After squeezing as many product placements, thematic challenges, stupid haircuts, dramatic stares and vacant looks from Padma as they could out of making dinner at a ski resort, Bravo makes one last use of the Toyota Sienna (which, at this point, has to just reek of shame, failure and scallops) and sends the final three chefcicles to Vancouver. In the car (and in the confessional), Sarah admits to shedding crocodile tears at Bev’s departure, and now she’s ready to win. She’s also ready to shart herself when Takashi Yagihashi emerges from the kitchen of Bao Bei–a Chinese brasserie where this week’s All-Asian Quickfire will be happening.
After spending almost an entire season taping under a 105 degree sun, the final four cheftestants are now subjected to the cold extremes of Canadian weather. Maybe it’s the ninth circle of Dante’s Inferno, and this is their own vision of hell? I get my own vision of hell after seeing Grueneberg with a Beiber cut, claiming that she’ll be a nicer person now after two months’ rest. I call bullshit, and it’s readily apparent that she still wants to smash Beverly’s face into an open flame when she interrupts poor Bev’s Last Chance Kitchen report the minute they find themselves together in the back of another Sponsormobile, headed for the top of Vancouver’s Whistler mountain. Right now, they’re miles away from the Top Chef kitchen, and up to this point in the episode, there are neither stovetops nor weapons available to assist Sarah in her murderous ways. But that won’t last forever…
…with some Asian cooking for your mother@#kin’ mouth?
That’s right. Beverly Kim’s power of positive thinking has put her in the same category as cockroaches and the gangs of L.A.. She’ll never die. Given the option, she’d probably multiply. For now, one Bev is enough to outcook Grayson in the Last Chance Kitchen, earning her a spot back in the Regular Chance Kitchen, and costing Gummy G a pack of smokes, a banana, and early onset wrinkles from making “please die” faces at the annoying little wood sprite.
As everyone knows, the hierarchy of Hollywood Guest Star Casting goes George Clooney, Charlize Theron, Pee-Wee Herman. I mean, that just makes sense, right? And since Top Chef is a reality TV program (which means someone like Clooney doesn’t have to answer their calls) and the producers already cashed in their Charlize chip a couple weeks ago, it makes total sense that this week’s descent into madness featured none other than Paul Reubens in his high-waters-and-bow-tie Pee-Wee Herman drag.
Because that just makes sense, right?
After an Olympian effort last week that resulted in the elimination of the cheftestant everyone loves/loved to hate, the remaining six are back to being remarkably unremarkable. But first, the producers need to get rid of last week’s guest judge Charlize Theron, who pops her head into the stew room for a final handshake (which makes virtually everyone, though Sarah G in particular, go all swoony) before getting the vaudeville hook treatment.
And after that, it’s on to with the show. Hooray! Kinda.
Bitterness. Spite. Tears. These have been the seasonings most commonly used during this generally weak season of Top Chef. And this week’s episode started off just the same…right up until the lobsters hit the conveyor belt.
With Bev on cloud nine after her Pyrrhic victory in last week’s elimination challenge and the rest of the cheftestants wanting to shove her in a locker, they are met in the stew room by Colicchio and boomeranged back to San Antonio. There are no police checkpoints on the way back, no surprise challenges, just a lot of quietude and angry tension that could have used an audible fart to lighten the mood–especially in the girls’ car. I’m sure if Beverly even so much as made a peep, Lindsay would have used all of her neck muscles to slap the teeth right out of her mouth.
Photo courtesy Greg Endries
Holy shit that’s a creepy photo. Even for a chef, that’s creepy. Good thing he’s not looking for a job in a barber shop. Or as a babysitter.
Anyway, now that we’ve got that out of the way (stop looking at the photo), let’s get down to the business of…Restaurant Wars! This is something the chefs pretend to be stoked about, but secretly think, “Are you fucking kidding me? Set up a restaurant in 5 hours and lose one chef to the suited purgatory that is front-of-house?” Still, it has become the standard by which all cheftestants are judged, even if it is—as Less Handsome Chris calls it—a no-win situation known to Trekkies as the Kobayashi Maru (this dude probably gets ALL the ladies).
We are six days into 2012 and the impending apocalypse predicted by the Mayans has yet to materialize. This, of course, means we get to live through another week of Top Chef Texas. The gods are kind…
Still in Austin, my dream Quickfire would be to watch the chefs get blackout drunk and then be forced to cook drunk food for the rest of the drunks acting all drunk on 6th Street. But instead of something super awesome like that happening, the cheftestants—some of whom have begun to make the mistake of reality show strategizing—are given a copy of Modernist Cuisine. For those of you who aren’t totally obsessed with food, Modernist Cuisine is a 6-volume tome penned by patent troll, polymath and certified weirdo Nathan Myhrvold (and a few other folks) after an exhaustive amount of research. Mr. Myhrvold is a giant nerd that worked for Microsoft and might well be the same dude who told the Mayans that the world was going to end this year. The book itself looks pretty cool, but who has the room on their shelf or the time to actually make the recipes? I can name two categories: really rich folks that have become bored with cocaine, or really focused chefs who are just getting started with cocaine.
Austin. Home of SXSW, the Salt Lick, Vince Young’s alma mater and, now, 10 cheftestants whose first task is to elude a chainsaw-wielding maniac wearing a dead skin mask (Texas Chainsaw Massacre fans, raise your hands). Who would win that Quickfire? Probably Ed Lee, because he’s secretly a ninja. Unfortunately, the actual Quickfire is a bit more boring, but not totally uncreative. The guest judge, Patti LaBelle (really?), is sleeping in, so Colicchio makes a rare early morning appearance to announce that the cheftestants will be making dishes based on the tweets of a bunch of fake Twitter handles.
The episodes just keep getting meatier and more psychologically torturous, don’t they? Kinda like watching a loop of non-stop torture porn, only one where the killers are a former model and an angry, bald millionaire and the victims all make delicious sauces before being dispatched.
This week, we start things off with a bunch of tequila and Tim Love, a Top Chef Masters alum and chef/owner of Lonesome Dove in Fort Worth. Tim explains to the cheftestants that tequila, much like craft beer and whiskey, is meant for sipping. Whether he means out of the lint-strewn belly buttons of Cancun bartenders is unclear, but no matter what the drinking vessel, the chefs must create a dish that pairs well with the sponsor-ified Don Julio tequila of their choice. If it were me, I’d probably try and make something that would taste as good coming up as it did on the way down, but that’s just because I know where that first sip of tequila typically leads. Instead, the chefs make some pretty elegant plates and Tim and Padma get drunk enough to call Heather the Hutt’s shrimp dish “a chain restaurant special” before declaring Ty-Lor and his clams the winner.