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This week on Top Chef, the drama takes a backseat to beer, Bears, and bubble baths.
A disturbing look at Twitch’s childhood.
It’s morning in the Top Chef house, and Evangelos is feeling the searing burn of hatred radiating from the other chefs. He’s been hearing rumors (aka screaming in his face) that people thought it was his ass that should have gone home last week, and not even a propeller beanie can cure his depression. As the ringleader of the anti-Evangelos contingent, Beasty is determined to win this thing now for both the lesbian lovers, and Ryan’s just hoping that everyone will be distracted enough to allow him to skate by for yet another week. Meanwhile, on the Lisa-Dale front, Lisa’s still pretty upset with the crotch grabbing, and she and Dale have a quick talk. He technically apologizes for bringing Little Dale into things, but defends his position that she’s an annoying bitch who never stops complaining. Needless to say, that does not go over too well.
The chefs arrive at the kitchens for this week’s Quick Fire. Waiting for them are pitchers of different kinds of beer, as well as Scar and guest judge Koren Grieveson, chef de cuisine of Chicago restaurant Avec. Scar announces that each chef will get to taste three beers before choosing one, not knowing what any of them are. They will then have 30 minutes to prepare a dish that complements their selected beer and the theme of Simple Pleasures.
During the beer tasting, we learn that Dale and Evangelos know next to nothing about beer, while Mutton has been doing keg stands since he was 12. Beasty, meanwhile, is pumped that she got Land Shark Lager because her hair is like a shark fin, which really isn’t a look I think anyone should be shooting for. Although we’ve got at least two takers between her and Richard.
Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?
And off they go. Richard evidently is going to go au naturel (ugh not a pretty picture) this round, and not using any of his science shit to help him make a sandwich. Antonia tells us it’s very hard to make a simple dish, since you need to dumb it down for your audience. If by that you mean you aren’t going to cover everything with some reduction sauce crap then fine, dumb it down. Pretend we’re all at a 6th grade eating level. Dale decides to do something involving pork and pretzels, and throws the pretzels into a blender. And then proceeds to be shocked that they got ground up into dust. Hell, even someone with a 2nd grade eating level could have told you that. Beasty is just a machine with a whisk for an arm.
Scar and Koren (who is evidently Lisa’s doppelganger, only 30 pounds lighter) come in for the judging. Richard thinks Koren knows a little something about pounding back beers, so that and her poker face make him nervous and he can’t tell what they thought of his grilled tuna sandwich. Dale’s pork/pretzel dish, Antonia’s cod, Yoda’s steamed muscles, and Ryan’s crepenette all get the same silent, poker face treatment.
Twitch has made a gastrique with rainbow trout, but Koren thinks that it needed more acidity. After all, she’s an acid person. He says he understands, given that he’s a coke person, and asks where he can find a good dealer in Chi-town. Nikki believes that anyone who drinks beer also enjoys wife beaters, NASCAR and fried food, so she’s offering up some fried shrimp (which I admit look pretty tasty, but I’ll eat almost anything deep fried). She actually pries a reaction from Koren who says “Great, thank you.” Mutton got one of my favorite beers, Stella Artois, and pairs it with lamb rack. Maybe Koren’s starting to get drunk from all the beer tasting, but she’s on a verbal roll, telling Mutton that the flavors are really nice.
The chefs should be honored that Koren dug out her least-ratty jeans and favorite old t-shirt for her big television debut.
Evangelos created a charcuterie, which is basically his fancy name for a chopping block with meats and cheeses, as well as some clams. Scar and Koren do not seem happy, but tough guy Evangelos tells us he doesn’t give a shit. Lisa’s bacon cheeseburger also stumbles because it needs more heat. Beasty’s beignets, however, get what amount to rave reviews from the taciturn Koren.
Once all 11 dishes are tasted, it’s time for results. The first one in the bottom is Nikki – one of the handful of people we saw Koren speak to. Guess that theory needs some work. Evangelos and Dale also land in the bottom, while Beasty and Lisa make little attempt to hide their glee. In the top group are Richard, Yoda, and Beasty – with Beasty getting the win and immunity! I’m happy for her – this has got to raise her spirits, and you know that between her, Richard and Yoda, she would have been the most likely to go home this week. Evangelos, on the other hand, is all eye-rolling and douche-bagging in the confessional, even cheering “Yay Lesbians!” I’m positive this is not the first time he’s cheered that, but probably not in such a negative way.
