Top Chef S07E04: Puns Aside, This Week’s Episode Was Terrible

Let’s get right to it because last night’s episode was a real bear of a show, and I don’t mean bear in the sense of a beautiful wonder of nature grabbing fish right out of a crystal clear stream to bring home to its cubs. I mean bear in the sense of a big, hairy thing that you have trouble wrapping your arms around. (NO ORSO!) Because Padma and Tom have both proven to the world that their genitals work, the Quickfire Challenge this week is all about making high-end nonsense baby food. Fair enough. At least they didn’t try to tie it in to this season’s location. “As you know, the United States Senate is full of babies, so we want you to make a dish that appeals to BOTH SIDES OF THE CRIB.” You know what I mean. About how this show is. The challenge makes Lynne panic because she has never had a baby, and she doesn’t know what babies like. Aww. To be fair to yourself, Lynne, you don’t seem to have that great a handle on what adults like, either! The rest of the chefs try to out good-mom/good-dad each other by explaining that they have kids, and that makes them experts on how to make a dish that can be served to adults and then shoveled into a blender and served to babies. Right. Sure. Normal way to feed a baby for sure. Kenny explains that the mother of his daughter died when the baby was only 16 months old, because the producers mistakenly believed that we needed another reason to love Kenny. Oh, and this is a high stakes Quickfire. They don’t call DC the Vegas of the East for nothing. Tom and Padma will each pick a winner who will get $10,000. Arnold interviews that if he got the money he would give it to orphanages in Thailand that work with kids who are HIV positive. Wait, what? I mean, that is very nice of you Arnold, but where did that come from? No one else talks about their favorite charity that they are under no obligation to discuss or give money to. Why does everyone on this season bust out the craziest pieces of information at the randomest times? “The challenge this week is to make a deconstructed wedding cake, which reminds me of how I watched my mother drown.” Anyway:

Unsurprisingly enough, a room full of crybabies is not that bad at cooking for crybabies.

The losing baby foods are Timothy’s sauteed lamb with mushrooms, shallots, and ginger, which weirdly enough, Tom says was fine as a baby food but disappointing as adult food. You know how babies can’t get enough lamb and shallots and ginger. (As someone who does not own any babies, I suppose I might not have any idea what I am talking about. Maybe babies really do love lamb and shallots and ginger so much. Maybe that’s why they’re always crying, because they don’t have any of it.) Also losing: Alex’s duck with spinach, basil and mushroom. Duck! What kind of babies are we talking about here? These guys?

These guys are huge duck heads.

Padma didn’t like Kevin’s pan-seared duck with baby carrots or Kelly’s roast pork loin with grilled peaches and ginger. Kelly’s baby food had a lemon seed in it. Yikes. That is like dropping your home ec egg baby on the ground the day you get it. You’ve got to take care of that home ec egg baby for a whole week, Kelly!

The best baby foods are Lynne’s chicken with sweet potato and fruit compote. Wait, how can her dish be good, she only knows what good dog food tastes like!!! Kenny’s curried chicken, mango salad, and confit of butternut squash & shiitake mushrooms, Angelo’s poached tuna with fenugreek broth, tomatoes, soy sauce, and honey, whatever all of that even MEANS and Tamesha’s salmon with vegetable chowder & lobster stock, thai basil & licorice oil. Kenny and Tamesha win! Tamesha interviews that she knows she is supposed to be here because she is definitely capable of doing really good things. Look, Tamesha, congratulations on winning, and enjoy the $10,000. But you won a challenge in which you had to create a dish that could be run through a blender and fed to a baby with a brain the size of a walnut. Relax. Hush. Kenny, of course, says nothing. Like how a boss says nothing.

