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This week on Top Chef, Richard and Yoda continue to excel, Erik and Nikki continue to suck, and Zoi and Beast continue to be lesbians.
What’s a neighborhood block party without your crazy, cracked out neighbor to scream threats and obscenities at your children?
We open with a little man-love between Evangelos and Twitch as Evangelos pretends to slam Twitch’s head against a wall over and over. If only. Shocker that those two became friends, by the way. Yoda’s pouty that Valerie got the boot, and she and the lesbian lovers give us the annual a-woman’s-gotta-win-this speech. If y’all would stop sucking and caving under the pressure, I’m sure the judges would love a female winner. Meanwhile, Twitch tells us that he thinks part of being a chef is being an entertainer. Unless you’re working a Dippin’ Dots stand at Six Flags, I’m not sure what being an entertainer has to do with anything. Just don’t poison anyone.
The chefs arrive at the kitchen for their Quick Fire challenge. Guest judge is Rick Bayless, Mexican food-extraordinaire and chef/owner of two Mexican restaurants here in
Chicago. I’ve never heard of his places – Chipotle hits the spot for me when I’m craving Mexican – but most of the reviews call his food average-ish and pricey. Anyway, the QF challenge is to create an upscale taco. Teary-eyed Erik thinks this challenge is no bueno, and bitches to us about how tacos are soul food, and shouldn’t be upscaled. I think Erik’s getting “soul food” confused with greasy, fattening, and likely to give you the shits, but I do see his point. It’s like calling for an upscale chicken nugget.
Scar sends them off and scurries out of the way as chaos erupts and the clichÃ©d latin music begins. Hola! Manuel’s working with cactus petals, and tells us that since he’s Mexican and cooks in a Mexican restaurant, he better not screw this up or su mama le va a patear su culo. Evangelos also has a problem with the upscale taco concept, and tells us he refuses to fake it and be someone he’s not. I agree – this kid is the furthest thing from upscale. Twitch is making a duck/plantain taco, and thinks he’s going to win the show because of his crazy combinations and risk taking. I think he’ll be kept around for a while for ratings, and then booted with about 6 chefs left. Richard, meanwhile, is all excited about the upscale concept, and is using some sort of potato – likely dipped in battery acid or some other chemical concoction – as his taco shell. Ryan’s working on squash/pomegranate tacos, but he’s wrapping them in paper. This confuses Mutton, who comically scratches his head while asking us why so many of the tacos around the kitchen look like they were purchased by a frat boy at 3 a.m.
Dick Tracy called. He said you look like a douchebag in his hat.
Time is called, and Padma and Rick begin their rounds. Manny’s up first, and launches into an elaborate explanation that shows off his accent while the other chefs look on jealously. Lisa’s next, but when Rick tries to take a bite of her taco (insert obvious joke here), the steak is so tough he can’t bite through it, and winds up standing there like a dog gumming on a chew toy. Twitch’s duck taco is paired with a creamy goo, but it turns out that duck tacos are some of Rick’s favorites, and Twitch annoyingly celebrates.
Erik’s dish once again looks terrible, this time because of a chunky avocado paste spread across the top. I suppose the neck tattoos and mismatched patterns should have been a clue, but really this man has no aesthetic sense. Rick comments that the dish has classic flavors, so it’s hard to tell if that’s criticism or praise. When he gets to Evangelos, Rick says it works if they were going for street style, which Evangelos hopes is a good review. Ryan’s squash tacos are wrapped in paper and are so messy that Rick needs a towel to wipe his face. The good news is he still has a little bit left in his flavor saver if he wants to try it again (I couldn’t resist). Richard brings up the rear with his potato-shelled tacos. He made three (instead of the required two), and decides to eat the third while the judges do the tasting. This is odd enough, but then he proceeds to explain his dish while his mouth is full, covering it with his hand to prevent any partially-chewed food from dropping onto the table. Yum.
The chefs line up to hear the results. The bottom three are Erik (for his “trainwreck” of a presentation), Lisa (for her chew toy consistency steak), and Ryan (for his messy, paper-wrapped tacos). The top three are Twitch (who is visibly shaking), Richard and Evangelos. Richard gets the win (plus immunity and his dish on Rick’s overpriced menu), while Evangelos bitches that he deserved it, and Manny realizes that his mom is going to slap him silly when he gets home.
Hello. My name is Manuel Trevino. You disliked my tacos. Prepare to die.
