Last night's Top Chef was full of comedy improv, weird sexual innuendos, Padma bowl-licking, some very arbitrary (and highly questionable) judging criterion and one svelte pastry judge. Hilarious for so many reasons, but a nail-biter for Angelenos rooting for hometown cheftestant Antonia Lofaso. We counted at least 10 different times, tells if you will, that had us thinking Antonia would pack her knives, but she survives this round. Barely. Instead, the last of the San Franciscoans have left the competition---sorry Eater SF but phew! On to the recap:
Quickfire Challenge: Before the QF, the chefs realize it's time to get serious, no hiding in the middle anymore. Antonia's is the first of the side interviews laced throughout the episode where each chef says there's no room for error now, it's all about execution. (tell #1) The game moves to dessert---Pads calls it the "Achilles heel" of many a cheftestant---and NYC pastry icon Johnny Iuzzini relished his role as guest judge. Antonia comes clean right off the bat: She doesn't do desserts (#2). Her attempt at bruleed lemon curd is Iuzzini's least favorite (#3). Some chefs have recipes up their sleeves, others fake it, and Richard---anyone else notice that everyone simply calls him Blais now?---wins with "banana scallops with guac."
Improv: The group heads to Second City for some improv---our girl says "all the chefs are relaxed" (#4)---but eventually learn that the color, emotion and cooking ingredients shouted from the audience are for them to cook a five-course meal for the improv actors and judges. They choose who cooks what and with whom on their own: Antonia and Lisa get "magenta, drunken Polish, sausage"; Spike and Andrew "yellow, love, vanilla"; Dale and Richard "green, perplexed, tofu"; Nikki and Mark "purple, depressed, bacon": and Jen and Stephanie "orange, turned-on, asparagus."
Elimation Challenge: Full-of-attitude Lisa insists that Polish sausage is completely beneath her, and Antonia doesn't like cooking with beer, so they "improv" and make
striped sea bass with chorizo on purple potato mash. (#5) The others totally groove on the theme, including menage-a-Jen and Stephanie who take "turned-on" to all new phallic, ahem, heights. The green boys Dale and Richard make beef-flavored tofu, with a Blais Seinfeld impersonation. Without the evil overlord Antonia keeping him from his beloved soup, Spike and Andrew, aka "Vanilla Love," make butternut squash soup, which the judges actually like. Antonia didn't like the way their dish was working out (#6) and later felt pressured for time before serving (#7), plus they lost extra points with the judges for serving themselves a shot of tequila and no one else. (#8)
Favorite Antonia Quote of the Night: "If Spike wins with that soup, I'm going to vomit in my mouth." (#9)
Judges Table: After Richard and Dale beat Vanilla Love for the win, Antonia---who's been at the judges table for winning and losing dishes every episode---Lisa, Stephanie and Jen served the least favorite dishes. At this point in the competition, it comes down to technicalities because they're all good chefs (see #1) serving quality dishes. Lisa can't handle it. While throwing eye daggers a Iuzzini and Colicchio, she criticizes them for putting her in the bottom because of "a slight wording thing." Antonia says "from now on," she'll never misinterpret a challenge. Colicchio: "If there's a from now on." (#10) The judges decide that the unsexy asparagus dish was the loser and Jen packs her knives. She leaves a message for the chefs to "bring it 1000%." Next Week: Kids! Cooking! Kitchen accidents!
· 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~]
· Week Six Debriefing: Da Beers [~ELA~]