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Top Chef: Chicago, Episode Nine – I Have A Culinary Boner Right Now


J.P. wants Italian food, bruscetta and assorted crustini. He also likes shrimp lobster scallops which I don’t think we will ever see at this wedding. He does love Chilean sea bass. Nikki tells him that she feels the same way. Spike confirms that they are going with Italian food because Nikki is Italian like the groom and they “hit it off right away.” Don’t let Corey hear that! Nikki tells J.P. that they have very similar palates, which are sad because she made blueberry mushrooms at one point in this season.

Corey likes potatoes, pasta, and pizza, as well as “fried anything.” Her family is from the south. She and Rich bond over their Georgia roots – ATL in the House! Rich calls their menu “Midwest meets South.” I call that a Final Four bracket matchup. Corey loves steak if really well-seasoned, with bleu cheese and mushrooms. Antonia points out that a lot of classic dishes on most catering menus were out because Corey doesn’t care for them.

J.P. wants German chocolate cake and hazelnut. Corey says that cake is her favorite food and wants layers and the outside to look interesting. Corey sounds pretty awesome. Steph says that a wedding cake is no joke, “People spend two days making cake, and spend $5000 on them. It is a pain in the ass.”

Antonia suggests braised, pulled pork and Rich suggests rolling it up. Andrew thinks this is a strong team, but won’t get overconfident. He throws out an idea for a pureed chicken nugget or something. Be careful, that could be the next shake idea at McDonalds. Antonia THs that “it’s very clear that Andrew has only been cooking for five years.” REALLY? I am more impressed that he is where he is now. She adds that you never do crispy chicken in these settings because it doesn’t sit well.

Nikki says that in her business they always do family-style serving and always have flatbread. Dale looks bored. Both Lisa and Spike defer to Nikki with Lisa adding that “I am your bitch, tell me what to do.” Nikki suggests figs and Dale shoots it down. Nikki doesn’t want to be on Dale’s team, because she knows “he will point fingers, he doesn’t work well with others and half the house doesn’t want to work with him” For his part, Dale basically agrees that no one likes each other but adds that this is not a strong team.

Chefs go shopping in their Toyota Highlanders! Rich points out the women are buying meat and guys are buying flowers. Spike has one of his best moments of clarity with this: “I need to get Dale and Lisa together. Lisa is thick-skinned and can handle Dale. Nikki might just get flustered and pissed off. I know that she can lead us to victory on this one, but she needs reinforcement not someone that will contradict her and debate with flavors.” Seriously, great comment and perfect way to play the personalities.

Lisa is looking for beets and Dale gets a log of Parmesan Cheese and makes thrusting motions. Great. Spike gets a text that they should get rapini but he doesn’t know what that is. HA! By the way, Spike, it is broccoli rabe.

Andre and Rich seem to have found “sexy food.” Andrew says that Rich is a very strong character and he assumes executive chef duties naturally. People are intimated by his talent and don’t challenge him. I can see that.
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Rich says that he was ok picking the flowers because he “watches a little Martha Stewart and wears pink shoes” so he must know flowers. Steph doesn’t want him to get sunflowers and adds that “boys don’t know how to pick out flowers.” Um, you and Antonia sent them there.

It is 9:00 p.m. in the kitchen. Lisa says the task is huge and there will be no sleeping. She doesn’t do much Italian which I assume becomes the reason she chose to do the cake.
Nikki is amazed that she making pasta again, specifically tortellini. Spike is dealing with the mixed vegetables and cheese. Dale is “grabbing all of the protein” on the filet mignon, Chilean Sea Bass and Orecciette with ragout. The cake is chocolate hazelnut and Lisa wants to have it done and ready to go, because if something goes wrong, they are “f****d.”

Antonia gets Rich some brown sugar and says it is all about communication. She is doing the pizza, pulled pork sandwich, and short ribs and blue cheese in phyllo. Andrew is on the crispy chicken and creamed spinach. Rich is on the brisket and filet mignon. Steph never made this much cake before. Corey doesn’t want a “Suzy Homemaker, Duncan Hines cake” she wants it to look like she paid money for it.

Rich wants high quality food because wedding food usually sucks. Hey, isn’t that what the bride and groom do for a living? He personally doesn’t want that to be like a “second class caterer that pulled up with Beef Wellington.”

What’s wrong with Beef Wellington and Duncan Hines? That is my question!

Nikki explains her seasoning choices of “half sherry vinegar half water.” She is not down with making all decisions. She says so while carrying a comically huge Glad box. Lisa rightfully says that Nikki doesn’t want the leadership and that is not the smartest thing to do especially since this is in Nikki’s area of expertise.

