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Top Chef Recap: CJ's In, Was Howie Really a Villain, and Can Brian Actually Cook?

This week's Top Chef deserves a very loud: Meh. The preview we aired yesterday pretty much gave the whole thing away (we've since removed because it took too long to load), Bravo keeps adding bloggers and video features to the website, and writers of every ilk recap the show every week now, so we have very little to say that isn't being said everywhere else. Yes, we shock even ourselves with our silence. Still, we're not as silent as our usually loquacious Amuse-Biatch friends, who've been rendered utterly speechless.

We try to stick with local focus for the recaps---thus the sometimes controversial, occasionally funny interviews with local cater/private chef/professional smartass Chris "CJ" Jacobson---but this week CJ didn't play a huge role in the episode. He did do well in the catering challenge (good thing, too, because he is a caterer) so it's worth a mention, but we'll check in with the chef next week. Hung's Smurf village was damn funny, as was the guest judge's reaction to it. Howie was controversial, but we all knew his antics wouldn't last forever. Maybe our Brian prediction is spot-on, even if he hasn't really cheffed anything for weeks. Since there's a mountain of recapping everywhere else, we'll just give some highlights from around the web and be done with it. Enjoy.

On Howie leaving?
"What has evolved is a tough, hard-shelled little bastard who just refuses to give an inch. I may not want to work with him. I certainly don't want to be marooned on Gilligan's Island with him. But I admire his toughness." [Anthony Bourdain's Blog]

"They gave Howie the boot anyway, though the show will certainly suffer from his absence. He was the season’s best villain, the toque you’d love to choke." [Diner's Journal]

On Hung's attitude?
"I suspect Hung heard the words "stylish" and "fashionistas" and assumed, not unreasonably: "models" and "dumb as a board" -- and chose his dish accordingly. Even the bitchiest of customers could hardly muster much scorn beyond an extravagantly jaded sigh." [Anthony Bourdain's Blog]

"The interchange between Hung and Colicchio on this point was a pretty great moment, and for a minute there it looked like Hung was going to crack and start yelling "You want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!" à la Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men." [Serious Eats]

On Brian as this week's challenge "leader"?
"And this week, as "executive chef" with dibs on the "money dish", he again dodged anything resembling a heat source. Colicchio looks like he's ready to lunge across the Judges' Table and take a jagged bite out of the next uninspired, knucklehead who DARES serve him tuna tartare. I feel his pain. Let us, by all that is holy, be done with it." [Anthony Bourdain's Blog]

BONUS NEWS: Anthony Bourdain will be a guest judge again next week. At least the contestants have respect for him as a chef, unlike this week's, who Howie says is "all about looks not taste" in this New York Magazine interview. Other highlights from the interview: Howie's looking to open a restaurant in New York (maybe what CJ heard was correct) and he thinks Dale can take it all.
· Interviews, Obsessions, and More Fun With Top Chef [~ELA~]