Padma announces that the chefs have to divide themselves up into two teams, and many of the chefs immediately gravitate towards Richard. Evangelos and I agree that this probably isn’t a great strategy, but it has nothing to do with “the law of averages” as he suggests – it has more to do with the fact Richard knows he’s safe and may not be on the top of his game. The red team is the lesbian lovers, Dale, Twitch, Evangelos, Ryan and Erik. So much hate for one little team. Zoi comments that she and Jennifer “Beast” Biesty know each other’s palates better than anyone else, and I’m not really sure what their alone time has to do with this Elimination Challenge. The blue team is Yoda, Nikki, Antonia, Mutton, Manny, Lisa and Richard.
The teams hop into their cars for a field trip, and pull up in a random residential neighborhood. Scar greets them and announces the details of the EC: basically, the teams will be catering a neighborhood block party for 40 adults and 70 children, using the food they find in the homes of local residents – by banging on their doors and demanding supplies. You’ve gotta assume these residents have been given a heads up for this. If the chefs stopped by my place right now, they’d get some saltines, popsicles, and spoiled strawberries. I could also spare some cat food if they’re feeling brave.
The red team (“Team Sexy” as they call themselves) sends Ryan out first, wisely realizing that his pretty face is their best bet of not getting a door slammed in their face. I’m sorry, but if Twitch showed up at my door, I’d assume he’s a crackhead selling magazine subscriptions, a la Office Space. So the teams invade the homes, digging through fridges, giving residents awkward hugs, and scaring children. Among the pilfered goods are lots of pastas, jarred sauces, and canned veggies. Evangelos plays a little dirty, telling the blue team that certain houses were totally cleaned out even though there was actually plenty left. I hope this bites him in the ass, because I’d love for someone on his team to go home.
Hmm, this is about the size of that closet my parents used to lock me in…
The teams reconvene to try to figure out what they can make from the food. Both teams decide to do upscale takes on block party classics, but it looks like the blue team may be aiming a little higher with the judges in mind, while the red team sticks to more traditional fare with a few twists for the residents.
The next morning, the teams arrive at the kitchens for three hours of prep. Of note on the blue team is Nikki’s macaroni and cheese made using primarily Velveeta. If nothing else will ever convince you that Velveeta is a one-way trip to Cloggedarteryville, watching Nikki cut logs of it into slices will. She’s already worried that the sauce will congeal in the pan before they can serve it at the block party, giving residents an unpleasant preview of their intestinal systems. Teammate Richard’s making paella, which he knows is a risk with the commoners at the party, but he hopes will go over well with the judges. See, this is why I wouldn’t want to be on his team – unnecessary risks due to immunity. When over half your guests are kids, you don’t serve something most of them are going to refuse to eat. Hell, I wouldn’t want to eat that at a block party.
Over on the red team, Zoi is pissed off that she’s making a pasta salad, having been stuck with that dish while she was distracted by Beast’s palate. She knows that such a simple dish is not likely to win over any of the judges, and concedes that it’s her own damn fault for not speaking up when things were assigned. So quit yer bitching!
Just a mere two inches more and we’d be in business…
Daddy Tom strolls in to crush confidence and see who he can intimidate the most using the power of frowns. He stops by the blue team first and asks what their “Sexy Drink” really is. To my surprise it’s not gin and roofies, but rather just a lot of sugary ingredients, lavender, and carbonation. Both Daddy Tom and I think this is not so much sexy as it is boring and misnamed. He then goes over to Erik on the red team to ask about teamwork, and freaks Ryan out a bit when he questions their decision to exclude mayo from a Waldorf salad.
Upon arriving at the block party, the chefs have 20 minutes to set up while the locals swarm around them. As feared, the transportation time has left Erik’s red team corndogs soggy, and Nikki’s blue team mac and cheese completely dried out. The fact that they both suck as chefs isn’t helping either one of their dishes, either. However, both teams decide to roll with the dishes because there isn’t much they can do at this point.
Are you guys sure this is the ANTM audition?
Scar & Co arrives – this week we got Rick from the QF, Daddy Tom, and Ted Allen (yay!). With that, the chefs begin serving their food. The blue team’s strategy is to plate the food for the guests, to go along with their more upscale dishes (and hopefully avoid serving the crunchiest part of Nikki’s mac and cheese). Over on the red team, Evangelos encourages childhood obesity by giving a plump little girl a chocolately dessert, and she moans in delight. Not a good sign for her high school years. Chicago kids are dickwads.
