This week on Top Chef, the contestants learn to curb their potty mouths a bit, the ladies bone it big time, and Mutton and Richard fight for the affections of one sexy guest judge.
We open with Chicago girls Yoda and Valerie lifting weights. I think Yoda’s talking about how great it was to win the first challenge, but I’m so distracted by the truly heinous tattoos going up and down her calves that I can barely pay attention. I’ve got nothing against tats, having one myself, but damn girl, if those things look this bad at age 31, can you imagine them intertwined with some varicose veins in 30 years? However we do learn that these two worked together in the past, and Valerie hopes that having a friend will be helpful at some point.
We also check in with Zoi and Jennifer, who are debating who gets to wear the ugliest shoes. They tell us they’re trying to downplay their relationship and not spend too much time together. Since they spotted Dale running around in Lisa’s panties the night before, they figure this shoe swap is okay.
The group heads off to a farmers market for their Quick Fire. Padma’s waiting for them, and explains that the challenge is create a dish using only 5 ingredients (salt, pepper, sugar, and oil do not count). She repeats herself a few times and even holds up 5 fingers to make sure everyone gets the concept. Padma, not everyone smokes as much pot as you. They got it. The chefs look like they’re going to crap their pants, but I don’t think this one’s too hard. Then again, I usually only use 2 ingredients when cooking dinner – a box of noodles and a packet of powdered cheese.
Everyone races off to begin shopping, screaming “move, bitches!” at some toddlers who are rude enough to get in the way. They have 30 minutes and $25 dollars each. While most of the chefs begin frantically running around the stands, Evangelos/Spike decides to spend the time listening to a folk singer with a group of children and getting back to his roots. Do your roots include getting kicked off second on an American reality TV show? Move your ass!
Congratulations, you’re officially Evangelos because of this
Meanwhile, Richard’s continuing to play the “unique” card by purchasing some eucalyptus branches (umm, ew!), and Dale’s continuing to be arrogant by bitching about how all the meat is frozen and below his standards. Mutton’s running around pissing people off by bumping into them, digging in things he shouldn’t be, and generally being frazzled and annoying. When you’ve got that cute of an accent and you still manage to irritate that many females, you know you gotta get a grip, mate. He also manages to forget his bag of greens at one of the stands. I know a lot of readers like this guy, but he’s an idiot.
Back in the kitchens, Padma introduces the guest judge – Wylie Dufresne, chef/owner of wd-50 in NYC. Turns out Wile E. Coyote’s a big fan of that chemical crap as well as wretched facial hair, and Richard and Mutton practically wet themselves in excitement. Padma gives them 30 minutes to cook, and off they go.
This guy’s way into science? Nah, you gotta be kidding me…
The Quick Fire prep goes pretty smoothly, with only a few exceptions. Evangelos realizes he should have spent less time getting down with “Puff the Magic Dragon” and more time selecting his ingredients when he sees his filet looks like dog meat. Valerie complains to us about the crowded conditions and lack of burners (side note: this chick has already talked more in the first 10 minutes of this episode than she did the entire time last week. That does not bode well for her). And Yoda looks like she’s ready to have a nervous breakdown as she wipes sweat from her brow.
Time for evaluations. Richard’s made a chicken soup filled with chemicals and the taste of cough drops, and tries not to cry when the Coyote tears through the dish with his hands and seems unimpressed. Ryan’s got a steak-veggie dish that is judged as simple but nice. Dale’s prepared a completely vegetarian dish due to his frozen meat snobbery, and the Coyote praises the mushrooms. Valerie’s dish is a rib eye steak covered with tomatoes, which looks grisly and unappetizing to me but goes over well. Erik’s lamb chops get a neutral review.
Evangelos immediately makes excuses about his dog meat dish, which came out looking like a pile of constipation. The Coyote thought the dish was going to be a steak sandwich and Evangelos quickly agrees that that’s a good point. The Coyote gives him a look that’s all like “Of course it’s a good point! I fucking just said it!” and Evangelos tilts his head and douchily smiles. Nice try.
Did I mention how much I like your pocket protector?
Mutton’s baby-sludge covered sirloin looks like it’s cold and still mooing, and he stupidly admits he left some greens at the market. Never admit a mistake, Mutton! But the Coyote likes the peaches and turnips in the dish, so it’s okay. Then, as the Coyote begins to walk away, the most phenomenal thing happens – the Coyote turns to Mutton and dead-pans “nice sideburns.” I almost fall off my couch laughing as Mutton chuckles uncomfortably, not sure if he’s being mocked or hit on. Get with the program, Mutton – extreme sideburns enthusiasts are a dying breed, and you guys gotta stick together. Look at the way the mullet enthusiasts have kept their hideous look from going extinct. It’s not a coincidence that where you can find 1 mullet, you can usually find others.
