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Top Chef Recap: Consider It a Holiday Gift

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Since it's the season of giving and receiving, receiving and giving, we're accepting the gift of the Top Chef recap (with a few local adjustments) from our bloggy sibling to the north. Thank you, Eater SF, for enduring this Top Chef episode we have yet to watch (and wonder if we really want to).
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Yeah, everyone needed a drink after that one.

Last night's episode of Top Chef was, in many ways, in an exhibition of WTF-ness that certainly topped the Thanksgiving episode in an otherwise fine season. Martha Stewart was actually pretty entertaining in a trainwreck-sort-of-way as a judge during the Quickfire, but then disappointingly bounced after shilling her book, not bothering to stick around for the rest of the episode. Once Martha left, things got plain silly: gospel choirs, song challenges, and (groan) holiday miracles. And again, there's more Euro Duo bonding, and SF's Jamie got hosed by some diabolical editing by the producers. Oh yes, shenanigans have. been. called.

1) Quickfire: Flanked by Pads, Martha—rocking the high heels and quoting Einstein, no less—tells the chefs to concoct a "one-pot wonder." There are all sorts of ideas---paella, potato/kale stew with scallops, cauliflower puree with steak, stews, brining a turkey (in just 45 minutes)---Fabio was "a bad-a boy" when he was young, so his grandmother made him make polenta; thus, he makes polenta. Stefan makes veal goulash with chanterelles, at which point Martha declares her love of picking chanterelles in the summer. She then talks of scalloping in Maine. Martha is, in every way, a complete caricature.

2) Jeff, Eugene and Fabio are the bottom three, at which point the Italian Stallion chastises Martha for not liking his grandmother's dish. Ariane, Hosea and Jamie are the top three, but Martha opts for fellow Jersey girl Ariane as her arbitrary favorite. Camera immediately cuts to an exasperated Jamie.

3) Elimination Challenge: Then things get weird: the Harlem Gospel Choir strolls into the kitchen to awkwardly sings a song, which was the producers' way of telling the cheftestants that they must cater a party for 250 people ... and have their dish center around one of the items in the song 12 Days of Christmas. Stefan gets "Twelve Drummers Drumming," considerably better than Fabio's "Nine Ladies Dancing."

4) ... But did it bother anyone else that there was no number four?

5) After an intense prep, the chefs return on game day to find that the fridge went warm overnight, and Radhika and Hosea lost their proteins. But, this being the Christmas episode, all the chefs join forces to save the (July) day. Choice quote from Melissa: "I believe in the spirit of Christmas." It's a Festivus miracle!

6) Creepy quote of the episode: "Yuuum." —Stefan, expressing his affinity for guest judge Natasha Richardson.

7) Fabio had a few good quotes too, including this amazing explanation of his aforementioned dish: "You have the lady crab, and she-a lays her crab eggs, and then she dance around nine times for the good luck to keep her baby crab babies for to be safe this Christmas. Enjoy-a da crab cakes."

8) Bravo Editing Trickery: Full credit goes to Amuse-Biatch for this one. Once the event starts, Jamie's scallop crudo comes under scrutiny by the judges, and supposedly, the celebrity guests. The choice on-air quote from one attendee: "I just tried the Seven Swans A-Swimming. A little too slimy." But, A-B uncovered the full segment online, which reveals the actual quote to be the following: "I just tried the Seven Swans A-Swimming, um, and it was good, surprisingly. I’m not usually a scallops person. A little too slimy.” That, friends, is what you call a frame-job. (Not that tricky editing is new to reality tv, but jeez, at least don't get busted).

9) Judgment: In any event, Hosea wins the challenge based on the diners' vote. The losers are Jamie and perennial bottom-dwellers Eugene and Melissa. Fortunately everyone's food sucked (not so shocking, considering the inane conceit for the challenge) and the episode becomes a cop-out when Tom declares no one is going home. "Consider it a holiday gift," he says. Another Festivus miracle!
· All Top Chef: New York [~ELA~]

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