Top Chef

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Kim: B | 1 USERS: A+
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Home on the Range

Padma explains the Elimination Challenge: they will be preparing lunch for two dozen cowboys on a ranch with "rustic" accommodations and equipment, but they won't know how rustic until they get there. And their food is supposed to be high-end, so I guess that means no chili or hot dogs? Ash is frustrated by the lack of information, but he feels like it might level the playing field. Padma explains that they'll be staying overnight on the ranch tonight and will have an hour and fifteen minutes to cook tomorrow. Tim Love gives them a little speech about how being outdoors doesn't mean they need to compromise their food.

And they're off to shop! Ashley figures out that the odds are that there might be a grill but probably not a traditional kitchen. Laurine explains that, as a caterer, she's used to cooking and prepping in non-kitchen venues. Eli interviews that he was going to make potato chips until he realized that a fryer probably won't be available. Mike Volt is reeling a little bit after being in the bottom on the Quickfire, and he's hoping to make something cool and refreshing since they'll be in the middle of the desert. Not to mention that they don't know about refrigeration or anything.

The cheftestants are driven out to the ranch. If you've ever been in Nevada outside of Vegas, you know what they're facing: desert. Lots of it. And really hot. They pull into the ranch and moan and groan when they see their accommodations - teepees. Eli (I think) wonders if Padma is sleeping in a teepee, too. Ha! Hardly. The cheftestants schlep their food out to the "kitchen," which consists of four firepits in the ground, some cookware, and a chuck wagon filled with very few pantry staples. I spot kosher salt, vegetable oil, balsamic vinegar, flour, brown sugar, molasses, white sugar, and a few other items. There's also a lean-to with some prep tables. Robin interviews that she grew up in Idaho and once spent a month in the woods. Why? For what? I feel like that deserves a follow-up. She's only 43, but I keep thinking of Robin as a child of the '60s, like someone who was 20 in 1967. She's got that vibe.

The cheftestants figure out their sleeping arrangements. Mike Volt discovers that there's an outhouse, and Ashley interviews that she grew up poor and rural, so she's kind of used to these conditions. Who knew so many chefs grew up in the boonies? Eli, on the other hand, did not grow up in rural conditions, and he wants to sleep in the car. As everyone else applies sunscreen, Ron attacks a tree and puts limbs in front of his tent, which Ash explains is a voodoo thing to keep snakes away. Then we get the obligatory clip that we get every week where one of the Volt brothers talks about how they're brothers but they're also competitors. And Mike Volt seems a little down about the conditions and the challenge overall. Buck up, little camper.

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Top Chef

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