Top Chef: One for the Lovers (and the haters)

Top Chef: One for the Lovers (and the haters)
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We open up with Andrew pouncing on Spike, who is in bed. They wrestle like two bear cubs. I notice about 1000 bottles on the beside table, which may not be all his, and which may be water....but some of which seem to be extra large Bartles & James wine coolers. This makes so much sense.

Anyway, I missed posting last week, although I did watch and also took notes. I'm think I really saw the hand of the producers in it, with Antonia winning. It was all just a little too neat. Her dish was basically a gallon of spaghetti and didn't even seem that healthy. What happened to all of the judges' talk about not cooking down?


Whee! It's the relay race. This was so exciting last year. Remember the revealing things we found out about contestants in a straight-up skills races, such as Hung breaking down 5 chickens in record time and Casey taking 8000 years to cut onions? I'm a little nervous about the race, envisioning Andrew stabbing someone or Dale having a nervous breakdown, but I'm excited.

The chefs pick knives for teams for the Quickfire and the elimination challenge. It's Richard, Andrew, Antonia and Stephanie vs. Dale, Spike, Nikki and Lisa. Lisa whups Antonia on the orange cutting part, giving Spike a lead on the artichoke cutting. However, Andrew starts on his artichoke cutting and Spike loses the lead. At a dead heat, Richard goes against Dale to clean the monkfish which is insane looking. "It's me versus the dragon" he says. Dale is flying through but doing a rather shitty filet - Tom makes a bitchy face. They finish at the same time. Now it's Nikki vs. Stephanie for the mayo. I know my girl Stephanie is going to win this for the team, and she does. Dale tries to encourage Nikki, "C'mon Staten Island! Strong Island!" - which is confusing to me, because Strong Island is for LONG Island and Staten Island is different, but she isn't really even in the running so the cheering doesn't matter.

After Dale's team loses, he lets a primal scream and punches a lockers, screaming "FUCK!" Real World Time! It's weird. I feel wierd. I stare at my shoes.


Padma announces that this season there will be no restaurant wars - now it's wedding wars. Oooh! Weddings. I've vowed never to have one myself - I'm thinking elopement, because I'm just too lazy - but I also want to register for a professional stand mixer and some nice knives, so we'll see. Anyway.

The teams are not happy about catering a wedding. Even Andrew, who is growing on me, is unenthused: "We are catering a wedding. Which is not that cool." One team will cater according to the groom's taste, the other the bride's. Richard's team actually chooses the bride. Spike says, "you guys are completely moronic." The budget is $5000 and they're going to work through the night, with cots to sleep on if they need it. Ha!

Andrew: "I have a culinary boner right now. Knowing that I'm going to be working all night. I am an animal and I will work 14 hours non stop to get the job done without ANY problems." I find it so upsetting when they say creepy thinks like this, or "I'm putting all my love into this pudding so that you will moan when you eat it, just like I moaned when I prepared it, because I love food THAT MUCH!" or something. Ew.

They all talk with the groom and bride, respectively. The groom wants an Italian theme and the Bride is into down home comfort food. The groom imediately hits it off with Nikki, who takes charge in talking with him about the menu (and buttering up), saying to him: "Everything you said is exactly how I feel about alot of things."

Richard, who I do love, is bonding with the bride, who is, like him, from the south.

Andrew is guardedly positive about his team: "I feel we're on a strong team...but anything can happen."

Dale is Dale: "We're a hodge-podge, no one really likes each other."

While the teams shop, the only interesting things that happen are some unapologetic product placement and Dale doing a crazy dance over a giant cheese log.

At 9PM they arrive at the Top Chef kitchen to work for 14 hours straight. I'm having flashbacks to freshmen year in college, when I did some all-nighters (before learning better.) There comes a certain hour of the night, even at the dorkiest college library, when everyone leaves and you're by yourself, surrounded perhaps by one or two of the walking dead...and it's just wrong.

Lisa is making the Groom's cake, and Stephanie is doing the Bride's. Lisa says, "If something god forbid goes wrong with this cake, we are so fucked."

