In what might have been the least entertaining Top Chef in history last night, a painful fifteen-minute Uncle Ben’s–rice "Quickfire" challenge was followed by an even less enjoyable elimination round, in which the cheftestants were asked to cook a healthy and cheap (under $10) meal with a child sous-chef. The results all looked like something from a progressive school’s lunchroom and resulted in an elimination that was a long time coming. Adam Platt is in California, so we sat down with New York’s Michael Alan Connelly to hash it all out.
Ozersky: Worst. Episode. Ever.
Ozersky: I mean, could they have come up with any way for that to have been worse. A challenge guaranteed to have boring, crappy food; kids there to rob any chance of drama or conflict; a guest judge everyone in America wanted to kill. Am I missing anything?
Connelly: Yes, the opportunity for every contestant to annoyingly reveal something about their personal lives and/or childhood.
Connelly: I will not rest easy knowing that Richard wants to "go home and make babies."
Ozersky: Yeah, I know. Feh!
Connelly: What did you think of the "Quickfire"? I wouldn’t eat anything that took fifteen minutes to make.
Ozersky: I don’t know. What was the main ingredient, again? I can’t remember. They didn’t have enough boxes of UNCLE BEN’S MICROWAVE RICE.
Ozersky: That at least produced some interesting dishes. Once the Patch Adams portion of the contest started, all was lost.
Connelly: There were too many apples. With apples and peanut butter on toast and apples with granola, I couldn’t tell if they were serving breakfast or dinner.
Ozersky: I was hoping one of them would be like, “I let my child sous-chef choose the fruit, and I should have stuck with my vision.”
Connelly: The dishes were interesting, but Stephanie didn’t even taste that seafood pancake. Is she burning out or what?
Ozersky: I don’t know what’s happening with Stephanie. She’s just so nice. That’s what seems to be saving her. She looked as lost in that supermarket as an Alzheimer’s patient.
Ozersky: How painful was it to watch Tom chat with those kids?
Connelly: Not as painful as watching Mark not overcoming social awkwardness with his helper kid, and then butchering her name.
Ozersky: Yeah, he put on quite a show today. His "I think you don’t like me" routine with Tom gave me flashbacks to every failed romance of my boyhood.
Ozersky: At least you knew that he would walk the plank at episode’s end.
Connelly: I hope that’s the last we’ll see of the wattle seed for a long time.
Ozersky: So what did you think, Michael? You’ve watched every episode this season and interviewed all the cheftestants. Was this the worst episode ever? Or am I just overreacting?
Connelly: Well, the circumstances were certainly annoying, but at least the food is getting better. Plus, we learned a few gems: Andrew used to be 200 pounds, Dale actually thought he was going to be a basketball player, and Lisa looks angry when she smokes.
Ozersky: Lisa looks angry when she breathes.
Connelly: Dale and Richard fared well and will continue to do so. Stephanie is faltering and may be out of there soon. Antonia made a strong showing, but she basically did that by copying tricks from home. Do you think this episode signals a shift for her?
Ozersky: Naw, I’d have to go along with Platt at this point. I think it’s Dale and Richard, with maybe Stephanie as a dark horse.
Connelly: If she doesn’t have a meltdown during next week’s fourteen-hour cook-athon, that is.
Ozersky: I guess we’ll have to see.