home Archive Top Chef: Chicago, Episode 7 – A Night at the Improv

Top Chef: Chicago, Episode 7 – A Night at the Improv

Tom shows up to throw another twist: pack everything up, you are cooking at the house for the guests. They scramble. Lisa says that if you didn’t anticipate this and didn’t “haul ass” in the challenge then it is “your f****n problem.” She really anticipated this? Lisa is a super genius, she is a producers’ plant, or she is full of crap. That should be the Bravo poll for the week.

Steph is worried about having only six burners in the house and Rich is confident that he can cook with just fire and water. Maybe he can go on Survivor instead of me.

Commercials – Kelly Ripa for Electrolux. I am sure that she does all of the cooking and preparation for her dinner parties.

Rich exposits for us when we return. They scramble in the kitchen as Nikki tell us there is no room for error in a TH that was either from two weeks ago, or in recent one that proves that she Marge Simpsons her hair all the time.

Spike says that they spent 30 minutes simply tasting and re-seasoning the food. That’s impressive. See, I can complement him. Andrew adds in a moment that they tasted it about 100 times.

The actors arrive. I don’t care who they are so when they speak later, I am not going to bother with the names. FYI. Spike and Andrew serve Course 1 and are reminded to serve the ladies first from the left. We immediately cut to Ted Allen getting served. That’s not right. Ted even said so on his Bravo TV blog.

Spike and Andrew are the Vanilla Love team. Word to your mother. Spike says they improved the whole meal at the market. They used crème fraiche as their vanilla and my wife totally called that as they were making the soup. Ted feels the heat. Tom mentions the “smoky background.” Johnny is fulfilled but thinks it was too large of a portion. Padma shares that she would lick the bowl if not in front of cameras. I would pay good money to see that. Much more than the $40 Erik spent to lick Cirie’s fingers on Survivor.

Jen says they used the bread and asparagus to make a giant penis. Steph thinks the dish “shouts out” orange and asparagus, and… I don’t see it. Jen tells the group about the group sex thing and says “sex”tions instead of sections. Steph describes the “nice long hard log of aged goat cheese” and it is hilarious. Improv Dude feels weird about eating it now. Johnny is having trouble cutting and doesn’t like to fight his food. Another Improver is not turned on by it. Ted thinks it is more of an orgy than a ménage.

Dale is using a corn starch slurry to prepare the food and I immediately think of the Slurry that Mr. Burns cons Lisa into making on The Simpsons. Spike says that “I’ll never understand the food that Rich does, a block of tofu? That big f****n block? It’s a very weird dish.” I promised not to make fun, so I won’t compare their track records. However, Rich used a big f’n block of tofu because HE HAD TO!

Rich plays around by forgetting the word “perplexed.” Get it? He says Dale was the brainchild and they describe that the dish is perplexed because the tofu can’t decide if it is meat or soy. Padma simply makes yummy sounds. Tom says it is very good. Ted thinks the curry is terrific, it has nice heat and is a nice job responding to “perplexed.” Tom says he would have been “bummed out” to get tofu but they went for it and made it center stage. Improv Chick liked how they complemented each other, which is huge in improv.

Antonia is searching for the perfect fish. That sounds like a Tom Robbins theme. Spike correctly snarks that there was no polish sausage and adds that it went out cold and looked like turds. They make very little aired comments on the dish and actually take a shot of tequila to punctuate the “drunk” and offer none with the meal. Wow, it was almost as if they wanted to go home. They did everything wrong here and were probably saved by the fact that the food tasted good even if it barely resembled the challenge.

Ted confirms that it tastes good, but says that if the primary ingredient is Polish sausage, that he finds it strange to fund a huge piece of Chilean sea bass on his plate. Improv Dude says that the first three teams used the words as inspiration and this one treated the suggestions as a burden. Dude, you said it. My wife said that drunk and Polish sausage go together so well and there was so much you could have done with it. Also, if they didn’t want to do the sausage, why not present the whole thing as a giant Polish joke? The dish was so dumb and drunk it forgot it was sausage and thought it was fish.

Then another Improver makes sausage/penis jokes with Ted. That’s enough about that.

Frodo thinks their dish is bloody sexy and asks who doesn’t like pork. I concur. Hobbits love their pork. Frodo tells the group that the pork was very depressed because it had to share a plate with Brussel sprouts. HA! I don’t actually see bacon on the dish, just the pork. However, Ted complements the bacon, so there is that. The dish is described as comfort food, like you would eat when depressed. Off-screen improver thinks to better show depression they should have made the sauce with their tears. HAHA!

Clean Up! Rich thinks all the food was good which should make the choice interesting. Jen thinks packing her knives up is a bad omen. It sure is, sister.

Commercials – A man with a giant umbrella is selling insurance. Keep that out of The Penguin’s hands!

Meat Locker of Doom! Is this in the house? Or did they have to go back to the Top Chef Kitchens? Padma calls in Dale, Spike, Andrew and Rich in that order for some reason. They are the winners and are happy.

