Top Chef: Good Morning, Kitchenam!

There was no recap last week because of being so thankful, but there was still a show. In short, the chefs were given an insane curveball during the Quickfire where they had to turn their recipe-in-progress into a soup, and luckily for them, Swanson just happened to provide a variety of premade stock. That was soooo nice of Swanson. They’re totally clutch. Leah won the Quickfire so she had immunity during the elimination challenge, which was…cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the Foo Fighters? Sure. Although, the episode was obviously taped in, like, April. Forget it, Jake, it’s TV Town. The chefs split into two teams, Team Cougar, named after Ariane because of her tendency to chase after younger men?, and Team Sexy Pants, named after someone’s tendency to have terrible ideas. Team Sexy Pants wins the big reward of going to the Foo Fighters concert, Team Cougar is left to clean up the dishes, Richard goes home.

Let’s move forward.

The Quickfire challenge this week is to create an amuse bouche for breakfast. What’s the twist? Do they have to roll it in a tobacco leaf and turn it into a breakfast cigar? I’m not a professional chef, but even I know that an amuse bouche (which is French for “mouth party”) is only supposed to be one bite, but everyone’s making things that are, like, TWO BITES. I thought this was Top Chef, not Top Confused About What Things Mean! I just won the Zingfire challenge. Leah kills it for a second week in a row with her bacon, quail egg, and cheese on toast. Simple. Elegant. Victorious. Although Stefan deserves an honorable mention for his huevos rancheros.

That is nuts. It’s the prized possession of the Breakfast Museum.

This week’s guest judge is Rocco Dispirito. Gross. For some reason he reminds me of Jocelyn Wildenstein. Oh wait, I remember why. Because of his face.

Because Leah won the Quickfire, Rocco has “a gift” for her. A COPY OF HIS NEW BOOK. Oh Rocco, you shouldn’t have. You literally should not have. You are the worst. This week’s elimination challenge is to prepare a dish that could be demonstrated on live television. The rationale for this challenge, Padma explains, is that as a chef you want more people to know who you are so that they will buy your books. While I have no problem with chefs that seek renown, the blanket idea that everyone needs and desires to be a fame whore is kind of sad. Not that any of these people probably needs much convincing.

The first stage of the challenge is to do a dry run of the demonstration for Rocco, Padma, Tom, and Gail, in a fake TV studio, where we learn a few things.

  1. Jamie has already cooked something on live TV, which makes her a show off, but not so much of a show off that she doesn’t fuck it up and end up in the bottom three.
  2. Fabio is fresh “out of” the boat.
  3. Danny thinks he should be a famous chef, have his own show, and star in movies, all without having to shave that ridiculous fingerbeard.
  4. Tom Colicchio is a total hot foods baby and needs to grow up.

During Leah’s trial demonstration, she gets really nervous and says that she doesn’t ever want to do live TV. Tom and Gail chuckle menacingly and tell her “well you may have to.” Really? We live in a world where someone who doesn’t want to do live TV would be FORCED to do it? That doesn’t seem right. When I’m in charge, no one has to do live TV who doesn’t want to, and some of the people who really want to won’t be allowed. But I’m also guessing by the threatening knowingness with which Tom and Gail dismissed Leah’s apprehension that someone (Leah) should have read her Top Chef agreement more carefully.

Jeff, Fabio, and Ariane have the top three dishes, so Tom wakes them up at two in the morning to send them down to 30 Rockefeller Plaza where their dishes will be judged by Meredith Vieira, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, and that other one on the Today Show.

Everyone was giving Ariane shit the whole episode for “taking the easy way out” with her watermelon and feta salad, whatever that means. But what they didn’t understand is that SHE IS the Today Show audience. Don’t hate on her just because she knows how to NOT make Kathie Lee Gifford throw up. Ariane also had the winning turkey last week, and has really redeemed herself after a couple of major stumbles in the opening episode. Rocco DiSpirito has a present for her, too, a collection of his “favorite tools.” Tool recognize tool, 4 real. She was also awarded an opportunity to cook on the Today show this morning, where she made mushroom and goat cheese bruschetta.

The bottom three are brought to the judges table. Jamie with her runny egg, Melissa with her habanero shrimp soup, and Alex with his creme brulee. Melissa makes a big point about how she really wants to be there, which is a reference to earlier in the episode when Alex claimed that he didn’t care about the competition because he was getting married in 20 days. CORRECTION: Alex claimed that he didn’t care about the competition because he was getting “fucking” married in 20 days. Back in the “stew room,” Alex asks aloud if Melissa is trying to throw him under the bus, but I don’t think it really counts as throwing you under the bus when you’ve made it a point that you don’t give a shit about the bus. So Alex is run over.

Chefs to watch: Leah, Ariane, Fabio, Stefan, Jeff