Top Chef

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Chuck: B+ | Grade It Now!
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Flop Sweat

Indeed it did -- after expressing his belief that "some of them came into it excited about the challenge, I think others came into it already defeated by it," Johnny chooses Antonia's dish as his least favorite. Spike is next on the shitlist, although Johnny does again praise Spike's cojones for choosing a soufflé -- "it shows a lot about your personality." It shows he's a dick with balls and a douchey "I'm the coolest" wink. Mark is the last inductee into the bottom three -- Johnny says "it was a perfect pavlova on its own" but that, as a composed dish, it didn't strike him as a dessert. Everyone else must have acquitted themselves well -- Johnny's choice of Mark seems dictated, more than usual, by the need for three low performers as opposed to a certifiably poor effort. Those pavlovas look like a nice light way to finish a meal, but perhaps they should come after the dessert course instead of as the dessert course.

Johnny dug Dale's "Halo Halo," with its panoply of different flavors that came together nicely. Lisa impressed him with her dish -- those fried wontons must be amazingly tasty. "Really summery to me," says Johnny, who liked the balance of the dish and the fresh strawberries. Fuck you for your attitude and your non-pastry honorable mention, Lisa. Calling Richard's scallops the "most original, conceptually," Johnny praises Richard's playful approach and use of texture as "really smart," and selects him as the overall winner of the challenge, as well as immunity and, of course, the honor of having his recipe included in the Top Chef Cookbook. Richard's pleased to have demonstrated that he's "not a one trick pony," that he's as comfortable with simple dessert preparations as he is with chemicals and technology. Yes, Richard, you are the most awesome chef in all the land.

Elimination details will arrive later, says Padma. In them meantime, "tonight, for a little inspiration, you are all going to see the show at Second City!" Her wooden excitement is met with polite applause and straight faces (except for Lisa, who's sporting a scary grimace from her arsenal of unflattering facial expressions), presumably because they all have at least a vague idea of what's on the horizon. Second City is a legendary improv and comedy teaching and performing institution ("the birthplace of improvisational comedy here in America," according to Padma) -- it's almost easier to list which comedy superstars haven't been associated with it than to list those who have, although Mark makes a half-hearted effort, already dressed in an embroidered taupe shirt in anticipation of the evening's festivities. I went on a cruise last year and was initially excited to see a Second City troupe on the list of on-board entertainers. Unfortunately, they sucked with the power of a billion Dyson vacuum cleaners, and while I certainly understand that a cruise ship is the natural habitat for Z-list talent, the realization that this shining beacon of improv has extended itself into the deepest pits of crapitude was a sad one.

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Top Chef

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