Twitch (thanks xqzmoi!) is up next, and he explains that he foshizzled some lamb chops-izzles. As he lists out the ingredients – accompanied by some flailing hand motions that nearly take out Padma’s eye, natch – Padma takes a break from her pre-purge binge to point out that Twitch violated the QF rules by using 6 ingredients. Oh, poo. Okay, Padma, please accept my apologies – evidently it was necessary to count to 5 on your fingers when explaining the rules. Twitch defends himself by telling us that he can only focus on a certain number of things at a time. That’s why crack is whack, dude. It melts your brain.
Yet again not everyone gets camera time, so it’s time for the Coyote to pick the best and the worst. The bottom group consists of Evangelos for being inflexible with the dish once the meat wasn’t what he expected, Erik (who looks near tears again!) for presenting 3 separate piles of carrots, potatoes, and lamb instead of a cohesive dish, and Richard for oily and unrefined chicken soup. Richard tells us he’s shocked that the Coyote didn’t play favorites with his molecular chicken soup. Sorry, Richard, but Mutton managed to one-up you on the common ground factor with the Coyote.
Now for the top group. The Coyote selects Ryan’s simple steak dish, Valerie’s grisly-looking rib eye, and Mutton’s side burns, err I mean raw sirloin as the top 3… and gives the win to Mutton! See, Mutton, the Coyote understands the sideburns enthusiasts’ creed – those who grow together must stick together. The Coyote even praises Mutton’s honesty over the lost greens. Mutton is beside himself with joy, especially knowing he now has immunity and can’t be eliminated no matter how hard he bones the elimination challenge.
The power of sideburns
With that out of the way, it’s time to draw knives for the elimination challenge. Manuel draws first, and his heart drops to his toes as he sees that it says “vulture.” Manny’s not too excited about cooking scavenger for dinner. Dale gets bear, and Antonia puzzles over whether she would make braised bear chops or braised bear tenderloins. I would definitely try a bear burger myself. Ryan and Richard both draw lion, and Twitch excitedly tells us that he hopes he gets lion and then tries to growl at the camera. Despite his “growl” (see I can use quotation marks too, Twitch!) sounding more like a purr, I hope he gets lion too. I think that’s our best chance of seeing him getting eaten. But alas, Twitch draws penguin. Maybe they can peck him to death.
Antonia’s bear dreams are dashed when she draws gorilla, and seeing as though it’s illegal to eat gorilla, it finally begins dawning on the chefs that they may not be making penguin stew and vulture stir fry tonight. After everyone has drawn a knife, the teams wind up as this: Yoda/Valerie/Antonia (gorilla), Lisa/Twitch/Jennifer (penguin), Zoi/Manny/Mutton (vulture), Nikki/Evangelos/Dale (bear), and Richard/Erik/Ryan (lion). The challenge is that the groups will be catering staff parties at the Lincoln Park Zoo for 200 people – and their menus must be based on the main foods in their animal’s diet.
Twitch is pumped about his penguin, but Team Vulture is worried that they’ll have to serve decaying animal carcass. See, I’m thinking vulture’s the best because those nasty fuckers will eat about anything – you could throw an old boot in your dish and ask Daddy Tom if he had a problem.
Maybe fearing Team Vulture would do just that, it turns out the producers have provided each team with a list of acceptable foods for their animal. As his team reviews their list, Mutton realizes he and vultures have more in common than just unfortunate plumage. Team Gorilla is given a vegetarian list, and while Yoda and Antonia begin brainstorming ways to incorporate meat, Valerie silently frets off to the side about claiming that Gorillas eat crab and caviar. I think this is a great strategy, given how many other reality show contestants have been successful with the stood-idly-by-while-my-teammates-committed-suicide approach.
Yeah, this has winner written all over it
Team Bear meanwhile is engaged in a power struggle. Nikki gives us the speech about a woman fighting to survive in a man’s world, while we see her lay her hand on Evangelos’s forearm while trying to persuade him to her point of view. You can’t have it both ways, sweetheart. In the most shocking revelation of the season, Dale tells us he doesn’t like playing in groups. I’m sure Evangelos and Nikki are less than thrilled to work with you too, douche.
The next day, the chefs head off to annoy local Whole Foods patrons with $500 budgets and 30 minutes to shop. Evangelos, despite being on Team Bear, spurts out vulture metaphors to us about how he’s a scavenger and claims he has morphed into an animal. I’d say he’s morphed into a strong contender for Twitch’s most hated chef title. Lisa, realizing that we don’t know who the hell she is, takes a bad fall in the produce section for some extra camera time, and Evangelos cracks up. Okay, I’d laugh too. I also get the giggles at funerals. I’m a bad person.