Spike asks if Dale can “finish off the zucchini.” I am sure that will not be an important little conversation. Right?

Commercials – Corelle shows a Project Runway for plates, it seems. Fierce.

11:15 p.m. Rich says that he started off running, then jogging a bit later on. Then real time sets in and it is a game against the clock.

2:00 a.m. Andrew says that “in my life I have never made creamed spinach.” He has “literally a sh**load of spinach to do.” Literally? If so, that is not where you want to be storing your spinach. He is also “literally buried in spinach now” and it is Popeye’s wet dream. Literally one of my biggest pet peeves. If he was literally buried in spinach right now we would not be able to understand a word he was saying.

Rich suggests that they should squeeze a little lemon and maybe put star anise in the cream sauce. Andrew does not want Rich chiming in his ear. Rich suggests a little egg white as well.

Lisa tells Nikki that she thinks Dale is doing a half-ass job and that his filets are burnt. She questions why he is doing 120 things, but if only 25 are actually good, what’s the point?

Spike needs to get his hands in one dish and “cook it the way I know how to cook it.” He gloms the sea bass away from Dale, in what was a great move since all he was really doing was prep work previously.

4:17 a.m. Nikki is lingering on the pasta, and asks Dale about the sauces. The sauce is “not a typical tomato sauce.” He explains that the ragout has “healthy tomatoes” which I assume beats sickly tomatoes any day of the week. Not sure of the state of Tomato Health Care, but if it is anything like that of humans in America it sucks something awful. Nikki and Dale seem to have a “different philosophy on ragout.” One of the lesser known theories of Rousseau.

5:33 a.m. and Lisa is fantasizing about buttermilk pancakes when they wake up. Nikki doesn’t expect to go to bed at all. Dale is drinking Red Bull or something. Nikki is “tired, dizzy, dehydrated, and wants to go to sleep more than ever before in her life.” Nikki is dehydrated? Come on, you are in a kitchen! Get a drink of water!

Rich drinks his pick me up and says that lack of sleep affects people in different ways. We see Antonia babbling to visually make that point. Rich says that Andrew stops talking, which is unique for Andrew. I can only imagine. Lisa tells Antonia that her facial expression has not changed for seven hours. And it is a really funny pouty face.

7:33 a.m. A rested Tom shows up. Could it have killed him to bring bagels and coffee? Tom talks about the first season wedding disaster and Steph again shows her fan cred by promising no egg shells in the cake.

Lisa is not sure if it is morning and will be putting last minute touches on cake. Tom thinks that “this should be old hat” for Nikki since she is Italian. Dale hilariously forgets all of his dishes. Guys, these people are really tired.

Tom says just that and thinks that the J.P. Team has the easier task because most people like Italian food, but it is less interesting to cook. He thinks Lisa has a good excuse for having a simple cake because the groom wanted it that way, but Tom hopes the groom didn’t want it to be ugly, because… it is. He thinks it looks like a battleship. A5 – hit!

Team Corey has simple tastes but must pull them off well. Food from the Heartland and South needs to be well-seasoned and delicious. Speaking as a guy from the North, our food is usually not bland and disgusting. Tom says this is a strong team but strong teams have failed before. Steph is bringing cake in pieces – that is very smart. Steph has also seen Ace of Cakes apparently. Lisa is putting hers in a box, holding on for “dear life.” If it smashes she will “need therapy.”

Commercials – Quiznos copies Subway’s $5 sandwich. At least they have a woman eating a $5 bill in the commercial.

Damn I hate 1:15 episodes – too much to cover!

We are at the wedding and I get flashbacks to my days working in video. The bride is walked down by her mom. I wonder if her dad died, that makes me sad. Poor Corey. Spike is tired and tells Lisa not to yell at him. Poor sensitive Spike.

Padma brings in the judges and for yet another episode we have more than one Gail/Gale. This Gale is Gale Gand, owner of Tru restaurant in Chicago and as Steph tells us, the top pastry chef in the city.

Corey and J.P. kiss – awwww, congrats guys.

Steph’s cake looks great. She has decorated it with the flowers that Rich and his pink shoes bought. My wife and I had flowers on our cake, it is really a nice touch.

PLATING! WAITERS! CHAMPAGNE!
Tom mingles and Corey says something either cute or sad, I can’t make up my mind. Regarding her new husband, “I wanted him to love me they way I loved him and one day he did.”

Steph’s ribs look REALLY good and the mother of the bride agrees. Gail goes to town on it as well. The pork sandwich has a homemade pickle that also sounds great. Corey finds it a bit messy. Gail and Corey both rave about Antonia’s pizza. She is totally on a roll the last two episodes.


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