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Live-Blogging Top Chef 4.9 May 7, 2008

Posted by Amy Yen in Top Chef, TV.
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9:59 – Scrambling to get the live-blog set up…putting the DVR on pause, but am skipping the previously. Basically, Antonia exploits her unfair advantage of being a single mother on the way to winning the elimination challenge. Also, Crazy Mark the Crazy Australian is sent home.

10:00 – You know, usually I’m typing furiously during Padma’s little introduction before the title sequence. Wow, did not realize just how many product placements they pack into like a minute. Pretty impressive.

10:03 – The chefs head into the kitchen for the Quickfire, but instead of a guest judge, there’s Tom C standing there, looking smug. Padma tells them in a grave tone that the Quickfire winner will no longer receive immunity, which would be a lot more shocking if that didn’t eventually happen in every season of every reality show since the beginning of time. Padma has the chefs divide into two teams, Forks & Spoons. The challenge is the relay race, which made an appearance last year. Awesomely, Stephanie interviews that it was fun last year to see Hung “race through the chickens” & Casey “take like five hours on an onion.” Heh. Oh, Casey.

10:04 – The relay race tasks are orange, artichoke, monkfish & mayo. The teams conference to decide who does what. Dale’s team is having a hard time b/c apparently no one knows how to make mayonnaise without a machine. Dale can’t believe it. Nikki, annoyed, finally volunteers, despite previously admitting she hasn’t made mayo without a machine since culinary school. Red flag! And then Dale, in interview, pauses & goes, “Why are you still here?” AHAHA!! Awesome! That’s what I’ve been asking for like a month! Although I will say…Dale, why aren’t you stopping her?

10:05 – Tom blows the whistle. Lisa vs Antonia on the orange. Lisa is clearly nervous, her hands are shaking, but she is still beating Antonia. Even Dale leans in & tells her good job. Tom C clears Lisa’s orange. Spike has a head start on the artichokes, but Andrew is apparently a master at this & uses a peeler to just bombard his way through the task. Andrew & Spike finish at the same time. Oooh! Here’s the big show, Dale vs Richard on the monkfish. They are both flying through it & seem pretty even with one another. They finish about the same time & both pass. I totally think that was a finals preview, y’all. Finally it’s Nikki vs Stephanie on the mayo. Stephanie clearly knows what she’s doing more than Nikki does. Nikki stops to “take a breather” & in the meantime, Stephanie finishes. Nikki, you are so lame. Tom C clears her & Stephanie’s team wins. They are ecstatic. It’s pretty interesting to see that this is the challenge that somehow brings the chefs together.

10:10 – WHOA. Suddenly, in the midst of the celebration, Dale punches some lockers & screams the F bomb. Jeez. Lisa of course reminds everyone that she had to deal with this in a previous challenge. Dale interviews, calmly, that he hates losing. We can see that, Dale. So can the locker, which has a nice-sized dent in it.

10:15 – Elimination challenge! Padma tells the winning team they will get an advantage in the challenge. She also tells them they are not going to do Restaurant Wars—universally everyone’s favorite challenge—this year. Instead, two random people come in. They are Cory & JP & they are getting married…tomorrow. We then get an awesome string of interview cut-ins. Lisa & Spike are just like, “Are you serious?” And then, we just see Andrew, sputtering, wrinkling his nose, too disgusted to even speak. So. Awesome. Padma says the challenge is Wedding Wars. The chefs are pissed. I am PUMPED! What an AWESOME challenge.

10:16 – One team will cater to the bride’s half of the wedding party, the other will have the grooms. Oh, & also? Cory & JP own their own restaurant & wedding venue. Oh, great. Padma tells the winning team what their “advantage” is…they get to choose bride or groom. What? THAT’s the prize? Lame. We haven’t even heard anything from either the bride OR the groom. How are they supposed to know who is more interesting or what kind of tastes they have or whatever? Uber-lame. That’s not an advantage at all. I don’t know why this annoys me so much. Anyway, Stephanie’s team chooses the bride. Actually, the other team is not unpleased. Spike makes a good point in that Cory has been planning her day since she was like 14. The bride is more likely to be high maintenance.