But Evangelos isn’t laughing when teammate Nikki begins whining about how they need table dÃ©cor and may need to cut out some food purchases to stay within budget. That chick has watched too many episodes of Sandra Lee’s “Semi-Homemade.” The judges won’t give a damn if the colors in your summertime floral arrangement complement the hue of the garnish in your honeycomb dish. As the Dale and Evangelos exchange “are you fucking kidding me?!” looks, their passive-aggressive behavior allows Nikki to get her way. I can’t wait for her to gesture to their lovely floral arrangement when Daddy Tom asks why they have 25% less food than other teams.
I’ll just save this for later…
Back in the kitchens, the teams have 3 hours to prepare. Stealing from arch-nemesis Richard’s bag of tricks, Team Penguin is excited about their jelly “glacier” that Twitch is making using a special thickening agent. Twitch in particular can barely contain himself, and begins dancing around like a marionette puppeteered by someone having a seizure. On Team Lion, Richard’s also advocating using molecular science crap (with not one but two Marcel foams on the menu!), which is making Erik a bit nervous. You know Erik was the kid sent to the principal’s office during biology class for throwing frog guts in Jessica Grime’s hair. His school wisely waived his chemistry requirement.
Team Gorilla’s tossing bananas into every dish they can (perhaps trying to make up for the fact they’re serving CRAB?!), and while worrying over Valerie’s blinis dish. Specifically, they’re worried about how Val has to make the blinis now, pack them up, and then transport them to the zoo to be served there. Like I said last week, it really bothers me when chefs know before they even get started that something’s likely to be a colossal fuck-up. We saw these bitches having this same conversation that morning before they even bought food – why didn’t they just switch to something that wasn’t 99% sure to end in failure? Idiots. You deserve to go home.
Collichio’s in the house! Daddy Tom’s in a great mood tonight, smiling and laughing with all the chefs. He reacts well to the glacier concept, then moseys on over to Team Vulture to stir up some shit over Mutton’s immunity. Manny doesn’t take the bait though, and confidently says that he thinks Mutton’s a good addition to the team regardless. This ruins Daddy Tom’s fun, so he announces that they all have 90 minutes left and leaves.
My dreams of eating a breast implant are finally coming true
On Team Bear, Nikki’s mushrooms look like crap, and Evangelos asks us who would want to put a turd in his mouth? For $10 or a crack rock, I think Twitch is your man. Dale and Evangelos start preparing to throw Nikki under the bus for the mushrooms, and she races over and insists they can be fixed by dumping crap on top of them to pretty them up. Kind of like those bitches on ANTM in a photo shoot. Meanwhile, Yoda’s celery chips are all soggy and gross, giving teammate Valerie a fighting chance of survival when Team Gorilla is inevitably at the bottom.
The group heads off for Lincoln Park Zoo, where I spent way too many school field trips growing up. LPZ’s pretty sweet, being located in the middle of Chicago, but I’ll always be a Brookfield Zoo girl. Everyone has only 1 hour until service to arrange their presentation and get their food ready to go. Dale and Evangelos want to throw out Nikki’s mushrooms, but she still insists she can make them “pretty.” Hey Nikki – maybe the reason you think it’s so hard to be accepted as a female chef is the way you seem more concerned about how pretty the table or the food is, rather than how stuff actually tastes. Just a thought.
Over on Team Gorilla, the blinis are turning out just as bad as we all thought they would, and Valerie’s all like, whodathunkit? You! You’re the one who thunk it! We’re heard that this was a bad idea at least 50 times this episode! Oh this girl is pissing me off. Val’s hoping that Yoda’s dish turns out worse than hers – way to be a team player – but at the last second, Antonia convinces Yoda to change her chips & crab to a more appetizing crab salad. Time to grab your ankles, Val.
Scar’s come out for this judging, and she’s brought along the Coyote, Gail (who wiggles and waves like a small-town beauty pageant contestant), and Daddy Tom. The guests pour in, and the first thing we hear is that Nikki’s mushrooms now don’t just look like shit, they also taste like shit because they’re ice cold. Although if I’m going to put a “turd” as Evangelos called it in my mouth, I’d rather it be cold than steaming hot. Was that too much? Probably. Moving on! Team Bear pulls the mushrooms completely from their table, which I think is the right decision. I’d rather face the judges saying I made the decision to pull something awful rather than have to defend my decision to nearly poison 200 people.
