Top Chef
Top Chef Holiday Special

Episode Report Card
Keckler: B- | Grade It Now!
It Came Upon A Sniff And Sneer
The cheftestants head into the kitchen to cook dinner, and Marcel snatches Stephen's shtick and sabers a champagne bottle with a knife. I think they're being forced to drink Korbel. On the topic of Marcel, Tre tells us, "I see pure talent, I see pure knowledge, I see an asshole. But all those things put together usually are great components to make a great chef." Josie reminds us that she was the fairly recent victim of a "biased crime." Wow, that's putting it nicely. It was a freaking hate crime! They all toast each other, and interestingly, Tre is teetotalling milk in a wine glass. Or maybe it's eggnog? With tasty rum and nutmeg?

I can't decide if Project Runway's Christian reminds me more of a frill lizard or a Bird of Paradise flower, but I do know that if Martha Graham choreographed hair, it would look like that.

The cheftestants file into the Chicago Top Chef kitchens and are greeted by Padma and a Santa Claus. I harbored a fervent wish that it would be Colicchio, but I should have known he wouldn't have such a sense of fun in him. Santa keeps saying, "Ho, ho, ho!" Which, in retrospect, really should be, "'O, 'o, 'o!" Their Quickfire is to make a delicious dish for Santa using a special gift ingredient. They pull knives to determine a number order, and Padma asks who has played "Dirty Santa." Okay, first of all: gross. Second of all, I thought it was called "Yankee Swap." Yes, yes, keep your email pants on -- I've done the research and I SEE that "Dirty Santa" is an alternative name, but it still has rather gross implications. And I also still don't get it. "Bad Santa," "Mean Santa," or even "Selfish and Mentally Abusive Santa" would be much better. "Dirty Santa" sounds, well, dirty. And he's either dirty in the way Dan Aykroyd was when he ate stolen salmon through his beard in Trading Places, or he's dirty in the way that I thought the Santa in "I Caught Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" was. ["And it's a little close to 'Dirty Sanchez' for my taste. (For those of you about to look that up? NSFW. At all.)" -- Sars] Childhood traumas aside, however, this little game was definitely the kind of creative twist I'd love to see in future Top Chef episodes. Betty explains the rules to us, but I'm not going over them. Look them up. All I know is, last time we played, we gave away plush poop and pee key chains and we came home with a Robert Sinskey wine.

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