The judges stop by the blue table. Ted Allen is very excited about the concept of sausages, and Richard agrees that his favorite kind of party is a sausage fest. After collecting one of each dish, the judges walk away to eat, leaving both the team and us viewers without any idea what they’re thinking.
Instead, we switch right to the judges approaching the red table. Again the judges merely collect dishes and leave the chefs befuddled as to what they’re thinking. They do take a second to mock Evangelos – in yet another stupid hat – for describing his s’more in a faux French accent. He’s a douchebag, we get it. Stop giving him so much camera time. While discussing the s’mores, Scar once again demonstrates her lovely table manners by dropping half her s’more on Ted’s shoe. I can’t decide which is classier – that or her Punky Brewster-inspired ensemble.
Yes, I am aware I married a cartoon character!
The judges meet up to compare notes, while Twitch and Evangelos play with some of their mental peers – the age 8 and under sect at the block party. Meanwhile, the blue team watches their antics nervously, assuming the red team must have kicked their asses to be that relaxed and carefree. No, they’re just idiots. Calm down. Sure enough, when we get back to the kitchen, Scar calls the blue team in first, and the red team sits in shock.
Once they’re in front of the judges, Daddy Tom tells the blue team that it was a really close decision because both teams fucked up pretty bad. Nikki gets called out first for her mac and cheese when she makes the mistake of piping up too early. Rick points out it was a brick, and she didn’t use the Velveeta correctly. Richard is next, and Daddy Tom says his paella was actually rice pilaf since it was missing a key preparation component. Luckily for Richard, it still tasted okay and he has immunity.
Enough harassment. The blue team is the winning team, and the chefs all exhale and giggle with the released tension. Specifically, the judges like Antonia’s bean dish, but give Yoda another win for her involvement with both the Not-Really-Sexy Drink and the wonton dessert that I would have very much liked to try. So far this season, this judges seem to rewarding chefs who take on two simpler dishes and do them well, rather than chefs who take on only one complicated dish. And that’s two out of three for Yoda.
Feel the Force, bitches!
In the waiting room, the red team is getting drunk and using their beer bottles to cool their sweating foreheads. The blue team sends the red team to face the judges and then celebrates – Yoda doing what I can only imagine is a Yoda dance, and Mutton fashioning a didjeridu out of a huge roll of paper. Way to live up to my stereotypes, guys.
At the judge’s panel, the red team is still in disbelief that they lost, and Scar bitch slaps them a bit for their misplaced arrogance. Erik is called out first for the soggy corndogs, and when he tries to blame the transportation issues, the judges rightfully tell him that he should have thought of that (especially after so many people experienced similar issues with the zoo challenge last week). Ryan’s Waldorf salad is also panned for being soggy, despite his best efforts to keep the ingredients separated and chilled.
Evangelos opens his big trap to basically tell the judges that they’re culinary snobs, and their team was cooking for the taste buds of the unwashed masses. Ted Allen dismisses that argument by pointing out that no matter how educated they may be, the judges can still tell if a corndog tastes like crap or not. Evangelos barrels on, now insisting that it’s a shock they’re the losing team since they all tried each others’ dishes and thought everything they served was good. Daddy Tom says that if they all thought Zoi’s pasta salad was good, then they all have shitty palates, for it was oily and bland. Ouch.
And this is about when Twitch starts to lose his mind. He bursts out that he can’t believe they lost, given their teamwork, effort, and badass partying skillz – and then declares that if Daddy Tom wants him gone, they’ll have to drag him out with security guards because this is “his house” and he “ain’t going nowhere.” Needless to say, the judges are not pleased with that attitude, and send the team back into the holding tank.
After a brief deliberation, the judges call the red team back in for the results. Most at risk are Erik, Ryan, and Zoi. After rehashing the reasons why they each deserve to be in the bottom, Scar announces that it’s Erik’s turn to pack his knives and get the fuck out of Twitch’s house. Erik heads back to say goodbye to everyone, and Zoi takes his exit particularly hard, hanging back from the group and wiping tears from her face. Beast, you better reclaim your woman before she goes straight on your ass.
We’ll miss you, Mr. Clean
So that’s it for this week. I thought it was a slow episode, but this show doesn’t really pick up until we get a few more people out of here. What did you think? Was Erik the right person to go? Was the red team justified in their astonishment over losing? And just how many more episodes before Twitch pulls out a machete?