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Live-Blogging Top Chef 4.11 May 21, 2008

Posted by Amy Yen in Top Chef, TV.
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9:59 – Previously on Top Chef, Andrew is crazy crazy crazy crazy CRAZY. And also Eliminated.

10:01 – Watching the title sequence, I really can’t believe Spike is still here.

10:02 – It’s the middle of the night & Tom C has invaded the apartment open. Everyone is once again surprised by a reality show surprise. Tom C gathers the chefs in the kitchen and tells them their Quickfire challenge is to work the egg station at one of Chicago’s most famous breakfast places.

10:03 – The chefs head to La Michelle’s, which is apparently the hottest breakfast place in town. There are tons of people, suggesting that perhaps it’s not as early as the apartment open suggested, so much as the chefs are just lazy late-sleepers (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Tom C tells them they will work the egg station one at a time and the restaurant chef person whose name I don’t catch will judge and pick the person she’d most likely hire.

10:04 – The guest judge, whose name is Helene, shows them “The Hole” and generally acts like the chefs have finally met their doom. Jeez, Helene, it’s just a Quickfire. I mean, there’s definitely the opportunity with mass humiliation on national television, but there’s not reason to be so depressing about it. Anyway, Antonia is up first.

10:05 – Food frenzy short-order montage. Antonia seems to do okay, with Helene ominously nodding as she says the order back to the waitress. Stephanie has issues and breaks her eggs. Lisa totally sets a styrofoam to-go box on fire. At the end, Helene actually acts like the fate of the world does not depend on these eggs. She liked Antonia and Dale. Antonia is the winner. Uh oh…here comes the wrath of Dale. At least that’s what the edit wants us to think. But it turns out the wrath of Dale in this case was just his smile fading slightly and then nothing else happening. That was a lame wrath of Dale. I want my money back.

10:07 – Antonia make an adorable congratulatory noise to herself in interview. I like her. Tom C tells the chefs he’s going to a charity event and won’t be at the elimination challenge. Everyone’s kind of like, what? This isn’t your full-time job? We don’t understand. Tom gives the chefs an address to go to to meet Padma. Outside, the chefs gather around the product placement GPS-equipped phone to look up where they are going. Then we get a hilarious zoom-out of Chicago, leading us to think that perhaps the producers are just going to let the Top Chef chefs wander cluelessly, lost in the city, and that’s the last we’ll ever hear from them.

10:08 – But then, they arrive in a nondescript building. Spike tells us that the inside of the building is beautiful and then makes a sleazy statement about the “lovely Padma.” You know, anyone else saying it, it wouldn’t be sleazy. He didn’t even say it in a sleazy way. But just that fact that Spike is Spike makes it extremely sleazy and inappropriate and I really want to throw something at him.

10:08 – Padma tells us what we’ve all wanted to hear…Restaurant Wars is back! YES!! Everyone is happy. The rules are the same as previous years: the chefs will split up in teams, open two restaurants in the raw space and share the kitchen. They will get money for Pier One product placement decorations and tomorrow night, they will have 30 guests at each restaurant.

10:09 – As the winner of the Quickfire, Antonia gets to pick her team. Nice! She picks, predictably, Stephanie and Richard, leaving Dale with Spike and Lisa, both of whom he gets along with so well. Or, you know, not. Surprisingly, Dale seems much more calm this time around about the team selections. He actually seems resigned about his fate of constantly having to work with clearly inferior, problematic teammates.

10:10 – The teams break up and go plan. Team Antonia, which is actually immediately evident is actually Team Richard, go with a fine-dining-in-a-relaxed atmosphere theme. Team Dale goes with Asian, since both Dale and Lisa skew Asian in their cooking. Dale says an Asian chef adds to the credibility of an Asian restaurant, which is true. Lisa tells us Dale has pissed off a lot of people and two of them are on his team. Well, Lisa, you and Spike have also pissed off a lot of people and two of them are Dale and me. So shut it.

10:15 – Whole Foods and Pier One for shopping. Nothing interesting happens at Whole Foods, but the development in Pier One is the Stephanie and Spike are taking front house duties. I fear for Team Asian now. Spike is buying lots and lots of Buddhas, which is apparently the theme of the restaurant. You know what though? I know Dale’s definitely the strongest chef of Team Asian and thus should probably be in the back cooking as much as possible, but he’s right, an Asian chef does add to the credibility of that kind of restaurant. So it’d probably make more sense if he was out front. Actually, it would be better for Team Asian all around if Spike the Jerk wasn’t the face of their restaurant.

10:17 – Back to the kitchen. Stephanie and Spike go to work making the place look pretty. Spike whines a little about how much work he has to do and Dale and Lisa definitely aren’t thinking of helping him. Well, Spike, that’s cause they’re going to cook the food that you all will be judged by. You have a problem with that?