Miss Sweet Corn Queen 1985
Team Lion’s beet salad goes over well, as does its bison tartare. Gail loves Team Vulture’s marinated anchovies and Scar’s all about their Moroccan-spiced lamb meatball. The Coyote enjoys Team Penguin’s squid cerviche, and Daddy Tom likes their Thai shrimp & crab salad.
We start running into problems with Team Gorilla, when Daddy Tom and the Coyote both dislike Yoda’s reimagined crab dish. Upon hearing their criticism, Yoda begins shaking and gives herself a third-degree burn. The judges then try Valerie’s blinis. Daddy Tom remains silent, and the Coyote takes on this gentle voice last used in a kindergarten class when he asks Val if they pre-made the blinis before coming to the event. Team Gorilla’s other two dishes go over well though.
Team Bear is serving a chimay cheese and honeycomb dish, which both Gail and Scar
rave about. Scar makes faces while trying the salmon a la plancha, and Gail whines about the lack of mushrooms. This makes Nikki decide to let all the judges try the shrooms, which still look awful despite the beautification efforts. Needless to say, they do not fare well.
The same face she’s given Rushdie
Back at home, Mutton break dances as the contestants ponder their fate. Scar comes in and calls Teams Vulture and Penguin to the Judges’ Table to announce that they’re the two best teams. The judges start with Team Vulture, and specifically praise Mutton’s anchovy dish and Zoi’s lamb meatball entrÃ©e. Turning to Team Penguin, they praise Twitch’s glacier as well as his squid dish, and Twitch lives up to his name by having a mini-seizure in response to the accolades. With two excellent dishes, Twitch is named the winner, meaning that we’re stuck with his withdrawn, poseur ass for at least a few more episodes.
The bottom two teams are predictably Teams Gorilla and Bear, leaving Team Lion safe in the middle. Scar calls on Team Bear first over the mushrooms, and Dale jumps in to say it was his idea to put cheese on the mushrooms to make them look prettier. This amusingly backfires, for the judges hated the cheese. Dale idiotically gets himself into more hot water when he admits he didn’t taste the mushrooms after he cheesed them up. Because of his own big mouth, Dale’s now put himself in danger of elimination when it should have only been Nikki in trouble on that team. It would be a fitting way for him to go.
You should have been prepared for this when you drew “bear.” You’re in Chicago.
Over on Team Gorilla, Yoda admits it was a big mistake to pre-mix her crab dish, and Daddy Tom lets her off easy. Valerie tries to cop to the same mistake, but this doesn’t work out as well for her when Daddy Tom points out that it wasn’t just the pre-made blinis that was a problem – the rutabaga was too raw and overpowered everything else. This is the second week in a row that someone’s screwed up rutabaga (last week being Jennifer in her lasagna), so I think it’s time to retire that veggie until the chefs can figure it out. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like everyone keeps pronouncing Val’s dish as a “bellini.” Bellinis are yummy drinks that help me through a hangover on Sunday morning. They are not cold olive-stuffed mini pancakes. Wtf?
Poor Antonia, the only one of Team Gorilla who didn’t mess up, is forced by Daddy Tom to choose between Yoda and Valerie. Without hesitation or explanation, she picks Yoda. I’m sure her reasons for picking Yoda are laying somewhere on an editing room floor, and I do think she made the right choice – Yoda also made a second dish that went over well with the judges, and she was last week’s winner. She’d have to screw up a lot more to get booted today, so Antonia’s playing it smart by picking the girl she thinks is going to stay anyway. Kudos to Antonia for not doing the weepy “this is SO haaaaard!” crap that a lot of female contestants do in this position. You know Nikki would have.
The judges kick the losers out for deliberations. They rehash the failures of Valerie’s dish, and while they bitch a bit about Yoda’s crab salad, the Coyote points out that her successful banana bread is her saving grace. Surprisingly, they don’t mention the fact that a Gorilla would be more likely to eat a Snickers bar than a crab. For Team Bear, the judges debate which is worse – Nikki’s original crappy mushrooms, or Dale’s decision to make them worse by adding cheese and then failing to taste them.
YWhat’d they do, get a local high school A/V club to shoot this scene?
So who goes? The contestants are called back in, and after yet another recap of why they all suck at life, Scar announces their decision – Valerie’s got to pack her knives and get the fuck out. As if that wasn’t obvious this entire episode.
So what did you think? Did you think Valerie’s elimination was as predictable as I did? Who do you hate the most – Twitch, Dale, or Evangelos? Do you think his brush with elimination will make Dale less of a pompous asshole? And is anyone else eagerly awaiting Ted Allen’s return?