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Top Chef: New York, Episode 5 – Love and Marriage, Goes Together Like, um, a Random Collection of Sushi Ingredients?


Previously on Top Chef – Live TV shows. Rocco DeSpirito. Really, really hot shrimp. The Nanny rocks the challenge. Alex and his hat don’t. Meredith Viera is strangely cool. Kathie Lee Gifford is still extremely scary. Alex is gone. I wonder if the Goofy Hat Baton has been passed.

Credits – Food and Wine Magazine. Get used to seeing them tonight. Also, anyone else love the random “yeahs” at the end of the Top Chef opening music? Just me?

NYC wakes up. Except for NY Daniel. He’s still sleeping. Jeff is shirtless again. Melissa thinks being in the bottom was a wake-up call and she needs to be smarter since this is the biggest competition in her life and is not a game. The Nanny is sweeping the floor as she interviews about being confident. She’s 41 after all and competing against younger people. I can’t see how that is relevant here. They aren’t in a drinking contest or Indian wrestling. In fact, the older you are, the more experience in the kitchen you should have.

Now for the oddest love story in a long time. It seems that Stefan has the hots for Jamie. The lesbian. Well, maybe there aren’t any lesbians in Finland. There really is no other explanation. If he thinks he can “turn” her, a la Kramer with the pro golfer, well, I don’t think you have that kind of game, Finn. Anyway, he has elected to do a mini-Project Runway project to woo her by giving her teddy bear pants made out of a Calphalon pot holder. Even in goofy lesbian wooing, Top Chef manages some product placement.

Quicker – Padma and her pig tails invite in the Final 12. There is nobody with her, a fact that escapes nobody. Tonight is the Taste Test palate challenge. Jamie says she has a great palate and is upset that she has repeatedly come very close to winning challenges and never has. Knives are drawn and it seems they are being paired up.  They will go head-to-head in a Name That Tune format. Instead of naming Big Band and Standards classics in notes, they will name the ingredients in various sauces.

Hosea vs. NY Daniel. Hosea thinks Dan has more of a brain than people give him credit for. Personally, I think he has less. In fact, as this episode progresses, he seems to devolve before our very eyes, like that classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. Another TV analogy? Ok, I think NY Daniel might experience the same thing that Kevin did in The Office when Amy Ryan’s character thought he may be a bit, well, different.

Finn and Jamie are also paired off and Finn is loving it. I don’t think he understands what the pairing off is going to entail. NY Daniel predicts that he will win, “I am a winner,” he says. Padma flips a coin and makes me laugh by slapping her hand very loudly against her arm. The first sauce is shrimp and lobster bouillabaisse and they have 15 seconds to taste.

Hosea says he can name that sauce in four ingredients. So does NY Daniel. Amy Ryan just gave him a kind look. Padma tells him to go one higher if he wants to bid. He calls Hosea’s “bluff.” Hosea rattles off onion, shrimp, lemon and carrot. Done. Oh, they have brackets. Quick get in your sheets to win the pool!

Jeff vs. The Nanny. She can name that sauce in five ingredients. He goes to six. She calls. He lists fennel, salt, crab. NO! Thanks for playing. The Nanny advances. Speaking of The Nanny, anyone else hear that Fran Drescher wants to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate? I guess if Al Franken has a shot, why not. I am waiting for Urkel to emerge in Illinois. The Nanny says that the soup has 30 ingredients and Jeff guessed the wrong shellfish.

Jamie thinks that Finn is a “button pusher.” Anyway he can name that sauce in 5 ingredients – salt, lemon, pepper, lobster and olive oil. He then makes a gesture and sound effect in confessional about a butt whipping, but is seemed more like a slapping. Finn is starting to creep me out a bit.

Eugene can name that sauce in four ingredients. He starts with fish sauce. NO! Leah advances. Fabio lets Radhika try with only three ingredients. I don’t think he understood the challenge. One of those stupid American game shows from the 70s that’s beneath him. I bet he hated the Joker’s Wild too. She goes with salt, lobster and celery to advance. Carla beats Melissa with cream, salt, lobster and fennel.

Round 2 – Thai Green Curry. Hosea and The Nanny get into serious bidding, with it going to seven ingredients for Hosea. He impressively goes through coconut milk, sugar, Thai basil, ginger, salt, pepper and Thai chili. Finn is confident as he goes against Leah, who thinks Finn is an asshole. This bidding goes up to eight. He goes with onion, tamarin, lemongrass, coconut milk, salt, vegetable oil, ginger and sugar. Well played, Finn.

Radhika and Carla go up to seven as well. Carla wins after Radhika attempts to go with coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, salt, and chili powder. D’oh! Radhika says she lost her mind.

The Final Round is a three-way – not the kind that Finn would have wanted, I think. This one will be like a spelling bee with each of them listing an ingredient to Mexican Mole Sauce. My wife starts shouting out ingredients to this one. That was kind of funny. Carla starts with peanut butter. Um, no. Peanuts, maybe. So she is out before anyone else starts. Finn says chocolate. He has a good strategy – go with the obvious ones first. Hosea – sesame. Finn – pepper. Hosea – raisin. I think. Couldn’t really hear that one well. Finn – cayenne pepper. Hosea – garlic. Finn – tomato paste. NO! So Hosea needs one more to win. He says oil. Padma wants more. Veggie oil. Hosea wins. He thinks Finn is tough and has a huge ego, so it was fun beating him.

Commercials – I bought Mamma Mia for my wife and later found out she had no desire to see an ABBA musical staring Meryl Streep. I will never understand women.

Elimination challenge – More knife drawing. Old. New. Borrowed. Blue. So, it’s a wedding. The Nanny says that “me being married, I know the phrase – something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” I hate to break it to her, but that is not a nugget that you only learn when you get married. Anyway, so they are clearly being divided into teams and Radhika does not want Finn. She’d rather be on Satan’s team. I think Satan may not make shrimp as spicy as Melissa, at least Finn is good.


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