10:19 – Antonia interviews that Team Asian is going Asian because Dale is really, really Asian. He “only does Asian,” which a) is not true, and b) even if it was true, at least he does it well. At least his one-note is like all of Asian cuisine instead of than something like only seafood (Brian Malarkey). Team Richard forgot to buy pasta, so if Antonia’s handmade pasta doesn’t work out, Team Richard is screwed.

10:20 – Anthony Bourdain shows up, taking Tom C’s place for consultations. Spike is worried about the Asian menu because obviously Bourdain’s been everywhere in Asia and eaten everything and also, he happens to love the dish that Lisa is making for a first course. No pressure, guys! Everyone assures Bourdain that they’re on board with the Asian route. Outside in private interview, Bourdain says Team Richard kind of set expectations low and aren’t taking any huge risks, while Team Asian is taking a big risk.

10:22 – Back in the kitchen, Bourdain tells the teams that because this is such a big challenge, they will each get one more person to help. You know what that means. Returning eliminated chef time. I’m thinking back on the season 3 finale, when Hung would have rather work alone than have an eliminated chef come help him. Sure enough, the great chefs they have to choose from are Nikki, Mark, Jen and Andrew. Hilariously, Antonia’s eyes immediately light up at the prospect of Jen or Nikki helping with her pasta. Team Asian takes Jen and are all happy about it, despite me not actually remembering one good thing Jen ever did (wait a second, yes I do: she did it for Zoi). Team Richard takes Nikki, obviously solely for her pasta-making ability, because it sure ain’t for her other awesome cooking skills.

10:23 – Oh dear, out come the personalities. I knew the peace wouldn’t last. Dale is making his hala hala, but has somehow mixed in a rotten avocado, making the sauce yucky grayish. He tries to salvage it, relatively calmly, I think. Lisa interviews however that it completely shattered his mood and he’s back to being temperamental. Dude, Lisa. We’ve seen Dale temperamental. Remember the locker? That’s temperamental. You know what else is temperamental? Lisa. Who completely freaks out over her rice. She yells at Dale and lectures us in interview about how his mood is affecting her. We hear Dale, who I think still looks pretty calm, tell her to chill the F out, but she’s too busy living out her Dale-freak-out fantasy. Seriously, I think from the moment they were put in the same team together, Lisa was waiting for Dale to do something so she could lecture us on how much of a jerk he is. Whatever, Lisa.

10:25 – Over with Team Richard, Nikki tastes the pasta with the clams and comes up with grit. Antonia makes Richard wash the clams again. Annnd scene. Seriously, there’s nothing going on with Team Richard. We can all move on. Over where the real action is, Lisa has Dale and Spike taste her soup, which is clearly awful. Oh dear. Spike tries to convince himself in interview that he can’t be held accountable for the food.

10:26 – The servers arrive. Team Richard wants the service to be fun, but that’s difficult to do when all the waiters are dressed in head-to-toe black. Seriously, they look like they’re going to a particularly depressing funeral. Meanwhile, Spike shows up in a suit.

10:26 – Back with Team Disaster, aka Team Asian. Lisa’s sticky rice is not sticky. She complains to us in interview that she was “forced” into making sticky rice because Dale is doing the other dessert. Honey, seriously, what exactly did you WANT to do? Cause it sounds to me like you wanted Dale to do everything and then you wanted to complain about his attitude doing it. I just want her to leave. Dale calmly gives her suggestions on her to fix the sticky rice mess, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

10:32 – Doors open. Stephanie looks nice in a pretty black dress. The judges come in and Padma introduces Jose Andres, the guest judge. They go to Team Richard’s restaurant, which is called Gastro Pub, first. They bring out the linguine and clams first, which Ted Allen initially proclaims not Gastro Pub-esque. But Ted, think about it. Do you really want to eat something that does look like it’s from a place called Gastro Pub? Anyway, the linguine goes over better than expected. The second course, lamb or trout, also goes over quite well. Team Richard is rolling. Third course is banana scallops or cheesecake. The judges don’t like the presentation (the smear of the chocolate looks like the New York City sidewalk), but both desserts actually do earn “points,” from the judges, whatever that means.

10:35 – Over to Team Disaster’s restaurant. Ted Allen makes fun of the décor with Spike standing right there, taking it. Aw. I actually almost feel bad for him there. The first course, dumplings and Lisa’s smoky soup of smoke filled with the taste of smoke, with a hint of smoke, goes out. Bourdain clearly does not relive his travels through Asia with the soup. It’s too—you guessed it—smoky. Padma loves the dumplings, which I guess are Dale’s. In the back, Lisa continues to complain about Dale’s attitude and also throws in that Spike is giving an “awful lot of feedback from the diners,” which she clearly disapproves of. Spike is saying the portions should be bigger. Lisa stutters and does nothing about it. Red flag.