10:17 – Padma tells them they will be working through the night. Andrew, defining TMI, tells us in interview he has a culinary boner from the news. He tells us he’s an animal & working for 14 hours straight is no problem for him.

10:18 – The teams meet with the bridge & groom. JP likes Italian & Nikki is Italian. Cory is from the Atlanta area & Richard is from Atlanta. So both teams think they have a little bit of an advantage, although, to be honest, what does it mean that she’s from Atlanta? How does that affect her taste in food besides maybe liking some southern stuff?

10:20 – PS: Just to set it up for the remainder of this live-blog…Team Bride is Richard, Andrew, Stephanie & Antonia. Team Groom is Dale, Nikki, Spike & Lisa. The teams discuss their menus. Team Groom is already off to a bickering start. Spike & Lisa clearly want to defer to Nikki b/c of the previously mentioned Italian thing, although I kind of think they all need to be able to chip in on the Italian thing. I mean, I can cook Italian. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Anyway, Dale says that they need hor dourves like 10 times. The rest of the group hates him. Dales also indicates that he doesn’t respect Nikki. Can’t disagree there. I don’t think America respects Nikki.

10:22 – The teams split up to go to Whole Foods & Restaurant Depot. Spike logics that Lisa can stand up to Dale better than Nikki so they are stuck together in a tense, bitter, uncomfortable product placement car. Dale & Lisa grab stuff at Restaurant Depot while using the product placement phone to send useless pics to Spike & Nikki. Meanwhile, Richard & Andrew actually do actually have a use for the phone since they were unfortunately put in charge of picking up flowers. They send a pic of the display to Stephanie & Antonia, who tell them not to pick up sunflowers unless they want a wonderfully ghetto-rific wedding.

10:23 – The chefs arrive back in the kitchen & ready themselves for the marathon cooking session. Team Groom splits everything up & to be honest, it seems kind of uneven. For example, Dale is handling all the meat, while all Lisa is doing is the cake. I mean, the cake is important, but you have 14 hours. Team Groom keeps asking Nikki the Italian Cooking Expert questions. She keeps saying stuff like “I’m down with not making all the decisions.” Um, seriously? Why are you still here?? Meanwhile we see a montage of Dale cooking, like, ALL of the food. Man, Dale gets a bad rap & the whole punching-the-lockers thing doesn’t help, but he is a good chef & he did get stuck with kind of a crappy group.

10:27 – The clock is ticking away. Andrew tells us he has five hours of spinach prep in front of him. Wow. That sucks. We also see Richard continuously making suggestions to Andrew, with Andrew getting more & more annoyed. Well, dude, Richard does win like half the challenges & the ones he doesn’t win, he still places in the top. Meanwhile, I can’t honestly remember a single dish you made. So maybe listen to him, is all I’m saying.

10:32 – Dale is running around the kitchen, cooking like everything. The rest of his team slowly realizes that a) maybe not everything he is doing is top-quality, due to the fact that he’s doing like 14 million things & b) if they don’t jump in & do something, Dale can take credit for pretty much anything that goes right. So Spike takes the sea bass so he can have one dish to call his own. Is pretty smart, unless of course the sea bass sucks.

10:33 – Nikki tells us she didn’t want to make the pasta as much as the rest of the group wanted her to. She also grills Dale on his ragu & tells us she’s concerned. However, we never see her tell Dale she’s concerned. She interviews that Dale’s doing his own thing. Um…honey, you never asked him to do anything else.

10:34 – Morning rolls around & all the chefs are starting to get a little delirious. Nikki tells us she is tired &, strangely, dehydrated. Dude, no one is saying you can’t drink, just that you can’t sleep. In fact, no one is even saying you can’t sleep, they set up cots for you. Go take a drink of water.

