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Top Chef S09E06: “Game Over” (Boo!)

Anthony Bourdain was on Marc Maron’s podcast recently, talking about food and cooking and being on TV and whatever. One thing that is very appealing about Anthony Bourdain’s success as a famous food person outside of the kitchen is how honest he is about his former career as an actual chef and the ways in which he never really amounted to that much. Oh, he ran bustling, big time Manhattan kitchens, but he seems very straight-forward about his failings as any kind of culinary visionary, which may or may not be laced with false modesty, but it’s certainly better than someone who trumps up a reputation that never existed. At one point in the interview, though, in talking about how untalented he used to be, Bourdain pointed out that he could never have won much less even made it onto Top Chef and remarked upon how talented everyone on the show is. Has he seen this season? LOL! But the point remains that it is worth taking a moment at the top of this week’s episode to remember that these are highly trained, incredibly skilled, hard working chef contestants, and that the ringer they are put through is as exhausting as it is challenging, and it’s very challenging. It requires not only a tremendous amount of imagination and flexibility as well as training and skill, but also just sheer endurance and physical stamina. So, keep up the good, very hard work everyone. And now let’s make fun of their stupid faces and hair!

This week’s guest judge is Tim Love, who runs a southwestern restaurant that focuses on game meats, so all of the challenges this week involve tequila and weird beasts. The Quickfire Challenge is a tequila pairing challenge, which manages to bring out the worst in absolutely everyone. One contestant talks about how her and her mentor do a shot of tequila at the airport every time they travel together. Uh huh. So that’s going to help you cook how? And where are you and your mentor always traveling to?! The tequila pairing also allows Sally Sorority to bring up her time in Mexico again. ENOUGH WITH THE HOW YOU WERE IN MEXICO ONE TIME THING. Ty-Lor, though, takes home the top prize by explaining that he’s going to recreate a dish that he made on the beaches of Thailand. Wow! You are truly awful! Everyone picks their “favorite” line of Don Julio tequila to pair with their food, which is nonsense. For one thing, that is too any lines of tequila, Don Julio. Narrow it down. And for another thing, this is clearly paid product placement, and these chefs are doofuses, so I don’t need to hear that Gay Chris particularly likes the blanco because it “reminds him of the beach.” Just make your oyster with sea salt air (?!?!), honey bun.

Oh, and also, Heather the Mean Grouch continues to complain about Beverly’s “Asian” cooking to the point of it becoming a little bit racist? Like, Beverly is Asian, so she uses those influences in her cooking, but she’s gotten this far and she’s doing fine (with the exception of a few daily Cry Breaks) and there’s absolutely no reason why Heather’s “farm to table” rustic American style is in any way more valid or more skilled? It’s just a different style, and one with a much shorter and less important influence on the world of cuisine. So when she just bitches constantly about how Beverly is always using Asian flavors in her food as opposed to slathering it in barbecue sauce, one cannot help but cringe. It’s 2011! Barack Obama! Heather’s the worst! Even Ed is like, “Bitch.”

After tasting everyone’s food and drinking 100 shots of tequila, Tim Love is driven to the hospital by Padma but she is also drunk and their car swerves off a cliff and explodes into flame in a dusty ravine. So sad. Despite being so drunk, Tim Love still manages to squeak out the tried and true Guest Judge decree that some of the chefs really took on the challenge and some of them didn’t. Is that really true every week? Isn’t there ever a challenge where everyone took on the challenge but some people just did a better job? No? Every week there are actually chefs who did not do the challenge? Fair enough. His least favorites are Heather for her shrimp and mango salad, which Tim Love felt resembled a “new special at a chain restaurant.” Heather says ouch so the rest of us don’t have to, but ouch. Chris is in the bottom for his dried out chicken and so is Sarah for her risotto. Sarah explains that she is learning how to cook risotto from master risotto makers in Italy so she’s not going to change how she cooks risotto just to accommodate one person’s palette. Sure, although I don’t think anyone asked you to change the way you cook risotto, they just thought you could, you know, do a good job. MOLTO YUCKY!

Tim Love’s favorite dishes were Gay Chris’s fresh oyster that reminded Tim Love of the beach. Also: Sally Sorority for her crisp-skinned salmon. And finally Ty-Lor for his spicy steamed clams. The winner will not get immunity, but will get $5,000. The winner will also get a brand new Mach 3 razor because the winner is Ty-Lor and that moustache, much like that name, has got 2 go.

