Top Chef S06E11: Checkout Time Is Knife O’Clock

A friend told me last night that this was the second to last episode of this season’s Top Chef. I don’t think that’s true. But at the time it made sense. There were only five chefs left going into last night’s episode, so it would make sense for them to get eliminate one and then have a four-way face-off (Four-Way Face/Off is going to be an amazing sequel, btw, or is it Four-Way Four Face/Off? I don’t know) for the supersized finale. Except that there weren’t five chefs going into last night’s episode. There were six. We forgot to include Eli in our calculations. Which I think officially makes Eli the “dark horse” contestant. He’s the one who somehow manages to slip through the cracks, all the way until the end, at which point you are like “wait a second, I thought that bacon t-shirt was a gift of peace,” but it turns out that the bacon t-shirt was full of Elis, and it was a Trojan Bacon T-Shirt. It’s called history, and you should seriously look it up. Anyway, the point is there are six contestants this episode, not five, OK, so we should all just pay better attention since I am sure this is a mistake that every single person made last night without exception and I am not at all alone in being so dumb about how many people are left on this show.

This week’s guest judge is Nigella Lawson, who Eli describes as a British Julia Child. “Gordon Ramsey named a turkey after her, she’s legit.” Huh? It sounds like Eli just had a Quickfire Challenge in which he was given 30 seconds in which to cook up the most ridiculous sounding sentence. Yum! Anyway, the actual Quickfire this week is to cook Padma and Nigella breakfast in bed. HOTCHA!

Sometimes this show is just ridiculous. Every time a chef comes into this room they laugh, and who wouldn’t. These silly ladies. “Oh, hi, you just happened to catch us lying in side-by-side Queen beds in our bathrobes naturally like human beings do in the morning every day.” Also, who orders room service and then just tucks themselves deep into bed and waits for the food to be served to them? I love Padma (I mean, I am IN love with her) but the only person who can get away with this is Prince Akeem and whoever he takes as his bride.

Robin, obviously, is a mess. Both figuratively and literally. She makes blintzes stuffed with whatever she managed to not step on after it fell on the ground. And then interviews about how she deserves to be here. Does she? Even though I don’t think Robin really deserves to be here (and neither do her fellow chefs, and neither does America) I would actually be willing to accept an argument from her along the lines of “I’ve made it this far, which can’t just be luck, and I have just as much stake in this as anyone else, so I feel that I have earned a chance to win this competition.” Fine! But the never-ending refrain of “I deserve to be here,” has the absolute opposite effect. For one thing, methinks the lady doth protest and dye her hair too much. And for second, no one DESERVES to be on a reality TV show, you just ARE on a reality TV show. Shut up, Robin.

Kevin makes steak and eggs because he is from the South and “likes a hearty breakfast.” Has anyone else noticed how Kevin is constantly coming up with elaborate explanations for why he loves eating meat? Kevin, we can tell that you love eating meat. This isn’t a reality radio. Meanwhile, Michael V. inherits Robin’s nightmare station, which he is not happy about, but still manages to squeeze out some pretty good looking huevos cubano, which both Padma and Nigella seem to enjoy. “They really seemed to be enjoying it,” Michael says, “which is funny because I knew how messy the kitchen was.” Is it funny that people are enjoying your food, Michael? Is your food a clown to them? Scarface!

ANYHOW, Robin and Bryan V. are in the bottom (Bryan put vanilla on poached eggs with crabcakes, which is admittedly an odd choice), and Eli and Kevin are in the top. Eli wins with his reuben benedict, which really did look very good. As the winner, his recipe will be featured in the Top Chef Quickfire cookbook. Neat. Although, I am pretty sure I can figure out how to make a breakfast reuben. The only part of the recipe I would need is how to get Padma to wait in bed for it. YOWZA!

“Take me seriously!”

For this week’s Elimination Challenge, each chef will have to prepare a dish for 175 people based on a hotel. Based on a hotel, come on this show. “My dish is served under blacklight so that the halibut resembles a bedsheet covered in cum and blood stains.” Basically.

Everyone visits their knife-appointed hotel, and walks around with a notebook, pretending to get “inspired.” Back at the house, Eli complains that his hotel, Circus Circus, doesn’t have a clear enough theme. Haha! Call your mom, Eli.

The chefs prepare their dishes, and then serve them on a very windy roof. It is so windy there!

Most of the dishes, good or bad, at least make some thematic sense. Jen got a Medieval Times restaurant, so she did a sword in the stone piece of meat. Robin makes a panna cotta…because of…art work…on a ceiling. I mean, sure. If anything, Eli is the one who kind of slips off the rails with his peanut soup covered in crumbled popcorn. Sure, they have peanuts at the circus, and they also have popcorn, but apparently his inspiration was the garbage can in which all of these things are placed at the end of the night. I’m also not sure that I totally get how Michael V. made chicken wings because of New York, New York. “I figured this is what firefighters would like.” Huh? 9/11? The chicken wings that brought us together after 9/11? Although to be fair, what was he going to make? Bagel Bites?

Kevin, Michael V., and Bryan V. are the top 3 at the end of the night, but it is Michael V.’s patriotic never forget fuhgettaboutit chicken wings that win him a novelty-sized bottle of wine and a trip to novelty-sized bottle of wine country. Congratulations, Michael V. You earned that ridiculous prize.

This means that Robin, Jennifer, and Eli are on the bottom, and really any of them could go home at this point. I mean, Robin is a human disaster, but her dish was mostly inoffensive this week. And Jennifer has been falling apart at the seams lately. As Toby Young pointed out, this is a marathon, because Toby Young knows a lot about marathons and just exercise in general, obviously, and maybe Jennifer has hit a wall. Maybe.

She certainly does have that “I just remembered so hard that I ran face-first into a tree” look about her. And Eli is the dark horse, but the dark horse can turn into the going home horse pretty quickly. And he did seriously serve the judges a plastic cup full of actual vomit this week. “The crushed popcorn represents the part of the vomit that’s not fully digested yet, and the peanut soup is the awful bile.”

But in the end it is Robin who goes home.

She points out that it’s probably because she doesn’t know how to play it safe. I agree that it has something to do with things that she does not know how to do (cook)! Goodbye, Robin! The producers toyed with you long enough. Rest now. Hush.

Next week: Michael V. says that Kevin cooks the type of food that Michael V. makes on his day off. Well then maybe you should make that food, Michael V.! Because Kevin is doing really great!