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Top Chef: Chicago, Episode 5 – Stand By Your Dish


Commercials – I think I didn’t care for that Patrick Dempsey movie back when it was called My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Nikki is using the power of positive thinking, “We will win, we will win.” Rich tells us that their dish has a high level of difficulty before deciding to serve skin up or down. Frodo thinks that should have already been decided and implies that Fauxhawk Boy may have bitten off more than he can chew. With or without scales, apparently, because Andrew has found scales on one of the pieces of salmon. He says it is unacceptable and is like leaving a fish head on if you are cooking fish. I would think it would be more unforgivable if you left on a fish head if you were serving steak, but who knows.

Tom is standing by a piano in the room thanking everyone. I would give good money to have him sit down and play Piano Man. Plating commences as the wait staff arrives. The glass on the plate seems to be a problem for Team Air. Spike reveals his fears that Zoi under-seasoned the food. Andrew shares that more pieces of fish had scales on them than Rich thought. Rich thinks this whole challenge is his worst nightmare. My worst nightmare does not involve fish, Chicago or Meals on Wheels.

Team Water is served – Poached salmon with faux caviar, parsnip puree and watercress salad.
Ming is fooled by the caviar and Tom informs him about its appearance in the last challenge. Ming says that it’s too bad that his mouth is full of scales. Tom’s quote – “Some things just aren’t good sous vide…and salmon is one of them.” D’oh!

Team Fire is served – Grilled shrimp with pickled chili salad… and bacon (Bravo website left that part out amazingly)
Padma thinks the shrimp is amazing but Tom thinks it is too spicy. Nancy Silverton (Founder of LaBrea Bakery and co-owner of Pizzeria Mossa) likes the spice and Ming tells Tom he just got burned by the Bakery chick. Some random guy that looks like everybody’s uncle that they only see for the holidays says that it was very hot on either the sauce or bacon, but it was excellent.

Team Air is served – Duck breast with citrus salad and Pomegranate Prosecco Aperitif.
Gail says they didn’t render the skin at all. Tom is not a fan of the trend of little drinks with the dishes, but Ming says he loves it with dessert. Sadly for Team Air, this is not dessert duck.

Team Earth is served – and I hear that Team Coruscant has owned them in recent seasons – Beef Carpaccio with Mushroom Salad and sunchoke aioli.
Gail and Ming are sharing a plate. How cute. Gail detects a bit of rosemary in there and proclaims it a bad choice. Tom says everything is absolutely bland and there is nothing earthy about the dish. Uh oh. Some random woman can’t taste anything on the dish. Another lamely tries to be funny as her friend says “oh, ouch.” Yawn.

Guests have comment cards for this challenge as the judges confer after the whole thing is over. Padma asks Gail if she loved the shrimp dish as much as she did. Leading the witness, your honor! Gail says it was clearly her favorite and loved the heat. Ming complements the acidity and saltiness. Tom says the bacon tied the whole thing together. I wish more things were tied together with bacon, but I guess that would lead to more things becoming unwrapped as a result. Gail agrees about the wonders of bacon.

Ming says the scales on the salmon ruined the whole dish for him and Gail says the salmon had no texture. Tom didn’t understand the duck dish, but liked the salad. Tom also says that the Carpaccio was the most disappointing of all. Gail says that it had no seasoning and Tom says this is Cooking 101 – you season your food! That class will be meeting in Lecture Hall 12 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-11:00 after your French class.

Lisa wants to burn the fire sign and is feeling really good about things. Richard thinks they will get their asses handed to them.

Commercials – the Bravo poll questions are getting more annoying each week. Who deserves a spanking? Really?

Meat Locker of Worry. Padma fetches Team Fire while still in her evening gown. No wasting time in telling them congratulations and they are visibly surprised and thrilled. Steph says the whole thing came together while shopping – which it did. Dale claims the idea for the chili relish. Gail says the shrimp was spicy in a good way. Lisa’s bacon is universally praised as well. Tom says that each of them had a component to be responsible for and each one added to the dish really nicely.

For the first time this season, the winner gets a prize. This one is a five day trip for two to Italy. Ming compliments all there of them but gives Lisa the win for creating a new technique on the bacon that he has never seen before. Lisa is jazzed and Dale is wildly bitter. In the TH he asks if they are f****n kidding him for giving her the trip for making bacon. Whatever you do Dale, don’t let your feelings bottle up or anything.

Earth and Water are summoned and Andrew gives a nice little love tap on the way out to Lisa. Ryan, Jen and Nikki, you are safe.

