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Top Chef Local Debriefing: Testing Skills, Temper Tantrums, and Wedding Bliss

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After watching last night's Top Chef---eight chefs left, four men, four women---we couldn't help but wonder who actually has more balls this season. The men: Spike and Andrew all man-loving their departed friend Kiwi Mark, Blais' pink Crocs, Dale's big baby temper tantrums. Or the women: Lisa's scary looks, Stephanie's quiet determination, Antonia's confidence, Nikki's?well, we'll get to that later. They got back to basics with a classic Quickfire Challenge, but we (as well as the cheftestants) were disappointed that Restaurant Wars was replaced with Wedding Wars. Catering?again? There was lots of yawning, good and bad teamwork, and less profanity---although we did learn the meaning to Andrew's "culinary boner" and were introduced to "Popeye's wet dream." Chicago's Gale Gand guest judged, Gail, Tom and Pads critiqued, and there was some serious dramz at the judges' table. Antonia: Still in it to win it. On to the recap!

Quickfire: Ah, the relay race. Everyone loves the relay. The final eight cheftestants team up into two groups and have to clean oranges, artichokes, monkfish and make mayo by hand. Antonia, Stephanie, Richard and Andrew vs. Dale, Spike, Lisa and Nikki. Any fan of the show should already know who won this. It's in-synch Patriots vs. the dysfunctional Raiders. Antonia took oranges, but got her ass kicked by Lisa. BFFs Spike and Andrew were almost head-to-head with cleaning and turning the artichokes, even though Andrew had the lead going in. Dale and Richard demolished their disgusting-looking monkfish. And then it all came down to the mayo. Stephanie, cool, calculated, knows how to make a mayo. Nikki had to stop: "It's a lot of work." Team Antonia takes the prize, but it's that time in the season when immunity is gone. Dale couldn't handle the loss.

Fave Antonia Quote of the Night: "Dale decided to have a temper tantrum, then he punched the lockers, then he had to have his diaper changed."

Elimination Challenge: Here comes the bride?and groom. Two Chicagoans decide to have their wedding televised and with the Top Chef teams catering the event. The teams had to create a menu for 125 people, each based on either the bride's or groom's menu ideas. Was it just a coincidence that the bride likes meat and potatoes and the groom like all seafood? Hmmm... Antonia's team took the bride because, as Blaise in his own wedded bliss said, "It's the bride's day. She should get whatever she wants." He thinks that's a good thing; Spike, on the groom's team, thought it was "moronic." The chefs worked all night, which gives Andrew a "culinary boner." We'll save details of the menu---quite extensive---but Antonia's pizza appetizers apparently rocked it. [Ed note: after several years at Spago, if she couldn't make a good pizza for a catered event, then she shouldn't say she worked at Spago.] Richard did the meats, Andrew did a breaded chicken and sides including "Popeye's wet dream" (the creamed spinach), and Stephanie knocked it out of the park with a lovely tiered wedding cake. Team Bride wins.

Outcome: Team Groom didn't fare so well with their Italian extravaganza. They were doomed from the start, just by being paired with each other: Nikki doesn't like Dale, Dale doesn’t like Lisa, Lisa despises Dale, Dale doesn't respect anyone. But worse, with her background, Nikki thought her palate was compatible with the groom's but she absolutely wouldn't take the lead. Once again, she made pasta and it wasn't good. Many dishes were sub-par. Exhaustion in the stew room and tension at the judges' table: Spike told Dale that's he's "such a little bitch, bro," Nikki wouldn't take responsibility, Lisa was commended for making an ugly cake but a better tasting one than the other team. In the end New Yorker Nikki was asked to pack her knives and go, which is about five episodes later than anyone expected. Next week: Season two hottie Sam Talbot sweeps Antonia off her feet ("Tall, dark, handsome and he can cook. Sign me up!"), but she's had it with Spike's sabotage. Plus cops!
· More recaps, interviews, and all things Top Chef [~ELA~]