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Top Chef: Chicago, er, Puerto Rico, Episode 13 – You Won The F****n' Bronze Medal


Tom says that this is a big job and they need a little help. It’s another March of the Dead Chefs as Dale, Nikki, Spike and Andrew make the long walk down. Lisa does NOT want to work with Dale. She says that he has blown up at her several times and they have never gotten along. She and Andrew also had a problem because he thinks she threw him under the bus. Well, you did. She thinks her options are limited.

Steph’s big reward from the Quickfire is to assign the dead chefs to a finalist. Because she is awesome, Steph says that she decided to have people get along because she didn’t want screaming in the kitchen. As a result, she picks Dale for herself. Partly because she has known him for 10 years and can work with him and also because she knows that he is the most talented one left. She gives Spike to Richard, Nikki to Antonia and Lisa gets Andrew. He THs that he plays with honor and will try to help her win.

I think Steph did Lisa a huge favor here because Andrew is probably the second best chef there, especially when serving as second fiddle. I don’t know if Antonia and Nikki are a good pair as they are very similar and there is not any contrast that could aid the dishes.

I would like to get a screen cap of Padma’s green dress ensemble here. Tom is yammering on about something but I have no idea. They will send the Dead Chefs off to the market while the finalists stay back and butcher the pig. Awww, poor Dr. Strangepork.

Lisa says she would rather shop than butcher, and to tell the truth, so would 91% of the viewing public. Richard gets a bad hit here as Spike’s top talent is butchering as we saw last week. Oh well.

Steph says that while planning they each had their own Wilber sitting there. Hey, leave the pop culture pig jokes to me, please! She and Dale discuss braised pork belly and she THs that average people when they eat pork “go to the supermarket and get chops or ribs and not think to themselves that this came out of a pig that they just saw walking around.” Walking around? What supermarket does Steph go to in Chicago? Free range pigs?

Richard wants to cut off the head and feet and serve a dish called “head to toe.” He feels he needs to be inspired to show who he is in a dish and he thinks Spike cooks the same way. He thinks if Spike buys fresh ingredients it will be ok. He tells Spike that they are partners in this challenge. Richard is a very good teammate to have.

Antonia and Nikki are planning a traditional meal. Lisa is as well and tells Andrew that she will not use her usual Asian flair. Richard thinks it is a bad idea to do Puerto Rican food; it is like playing someone else’s game. He thinks you should play your game. Lisa says that she knows Latin food and Latin flavors and is confident that people will enjoy it.

In the market, they have $250 and 45 minutes to shop. Nikki thinks the market is crazy and she has a hard time finding things she is familiar with. She gets what looks good. Andrew is going to buy lots of stuff, but the workers speak no English. He THs that he refers to colors like “esta, roja, (makes the sign language sign for ball). I do visual s**t to get what I want. Or I come across looking like a retard, which happens more often than not.” Then he uses the word plastic-o.

Spike? He is speaking Spanish. Dale is gathering up black plantains that he says look rotten and the people don’t mess with them, but they are just like candy. Steph will love that.

Back at the Oinker Sisters’ funeral, Lisa says “happy hogging.” Steph has never butchered a full pig, but she thinks it is like all animals and that you just follow the bones. Lisa thinks it is like the Flintstones and that a 60 pound pig is a lot of work. She then chops at it with what looks like a machete. Steph thinks this looks too natural for her. I think she may want to try out for Survivor!

Richard breaks his mallet on the pig, and then Lisa does the same and laughs. She says that “the fact that I’m Jewish, this is what’s happening now.” You know, the pork thing.

Antonia has a funny TH where she says, “I was like, what are you doing over there?” She disturbingly slices off a leg when she says, “all I need is my chef knife and my steel.” She talks about how easy it is to just pop the leg out of the socket before she smiles and says, “it sounds terrible.” It does. Steph apologizes to her pig, calling it Buddy.

Richard saws through the bone and starts thinking about a Haitian kid that he grew up with that drank a malted-like drink that tasted like caramel beer. He didn’t like it as a kid, but lately has been using it to glaze rubs. He thinks that they may have the drink here. He takes out his communicator and Kirks to Spike about a special request for Malta. Spike Spocks back that it is cool.

Spike is almost redshirted when he comes back to be startled by a bird in the kitchen. (Three Star Trek jokes in a row!) The bird gets a Holy Crap from Antonia and Andrew shouts “Pigeon Wars!” Richard and Spike give high fives and Antonia likes what Nikki brought back. Antonia is amazed by the mangoes and Nikki Monicas back “I KNOW!”

Richard is a lefty, who knew? Spike lays out the greens and Richard comments about the cramped nature of a small kitchen with eight chefs. He has brought green painter’s tape and hesitates when Antonia asks him for some. Between this and malta, our boy is showing himself once again to be smart and creative.

Dale wants Steph to taste the rub and feels it has a nice spice to it. No foreshadowing here…

Lisa passive aggressively says that Andrew didn’t get any scallions. He comments that Lisa has a very strong personality. That is of course a euphemism for “giant pain in the ass.” He adds that “if it’s not what she wants, she’ll toss that s**t right in the garbage.”

After a well-edited Lisa F-bomb, Richard comments that Lisa is a bit much sometimes as she has a bad attitude and is a grey cloud. Richard rarely talks smack, Lisa has everyone hating on her. Lisa does some more passive-aggressive behavior when she moves Andrew away from a device because “she is a bit faster at it.”

Montage of cooking and Dale breaking a stick for some reason. Lisa gives a “Nice!” when someone spills something everywhere. It looks like her water broke. Mazel Tov!

Everyone struggles to get fridge space and Steph comments about how the Dead Chefs were really good and organized as the camera pans down to this one lonely pan of meat sitting out on the counter. In the summer. In the tropics. Uh oh.

It is sunrise and the chefs have returned. Dale admits to Steph what happened. He THs that he walked in and stared at the pork. She lets him off and scraps the dish because she doesn’t want everyone to get sick at the party. No temper tantrum, no blame. Nothing. Steph? She is a classy lady.

Dale THs that “If I get her sent home, I’ll never forgive myself. It is like someone pulled my heart out and stomped on it. F**K!” I have given Dale some hell this season, but that TH shows me something. I don’t think Dale is a jerk. I think he has some temper issues, but to react that way shows he has some class as well. Also, if someone like Steph likes him, he can’t be all bad.

Cooking. Frying. Spike says he learned a lot from Richard. Blais says that he always has something behind his dishes, something a little tricky and interesting (as he blowtorches pig feet!) He says that he likes equipment and gadgets, but it is important to simplify and focus on execution and not bite off more than you can chew. It is that statement that makes me think he is going to win it all, and is also the reason that Marcel lost Season 2.


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