With a dozen chefs left, we can almost taste the inevitable failure of Restaurant Wars. But before the cheftestants can fight to the death over whose menu to fuck up, we’ve got a few more episodes to get through. And we start this week with our hero, Dr. Elmi, sidelined by what could potentially be strep throat. He’s not his usual almost-as-handsome-as-Cichonski self, and it’s not just the hoodie with the horizontal stripes. The doctor normally responsible for suturing knife accidents puts him on the bench for the Quickfire, and if he’s not better before the elimination challenge, he has to forfeit. But we all know Nick ain’t going out like that (he ain’t going out!!).
Ding, dong, the Sich(el) is gone, greatly reducing the risk of the judges finding a head pube in their dishes. It also means that the villain spot is wide open, and what do villains have? That’s right, a deep, dark secret.
Happy Halloween! This week we learn that Tom Colicchio was raised by wolves and what Gail and Padma will look like when they get older. Travis Masar‘s dad learns that his son is gay while watching from home (surprise!), and I reintroduce my inability to sing and/or produce music. Without further ado, your first recap in song.
One of two things has become readily apparent this season. Bravo is either spending more of their production budget on the Shahs of Sunset, or the producer responsible for all of the zany twists is now over at MTV designing torture devices for the next Real World Challenge. Does anyone else feel like they’re dialing it down a bit? Perhaps it’s an effort to get back to the food, but like Cinderella’s Tom Keifer once said…
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Let’s have a brief moment of silence for our fallen comrade before launching into this week’s hour of clichés and bleeped-out swears. Jason, we’ll miss you until you reappear as a result of that twist you hinted about last week.
As for the rest of the cheftestants, there’s still a 1 in 17 chance to win, even if Vegas is giving different odds (can you bet on Top Chef outcomes in Vegas?). I’m not sure who I like besides St. Nick, but Bret the Dumbass has definitely fallen to the bottom of my list, right next to Cancer Card.
Much like a skilled chef packing 10 pounds of flavor into a 5 pound dish, a skilled TV editor can make an hour’s worth of television feel like binge watching that show about the blue meth and the high school chemistry teacher and the kid that says “Yeah, bitch!” and some Mexicans and some Nazis and, well, you get the idea.
This week’s Top Chef (a traditional Quickfire-to-Whole Foods-to Elimination format we’ve all grown to love) was as thick as the roux that some of the cheftetants made for the gumbo challenge–an introductory Quickfire which serves to remind us as gently as a shovel to the back of the head that these guys are in New Orleans and that things down in New Orleans are different.
At the risk of being contrarian, I’ll just go ahead and say that I loathe the Geico commercial with the talking camel.
However, I’d be a filthy liar if I told you I wasn’t just as excited for Wednesdays as that dromedary douchebag is (and I know it’s a commercial and all, but who would hire a camel? And to do what? And are there work visa issues?), because after a season of no local cheftestants and a whole bunch of subpar cooking, I’m ready to accept Top Chef back into my life. And much like the euphoria felt after that first Eagles game, I’m eager to watch this season play out. Hopefully it won’t be as disappointing as the past three Sundays have been.
Speaking of hot dogs, Manayunk’s ever-under-the-radar beer and burger bar Lucky’s Last Chance quietly debuted their new hot dog menu at the beginning of April, and I finally made my way over there to sample the goods. Says owner Chris Barnes, a New Englander whose main reason for putting them on the menu was to quell homesickness, “We wanted them on the menu when we opened, but we had trouble sourcing the links. Nine months later, we finally settled for a natural casing Dietz & Watson, and we stay true to New England by using Freihofer’s rolls.” For those who don’t summer on Cape Cod, they’re the ones that look like a piece of Wonder bread folded in half. Toasted and buttered, its structural integrity is a starchy shelter to an assortment of toppings that include jalapeno-studded macaroni and cheese, barbecue chicken, and homemade chili among their ranks. I tried three (pictured left to right: Scorpion, Voodoo, Last Chance Coney), and they all had the recurring theme of heat, my favorite ingredient after bacon and mayonnaise. There’s also a “build your own” option, but if hot dogs don’t happen to be your thing (these ones should), Lucky’s has plenty of burger options and the best beer program in the ‘Yunk.
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…