Previously on Top Chef: The chefs did a stint on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Carla got orgasmic over chicken pot pie. And, after he was judged incapable of pronouncing the word "burger," Fabio di Firenze was sent packing.
After the usual liquor-and-coffee wake for the fallen chef, wherein Richard bemoans the loss of his accented buddy, we arrive in the Financial Opportunities Kitchen for the ...
There, Padma stands alone and begins to stiltedly recite her scripted couplets of Heidi Klum-like mystery. The chefs are appropriately quizzical until ... surprise! ... Muppets!
It's Elmo, and the Monsters Telly and Cookie! (Or is that Trekkie Monster? I can never tell those two apart.)
After some (actually) delightful banter with the Pads, the chefs are sent off to make coooooookiiiiiiies!
Richard has a kid who, like all toddlers, worships Elmo. So, he's eager to really make a good impression on the ticklish, furry three-and-a-half year-old. He decides he's going to do this by making frozen ice cream discs with zucchini and calling them cookies. He gets points for effort and a shout-out for his young'un, but not much else.
Antonia manages to produce ooey-gooey chocolate cookies which fare well, but are called out by Elmo for looking like cow chips. This embarrasses the chef greatly and she can't believe the red felt monster just said her cookies looked "like shit." Still, she did manage to get out one of the two favorite cookies of the lot.
Angelo gets called out by Cookie Monster for having made a cookie that was too dry. (This probably explains its ability to crumble and why you don't see any actually go down Cookie Monster's throat.)
But the win (and a $5K cash prize, thanks to the fine folks at the Chef Boyardee™) goes to Dick Dale (sans The Deltones) who made a non-bake shortbread and potato chips not-cookie. This, though, didn't go over too well with Antonia who calls him Dale "cookie cheater" for not baking at all. Still, the "cookie" sounded delicious. And its salty sweetness made Trekkie Monster want to double-click.
The entire scene is really just charming and leaves me with a huge smile on my face.
Unlike the rest of the episode.
Once the felt creatures exit stage left, Padma explains that in their next challenge, the chefs will compete for the biggest single-challenge prize in Top Chef history. The chefs will have to appear in a grueling overnight challenge to sell the viewership on the many great features of shopping at G.C. Murphy™.
They will have the run of the Five & Dime overnight and will have to snag everything they're going to need to prepare a dish for 100 G.C. Murphy™ employees. This means running up and down the length of the store (now approaching the size of Winnemucca, Nev.) and snatching up hot plates, pots, pans, knives and ... all their food items.
In case you were comatose, this is to press into your wee noggins the fact that G.C. Murphy™ stores are going headlong into competition with The Borg™ in attempts to finally finish off every remaining independent grocery store chain in the the whole U.S. of A.
So, basically, it goes like this.
Dale creates stoner food, preparing a tomato soup and pressing his sandwich with a series of irons, just like he did when he was just a broke, overly aggressive college student. (Before he became a not-broke, still overly aggressive chef.)
In fact, almost everyone made a soup. Antonia, to her credit, goes against this trend, making the risky choice to prepare runny eggs as part of her late-night retail dining experience.
Tiffany didn't make a soup. But she seems to have shot herself in the foot when she made a "jambalaya." And, aside from not having the sense to put that in quotes, Season 4 Richard style, she prepared the dish with some dried creole spices. (Have we noticed that this is at least the second time that Tiff has been on the losing end of things for preparing something that she called "a take on" something when it's not that something at all?)
Meanwhile poor Carla spends what seems like hours running around the store (now grown to the size of Wyoming) looking to focus on tablecloths and centerpieces and not on her food.
And over with Angelo and Mikey (morning show name, Angie & The Douche), the boon companions are too busy calling each other "sweetie" and "honey" and slapping each other on the ass to notice that one of them is unconsciously sabotaging the other. (Hint: It's The Saboteur's turn to see what it feels like for a change.)
As the two make kissy faces (and soup), Angelo thinks his potato soup could be too bland. He asks Da Douche for advice. Mikey suggests more salt. Moments later, we hear that the soup is now too salty and see Angelo pouring more Perrier™ brand bottled water into it, presumably to dilute the salt.
It doesn't work.
Come time for ...
It's Antonia, Dale and Richard who take top honors. And, thanks to his tasty dish, cheeky preparation and shrinking violet personality, Dale takes home the prize (and another $25K, thanks to the fine folks at G.C. Murphy™).
In a stark contrast to the times Antonia or Carla have headed back to the Stewed Room to announce their wins, Dale gets hearty congratulations from their colleagues. (And two "awesome"s from Carla.) And then it's time for the losing three to face the music.
Up for the knifing are Tiffany, Carla and Angelo. They pretty much know what they did wrong and the judges are happy to agree with them. Tiffany didn't actually make jambalaya and shouldn't have used the powdered spice. Carla should have added some kind of protein to her soup (instead of focusing on linens). And Angelo simply couldn't overcome an overly salty, too heavy potato soup.
As they prepare to head back to the Stewed Room, Tiffany makes a teary speech about how much this has all meant to her and we all get a mite misty at her presumed elimination.
But once they get back to the Stewed, Mikey actually high fives Angelo after Tiffany explains to the room what she did wrong. Angelo, though, tries to get through to his pal that he's probably the one going home.
Finally, when they're called back up, Padma delivers the verdict.
"Angelo ... please pack your knives and go."
Tiffany is stunned to have been saved yet again and gives her DC season castmate a sincere hug.
And then they head back to the Stewed to deliver the news.
Angelo tells the gang that it's his turn to go.
"You?! ... You?!" says a dumbfounded Mikey at the loss of his pal.
You can almost hear him saying, "Why couldn't it have been her!?"
Next time on Top Chef: The Chefs Meet A Butter Queen.