Previously on Top Chef: Thirty-three chefs from all 18 seasons of Top Chef, Chopped, The Little Chocolatiers and Bridalplasty reunited in New York City for a second chance at the title. And what a parade of beloved cheftestants it is, each one more beloved than the next. Oh, and Marcel's there too.
After an uneven competition, we lost my saucy Elia in a heartbreaking first elimination.
And as we open this new episode, everyone's still reeling from that first cut.
(Now, as I noted last week, I'm shooting for a revamped format here. I'm gonna assume you've watched the show, so play-by-play will be kept to a minimum.)
Padma is joined in the Marketing Ops Kitchen by Jonas Brothers member and serial teen starlet dater Joe Jonas Of The "Purity Ring." The cheftestants have varied responses to this. (More later.) They're charged with making a midnight snack for a bunch of urchins who will be spending the night in the Museum of Natural History & Ben Stiller Movies.
After the usual hijinks, Joe picks not one, but two winners of the challenge, Spike (for his carrot chips and marshmallow dip) and Tiffani (for a candy treat concoction). The catch is that the two have to lead a team to make a batch for the rugrats and the little airplane seat-kickers will get to pick the winner.
The teams work out to be Spike and all the straight guys (minus Tre) with Carla as den mother facing off against Tiffani with gay Dale and all the women (minus Carla) with Tre as the token straight guy.
They go to the museum, and face off against the screaming hordes of germs on tiny legs. The kids go positively apeshit for Joe Jonas, which suggests to me that they trucked in these kids from 2008.
When the snacking and screaming and jumping and sugar crashing is done, Tiffani wins the challenge ... and an "advantage" in the elimination challenge.
And this is when, at 1:30 in the morning in the museum, Tom arrives with the ...
The two teams will get to sleep for a whole 45 minutes before running to the kitchen to make breakfast for the "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Look at me, Mommy!" crowd. Tiffani gets to pick between getting to lead Team T. Rex (which can only use meat, fish, and animal by-products like cheese and milk -- you know, the anti-vegan stuff -- and can "Bang A Gong") or Team Actually-No-Longer-Called Brontosaurus (limited to only fruits, vegetables and grains -- the actual vegan stuff).
(In case you didn't know because you haven't been accosted by a know-it-all 10 year-olds over the past decade or two, the Dino the Dinosaur creature who provided the Flintstones with all those yummy Bronto Burgers is now called the Apatosaurus. ... Yet this still fails to explain how Dino felt watching Fred and Wilma down his butchered brethren. Or how the modern Stone-Age family felt eating the the same animal they kept as a pet.)
Anyway, Tiffani picks T. Rex, foolishly assuming that the team would be able to use both meats and vegetables. This becomes a problem.
The teams serve the urchins and the reviews seem pretty damn mixed. Come time for ...
Team Testosterone & Carla (aka Team Brontosaurus) is judged to have won the challenge. And a banana fruit concoction from Marcel, Richard and Angelo is ruled to have been the day's winning dish.
As for the losing team, nerves are jangled. Jennifer maintains an defensive, argumentative and really combative stance, angrily defending her steak and eggs creation against all manner of brickbats from the judges. When the chefs leave for the deliberation, Tom expresses that they would never eliminate someone for talking back.
And then they eliminate her anyway.
She does not take this well. At all. Once she leaves the Stewed Room after saying goodbye, she's heard in the hallway outside.
The bleep button shall heretofore be known as the Chef Jen Carroll.
(Oh, and did we mention that Katie Lee No-Longer-Joel was served as our guest judge? Her unique contribution reminded us why she will always be remembered in the television hosting world as Uptown Girl, Version 2.0.)
- Jennifer Carroll: Poor, poor, Jen. She may have made a mushy dish, but she will always be aces in my book. Plus, the way she runs her teams, I want to pay her to just come over and yell at me all day. I could get so much done. Plus, with the emergence of "All-Stars Jen" and her penchant for backtalk, I think she could have a lucrative side career spittin' rhymes with Lil Wayne and Drake.
- Stephen Asprinio: Didn't show his ass the way I had expected coming into this week. Basically, was praised for his contribution to Fabio's dish. Still on a mission to prove that grease stains on silk ties are a fashion statement.
- Richard Blais: Still pretty certain he's gonna win this whole shooting match. Considering he likely would have won the last Elimination Challenge (had he not been disqualified), he's on a roll. Plus, he gets to act all superior when he sees other folks wrestling with the liquid nitrogen.
- Tiffany Derry: Has a healthy fear of children jacked-up on sugar.
- Tiffani Faison: Wins the prize for redemption, acknowledging how she was a total jackass in her season when she refused to cater to children's palates in that year's kids challenge. Gets a mite desperate in whining that she thought T-Rex would be more an omnivore than a carnivore. But completely backs off the posture when witnessing Jen's self-immolation about how the judges should be "smart enough" to figure shit out.
- Carla Hall: Was in this episode. I think she chopped plums.
- Mike Isabella: Why didn't I notice that he's twice the douchebag this season? Maybe not so much in personality. But certainly in girth. Maybe it was seeing him among the dinosaurs that gave me visions of seeing him in an orange sabertooth tiger onesie with an aqua tie.
- Jamie Lauren: Wow. I had forgotten that she had quite this sense of entitlement. She'd remarked earlier how she hated making the Eric Ripert dish which got her eliminated in her season. She said how, even though she made it well this time, she would never make it again because she didn't like it. She leaves her team to go get a sliced thumb stitched up (something no one else says they would have done) and she complains that the dish she had no real part in completing isn't to her liking. Only thing about her I liked this week: Honestly telling us that she has zero desire to have kids. ... A woman after my own heart.
- Dale Levitski: Speaking of having forgotten things about people ... the sense of humor on this one. The guy makes "crack for kids" (101 sugary treats in a bowl). (Ha!) But, during a late-night romp through the Geico Caveman exhibit, he quips that a cavewoman reminds him of Casey in the morning. .(Oooh, not cool, dude.)
- Antonia Lofaso: We got our answer this week. Seventeen seconds. The question? How many seconds into the episode will we be reminded that Antonia is a mom?
- Spike Mendelsohn: Damn. I hate that this one is growing on me. Maybe it's the burger of his that I had recently, but I'm actually finding him charming now. Damn. Still, he clearly has been inhaling too much cooking grease. I mean, he did refer to Joe Jonas as a "rock star."
- Angelo Sosa: He won the first challenge. He was one of three to win the second challenge. Any bets on how long before his dickishness about this will make me want to bust out the glass in the flatscreen? (Side note: He directs Carla to cut down the plums in his team dish which, looking at it one way, could be interpreted as his new-and-improved way of mentoring/sabotaging people out the door. Or not.)
- Dale Talde: Still Lord God King Dickhead. Among other things, decides he can commandeer the kitchen's sugar in the snack challenge. Managed to make it through the years 2007 - 2008 without an awareness of the Jonas Brothers. This makes me want to find out where he lives and sublet his apartment.
- Casey Thompson: Is likely taking bids for a hitman to take out Dale L. this morning.
- Marcel Vigneron: On a mission to remind us why people would even think to hold him down and try to shave his head (not that that's right, mind you). Sees Angelo's plumb-cutting as some kind of grand plan sabotage, despite the fact that the dish wound up as the day's favorite. And, after the win, thinks that since he prepared more than 33.33% of the components of the three-man dish, the win really belongs to him.
- Fabio Viviani: Brought back the winning, gladhanding, kiss-the-babies-and-granmas personality. And made a damn good gnocchi.
- Tre Wilcox: Over-reduced his sauce. And sleeps in the nude. Sadly we didn't get to see this.