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Top Chef Fodder

Top Chef: Cheftain Planet

zoi.jpgEarth! Fire! Wind (well, Air)! Water! Ahh, but no Heart? Captain Planet would be so disappointed, Bravo. But these days, poor NBC is more in need of his help. So you get a reprieve...for now.

Antonia and Zoi open the episode with frustrations over being in the bottom and their refusal to allow it to happen again. Jennifer is offended on Zoi's behalf, because she's "basically a big fan". So whenever she learns someone doesn't like her life partner's cuisine, she's all "Say what?!" Mmm, foreshadowing!

The cheftestants arrive in the kitchen, where Padman introduces Chef Ming Tsai. He's all about the guess what the Quickfire Challenge is. Anyone? It's the Season 4 Palate Challenge! The chefs will all be individually invited into a darkened kitchen, blindfolded, and handed two cups of various items. Their test is to determine which cup contains the more upscale product. These items include: maple syrup, bacon, soy sauce, some kind of fish, pork, caviar, butter, some fruit, etc. Andrew says if you can't differentiate between products, "you suck". Oh, so full of wisdom.

The contestants' nerves are sky high. Lisa spills water all over the table, Dale gets caviar wrong and feels pissed, Stephanie is floundering, but Antonia is soaring. Of all the seasons she's been watching Top Chef, she's been anticipating this challenge. And she should, as her palate is highly refined. When the results are announced, Stephanie scored the lowest with 6/15. She and Lisa are more visual people. However, Ryan and Jennifer tie with 11/15--to be the runner-ups (and she beat Zoi by only one point)!

But it was, of course, Antonia who emerged as the primary victor with a whopping 12/15. Go Antonia! She's really growing on me. And she has immunity for this episode's Elimination Challenge--which just happens to, once again, involve Meals-on-Wheels. This time, it's a celebrity chef ball and the cheftestants will each be creating individual first courses.

Well, sorta...they first, once again, will draw knives to determine teams. Their objective is to keep it simple and light and set the mood for the entire evening. The four groups will be: Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. It's all about the elements!

In the Water group, we have Andrew, Mark, and Richard--wow, the two strongest males teamed-up yet again. Something smells fishy (er, literally...soon). Water consists of Dale, Lisa, and Stephanie--yet again, the same teammates! Earth's team is comprised of Antonia, Spike, and Zoi--whaddya know? And in Air are (surprise) Jennifer, Nikki, and Ryan. They only have 15 minutes to plan and Lisa is freaking out because her and Dale are butting heads. Stephanie tells us that Lisa's personality is far too strong for Dale, while he's the self-proclaimed asshole. So naturally, they were meant to clash. Lisa is dreading the grocery store, because she wants to do Asian, while Dale is fully against it. Eventually, they manage to reach a consensus and all is well.

Spike pushes the ladies to do butternut squash and Zoi is on board, but Antonia feels it's not enough. Even though she has immunity, she is voicing her opinions vociferously. The other teams seem to be getting along pretty nicely, but I hope at least one of these clashing forces manages to do well.

When they complete their shopping, they then head to the banquet hall and arrive in this enormous kitchen. Mark says it's as huge "as Yankee stadium". Richard is feeling extremely confident and assumes leadership. Lisa is working on her special version of bacon. She's very meticulous and admits she can be a bitch when in her zone. Dale says she's full of "observational negativity". Oh, drama, how I adore thee.

Before plating occurs, Andrew and Mark notice Richard left scales on the salmon. He attempts to clean as many as he can, but they are the first to go. Uh-oh! Naturally, the judges immediately notice this. Poor Ming had 8 or so scales in his salmon. Richard frets, as he realizes his charm is beginning to fade on Tom. However, Fire makes up for Water's faults. They ADORE their dish. Particularly the bacon. Woot!

Air doesn't fair nearly as well, but they turn out to be not so terrible. They're basically the middle of the road. However, Earth fares the worst. One of the dinner patrons says "If I were a judge, I'd send a member of Team Earth home." Ouch! Right in the pyloric sphincter!

Back at judges' table, Fire is called out first. Richard is immediately freaking out. Team Fire is complimented across the board for being spicy, but appealing. Stephanie is complimented for her shrimp and prawn, Dale for something else, and Lisa for her delicious bacon. The winner receives a trip for two to Italy for five days...and that winner turns out to be Lisa! (Probably a partial make-up win for last week, as she came so close with her caramel sauce.) Chef Tsai was quite impressed by the bacon and maple syrup (her glaze on the bacon). And I'm sure her insistence to do an Asian-influenced dish didn't hurt either. Dale is bitter due to her winning simply for bacon. What a whore.

Following her win, Lisa is sent back to the waiting room to call in Water and Earth. Water is naturally criticized about the scales, but also for the bland faux caviar (not as good as last week's) and the parsnip and vanilla combo. Richard pretends he's shocked to hear about his dish being poor. Gimme a break, dude, and get over yourself. Fortunately for them, their team did not receive the worst scores from the judges. That would, of course, be Team Earth.

It seems as though those previews from last week were valid. Antonia had immunity and did nothing truly wrong, except her poor conception. But Spike is called out for his poor carpaccio and Zoi for her unseasoned mushrooms. Spike, although on Zoi's side, tries to save himself by pointing out what Zoi could've done better. Back in the waiting room, Zoi says she's cool with whatever happens. I gotta say I love that she cooks for the sake of cooking, but not for the competition.

During commercial break, a poll is given to the audience. The question is "Which contestant most deserves a spanking for being difficult?" Dale wins by a mile over Antonia and Lisa. Ha! Eat that, douche.

Back at judges' table, it is a consensus that Earth was the worst. And when it's time for someone to be sent home, we say good-bye to one half of our beloved lesbian couple, Zoi. Jennifer is obviously in shock and disbelief. Antonia is crying terribly as she walks Zoi back into the room. Richard is crying because his ass was ALMOST handed to him on a platter of suck. Zoi and Jennifer kiss and cry. The tone in the room is this overwhelming wave of sadness over Zoi's departure. But here she tells us how proud she is and glad that her and her lover were able to compete together.

Following her departure, Spike is furious at Antonia. I think he and Zoi were fairly close. But he accuses Antonia of being unwilling to do his idea, when she CLEARLY said she was more than willing to do butternut squash soup if the other two wanted to. Spike shrugs this off as he and Jennifer exchange words. Antonia reminds the testy Spike that this is all on film and he needs to acknowledge the truth. Then Dale chimes in, much to Lisa's dismay, and he tells her off.

The room is ablaze with fury and this is certainly just the beginning of the tension. The previews convey trouble for Nikki and some slight homoerotic bonding between Mark and Spike...hmm. This could be most intriguing! So return next week and see the results!

Posted by on April 10, 2008 5:52 PM
Permalink |

Season 4 is fixed to have Richard win he was on Iron Chef which seems to have been erased from his bio and has not been mentioned. I thought the show was for Chefs to get a break not promote those who already have. So far no matter how bad his mistakes are he cann’t lose. How can bland be worse than mushy fish scales. .

-- Posted by: matt at April 11, 2008 7:55 AM

Oh, I completely agree there is something fishy here. It's very sketchy that they removed that from his bio. I had no idea. But for anyone else, scales would've been cause for an IMMEDIATE boot. I mean, really...they couldn't just throw some friggin' salt on their platter?! Salt makes EVERYTHING (not sweet, of course) better!

But give it time. Up until this point, Tre was still the pimped one. Maybe they just wanna build suspense for a shocker ;). Oy...I hope so.

-- Posted by: James De Roxtra at April 13, 2008 12:04 AM

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