10:37 – The second course doesn’t go over well. The scallops are overpowered by the butterscotch, which Ted Allen refers to as “Willy Wonka scallops.” Ha! Tasty. In the back, Lisa and Dale are angry at their respective incompetence. Dale tells us in interview that he is argumentative and doesn’t take criticism well, but Lisa takes it even worse. Exactly. Lisa, honey, it really does not make you look good spending every second of screen-time complaining about Dale. It makes you look like…well, not a top 3 candidate, that’s for sure. Spike lies through his teeth that they’re loving everything out there. Lisa interviews that she made mistakes, but it’s ultimately the executive chef’s job to make sure everything tastes good. Yeah, um, he tried to do that and you failed to correct anything. In fact, you mostly just say around complaining about him trying to help you. So dude, if Dale’s dishes turn out okay, the producers totally aren’t going to let him get eliminated just because he was executive chef.

10:38 – The desserts come out. Dale’s halo halo, while not perfect, is pretty awesome compared to Lisa’s disaster of a sticky rice. We also see the other diners filling out comment cards, which will be factored into judging. In the back, Spike tells us that the diners never felt the personality war going on in the kitchen. He says it like he personally barricaded the kitchen doors to prevent Dale and Lisa’s gunfight from spilling into the dining area.

10:44 – Padma asks for Team Richard, who are clearly the winners. Bourdain showers down the praise. Jose the guest judge chooses Stephanie as the winner. Huh? Okay. Padma tells her she gets a wine-tasting trip to Barcelona. Sweet! Stephanie sends Team Disaster back out.

10:46 – The judges start with décor. It’s kind of unclear as to whether they liked it. They say it increased their expectations. Everyone hated Dale’s butterscotch and scallops dish. At least all he does is nod and take it. Lisa takes responsibility for the smoky soup. To her credit, she says that she takes full blame. However, the judges point out that Spike actually came up with the dish (and didn’t actually make it although he claims he has a better recipe) and Dale, as executive chef, let them make a dish he didn’t know. I didn’t hear that he didn’t know how it’s supposed to taste. In cooking, he did say that the laksa was smoky. Whatever.

10:48 – To his credit, Spikes doesn’t take full credit for the braised ribs, instead saying that Lisa and Dale both helped, even though we didn’t see Lisa help at all. Meanwhile, Lisa does all she can to shift blame for the sticky rice disaster to Dale for picking out the rice. Oh dear. I really hope they don’t just eliminate the executive chef for being executive chef. Man, it sucks being executive chef. Why do any contestants ever choose it?? Being it on the winning team didn’t even guarantee the win. Dale has had enough and tries to defend himself. Lisa and Dale argue over who picked the rice, Spike wisely stays out of it. Jose, who clearly has never seen the show before, can’t believe the lack of teamwork. Thankfully, Jose also calls out Spike for basically washing his hands of the disaster in the kitchen. Yes! Thanks, Jose.

10:49 – Dale, who clearly can’t believe what kind of idiots he is being forced to deal with, points out that he did ask Lisa to taste the salad and Lisa just replied with her usual snide remark. He says they’re only as strong as their weakest link. Lisa says just as that’s true, they’re only as strong as their leader. In doing so, Lisa just kind of admitted she is the weakest link. WTG, Lisa. Meanwhile, Spike just smirks like the jerk he is.

10:51 – Judging. The judges quickly dismiss Spike, as he was smart to stay out of the line of fire and he did okay as the front of house guy. Dale failed as an executive chef and his scallop dish sucked, but Lisa made two horrible dishes that she says she’s made before. In the back, Lisa is again complaining about Dale to Spike. God, I want Lisa to go home so badly.

10:56 – Back from commercial, Bourdain takes over the self esteem destruction speech. Padma looks dramatic…Dale is gone! OH NO!! That SUCKS. How the HELL can Dale be gone when SPIKE and LISA, good God, are still here??? HOW??

10:58 – In the back, tellingly, the really good chefs left in the competition, Stephanie and Richard, can’t believe Dale is gone. Dale tells us in interview that he’s okay with getting eliminated over bad decisions. He still thinks he’s a good chef. You are, Dale! Really, the worst decision he made all day was calling the coin to become executive chef. In interview, Dale cries and it’s really, really sad. Aw, Dale! He says he’ll miss Richard, Antonia and Stephanie and that it’s just disappointing because he thinks he left some people down. Aw. I really am bummed about this one. Dale is totally this season’s Tre.

10:59 – Next time on Top Chef, if there’s any credibility left in this show, Lisa and Spike will be cut before this puppy is over. Also, everyone holds hands.

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