Scar goes straight into announcing the Elimination Challenge – the chefs will be cooking at a tailgating party at the Bears game! Scar’s obvious voice-over work gives them the details – the fans will choose the top and bottom three dishes, and the chefs will have two hours to prep tonight before heading over to the game tomorrow. Any bets which dumbass’s dish will be ruined by the transportation aspect this time?
At Whole Foods the chefs have $350 and 30 minutes to shop. The chefs run in at full speed, since many of them have the same ideas and it’ll all come down to who gets to which counter first. Evangelos beats out several people for chicken wings, forcing Dale to do ribs. Richard loftily declares his style is more refined than tailgating food, and decides to do a pate melt as a “witty” take on a patty melt. Maybe I’ll be surprised, but I don’t think the Da Bears crowd is the place to break out the liver paste.
The last time Evangelos ran this fast was when The Hat Hut had its yearly BOGO event.
Nikki has decided to make hero sandwiches, both of the sausage and shrimp variety. She gets a great deal from the meat counter guy by rockin’ some indoor shades and pretending to be blind. Mutton’s all depressed that other people beat him to throw shrimp on the barbie (dude you are such a Kiwi), so he settles for chicken skewers. Ryan hates sports since he was never allowed to participate in any while slaving away in his father’s kitchen, and instead grew up dancing to the music the cooks would play on the radio. But he’s going to do his best, California style, with some bread salad and marinated chicken thighs.
Back in the kitchens, the two hours of prep begins. Twitch is making beer and mustard honey-glazed shrimp with bacon. He says that he seriously doubts anyone in Chicago would not like bacon. I try to be offended, but he’s so right. I fucking love bacon, and his dish sounds awesome to me. Yoda’s making pork tenderloin, and Evangelos has a fire under his ass, flinging chicken wings around like a mad man.
Beasty’s going Greek with harissa-marinated chicken as a tribute to Zoi (which to be accurate should also include a complete lack of seasoning), and Ryan’s decided to add on both a drink and dessert, which is never ever a good idea – especially at a tailgate. Richard agrees that Ryan’s going overboard with his five-course meal, and is confident in his pate melt. Lisa’s beating her meat – insert obvious joke here – and making strip steak and corn cakes. Mutton, meanwhile, is still so depressed over having his Kiwi dreams of shrimp on the barbie dashed that his blender goes Linda Blair all over him.
No, Beasty, I haven’t! And did you know the original Greek word “model” means “misshapen ball of clay”? I try to think about that every time I go in front of the camera.
Daddy Tom’s in the house and stops by Beasty first to chat about her immunity while Evangelos makes faces in the background. DT goes and sees Antonia next, who’s making a Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich for the big, drunk football fans. He seems somewhat amused by Ant’s interpretation of Bears fans, but is obviously concerned when he listens to Ryan prattle on about wanting to make something light and clean for the crowd. We don’t want light and clean dammit, we want fatty and greasy.
After Daddy Tom takes off, Ryan tells us he’s worried about having too much left to do tomorrow, and all the chefs are concerned about the lack of refrigerator space. Maybe those GE corporate bastards should have sprung for one more appliance to slap their logo on. The chefs wind up taping the refrigerator doors closed. How awesome would it be if those sprung open overnight and the chefs come in tomorrow to find all their spoiled food strewn of the floor? Awesome for us viewers, I mean. Not so much for the chefs.
Back at home that night, the chefs break out the booze – well except for Dale, who’s too busy ironing an apron. The dick grabbing just looks so much better when it’s accentuated by crisp pleats. Mutton and Evangelos take the relaxation to a new level, by climbing into a bubble bath together. They try to invite Lisa in, forgetting her aversion to anything involving water or soap, so she laughs them off. Antonia, meanwhile, is disturbed by what she thinks is the worst porno ever taking place in front of her.
Pretty close, but I think “Willie Wanker and the Fudge Packing Factory” may have it beat.