Spike took the challenge literally and they did not prepare, which is impressive. Johnny thinks the salt balanced the dish out. Tom gives them a HUGE complement by saying it was the best seasoned dish all season. Kudos, guys. Spike almost ruins things by saying that his mom told him the best test of a chef is to make a good soup. Of course, we watched Ming Tsai tell him that two weeks ago. Ted says he could feel the love in the soup.

Rich breaks it down that the curry was the green and is the most perplexing flavor. Tom asks about the beef fat and Dale points to Rich. Blais says that “tofu is just tofu” and they played on the concept of tofu as a steak. Johnny liked how they acted as a team and tells both teams they kicked some butt. Dale and Rich win and get $2500 worth of Calphalon products which materialize on the table somehow. Dale says that when he had immunity Richard drove and Rich let him drive during this challenge.

Some Top Chef Trivia – Dale is the sixth contestant to win consecutive elimination challenges (Tre, Casey, Betty, Elia and Tiffani) and Rich is the fourth contestant to win both the quickfire and elimination challenges in the same episode (Hung, Sara M., Michael M.).

They return to the Locker and Antonia claps for Dale and says “two in a row.” She is then sent to the judges with Lisa, Steph and Jen. Frodo and Nikki can revel in their third place in silence.

Tom asks who decided on the chorizo and is skeptical when Antonia says they both did. Lisa says she has only ever had Polish sausage with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut and would never dream of serving that. Excuse me while I go get that plate full of delicious! Come on, Lisa, stop taking away all of the affection I had for you after Dale grabbed his ‘nads in front of you.

Tom tells them that Polish sausage was their assignment and Johnny suggested cooking it in beer, which they dismissed as an option in Whole Foods. Antonia says something about honoring the challenge from now on and Tom corrects her that there may not be a “from now on” for her. Lisa sulks that it is her first time in the bottom and is upset that it is over a “slight word thing.” Again, it was the challenge, dumb ass. Tom tells her that all teams made good food, but they had nothing else to go on other than technicalities.

Steph says they like cheese and used it to bring together the dish. Tom thinks the cheese was front and center rather than the asparagus and orange. He adds that the ménage a trios was a good idea, but they had more than three things on the plate. Johnny is blunter in stating that the presentation was a train wreck and Jen is surprised by that. Jen describes the giant penis joke and Tom starts to laugh. She adds that they “wanted the asparagus to be coming up off the salad.” Seriously. She said that. Padma is giggling to herself. Johnny asks if the asparagus was supposed to be erect. I must say that I wonder if the lesbian should have been making the penis jokes here. Is that politically incorrect? I don’t know. But I know that I have little experience with an electric saw and would probably shy away from making crafts that resemble it.

Anyway – Jen gets slammed for the bread too, Ted had to cut his and struggled. Johnny calls it a clunker and hard to get into. Jen made the bread and the cheese – the two parts the judges disliked and not anything that had to do with orange or asparagus.

Back in the Locker of Doom, Lisa thinks they would have been better off making polish sausage in beer. Well, yes, you would have. That was the damn challenge. That is why Ryan went home last week – he thought the challenge was beneath him. She and Antonia really annoyed me this week.

Tom thinks that chorizo is not Polish sausage. True. Ted thinks Lisa said blatantly that she didn’t want to do the challenge given to her. True. Johnny says they used the word “improv” too loosely and they can’t change the terms of a challenge because they didn’t like the ingredient. Amen to that.

Lisa adds that they would have been criticized for serving bar food. NO! You wouldn’t have. She is right in saying that as chefs you should not serve cheap food, but even an idiot like me knows that if you are remotely talented that you could take any ingredient and make it taste good. The judges may have criticized you in a regular challenge for using Polish sausage, but they knew it was your challenge! Way to totally drop the ball and be a sourpuss while doing so.

Tom thinks the asparagus tasted worse and was dominated by the cheese. Johnny thought it was his least favorite. Personally, I would have sent home Lisa for the reasons already listed above, but Johnny seemed to dislike Jen and Steph’s dish and appeared to be the only one with a strong opinion against a dish. That may have been the tiebreaker.

Commercials – Hidden Valley Ranch on popcorn. Just don’t sit next to me at the movies with that.

Tom sums up the problems. Padma doesn’t even get her catchphrase as Tom knifes Jen. Antonia is sad. Jen is in tears and I feel for her – it sucks to get eliminated on something other than the taste of your food, but that’s the show. Rich is very surprised by the result and tells her when hugging her that she’s a great chef. They all seem to have liked her. Dale says he was a bit scared of her. Well, at least she won’t be doing anything for Zoi anymore, well… maybe.

Next week: Kids in chef hats. Spike slashes a child. It was inevitable. Andrew gives his a weapon. Frodo thinks Tom dislikes him.

Power rankings

1 – Rich
2 – Steph
3 – Dale
4 – Andrew
5 – Frodo
6 – Antonio
7 – Lisa
8 – Spike
9 – Nikki

You can contact Jeremy at jeremy@realityshack.com.