Rich thought the salmon was moist and wonders “in what regard” when asked if he prepared the fish. I am stunned no one called him on that. Padma informs him about the scales and Andrew gives him a worried look. Tom tells him it was as if he missed an entire filet when cleaning and Ming tells him he had 6-8 scales on his alone. Tom reminds us that sous vide is not his favorite method of cooking as it makes the fish mushy. Gail hits Andrew on the caviar for needing more flavors. Tom asks about Frodo’s role and after a long pause that I thought would possibly doom Frodo, he says how the parsnip and vanilla flavor are harmonious. Tom tells him he didn’t help at all.

Antonia thought theirs tasted great and Tom tells her it was all bland. Ming agrees. Zoi didn’t want to overpower the meat and suggested that they were a bit overzealous here. She adds that she likes spice and has a heavy hand. Gail calls her on the heavy hand of rosemary and nothing else. Spike starts to save his own ass by suggesting that lemon would have been a good idea and brings up his soup idea. Antonia says she was against serving soup to 80 people in a fancy event and that having immunity didn’t stop her from voicing her opinion. Spike snottily agrees and Antonia gives him the “ok, if that’s how we’re gonna play it” face. Ming thinks soup would have been a good idea, but Tom throws cold water on them by saying that they were not there because of choosing Carpaccio, they are there for not making it well.

Back in the locker, Spike continues to act like a dick. “I should be an asshole and yell and do whatever it takes. I take a backseat and get convinced.” Zoi knows she is gone and tells him that “99.9% of this show is saying what you think.” Rich believes he’s dead because of the scales. Zoi tells Jen that whatever happens will be ok, and Jen says she’s an amazing chef.

Final judging. Gail finds it hard to forgive the dish covered in scales. Ming calls it Cooking 101. Did he miss the class? Removing scales is Cooking 102 – that’s in Lecture Hall 5 on Fridays. Padma says Rich genuinely believes it was good, and I don’t think anything about Rich is genuine. Gail says the Carpaccio received the overall lowest scores from the diners. Tom would like to knife both Spike and Zoi for allowing someone with immunity to dictate the dish. If Spike wanted soup, he should have put his foot down and made soup. Ming is confused by Zoi’s claim for loving spices. Tom thinks the whole dish relied on the mushrooms and she made them.

Commercials – if you live on the top floor of a building, don’t buy a piano. Look into a Casio.

Summary from Tom: Water was good on paper and Earth had no earth. Padma knifes Zoi who is quite disappointed but what she does is not compete but cook. So glad she entered a f****n’ cooking competition!! Great, now these idiots have me cursing!

They return to the Locker and Jen is stunned. As are Steph and Lisa, by the way. Zoi leaves and all hell breaks lose.

Spike says Antonia should have taken the back seat. She doesn’t take a back seat on anything. Spike thinks she should be considerate to other people’s opinions. They start yelling over each other. He reminds her that two members of the team wanted to make soup. Antonia reminds him that she said she would. Spike disagrees. She tells him to (sing with me) Stand By Your Dish/And tell the world you love soup/It was your one true wish/Stand By Your DISH.

They yell at each some more. Antonia reminds him that her agreeing to make the soup “is on film, sweetheart.” And I now love Antonia. Thanks. Jen jumps in and yells at Spike for “putting your teammate in the ground.” Well, there was something earthy after all! Spike – “So f****n what?” Jen has now lost her mind.

Meanwhile, Dale says something with earmuffs and Lisa tells him that he’s making it worse. Spike now yells that Lisa would have rather him to go home and that she can “cry over it all night long, ok?” Spike, take your hats and go straight you know where. What a dick.

Dale says something that sounds like the wrong person was sent home and then flicks his beer bottle cap with a finger snap like every jerk that you knew in college did. Lisa says that if you say it over and over again it will not make it better. I wonder if anyone could hear these two or not, because if not, then what happens next would certainly surprise them.

Dale yells, “you get to bitch and whine about everything you f****n feel about. I don’t say anything. I don’t say s**t. The one minute I say s**t about something… That’s bulls**t.” All this time he is pointing in her face and grabbing his crotch. Lisa to her credit sits there and lets the crazy man look like a maniac on national TV. Jen kicks over a chair and gives everyone the evil eye.

Classy group of people here. Classy.

Hysterically, Padma’s cool, sexy voice is the next thing we hear after Dale’s screams and Jen’s kick. Next week, Dale continues confronting Lisa. Lisa thinks he can f**k himself. Jen has it out for Spike, instantly trying to become one of my favorites. And Spike and Frodo take a bath together. Seriously.

Send your comments, questions, and recipes to Jeremy at jeremy@realityshack.com. Just don’t wear any stupid hats.


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