Top Chef: That Time of the Month
Let’s jump right into this week’s Very Special Thanksgiving Episode with Musical Guest. We open with Ariane determining to overcome her nerves, and the acknowledgment that everyone looks down on her because of her dual bottom two performances. Richard enjoys hanging with his roomies and giving people nicknames. Dr. Chase is “Don Johnson” (I think not), and Leah is the “Very Fun Flirty One With a Nice Rack.” Which is the longest nickname ever. He also says Team Rainbow lives on in him and Jamie, and I’m bored already.
Quickfire: Guest Judge: Grant Achatz. The mustache and goatee make him look like he should be tying a damsel to railroad tracks, rather than cooking. The chefs pull numbered knives, which correspond to a page in the Top Chef Cookbook. Given one hour to personalize their assigned recipes, Padma interrupts halfway through to announce that the chefs must transform their recipe into a soup. Because life is about curveballs! Leah must overcome white asparagus and Carla is a MacGyver, with her special ingredient: Love. Her brand of crazy really works for me.
Jamie, Leah and Daniel shine, with Leah winning immunity. She also wins the right to choose her team for the Elimination Challenge.
Elimination Challenge: Cook Thanksgiving Dinner for the Foo Fighters and their entourage. The winner will attend the Foo Fighters concert later that night, while the losers have clean up. And really, as if losing wouldn’t be bad enough – but clean up as well? I’d hate to lose this one.
At the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, the chefs set up outside to cook. Outside? They discover they are limited to one burner per team, with only microwaves and toaster ovens available for cooking, with no refrigerators or freezers. Team Sexy Pants, or Leah’s team of Leah, Stefan, Fabio, Hosea, Jamie, Radhika and boring Melissa, begins to argue early, specifically Stefan and Jamie. He owns a catering company, so understands catering essentials, and she’s concerned about having only one burner and the fact that Stefan is making decisions. She’s the only one with these issues, however.
Over on Team Cougar, named in honor of mascot Ariane: Hot Wife and Mother, we have Dr. Chase, Crazy Carla, Eugene, Daniel, Alex and Richard. Ariane also has a catering background, so she offers to cook the turkeys, which worries her team because she’s a repeat loser. Dr. Chase takes a leadership role when the team lacks order.
Eugene improvises and builds his own grill for his pork. Richard admits that dessert is usually the fastest way to elimination, and even though he’s making a banana s’more (which sounds disgusting to me, as something of a s’mores connoisseur), he’s not worried and is focused on securing the win.
Hosea loves his team, including Fabio’s pumpkin tiramisu and Radhika’s vegetarian dish. No word on its ethnic origins. Dr. Chase Don Johnsons his way into taking on a large portion of responsibility and several dishes, because the strongest people should take on the most work. Humble, isn’t he? Ariane’s team questions her several times about her turkey, and honestly, I’d worry about her too. She claims to have it all under control.
In a curveball even Padma and Grant Achatz couldn’t control (or could they?), it begins to rain, so everyone rushes their food inside. Much is made of barely having time to set up the buffets, but everyone’s safe. Daniel runs into a problem, however, as his potatoes aren’t cooking fast enough and finishing as they should. Let’s hope Padma doesn’t spit hers out again.
Hosea’s a teenage girl of excitement when the Foo Fighters (rock stars!!!) roll in, but Richard just about swoons over “Tom the-hottie-gay-bear-icon Colicchio.”
Team Cougar: The Foo Fighters are enthusiastic diners, especially when served bacon, a Dave Grohl rider favorite. They love the mac and cheese (Alex) and the pork, with Eugene’s “MacGyver” skills putting him in a close second behind the perfect turkey (Ariane). No one tells Carla she’s been relegated to MacGruber status. They dislike the stuffing, with Achatz saying “it’s just good to execute the classics the way they’re supposed to be done” (Dr. Chase), and the al dente/undercooked potatoes.
Team Sexy Pants: The Vegan stuffing (Radhika) beats out Dr. Chase’s concoction, and though they like Stefan’s turkey, they preferred Ariane’s.
Fabio charms his way through the entire service, and exchanges some Italian with Dave Grohl. Don’t you just want the Foo Fighters as your best friends? I’m okay with their music, but I’d totally invite these guys over for happy hour or just to hang out. Are you listening Grohl & Company? I can open up my entire December for you.
Dessert time: Fabio’s tiramisu gets points for incorporating the Thanksgiving pumpkin, and Hosea’s crumble also rates well. The pumpkin foam and consistency of Dr. Chase’s fresh fruit salad with pumpkin mousse turn off the Foos and quickly ends that portion of dessert. The presentation of Richard’s s’mores results in jokes about spit, and doesn’t follow through on taste execution. And how could it, after spit references?
Please note: Daniel has his party hat on, and his party underwear on, so he’s ready to go to this concert. Considering he’s wearing parachute pants and embarrassing all of Long Island with his personal style choices, I would not trust this guy in his party underwear no matter how good his cooking is. But no worries, because…
Though neither team dominated, the Foo Fighters choose Team Sexy Pants for the win! At the concert, Melissa dances like it’s 1985 all over again. Eugene doesn’t take losing well, and Team Cougar sullenly washes dishes and tries to find the positive.
Over deliberation, Team Sexy Pants enters the Stew Room and rubs in their win a bit. Daniel, with extreme class, gives the finger. Way to represent, idiot. If I find out this guy’s a Libra, I’m going to have to start denying my Long Island heritage. Amy Fisher, I can take. Parachute pants? I think not.
Team Cougar joins the judges to explain themselves. Shocked that they lost, Alex and Richard call Dr. Chase the team leader because he stepped up and led, but execution came down to each person. Ariane’s turkey receives accolades, while Daniel defends his poorly cooked potatoes. Poorly defends, but still better than Jill’s floundering.
Tom says the desserts really killed the team’s chances. Carla’s cobbler wasn’t perfect, but was just an execution issue. Dr. Chase’s dessert takes heat, and the banana s’mores lacked burnt sugar, goo, a chocolate base, and attractive presentation. Over deliberation, the judges remind us that Dr. Chase didn’t produce one decent dish, but he naturally emerged as a leader, and Achatz says that he would have chosen Dr. Chase for his team, but that he just lost focus. Meanwhile, Achatz’s least favorite was the s’more, for both poor execution and taste.
In the Stew Room, Jamie verbally attacks Danny for being a slob and spilling his peanut butter sandwich on the floor. She’s such a bitch, and he’s such a jerk, he chalks it up to “maybe it’s that time of month, I don’t know.” I can’t believe I was rooting for this guy.
When the chefs line back up, it comes down to Dr. Chase, Richard, and Daniel. Richard goes home, and Team Rainbow is down to one. Richard cries on exit and in his interview, so none of this “I don’t know what they were thinking, this isn’t the last you’ll see of me!” bitterness. Sorry to see him go, since he genuinely appreciated the opportunity, but not sorry to see him go, because I’m not into criers. And then there were 13!
Next time: The Today Show, Cougars attack, and Kathie Lee regurgitates!
Season 5, Episode 3: Foo Fighters (originally aired November 26, 2008)
For another take on this episode, check out An Everlong Swanson-Butterball Thanksgiving by J.B. Perlow.
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