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Top Chef: Chicago, Episode 10: Welcome to Spike’s Headwear Emporium


Previously on Top Chef: Relay Race. Winners WOOOOO and Dale needs Earmuffs. Nikki doesn’t want to be on Dale’s team. Wedding Wars. Andrew’s culinary boner. No sleep. Nikki’s isn’t good. Dale is a little bitch, says Spike. Nikki takes her Italian experience and goes back to evil, evil Staten Island.

Padma monologue and credits. Harold is by far the coolest Top Chef winner.

Once again we open the show with Spike sleeping. It’s the Top Chef equivalent of the Lost eye close-up. Lisa in a bathroom turban and Steph plucks her eyebrows and talks really fast about how it sucks to see Nikki gone and that it is gonna get harder and harder. I call for a moratorium on this speech now, the one about how the game is tough and gets tougher near the end. That goes for all reality shows.

Rich is very sleepy and is wearing mandals. I have a personal rule, nay, a law, that prohibits mandals (man sandals) from ever appearing on my feet. Ever. I certainly don’t care to see other men’s feet anywhere else either. Especially in restaurants. Especially on the CHEF! Anyway, Rich says they were up for over 40 hours and are now back up again for the Quickfire challenge.

Spike is shirtless and I think I would rather see Rich’s feet. Spike calls Dale a bitch again and refers back to Dale’s Episode One statement of not being there to make friends. Spike questions why you would want to be an outcast and an ass. Really, Spike calling someone ELSE an ass. The first of a couple of pot and kettle moments this week. He speaks directly to Dale in his TH (Talking Head interview) about how this will one day haunt him.

Dale is also shirtless and doing his hair. He owns up to the fact that everyone thinks he’s an ass and it is emotional and intense but he is focused on the task at hand. Andrew says everyone is beat down except for him. He is just crazy. He woke up with a “fire inside his stomach and felt that he would stab somebody or make some awesome food.” Good thing there are many cops at hand in this episode because someone may want to call CSI: Chicago and find the crime scene. Lisa is likely the prime choice for victim, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. .

After Andrew speaks a little Spanish (I think) and quacks (really), teams get in the TOYOTA HIGHLANDERS and go to cook.

QUICKFIRE! Can I talk about Padma’s off the shoulder ensemble? Very nice. I believe that she has put on her A game because of the guest this week: my wife’s secret boyfriend (with Jon Stewart and David Cook), one Mr. Sam Talbot who deserved to win Season 2. Antonia says he is tall, dark and handsome and can cook, so sign her up. My only critiques are that he is a mumbler and that he likes to shave people’s heads.

On a side note, if Sam is the biggest eye candy for the ladies (and gay men – this is Bravo after all) in Top Chef history, I would have to say that the only equivalent for the men (excepting Padma of course, but for every Padma fan there is a Tom fan) was Casey in Season 3. Interestingly enough Sam and Casey were arguably the best in their season (especially Sam) and both choked in the finals and lost to someone that was really just a one-trick pony (Ilan especially, Hung showed some range). Just a thought.

Padma challenges the chefs to bring back a dish on hard times: salad. Is salad really on hard times? Did salad apply for a sub-prime loan? Dale says salads are just as hard to make as roasting a filet. I disagree. I can make a salad. Sam wants to bring sexy back to salads, or he just wants to quote Justin Timberlake. Cry me a river, indeed. Andrew thinks it takes more than just veggies on a plate; it needs thought and creativity to make a salad sexy. I think it would require Marisa Miller.

They have to create a sexy salad in 45 minutes. Steph is mildly surprised by the length of time as am I. They could almost plant a whole garden in that amount of time.

Ready, Go! Running – why, 45 minutes, remember? Spike says that Quickfires are not his forte and needs to step it up. I would add that Elimination Challenges aren’t exactly his forte. Will Forte would do a better job. Oh, and this week, Spike ran out of hats and is going with do-rags and skull caps. Amazingly, while still looking like a bonehead, this rag is working better than the hats.

Spike is cooking something that he says “screams let’s have sex after eating this salad.” I must say that at no time in my life as a sexually active male have the words sex and salad been uttered together before. Certainly not as much as they are coming together in this article. Shut up, I didn’t mean it that way. Such a dirty mind, you guys.