Prepping, it becomes apparent that Nikki is afraid to step into the leadership role, even though she basically set the menu and took charge from the get go. Dale is doing his best Andrew impression, (but with none of that Andrew focus). He's cooking everything, and his team members feel like he's doing a half assed job on it. It's true that he's definitely burning the fillets. Spike realizes that "Dale's got his hands into all sorts of food. So i go and pull the sea bass from him so I can have an ace in my pocket." Nikki says she's basically just working on the pasta. And Lisa is doing the wedding cake. So, I have to say it does seem like everyone's complaining about Dale doing too much, but not stepping in.

The next morning they pack up their stuff and leave. Lisa, who is being kind of amusing this episode, says, "If the cake smashes I'm going to need therapy." I can relate - I took a cab 4 blocks this weekend to a dinner party because I was carrying a giant home-made strawberry tart which took me about 1000 hours to make. I would have cried and gone to bed if I had dropped it, probably.

Our guest judge this week is a famous chef from Chicago. Stephanie says she's probably the top pastry chef in the city. Stephanie's wedding cake looks amazing - 5 big layers decorated with fresh flowers. Lisa's looks a bit squat - Tom says it looks like "a battle ship."

Serving the food, the only misfires seem to be Team Groom's brushcetta, which is thick and too hard to eat, Team Groom's tortellini, which is too sweet and Team Bride's crispy chicken, which is not crispy.

People are LOVING Team Bride's brisket and the fillet with the horseradish cream. Team Bride seems to be the winner, to me. The bride says to the Groom: "Admit it, you like my buffet better." He immediately retorts, "I did not like your's better." They already sound so married!


Although there was some criticism for the strange flavor of the creamed spinach - and Richard, that class act, immediately steps in and says hit was his decision to add the star anise into Andrew's dish - the Bride team is the winner. Richard's brisket gets called out as delicious, along with his fillet. I really do think it was genius of Richard to take advantage of the 24 hours to make a slow-braised brisket. I want brisket now.

Stephanie's wedding cake also gets alot of praise. I kind of think that Stephanie should win, for taking on the wedding cake, but Richard also did make the most popular dishes. And, in the end Richard wins. Richard immediately says that he thought Stephanie should have won, and gives her his prize (before he even hears it - class act, people). She insists they split it - it's a 2000 certificate to Crate & Barrel. Seriously, I love them both so. Can they both win? I've changed my final three to be Andrew, Richard and Stephanie.

The Groom Team comes in for some criticism. Nikki kind of repulses me by immediately saying, when Tom asks who was in charge, "Definitely not me.I had a lot of input because I had the most experience, but in no way am I playing executive chef in this." Ugh.

Tom offers some criticism of the food, and Dale looks enraged. "I hustled. I straight up hustled. Look at the prep list. Just look at it!" You're a hustler, Dale. The judges point out that Dale might have done the most, but he didn't do it well. Very soon we devolve into a fight between Dale and Spike.

Spike: "C'mon! Point some fingers! That's what you're doing." (True)

Dale: "You asked me to do your zucchini for you! I banged it out!" (True)

Spike: I feel like I pushed harder than you. I feel like my prep load...Dale you're such a little bitch bro! (Not true, and possibly true).

Gail tries to steer them back to happy land by pointing out that everyone liked Spike's sea bass.

Dale bursts out, "They should have! It took three hours to make it!"

Then Spike tells him that they never make love anymore, and when they do, it's like Dale is just somewhere else. And also whenever Dale's mother comes to visit, Dale never stands up for Spike and also did Dale notice that Spike is wearing a new hat? No, no Mr. FancyCook Dale didn't. And Spike will be staying at his mother's until further notice. And really, Spike should have listened to his mother - his ex is a doctor now and has a beach house on the East end! The Honeymoon is over, my friends.

The chefs go back into the holding pen, and I'm convinced war will break out but everyone keeps it cool. I'm pretty sure Nikki will be going home since she has been on thin ice from the very start, really. And, she does.

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