The Worst Episode of ‘Top Chef’?

"Why don't you like me, Tom? Why?" Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

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.

"Why don't you like me, Tom? Why?" Photo: Courtesy of Bravo

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.