Rich says that salad is a loose word. He is making a ceviche of sorts with veggies and fruits, but Rich doesn’t seem too into this challenge. Lisa looks at other dishes and she sees simple and basic. Lisa also thinks there are people left that don’t deserve to be there and are not talented chefs. Pot. Kettle. Remember back to the first couple of episodes when Lisa never spoke? I miss those days; one might call them the salad days of Season 4. Sorry about that one.

She says their personalities suck ass. We see Dale as she says this, because they hate/love each other. I think they could have cut to almost anyone this season and have it be correct.

Steph cuts artichokes and says she is going for fall flavors – remember that they filmed this during the fall of 2007. Antonia loves fatty salads and especially ones with poached eggs and bacon. That is my kind of salad! She looks at Lisa using high quality ingredients and comments that she wasn’t always worried about Lisa. She is now for some reason I guess.

Andrew calls the 7 minute warning. Running, panic and plating. Steph fails to get her artichoke chips on board. She knows the flavors are nice but we all know that she is dead in the water here.

The judging by Padma and Sam:
Andrew: Thai Fruit Salad – Mango, strawberries, Thai dressing with Siracha. Sam says his has good flavor, and Andrew responds by making an X with his arms for some reason.
Spike: Calls his “Sensual Beef Salad” with skirt steak, pineapple, radish and cucumber. Sam mumbles something about contrast
Lisa: “Sexy Banana Salad” with squid, lobster tails, bananas, yuzu vinaigrette and chili flakes. Sam tastes no spice and Padma only tastes banana. No comments about Padma and bananas, you guys. I know it is supposed to be sexy.
Steph: Fall Duet with pear vinaigrette, pear, artichoke & artichoke chips (in theory): Sam gives a simple thank you – not good.
Antonia: Poached egg, wild mushroom salad with bacon vinaigrette and squash blossoms. Her egg yolk explodes out when it is cut, nothing sexual here, folks. Sam thinks it has great flavor, and Antonia giggles cutely like a schoolgirl. Seriously, Antonia is growing on me. Maybe I actually have someone to root for.
Rich: Fresh and clean salad of ceviche with fruits and vegetables. Another Sam-grunted thank you
Dale: Poached chicken salad with nori paste, napa cabbage, and rice wine vinegar. Sam gives him credit for a poached chicken that is not dry.

Bottom Three
Rich – Sam expected more acid, it just wasn’t there. Rich finally has a bad challenge.
Steph – The dish was lacking. She is also hit for not plating in 45 minutes.
Lisa – Sam liked idea, but he can only taste banana. Lisa’s bitchface makes its first of many appearances this week. Dale smiles, because of the love/hate thing.

Top Three
Spike – He’s surprised along with the rest of us. Sam liked it, the pineapple worked
Antonia – Sam thinks it was a great salad and that there is nothing sexier than breaking into a yolk. I think Antonia’s knees just buckled.
Dale – Dish was unique and we get Lisa’s bitchface again

The winner is Spike who is really surprised. He THs that it is his first win, and wants to know if he is on Punk’d. If only, Spike, if only.

Elimination Challenge
Sam and Padma bring out “nasty foods” according to Lisa, but that she may eat anyway. Rich likes greasy cheeseburgers now and again for what that is worth. I must say that I have had my share of just about everything on those platters.

Padma says one of the biggest challenges facing America is obesity and diabetes. Quite true, but I would rank a few others before them. Sam is diabetic – I forgot about that – and finds it hard to find food sometimes that is low in carbs and high in flavor. These foods are an average lunch for the cadets at the Chicago Police Academy. The challenge is make them a box lunch. Shut up, I’m done with the sex jokes. The lunch must have lean protein, whole grain, fruit and veggie. Remember that.

Spike gets a 10 minute shopping head start and his four ingredients cannot be used by the other chefs. Spike is going to show some tricks up his sleeve… ok, hang on. He’s now doing this just to annoy me. On his head now is a bright pink, polka-dotted do-rag. I think he is just picking crap off the floor of the house and strapping it on his head. Next will be Lisa’s turban, Antonia’s underpants, Rich’s mandals and Dale’s ego.

Steph expects crap from Spike as a result of the reward. Andrew isn’t worried because he has a background in nutrition and will do some fancy s**t to surprise everyone and he also uses some very strange voice to punctuate his point.

Commercials – A hot blonde trying to sell me on a Volvo. It won’t work, but it is the right strategy.


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