10:35 – Tom C rolls in around 7am & cheerfully asks if anyone got any sleep last night. The chefs all silently send death glares at him. Tom checks in with Team Groom. He immediately makes the connection that Nikki is Italian, but Nikki, sensing impending doom in judging, begins the deflection process by saying it’s across the board with this group. Tom asks what Dale worked on & Dale gets this look on his face where he’s clearly just so tired & has so much on his mind that he can’t even think. I get that look all the time.

10:36 – Tom C interviews for us that Team Groom has it easier with the Italian food. He also calls Lisa’s groom cake ugly, temporarily winning me over. I mean, let’s be real. It is.

10:42 – Wedding! It’s a nice little simple outdoor ceremony. We see about four seconds of it, then go back into the kitchen. Padma & the judges come in, including guest Gale Gand, who is apparently a top pastry chef in Chicago. We see Stephanie’s wedding cake, which, while pretty, looks…small. I mean, is it just the camera angles? It looks really small.

10:44 – Time runs out & service begins. Dale’s bruchetta is the first dish that gets negative reviews. It’s too messy & crunchy. What is awesome is that Bravo got their camera all up in the judges’ faces as they bit in, so we can actually hear the huge crunchy sounds coming from Gail Simmons’ mouth. Attractive.

10:46 – Dinner is next. Team Bride has a system where Antonia & Richard stay in front. Stephanie is running back & forth & Andrew is staying in the kitchen. Antonia tells us that Andrew is not allowed to talk to the guests. Brilliant move!

10:48 – In the kitchen, we see Dale, who looks completely exhausted, cooking all the hot food by himself. I mean, that sucks, but Andrew is also by himself. I dunno. I understand Team Groom’s issues with Dale, but they also let their own dislike of him stop them from supporting him.

10:50 – The judges work their way through the lines & Team Bride clearly had better dishes overall than Team Groom. The groom unconvincingly tells the bride that he didn’t like her buffet better, even though he clearly did. Stephanie & Lisa watch as they cut the cake. From here, Stephanie’s cake does look larger. Although Lisa’s cake was kinda ugly, it seems to be a pretty big hit. Hazelnut cake does sound delicious right about now. Mmmm…

10:58 – In the backroom, everyone yawns. Padma comes in to call Team Bride, who are obviously the winners. Richard tells the judges that they chose to be the bride’s team b/c it’s her day & she should get what she wants. Which is a lovely thought if it’s really the reason. Andrew takes responsibility for the chicken & the spinach, which is the weakest parts of the meal apparently. Touche, Andrew. Padma tells the team they were the favorites. Team Bride acts surprised, which I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND BECAUSE THE FIRST TEAM IS ALWAYS THE WINNER. The first team has never NOT been the winner. The time to be surprised passed in Season 2!

11:00 – The judges ask who was responsible for the brisket, pizza & wedding cake (Richard, Antonia & Stephanie, in that order). The winner is Richard. Again. But then Richard turns around & gives it to Stephanie. Aw, nice guy. Richard is so like Christian on Project Runway. If he doesn’t make the final 3, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong with this show. Anyway, Stephanie gets a gift certificate to Crate & Barrel, who force the guest judge to take out an empty branded carton to use a visual, for $2K. She & Richard will share it. That’s nice. I don’t have too much of an opinion about either Richard or Stephanie. It just feels like the entire season is one big penalty kill until we get the to the final 3 w/them & probably Dale.

11:04 – Richard has to send back Team Groom. They all look so defeated. The judges have them go down the line & say who did what. Tom C asks who drove the Italian menu & Nikki, ridiculously, says definitely NOT her. WHAT? Why would you say that? Everyone KNOWS it was you. The rest of Team Groom looks perplexed, as do the judges. Oh thank God, maybe Nikki will finally go home now. The judges tell Lisa they liked the cake. She is safe. The judges tear into the rest of the food, most of which was Nikki’s & Dale’s.

