Previously on Top Chef: Who the hell even remembers? It's been two weeks. How is a person supposed to hold that in their brains? Wait. I think Spike was eliminated after Jamie got through the whole Elimination Challenge without having to serve her weak dish. Yeah, that. ... And something about a fat man and a dish of cookies and a glass of milk by the fireplace. Maybe.
Hey kids. Welcome back. It's a brave new year and, again, I assume you saw this mishegoss already. So, as a refresher, here's what happened:
The chefs sat around and discussed how Jamie has become a total waste of space, what with (practically speaking) missing two challenges entirely now and how that caused Spike to be cut. Also, Angelo's uncontrollable touching-other-chefs'-dishes "Tourette's" is looked upon suspiciously.
Padma (seemingly wearing an unfortunate Heidi Klum cast-off blouse) greets the judges and tells them that this challenge will be all about speed. After the eight-balls and Red Bulls are distributed, the chefs are joined in the kitchen by none other than Tom "Diet Dr Pepper" C. The premise: Tom will cook a dish as fast as he can. The chefs will then have that exact amount of time to prepare a dish of their own.
Tom, who clearly had the benefit of having been able to think about this ahead of time and didn't have to elbow 12 other chefs out of the way to grab stuff, knocks it out of the park, completing his fish dish in 8:37 flat. The chefs are positively flattened at the prospect of having to do the same.
After the clock is reset and the brief time expires, the chefs, or at least 11 of 13 of them, have completed their dishes. DickyDale and Jamie have only bits of a dish to present and, as a result, are immediately judged to have two of the three worst dishes. Angelo rounds out the bottom three for doing exactly what he was told not to do when he presents a raw (or crudo) dish.
The three tops are Richard, who made a fois gras offering, Ever-Expanding-DoucheyMike, who made a fish dish, and Marcel, who craftily avoided the kitchen crush and snagged the fish Tom had used for his demo dish.
But the win, immunity (and a ... Brand ... New ... Car!) goes to DoucheyMike.
True to asshole form, Marcel had to suggest that the only reason the judges liked Mike's fish better was that they still had the taste of his in their mouths. ... (And you wonder why people think you're a deluded prick, bud?)
Picking up on the speed theme, Tom tells the chefs that they're going to go to Chinatown and face the mammoth pressure of working as a team to provide a hungry horde of diners with an endless cavalcade of dim sum offerings. He expects there to be pain. Lots of it.
By the time the spectacle is over, there has been. The entire escapade has been a disaster unlike anything ever seen on this show. While much of the food is good, what made grown chefs weep was the fact that they simply couldn't produce and get out the masses of food fast enough. However, this did produce some spectacularly funny moments wherein diners aggressively snatched food off the dining carts themselves, complained about how little food there was and, finally, just walked away hungry.
When all was said and done, Antonia, Jamie, Casey, Carla and Tre were the bottom group and Tiffany, DickyDale, Angelo and Fabio were judged to have done the best.
After the Q&A, DickyDale is granted the win for having made a delicious sticky rice with Chinese bacon dish. And, on the losing end,
Jamie Casey gets the axe for having presented an "inedible" dish of chicken feet with a scallion pancake, which Tom said was "like lead."
My thoughts ...
- Casey Thompson: Poor, poor Casey. She went for a high degree of difficulty with her chicken feet dish. And she showed off mad butchering skills in giving poultry pedicures. But in between handing off prep for her dish to Antonia (who was busy with her own two) and the general taste of it, she got offed. The husband kind of predicted this, seeing as she hasn't had much to say all season. Well, at least she managed to get my vote for Hottest Chef before she left. Rowr.
- Richard Blais: Surprisingly, didn't stand out this week past his spot-on indictment of Jamie as the Top Chef Octopus (premise: octopi are experts at hiding).
- Tiffany Derry: Finally the Season Seven fave did something to stand out, making a delicious dish which the judges called something of a "savory marshmallow." She also proved she can project to the back rows, even from the kitchen. Look out, Patti Lupone.
- Tiffani Faison: While neither of her dishes was particularly remarkable this week, she did provide the yuks when, back at Casa Cuisine, she and the other women managed to utterly freak out the guys by discussing boobs and touching them with a bra. Loses two points for saying boys talk about their "dangles." Come on, T. A real bad-ass would say it. You can, too. Men discuss their "wee wees."
- Carla Hall: Carla! Carla! Carla! I wouldn't have pictured the earth mother partaking in the mammary hijinks, but she did. Well done, sister. Later, told her summer rolls looked good but tasted bland, she seemed to be physically injured when someone said she cooked with her eyes and not hear heart.
- Mike Isabella: Is getting another tattoo. "8:37" The time it took him to win a car. Though I imagine he'll tell people that's the size of his "dangle."
- Jamie Lauren: The Scallop Queen tried to be endearing with talk of how she's dated "fast" women and how she's "fast" herself. But it was too little, too late for me. Plus, at Judges' Table, she again stood there basically shrugging off the fact that she made sorry dishes (two of them) and expected to be sent packing.
- Antonia Lofaso: I simply cannot dislike this woman. She may have been a partial reason why Casey's dish came out so badly, but she did manage to put out one of the best dishes. And, even though she had partial responsibility for one of Jamie's awful ones, she did have the taste buds enough to tell Jamie that they were bad. (Of course, Jamie had to suggest that that was because Antonia was having "PMS.")
- Angelo Sosa: Made one of the best dim sum dishes. But, considering that Chinese food is one of his major strengths, this shouldn't have come as any surprise. And at least he didn't sabotage anyone else this time out.
- Dale Talde: The chef with the greatest sense of entitlement, yet again. Tells us that he's not going to be distracted by his family back home just as he's papering his knife case with pictures of his wife? girlfriend? and kid. Complains about having been forced to eat Asian dishes for lunch growing up just as he's using his skills with those dishes to win.
- Marcel Vigneron: We've covered this asshole already. There'll be more about his assholery next week. Oh, yes there will.
- Fabio Viviani: Complained yet again about having to make non-Italian (or more specifically, Asian) food. Griped that the kitchen wasn't equipped with an oven that could produce ribs the way he'd normally make them. Joked that, what with the Elimination Challenge, the producers probably just wanted to eliminate him without even having to go to Judges' Table. But, despite the whine, nearly pulled off a win. Will this signal a new mantra? ... (A: Did we get to hear him go off again about Jamie's scallop worship and again hear his classic quip "This is'a not Top Scallop!"?
- Tre Wilcox: Still stubbornly refusing to show even the slightest bit of personality. Ever.
Next time on Top Chef: Its' time for the catch of the day and the chefs have to catch their own catch. It's Top Chef goes Dipsy Fishing! Plus, Marcel throws down gang signs and gets all up in Dale's grill.