’s going home, but I think it might be Mark or Ryan. But she’s definitely near the bottom.” How awesome am I?
The top three end up being Steph, Dale, and Antonia. Tom calls Steph out on being in the top so many times, and I wrote “get used to it.” The bottom three are, in fact, Mark, Nikki, and Ryan.
Nikki sucks because she ran out of food, didn’t make her own sausage, and had an irrelevant shrimp on her plate for no reason whatsoever. Ryan’s dish was completely inappropriate for a tailgate and it wasn’t even that tasty. When you misinterpret the challenge AND miss the mark on your food, then you shouldn’t count on staying around. Mark sucked because his dish was overwhelmed by the sauce and his soup was too coarse. His presentation was horrendous and his habits were downright unsanitary. Yet again, I call Ryan going home, and he is the one that gets sent packing. Ryan Scott is decently humble and mature about leaving, but then refers to himself twice in the third person. Mixed messages anyone?
Next week looks hilarious and involves improv, Second City (!), and Ted Allen’s polish sausage. Should I be scared or thrilled? I’ll go with the former choice.