11:05 – Team Groom is asked who did the bruchetta, which you will remember was not a good dish. Dale takes credit & can’t help but express his bitterness over having to do so much. Spike tells him to let it out & he does, but Spike just starts arguing with him. Dale doesn’t point fingers until Spike forces him to & he specifically doesn’t say that he did everything for this challenge. He does point out that if he hadn’t done a lot of the stuff, it wouldn’t have gotten done. Spike says that he thinks he (Spike) pushed harder than Dale. Oh, whatever. That’s just not true. Spike then gets mad b/c Lisa & Nikki aren’t jumping in. Padma tells Spike that people actually liked the sea bass (which mean, dang it, he’s probably safe). Spike gets a little grin on his face, but Dale points out it took him three hours to make it. Team Groom is dismissed.

11:06 – Judging. The judges say Spike’s fish was good, but not enough to be the only thing he did. They also recognize that Dale did the majority of the work, but he should have asked to edit his list of things to do. Whatev, there’s no way they eliminate Dale, he is a drama machine. Tom C says Nikki was a big disappointment for not taking the lead despite having the most experience in Italian food. Yeah, that’s exactly what I have a problem with with Nikki. You can’t be Top Chef if you come out in a challenge where you’re expected to excel on & not only NOT take the lead, but specifically AVOID taking the lead.

11:12 – Decision time. Tom C’s self esteem destruction speech. Interestingly, he does not even address Lisa, which means she is definitely safe. Nikki’s gone! YES! FINALLY!! Okay, let’s be real. Nikki was never really offensive in anything she did, but she was never even close to top 3 material. She had absolutely no business making it to the final 8 even. Ciao, Nikki!

11:13 – Next week, cute guest judge! Spike is a jerk! Serving to police! Drama in judging! What else is new?

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Comments»

1. Lisa - May 9, 2008

It was a memorable show for sure!

I’m with you in thinking Dale has won credibility for what he’s done all season. He’s high drama, but, it’s all good stuff, especially when he can blow up and say what viewers are thinking about Spike. Haha. When he’s paired with Richard, or working on his own, he seems like a really decent and nice guy. Bless his heart! He really drew the short straw.

Nikki was the lamest and most perplexing dingbat since season 1 had that older hippyish lady who dropped out. I couldn’t believe my ears when Nikki actually said she had nothing to do with the Italian theme.. The look on everyone’s faces was soooooo priceless! Tom, Padma, Dale, Lisa… they all had the most interesting facial and eyebrow silent expressions that spoke volumes!

It was awesome to see her go. Nikki has annoyed me for some time with her heavily xanaxed flat vapid personality.
She talks like she’s a Type A entrepreneur, but, when it came for her to step up and challenge herself, she hid behind a crowd and then blamed others for failing.

Oh God, I know Lisa made an amazing cake and I give her tons of props, but, ick, will someone PLEASE buy her some good shampoo and hide those hideous and unprofessional ghetto gang banger shmatas? It was unprofessional to wear that gang rag at a wedding, but, then again, maybe better than her hair after working in a hot kitchen for 40 hours when her hair starts out oily. Honestly, it seems petty, but, it’s disgusting. She should tend to her personal hygiene as a chef, and her blatant hatred for men is also not cool.

But, I was thrilled that Nikki got the boot. It was one of the best shows for that ending alone.

I thought Dale was being a baby for punching the locker, but, now think he had no other choice. It was either hit it or hit one of his back hater team mates.

It was quite a contrast to watch the professionalism of the bride team, especially cool of Richard to give Stephanie the honor of winning! Her cake looked incredible, and that was a huge feat.

The bride team only cared about working together for the good of the bride’s day, while the groom’s team (other than Dale) only thought about showing up eachother and undermining their team members. Spike dissed Richard for picking the more challenging bride assignment which shows the vast contrast in their character as people and chefs. Spike chose the dish that would make him shine, while the bride team worked together for the best outcome for the food. Interesting.

