Top Chef S09E11: Those Who Live By The Chicken Salad Sandwich, Die By The Chicken Salad Sandwich

Remember when Charlize Theron was on last week? That was so great. I wish she was still here this week. Oh! There she is! Charlize Theron comes into the stew room where everyone is discussing Beverly’s elimination. Grayson is going to miss her, and points out that her plates were always perfectly balanced. Ed makes some joke involving a water bottle, which sends Lindsay on some self-aggrandizing defense of the time she was an asshole. Like, you know what, we’re all assholes sometimes and it’s not the end of the world, but don’t start a story about how much of an asshole you were with “I’m the most diplomatic person, but.” You’re clearly not the most diplomatic person. Butros Butros Gali is the most diplomatic person. You’re a hot-tempered contestant on a reality show who had an easy scapegoat to blame for a dish that probably wasn’t very good to begin with. Anyway, Charlize Theron comes in and thanks everyone again. Haha. OK, Top Chef. I think you’re done. I think you have squeezed the last drop of celeblood that you can out of the Charlize stone. (Hey, producers, think about getting Sharon Stone as a guest judge next season so I can make that joke again but even better.) “I was a fan, bigger fan now,” Grayson says. And isn’t that what it’s all about? If Charlize Theron can make just one fan be a little bit more of a fan then her appearance on this show was totally worth it. CHARLIZE THERON, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. Charlize Theron. Never forget. Charlize Theron.

This week’s Quickfire Challenge groups the six remaining contestants into pairs to cook for guest judges Cat Cora and Emeril Lagasse. Everyone has 40 minutes to peel two pounds of shrimp, make a pound of fresh pasta, shuck a bunch of corn, and then make a dish using those ingredients. The main trick is that they can’t go forward with their cooking until the judges approve of their mise-en-place. This type of challenge is common on Top Chef, and I am sure that it is hard to do in real life, but there is something about the dramatic presentation of it that I just don’t buy. I’ve probably complained about this before because sometimes it feels like I was born during an episode of this show and have had to recap it every day since, but, like, they show one team pulling ahead of the other team and time is so tight but everyone always finishes their dish so how close was it, really? Anyway, cook cook cook, bar graph bar graph bar graph. Grayson’s pasta looks stupid, It’s like if I tried to make homemade pasta. What a joke. Lindsay and Sarah are crushing the other team’s with their bar graph. Paul is bad at preparing corn. And then ding dong everyone’s done and their dishes look great. (Although, Paul and Ed are automatically eliminated because they forget to throw the shrimp on their dish, which, again, they actually finished their mise-en-place second, so it was simple over-rushed forgetfulness, but not a mistake due to the relay part of the challenge. Look, it’s just really important for you guys to understand my genuine and overly earnest problems with the way television is edited for false dramatic heightening. Thank you for your patience. Class dismissed.)

So, Paul and Ed are ineligible for the $$$$ prize, and once again, Padma tells them that it’s a shame because the flavors are really good. Ugh. Such a bitch! I love her! It’s so easy to tell someone who can’t possibly win that they probably would have won even if that’s not true. Such a knife in the face. Twist the knife in my face! The judges liked the other two dishes, supposedly. I mean, they have to pretend like there’s some tension over who could win and since there’s only two dishes to choose from, they have to be complimentary. In the end, Grayson and Scrunchie Chris’s chili bacon shrimp fettucine wins even though they were the last team to complete the mise portion of the challenge and also Grayson’s pasta looked so bunk. HUH! Forget it, Gabe, it’s Top Chef Town.

For this week’s Elimination Challenge, the teams of judges will now be competing against each other. Each team has to pick a dish and a side and both chefs will cook their own variations on that dish and one chef will win and one chef will lose. Eek! They’re cooking for a food drive “block party” for 200 people. (The “block party” is taking place at a brewery on a lawn, so I’m not sure why they didn’t just call it a “lawn party” or a “party” but apparently it’s a “block party.” Everything’s block party in Texas.) The chefs split off to pick their dishes. Lindsay and Sarah are going to make meatballs. Paul and Ed are going to make Korean barbecue. And Grayson and Scrunchie Chris are going to make…chicken salad sandwiches?! Uhhhhh. Chris explains that he doesn’t want to make chicken salad sandwiches but he doesn’t have any better ideas. Really? How about ANY IDEAS. Literally any idea would be better than chicken salad sandwiches. You’re on fucking TV for COOKING. Guys, come on. YOU BETTER DRUMSTICKLINE. After they announce their dishes, Padma says “all of those sound great,” which has to be on a pre-written cue card, or maybe she was too drunk and didn’t hear one team say “we are making chicken salad sandwiches.” But the twist is that this is a food drive sponsored by Healthy Choice, so all the dishes have to be healthy. UH OH! Just kidding. The chefs all freak out, but all of those dishes seem like pretty easy dishes to create healthy variations on. Although, Ed explains that Korean barbecue is already healthy so it’s a shoe in, which sounds wrong. I love Korean barbecue but I am never confused on why there isn’t a Korean barbecue stand set up INSIDE my gym.

