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Top Chef: Chicago, Episode 3 – Shut up, Spike, and What’s With the Hats?


Tom comes for inspection. He is dubious about Nikki’s mac and cheese. He also learns that lavender makes a drink sexy. Erik tells him about the corn dogs. Tom wants to know how Ryan is keeping the Waldorf Salad fresh without mayo. They seem to be using apples. To be honest, I never realized that would be a valid substitution. That seems like it would lead to some strange tasting tuna salads.

Nikki and Erik both lament about the prospects of properly transporting mac and cheese and corn dogs. My question: then why make them? Aren’t these people supposed to be cooking experts?

Commercials – Jennifer Love Hewitt is advertising bras. I really don’t need to say much more than that.

Block Party! There is a water dunk machine. There are piñatas. And Spike is wearing a DIFFERENT STUPID HAT!!! Goodness, he looks like the worst gangster from a Tarantino rip-off movie. Probably starring Ethan Hawke. There is a mad rush to prepare the sites. Erik’s corn dogs are soggy, but not enough to throw out. Uh oh. Nikki is trying to moisten her mac and cheese with everything she can. Antonia believes that there is nothing she can do and they must roll with it. So they can be Back in the High Life. Where is Valerie again? Ok, no more Steve Winwood jokes.

The judges have arrived – sigh, Padma. Ted Allen is also back. The Blue team is doing plating for the residents. Manuel didn’t want them to have a buffet mentality. This was probably pretty smart. Some kid gets a delicious looking s’more from the Red Team. Andrew thinks the sliders are “full of awesomeness.”

Ted is pleased that Richard’s paella has sausage. Manuel’s BBQ looks good and Steph’s sugar and cinnamon wantons look amazing. My mom once accidentally seasoned her mushrooms with cinnamon. That was a strange smell. The mac and cheese has bacon in it – 99 out of 100 times that would be incredible. This is the 100th time.

Ted and Padma head to the Red team and Ted wants to know if Padma saved room. I have seen this woman eat on this show, Ted. Trust me, she did. They grilled their sliders – that was smart. Dale made some amazing looking skewers. Spike is a idiot when describing the s’mores with a bad French accent. Ted calls him out on it. I always liked Ted. Padma is eating the lollipop. I may just stop there. Sorry, zoned out for a minute. She dropped it on Ted’s shoe. He is sending her a bill. That was cute.

Spike thinks they have a “schmooze factor” going on. He gets in the dunk tank and Andrew and Ryan start shooting hoops. The residents liked Dale’s skewers and the sliders. Didn’t care for Richard’s paella. They loved Steph’s elegant desert and disliked Erik’s corn dogs. Richard is worried that they got demolished. Hmmm…

Commericals – Bravo poll – what comes first the Female President or Female Top Chef. God? Maybe Hillary is in the wrong field.

We are in the Meat Locker of Worry. With 1,000 boxes of GLAD. The Red team is drinking beers and loving life. Until Padma comes in and calls for the Blue Team. HA! Andrew starts to lose it about how “this was not a loss” and then lots of earmuffs. Spike still isn’t worried.

Tom says it was close and that he was disappointed with everyone. He asks about a team leader and here is where Richard needed to step up and say that he was. He has immunity and they do not know if they won or not at this point. Team leaders always get the axe first. It would have been a nice move. Regardless, Nikki says they worked as a team. She is told that her sauce dried up and became a brick.

Richard is called out on his paella being more of a pilaf. Tom is a stickler for details, ask Casey about that. They loved the sexy drink and Padma informs them that they won the challenge by a small margin. The wonton dessert and drink put them over the top (and I think the service did too) and Steph is given a surprise victory and no prizes again. Tom tempers the win by reiterating that it was not good, just not as bad as the other team.

The Red team looks pissed off and Ryan doesn’t know why they lost. Spike says he thought “we kicked their ass.” Padma gets the line and timing of the night with, “you didn’t.” HA!!!!

Erik said he did what he could with hot dogs and he gets seriously called out about knowing better regarding transporting them properly since he makes them all the time. They try to give Zoi some props for not wanting to make the pasta salad and Ted rightfully shoots that down by saying that she did make it after all. Zoi further insults Middle America by implying that they would eat anything. Tom says that by making Classic Americana food it doesn’t mean you have to dumb it down. So correct.

Ryan’s Waldorf Salad was so full of chicken that it made the rest of it soggy. Spike then makes himself dead to me forever with this clever move: “You all have intense palates and can taste food better than others. We were cooking for the neighborhood.” SHUT UP, SPIKE!!! Ted answers for me by telling him that by making a donut or a duck breast it has to be done right. Bayless said that good cooking is the answer no matter what. Spike is STILL surprised and STILL mouthing off about how they tasted all of the food and that they “made” the block party.

Tom has had enough and asks if they all tasted Zoi’s pasta and asks if everyone thought it was good. They did. Tom says they all have poor palates and that it was bland, oily and had no flavor. Damn, that was harsh.

Andrew can’t believe they “lost to those hacks.” He goes on, “Done! I’m not going home, you’ll have to drag me out of here with security guards. This is MY house.” What the hell? Andrew reminds me of someone that is going through withdrawal. It’s a bit scary.

After the Red team goes back to the Meat Locker, Padma laughs that they seemed surprised to lose. Tom said it was pretty clear they did. Ted rightfully says they condescended to the people on the block. They especially call out Ryan for watered down dressing and sogginess, Erik for corn dogs that look good but were soggy, and Zoi for terrible pasta salad. Bayless adds that if you can get a better salad in a supermarket, then it is not a good sign.

In the Meat Locker, Zoi loses it a bit and breaks out a lot of earmuffs. Jenn is worried for her girl.

Commercials – Casey Thompson can host your block party. I say, let me call my neighbors!

Final Judging:
Tom said it was a simple challenge, but they basically screwed it up. Ryan had an unfocused dish. Zoi should be able to handle pasta salad. Erik does corn dogs day in and day out and shouldn’t have done the dish. Padma knifes Erik. He is gracious in defeat and Zoi thinks it would be “super embarrassing” to go out with pasta salad.

Next Week – Andrew is still nuts.

Top and Bottom dishes:

Quickfire Top three
Richard, WINNER – Vegetarian tacos with jicama tortilla, avocado, papaya and cilantro
Andrew – Tacos with duck, chili powder, plantain jam and cotija cheese
Spike – Tacos with ground pork, sweet soy, chili powder, and acidic tomatillo sauce

Quickfire Bottom three
Erik – Tacos with chipotle braised chicken, avocado and pomegranate salsa
Lisa – Tacos with grilled skirt steak, caramelized onions, pineapple and slaw
Ryan – Vegetarian tacos with roasted squash, cabbage, chick peas and jicama salad.

Elimination Winner and top choices:
Steph, WINNER – Mixed fruit with oatmeal, pine nut crumble and cinnamon sugar fried wontons
My additions:
Dale
– Grilled Pork Skewers with red curry BBQ sauce
Manuel – BBQ pulled pork & chicken sandwiches and ribs with Mexican chocolate sauce
Elimination Loser and other bad ones
Erik, KNIFED – Corn dogs with homemade pomegranate ketchup and spicy mustard
Zoi – Pasta salad with roasted garlic and cumin scented hummus.
Ryan – Waldorf chicken salad

Contact Jeremy at jeremy@realityshack.com.


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