For this week’s Elimination Challenge, the chefs are paired into teams of two, and each team will be cooking a wild game meat for a dinner of Tim Love’s very best friends, I’m sure. This includes the two dudes from Animal which is a very good restaurant in LA and you should go there if you to go LA but you already knew that but still. In addition to these guest judges, the contestants will be cooking for and judging each other. EEK! Later when they get to the kitchen, one of the chefs will point out that it’s really hard cooking game meat for Tim Love and his friends because that’s what they’re all known for, which is hilarious, because THAT’S WHY THIS IS THE CHALLENGE. But right. Yup!

Shop shop shop. Fight fight fight. The main drama this week is the pairing of Beverly and Heather. Clever girl, Top Chef producers. Heather bosses Beverly around and yells at Beverly and makes underminer-y comments about Beverly’s Asian influences, which, again, I totally understand not wanting to cook an Asian-themed dish because that’s not your style, but that doesn’t make your style superior, it just makes it yours, which is not a differentiation that Heather seems capable of making. She also keeps talking about how she doesn’t want to go home for someone else’s work, which is something that a lot of people on this show say and that is a logical argument that doesn’t totally make sense to me. Why not? I mean, if you just don’t want to go home period, that makes sense. But why do you want to go home for being a terrible chef who totally blew it on a challenge? You only want to go home if the judges tell you that you are not good enough to continue? Look, everyone except for one person is going home before this is over, so you’re probably going to go home, and if you end up going home with someone else to blame where everyone agrees you did great and the other person sucked, then that’s not the WORST way to go. But this is Top Chef not Top Self-Rationalizations, so let’s just move on.

Everyone’s dish seems kind of problematic. This meat is undercooked. So and so’s sausage didn’t come out the way that they wanted. The sweet potatoes aren’t Richard Blaised enough. That dish is playing it too safe. At one point the dude from Animal says that if he was one of the contestants on the show he’d really be trying to experiment and do bold new things, which is such an easy thing to say when you aren’t actually on this show and you’ve had New Yorker articles written about you. Sarah is losing it because she didn’t feel good about her dish and almost starts crying under the pressure, at which point Beverly is like, “It’s totally OK to cry, we all deal with the pressure in different ways.” Haha. We know how you deal with the pressure, Beverly. (By crying so much.) In the end, Ed and Ty-Lor win for their sorghum quail with pickled cherries and eggplant. Congrats, boys. Ed says that he “looked all those chefs in their faces and thought, man, I did not make an ass out of myself in front of you guys.” Powerful stuff. Leadership conference material. Almost TOO confident. They split $10,000, which means Ty-Lor won $10,000 total just for himself this week. SHAVE YOUR FACE WITH $100 BILLS, SON! CHANGE YOUR NAME TO A REAL NAME AT THE COUNTY COURTHOUSE!

Everyone has 15 minutes to decide which three teams will face elimination. That is tough. Paul says he’ll go first and just rips everyone a new asshole, which on the one hand seems harsh, but what else are they going to do? Paul’s right. Everyone kill each other. The rule is supposed to be that everyone nominates their three least favorite dishes. Heather nominates the same two as everyone else, but refuses to name a third because she’s trying to play politics and also because she won’t vote for herself. Grayson points out that everyone is picking three. Heather puts on her bitch face just kidding she never took off her bitch face god she is such a bitch face. Being an asshole can’t keep her and Beverly from getting voted into the bottom three however.

At Judges’ Table she uses this opportunity to complain about Beverly’s shrimp peeling from the previous week’s challenge. What the hell kind of strategy is that? For one thing, it’s not relevant and the statue of limitations on the Beverly’s Shrimp Thing passed a week ago as soon as Winona or whatever her name was got eliminated and the challenge was over. But just as importantly, a team is going to be eliminated, so why would you try and get your teammate kicked off if it would mean you’re also going to get sent home? Not to mention the fact that it’s just rilllllll cunty. What a c.

Ultimately, though, this was a game challenge, and Dakota and Nyesha’s venison was severely undercooked. They are the dullest knives goodbye. Everyone cries. Everyone wishes there was a way to have just eliminated Heather twice. Tom actually says “for two of you it’s game over” out loud and you can’t even hear anyone on the crew GROANING, but maybe they fixed that in post. At this point we’re still eliminating chefs that seem perfectly reasonable to eliminate. So, fair enough?

Goodbye Dakota and Nyesha. You were two people on this show. Totally.