We went into last night’s episode of Top Chef with high hopes; after all, Tom Colicchio himself promised us that this season would stop being boring. Apparently "not-boring" means contestants whining about each other and catfighting, because that’s what much of this episode was about. Luckily, this episode was also about a double elimination, which took this near-endless pool of chefs down to ten.
But first, the Quickfire. Padma, Tim Love, and a table full of product-placement tequila awaited the chefs at Le Cordon Bleu, where they were tasked with creating a dish to pair with the tequila of their choice. Ty-Lor Boring felt certain he could rock the challenge, as he had been to Mexico, while other chefs expressed their familiarity with shots of the stuff. Ty-Lor Boring’s vacations definitely helped him out, as he was in the top for his steamed clams with Thai fish caramel sauce, along with Lindsay and her salmon with fennel puree and Cute Chris with his raw oysters with tequila tapioca pearls. The win ultimately went to Ty-Lor Boring, and also to whoever touched up Padma and Tim’s makeup between takes, since the two of them managed to keep from looking red-faced and drunk despite putting back all that tequila.
The elimination challenge paired the chefs up, based on whom they were standing next to, a move that surprised them all despite the fact that it’s been used before this season. Each team was assigned a type of wild game and instructed to serve it at a game dinner for Tim Love’s chef friends, which included fellow New Yorker Anita Lo. Make her a guest judge in her own right, producers!
The prep period included much more complaining and worrying than usual, owing to everyone freaking out about Padma’s promise that one whole team would be going home at the end of the meal. Grayson got right to the point about Creeper Chris’s crazy sweet-potato idea, asking, "You promise this shit’s gonna be bangin’?" To be fair, that is a good standard for professionally prepared food. Paul went on for a while about how passionate Sarah is about sausage, causing us to giggle because we are apparently 12 years old.
There were no giggles on Heather’s end of the kitchen, though — girl was not pleased about being teamed up with Beverly and made absolutely no attempt to hide it. In fact, she spent most of the prep period shooting down Beverly’s ideas while explaining that doing things Heather’s way was a fair compromise. "Honestly, Heather’s being a complete bitch," remarked Ed, voicing the opinions of most in the kitchen and putting into words exactly what the producers wanted you to be thinking. The whole situation was made more uncomfortable still when Beverly confessional-ed that Heather’s behavior reminded her of the abusive relationship she was once in and from which she had to run away. Sadly, for a place with so many personalities, not one person apparently told Heather to calm the fuck down.
Service took place in Tim Love’s room full of stuffed animal heads, which seemed to freak out Tom a little bit (hi, Tom!). Lucky for him, there were six courses’ worth of meat to provide distractions. There was not, on the other hand, much judges’ table to distract anyone: As soon as service was done, Padma called in Ty-Lor Boring and Ed and immediately gave them the win for their sorghum quail with pickled cherries and eggplant. There was no discussion of what made the dish their favorite, let alone another top team to compare to. They win, here’s ten grand, the end. We suppose it was done to fit in more chef fighting, but it was still weird.
But oh boy, the chef fighting. The cheftestants had to vote among themselves to decide the bottom three dishes. For the most part, everyone was careful to be politely honest, because as Ed pointed out, "If you try to screw over one person today you might be on their team tomorrow." (Just don’t stand next to them and you’ll be fine, duh!) The group finally decided on Heather and Beverly’s rubbery and weird five-spice duck breast with polenta and pickled cherries (pickled cherries are the new pea puree this season, apparently); Dakota and Nyesha’s undercooked venison with kombucha squash and beet gratin; and Creeper Chris and Grayson’s juniper-roasted elk with mushy, messed-up sweet potatoes (that shit, sadly, was not bangin’.)
Dakota and Nyesha immediately admitted that they knew their venison was undercooked, and Creeper Chris and Dakota agreed that they played their dish too safe and didn’t do the sweet potato right. Heather didn’t see what was wrong with their dish, but used most of her time not to defend her cooking but to rant about her dislike of Beverly and complain about her work ethic. "I feel like I had no say in our dish," Heather said, which was interesting, since it was the exact opposite of what we saw. Not to be shut down, she continued her rant once back in the kitchen, while we continued to wonder what was going on with Padma’s necklace.
This is Bravo, and manufactured drama sells, so naturally Heather and Beverly were not eliminated. Instead, that honor went to Nyesha and Dakota, which is pretty on target with the judges’ usual behavior: They do not like their food undercooked. Keep that in mind if you ever cook for Tom. Speaking of Tom, he was certainly right that this episode was not boring … but it was not boring at an uncomfortable cost. Chefs have always disagreed on Top Chef, obviously, but this episode took that to a new level. Is Real Housewives rubbing off on Top Chef?
Next week: Leaving Dallas for Austin! Patti LaBelle is there! Heather is negative! Emeril finally makes an appearance!