The next morning I am sad to report does not start with spoiled food, but rather with the chefs all arriving successfully at the tailgate party. The chefs have one hour to prepare, and get to choose between a gas or charcoal grill. Everyone chooses the gas grills but Mutton, who has the “testicular fortitude” (read: big balls) to go with charcoal.
The judges arrive, decked out from head to toe in Bears gear. It’s hard to decide who looks most out of place, but I’m going to go with Daddy Tom. Joining Scar, Gail and DT is Paul Kahan, the chef/owner of Blackbird and Avec. Looks like all that talking she did yesterday wore poor Koren out. I mean, she must have said like 20 words.
Service begins, and Yoda’s pork tenderloin is evaluated first. Both the judges and the fans seem to really like it, including one stereotypically beefy Bears fan who just loves anything with bacon and is already so drunk at 10am he can barely speak. Everyone also loves Dale’s baby back ribs and Antonia’s jerk chicken sandwich.
But it’s not just Bears fans in the crowd – we also have Gale Sayers, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, and Richard Dent. For those of you who aren’t Bears fans, Gale Sayers is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and The Fridge and Richard Dent were both members of the 1985 Super Bowl Champions team. In other words, this is a big fucking deal, and Chicago native Dale nearly loses his shit.
I didn’t come here lookin’ for trouble, I just came here to do The Super Bowl Shuffle. And eat a shitload of food. And get free publicity. And possibly get an appearance fee. Okay I guess I’m not just here for the stupid dance after all.
Evangelos, meanwhile, is up to his usual douchey tricks, this time trying to woo the crowd with his lovely personality since he knows they’ll ultimately be deciding the top and bottom chefs. This includes asking the fans when was the last time the Bears won the Super Bowl. I’m not sure if he’s ignorant of the fact the Bears had just lost the previous year to the Colts and was asking innocently, or if he was trying to be “funny.” Either way, the fans look like the want to kill him, and he’s a fucking idiot. I’d love for the reason he goes home being that he insulted the locals. However, his wings go over well with both the judges and the crowd, including a stray Minnesota Vikings fan who wandered in and needs to be shot (placing the real-life date as Sunday, October 14, 2007 in case anyone was interested in the time frame of the taping).
Ryan’s also using the working the crowd strategy, and even goes as far as putting some of the fans to work, helping him season his food. Like father, like son. His bread salad with marinated chicken is the first potential fumble we see, as the fans complain about how hard it is to eat and how it’s a little too fancy-schmancy for their tastes. I told you Ry – grease and fat is the way to go with this group.
Twitch is taking things even one step further by wearing a football helmet. He looks like a complete idiot, although a permanent helmet might be a good idea for this one. I would not be surprised if he had to wear one before. It’s probably not just Mike Myers’ mom who thinks a harness and a helmet are necessary. The judges and fans mostly like his beer and mustard shrimp, although Daddy Tom’s not to sure about the parsnip puree. Just be glad it isn’t faux caviar, guys. He also blatantly mocks Gail by mimicking her in a high-pitched little girl voice, and she responds by giggling like the cutest boy in Mrs. Wilson’s second grade class just pushed her. You know that means he totally likes you the bestest. Gail, you are not 8, nor are you on a playground. Get a grip.
Teehee, he likes me!
The judges visit Richard next and try his pate – made of pork, veal and pork fat. We don’t really see what the judges think, but the fans seem to like it – even though they’re unsure as to what the hell they’re eating. Good call on not telling them, Rich. Mutton, however, is not faring as well as he’s completely disorganized and frantic. Yoda tells us that a clean, presentable station is just as important as good tasting food, but it’s not like he’s got animal byproducts lying around. The judges call both him and his chicken and scallion skewers a mess, and it looks like most of the fans agree.
Shockingly, Nikki may be in trouble too. The fans – especially the big dudes – love her sausage and peppers to the point where she’s almost out of food entirely when the judges finally come to her. She has to serve her dish without the peppers, onions, and sauce, and pisses off guest judge Paul Kahan when she admits she didn’t make the sausage from scratch due to lack of time. The judges are unhappy, and agree that Nikki is having a bad day. Since the lasagna in the first episode she’s never had a good day, so I’m not sure what the hell they’re talking about.