Shop shop shop. Chicken salad chicken salad chicken salad. The chefs are eyeing each other to see who is making the Healthy Choices ($500 please, Healthy Choice! Send to [email protected]$$$$.biz). Sarah is going to make turkey meatballs, while Lindsay is making lamb meatballs, and Sarah says “I don’t know how much healthier lamb is than turkey, so I think she might be in trouble.” Haha. I mean, sure, except that you mean it quite literally that you don’t know what you’re talking about so just relax. If you’re really trying to jump the curve, serve a glass of water with a thin foam of carbon on top and call it a deconstructed meatball. Shut up.

Everyone cooks and then Chris throws a chair and later they will cook some more and then it’s the “block party.” Grayson is nervous because she is making her sandwiches to order while Scrunchie Chris finished prepping his sandwiches the night before. Well, first of all, neither of you worry about it because you’re making chicken salad sandwiches, so in the words of Willy Wonka, YOU LOSE. GET OUT OF MY CHOCOLATE FACTORY! But also, there is nothing grosser than even just the IDEA of a chicken salad sandwich made the night before. Barf salad barfwich. At the block party itself, Chris is scared of bees and Ed yells at a child for taking too much bread. It’s great. He’s such a bitch. They’re both bitches. But not a good bitch like Padma, a bad bitch. Ed scolds this kid because he didn’t make enough bread and then he’s like “It’s OK, take the bread, but save some of the bread.” That kid is loving this. “You seem like fun, I wish we were friends.” Later on that kid will come over and tell Ed that he voted for him as his favorite, which is such a kid thing to do. It’s called Stockholm Syndrome and it was invented by the Nazis at their reality cooking competition. Fuck Ed and his Grind Jaw. BE NICE TO CHILDREN, YOU GOON!

The judges like Paul’s bulgogi wrap and they LOVE Lindsay’s lamb meatball. Everything else seems to suck. That’s weird. You mean they DIDN’T like Scrunchie Chris’s 12-hour old chicken salad sandwich with TOFU MAYONNAISE? Huh. I guess there’s just no pleasing these crazy judges! Paul, Lindsay, and Grayson are brought to the Judges’ Table and told that they had the winning dishes, for the most part. Grayson didn’t really have a winning dish because her dish was chicken salad sandwich. Tom is like, huh? Grayson gets real defensive and explains that hell yeah she thought she could make a fancy, improved chicken salad sandwich and Tom is just like uhh. Grayson doesn’t even understand what Tom is saying to her right now. Read his lips, Grayson: Chicken. Salad. Sandwich.

Paul wins the challenge and $15,000 with his lettuce wrapped turkey bulgogi. I think Paul is up to, like, $300,000 at this point? He can buy himself another car like that sweet ride he had in that prom picture! And wear a tuxedo every day! THE DREAM! They go back to the stew room and send Ed, Scrunchie Chris, and Sarah out for elimination. Sarah made a good meatball, but it wasn’t elevated. Ed’s bulgogi wasn’t healthy. He explains that it’s traditionally served with rice, which is empty calories, which is why he served it on a hunk of bread. The judges point out the obvious. Ed grinds his jaw. What a dope. And, of course, the criticism of Scrunchie Chris is that he made a chicken salad sandwich. Some weeks the judges talk about how hard it is to make a decision. This is not really one of those weeks.

Goodbye Scrunchie Chris! You were a silly nerd who flew too close to the Blaisun and that one time you made food that looked like a CIGAR, which was DISGUSTING, but you seem like a very nice guy and a pretty decent chef, which is more than you can say about a lot of people in this world. People often stink and are disappointing! Good luck to you in your life. Get a haircut. Goodbye.