It was quite a feast indeed, but, Dale came out okay in my eyes, too.

2. curious - May 9, 2008

Yup, Spike mocked the Bride team for choosing the bride, but ya know what? Almost EVERYTHING Spike has mocked has turned out the opposite of what he predicted. (I loved it when he said he didn’t want to partner with Richard when Richard had immunity … as though immunity would make Richard phone it in.) (Which said a lot more about Spike than anyone else.) Indeed, Spike’s interviews keep showing what a chicken he is. Either that, or just consistently bad judgment. … Or both 🙂

And oh man, you NAILED IT about Nikki. I suppose the big hint came when the producers kept showing clip after clip of Nikki trying to duck out of any form of leadership. Heck, they were asking her opinion and she REFUSED TO ANSWER. Lady, we’re not asking you to be the boss, just participate in the discussion, EH? (Yeesh.)

Dale … oh man. He’s a great cook, and he CAN play well with others. But it seems like he makes a conscious decision about whether he’s going to work as a team player today or not. Hate to say it dude, but in the real world you don’t get to pick and choose your teammates. Well, actually you do … it’s called QUITTING. Not to put too fine a point on it (too late :-), but if you put Richard in Dale’s place, Richard will find the positives and figure out a way to make the best of it. Instead of whining. By the way, Antonia hit the nail on the head after the locker-bashing incident when she interviewed: “Dale decided to have a temper tantrum … he punched the locker … and then had to have his diaper changed.” 🙂

Lisa was let off, BTW, because her cake actually tasted good (unlike almost every wedding cake I’ve ever had :-). But oh man it was an ugly cake. It reminded Tom C of a battleship. It reminded me of angry lesbian shoes.

By the way, why didn’t the contestants *use* the catering knowledge of the bride and groom? OK so you’ve never been a caterer … you’re about to talk to your customers who ARE caterers. Who could possibly give you better advice?

Culinary boner? OK, maybe Andrew’s figured out that the producers will try to keep him on the show for as long as possible if he keeps churning out sound bites like that. Of course, he’s a dolt. He machos up to say he’s willing to work 14 hours straight? 14 hours is NOTHING! Tell that to a guy who works two full time jobs. Heck, tell it to a full-time Mom and she’ll laugh in your face!

HUGE props to Stephanie for that cake. And she figure out to transport it in layers and then build it on site? Amazing. Richard knows full well what Steph took on and he was completely right to give her so much credit. And you know what, he showed a huge amount of class by not only saying what a contribution she made but following through when the win came his way. Sure it cost him $1000 in placed products, but the credibility he gained was astonishing. He *is* a leader. And clearly a great cook. (Hey Andrew! How can you POSSIBLY be whining when Richard is trying to help you out? Andrew actually referred to a suggestion from Richard as “somebody’s stupid little opinion.”) (I think Andrew is channeling Spike 🙂

By the end of the show … Lisa’s cake tasted good, Spike’s sea bass tasted good and the only two send-home possibilities were between the obvious-choice Nikki and the incredibly long shot that they would finally punish Dale for being childish at every chance. (Didja notice that although both Andrew and Dale were sentenced to kitchen duty during the wedding, Andrew took the role with energy and enthusiasm, and Dale complained that he had no support and had to do everything by himself.)

And finally, the night’s most SAVORY moment came from Antonia. While Andrew and Dale vie for sound-bite supremacy, it’s Antonia who consistently comes up with the best zingers. A couple weeks ago, she won the Best Line of the Night by saying “If those guys win with soup, I’m going to vomit in my mouth.”

And tonight, she won BLN again by describing Andrew’s role at the wedding: “Andrew’s staying in the kitchen. Andrew’s NOT allowed to talk to the guests. … Seriously.” (Take THAT Mr. Culinary Boner. 🙂

Great blog yet AGAIN Amy! Keep ’em comin’


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