And that brings us to the end of the food service. Richard Dent picks Richard’s pate melt as his favorite, while The Fridge liked Lisa’s steak and Dale’s ribs. Gale Sayers also picked Dale’s ribs as his favorite. Mutton and Nikki are the most concerned, and Nikki’s just hoping that the fans keep her out of the bottom three so she doesn’t have to face the judges, who only tasted part of her dish. Not like it matters. It’s Nikki. It’s a safe bet it sucked either way.
Back at the kitchens, Scar comes in and calls Antonia, Dale, and Yoda, which from glancing back above at judge and fan reaction was a pretty obvious top three. The judges note that Yoda is yet again in the top group, and while Daddy Tom thought the pork wasn’t perfectly seasoned, the judges praise the dish overall. With Antonia, the only criticism is they wished she had put the pineapple and banana that was on the side actually in her jerk chicken sandwich. Dale doesn’t receive any criticism from the judges, and accordingly wins the competition. While it’s not a trip to Italy, the judges present him with a Bears jersey that has “Top Chef” on the back as well as a new grill. The grill is pretty sweet, but couldn’t they have gotten one of the legends to sign something for him?
The bottom three are Mutton, Nikki, and Ryan, which I think is a fantastic final three given that none of them can cook well and should have been booted weeks ago. Nikki is called out first. She tries to explain again that the judges didn’t get the full effect of her sandwich, but they quickly point out that it was the fans that put her in the bottom three, not the judges. The judges complain about her not making the sausage, and say it was dry as well. Paul also has a problem with the shrimp she served on the side, saying there was a disconnect there and she should have just mixed them in with the sausage.
You know what? If it was really that bad, I’ll just hop in my Model T Ford and get the hell out of here. Gatsby’s having a party tonight anyway.
Turning to Ryan, the judges are focusing on his dumbass decision to make a dessert, especially one as high-brow as poached pears and crÃ¨me fresh. The judges also thought the main dish was dry and too heavy on the bread, and that he didn’t care about or respect the entire concept of the challenge. Ryan babbles nonsense for a few minutes, and poor Daddy Tom can’t even get a word in edgewise. For Mutton, the judges say they understood why he originally wanted the charcoal grill, but once he put a heavy sauce on the chicken skewers, it was a moot point. Mutton concedes that the skewers were a little weak, but argues that his chowder was excellent – which the judges disagree with, since the chowder had a very coarse texture. Daddy Tom also lashes out at Mutton over the presentation – it was messy, he licked the spoon he was serving the fans with (EWW we definitely did not get any footage of that), and there was more food on his apron than on the grill itself.
The judges shoo the bottom three out to deliberate. Their critique of Nikki focuses on her purchasing rather than making the sausage, and they are mad that Ryan refused to embrace the tailgate concept at all – purposely choosing to make a dish that was anti-tailgate. On top of that, it tasted bad! With Mutton, they thought he was lazy and so unsanitary that Daddy Tom wanted to run screaming from the table. In the waiting room, Nikki’s whining about Ryan’s nonsensical prattling in front of the judges, while Ryan’s still running his mouth, bitching to poor Richard that he “cooked [his] food to the practical form of what [he] thought was… feasible.” Umm, what the fuck did he just say?
Further proving the Bravo demographic is gay men and middle-aged housewives… not like I disagree with this result. Come to mama, Daddy Tom.
The chefs are brought back in to hear the results. With a few more minutes of scolding, Ryan is told to pack his knives and get the fuck out. Hmm, he was my third choice. Nikki sucks the most overall, and I would have probably eliminated Mutton this round for being DIS-gusting. But I can’t say I’m that upset with this result. So farewell, Ryan. Time to get back to indentured servant status in your dad’s kitchen – that is, if he hasn’t adopted a whole slew of unpaid workers while you’ve been gone.
So what did you think? Was Ryan the right one to go home, or should it have been Nikki or Mutton? Whose dish would you want to see at your next tailgate (I’d go with Twitch’s shrimp)? And would you have accepted Evangelos and Mutton’s bubble bath invitation?