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Top Tailgate Chef Debriefing: Da Beers

The polls are getting completely ridiculous

After last night's Top Chef episode, we're down to the final 10 cheftestants. If this was American Idol, you could buy tickets to see them Live! But in TC-land, this means that all the contestants who've been riding in the middle start bubbling up to the surface, which means more Antonia voiceovers, more strategy, more explanations. The beauty is: what she says always sounds so...smart...compared to others (i.e. Spike saying something ridiculous like "Yay! Lesbians!"). Antonia's focused, thinks about what she's doing, and obviously makes a mean jerk chicken sandwich. This week two guest judges make an appearance---Avec's Koren "poker face" Grieveson in the QF and Paul Kahan in the Elimination Challenge. There's beer, tailgating, football legends, The Big C in a Bears jersey with scarf, men in bathtubs, Gail and plenty of Padma. Let's off to the locally-skewed recap then, shall we?

Quickfire: After Spike discusses how talented he is, Jen professes her love for the departed Zoi, Ryan talks air, and Dale and Lisa revisit their mutual dislike of each other (much more civilly), the mighty 11 are zipped off to the TC kitchens to find pitchers of beer, Padma and Koren Gieveson looking even more flat than Wylie Defresne. The challenge: Pick your beer, make a dish to pair with it. Anything non-Michelob didn't get the big close-up, but Antonia picked a Japanese beer and made miso cod with sautéed Napa cabbage---clean, simple, but not enough to get her to the top. Spike is in the bottom three for putting charcuterie on a board (hello, cooking competition); Jen giggles. Ditto Dale, for his pork dish; Lisa giggles. Jen wins immunity for her shrimp fritters...and for Zoi.

Intermission: The chefs unwind back at the apartment. Fun to some means ironing their apron for the next day (Dale), for others it's cracking open a bottle of wine and telling funny stories (Andrew, Stephaine). And then there's Mark and Spike taking a bubble bath together. The two boys couldn't get anyone to join them, and when Mark asked Antonia why it's weird, hasn't she ever seen two men in a bathtub before, she hits him with our fave quote of the night: "Only in West Hollywood."

Second favorite Antonia quote: "I don't know what those crazy boys are doing. Honestly this is like a cheap porno."

Elimination Challenge: Eerily similar to the block party challenge, the cheftestants have to cook for a Chicago Bears tailgate party. Antonia goes for jerk chicken sandwich with grilled banana and pineapple. Now, we're happy the sandwich was a "touchdown" with the fans, but it was just a sandwich (sorry A), with a blackened/brown slice of banana on the side. Most chefs hit the mark with the kind of food they should be serving: Richard's "pâté melt" burger, Stephanie's pork loin, Dale's ribs, Spike's chicken wings, Nikki's sausage and pepper hoagies. And then there's Ryan, pretty, pretty Ryan, who makes an entire four-course meal, with poached pairs and crème fraiche for dessert.

Outcome: Antonia, Stephanie and Dale are the three fan favorites, and Dale wins the challenge (and a Bears jersey and Weber grill). Three lowest: Nikki, who grilled store-bought sausage and ran out of toppings before the judges got to her table; Ryan, for obvious reasons; Kiwi Mark because his table was a mess, his chowder gritty, and he double-dipped his serving spoon after using it to taste in front of the judges. Still, Ryan packs his knives for making "Ryan Scott tailgate food." We thought he'd go and hug the judges, but doled out handshakes instead. Back in the Stew Room he tells the others he learned that "Wow. I'm not the shit." They all applauded. Next week: Pastries!! Improv!! Gay jokes with Ted Allen!!
· Week One Debriefing: Meet Antonia Lofaso [~ELA~]
· Week Two Debriefing: Antonia and the Gorillas [~ELA~]
· Week Three Debriefing: Ego Taco [~ELA~]
· Week Four Debriefing: Let's Go To The Movies [~ELA~]
· Top Chef: From the Mind of Antonia Lofaso [~ELA~]
· Week Five Debriefing: Stand. Behind. Your. Dish. [~ELA~]

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