So, the Elimination Challenge. It is so convoluted and intense that it makes my head spin the way that this show makes Stephen’s head look like this:

The chefs are paired off in teams of two, and they need to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the Hilton hotel. It has to be easy to prepare but sophisticated. The two winning teams from breakfast will be safe and don’t have to make lunch or dinner. The two winning teams from lunch will be safe and don’t have to make dinner. And then the losing team from dinner will go home. Two chefs! BYE AND ALSO BYE! This is very intense. And mildly confusing. Also, there are a billion guest judges, including Bryan Voltaggio, and Mike Isabella from last season. No offense, but some offense, Mike Isabella looks like he can stop buying himself celebratory cupcakes now.

Oh, and Spike “Helen Madden” Mendelsohn. And if his constant Mr. Cool Hats are not annoying enough, look at the name of his restaurant:

“All my life I have dreamed of opening my own little crappy pun-based joke of a garbage restaurant.” We, The Pizza. Oof. That is terrible! Spike! Your hat is too tight! Loosen your hat, Spike!

Anyway, let’s just crush through this, because seriously, way too much is going on. The judges hate almost all of the breakfasts. Which is weird. And lame. Breakfast is delicious. And all of the breakfasts look really good. What’s the matter with these judges? Also, the two winning teams (Amanda & Stephen, Tim & Tiffany) are such garbage teams. I’m actually kind of convinced that the judges picked them because they didn’t want to have to eat any more of their food. “Wait, you mean we would be eating lunch and dinner cooked by these clowns? WHAT A DELICIOUS BREAKFAST CRAB CAKE!”

On to lunch! No time to dawdle on this ridiculous and convoluted and terrible challenge! Everyone is pissed that the garbage teams beat them in the breakfast challenge. Understandable! Anyway, Angelo & Tamesah (beef carpaccio with jicama) and Alex & Ed (sea scallops with broccoli gnudi) win lunch. Kelly explains that it doesn’t feel good to feel like you are in the bottom of this challenge. Uh, it doesn’t feel that way, Kelly, it IS that way. You are in the bottom of this challenge. Trust your instincts! Arnold explains that he wants to win this because he’s been on a streak now by winning “two and a half to three challenges in a row.” You lost the Quickfire Challenge THAT morning. Do you know how rows work, Arnold? Anyway, now that they are all forced to cook dinner, Kenny says that you can cut the intensity with a knife. I’m not sure that’s how intensity works, but I guess it is very thick intensity? Lynne is being very cavalier about her fresh pasta. Professor Fresh Pasta over there. “Cooking fresh pasta 12 minutes before service, no way.” Classic Top Chef plot development telegraph: THIS JUST IN STOP LYNNE’S PASTA WILL BE UNDERCOOKED STOP. Arnold is trying to teach her a lesson by pretending like he’s not freaking out. Sure, Arnold. Good lesson. Teams Kenny & Kevin and Andrea & Kelly are both making short ribs. UH OH. This guy knows what is about to happen:

Andrea & Kelly win. Their braised beef short rib with polenta, shiitake mushrooms and citrus cremolata will appear on Hilton menus, continuing the grand tradition of a chain hotel restaurant serving mediocre food conceived and prepared under less than ideal conditions. This means teams Kenny & Kevin and Arnold & Lynne are up for elimination. Could this be one of those dramatic eliminations in which a top competitor is taken out before his time? Or will Arnold and Lynne just go home obviously because neither of them is really strong enough to last much longer in the competition even if they did somehow squeak this one out? Right. The latter. I mean, come on. Arnold does not like how Lynne threw him under the bus at judges’ table. Wait, when did she throw you under the bus? When she said that the pasta she cooked was under-cooked and you said you thought it was cooked perfectly? Maybe you threw yourself under the bus, Arnold. DESTINATION: LIARSVILLE. Lynne explains that she made the mistake of letting a younger chef take control. Eh, I don’t know. You made a few mistakes, Lynne, let’s be honest. She had hoped that this show would bring out the old bull that she used to be. Yikes. I’m sorry it didn’t, for her sake, but I’m also kind of glad it didn’t, for our sakes, you know?

Goodbye Arnold and Lynne! You were both kind of insufferable in your ways, but I had finally started to remember what your names were. Oh well.