Top Chef, episode 5

God versus Ditka in a game a’ golf. Ditka.

Spike wants to get to the final four.
Jennifer misses Zoi and thinks she got booted too soon.
Ryan observes everyone is upset because things are “gettin’ super tense”.
Lisa is still upset because of the Glad Storeroom argument with Dale.
Dale warns Lisa that people are irritated with her griping and moaning. Lisa doesn’t care.

Quickfire! Lots of beers. Guest judge Koren Grieveson of Avec (I used to work for the coffee company that does their coffee – their blend was delicious). Challenge is called “Simple Pleasures”, creating a dish that pairs well with a particular beer.

This is a boring challenge. I won’t bore you with who did what. The beers are sort of all over the place in terms of quality. Michelob, Red Hook, Bass, Tiger, Ichiban, Hoegaarten (the best of the bunch), Stella, Grolsch (which could be hard since it’s so skunky). Worst: Nikki, Spike & Dale.
Best: Richard, Stephanie, Jennifer. Immunity winner: Jennifer, doin it for Zoi.

Elimination Challenge: Cooking at a tailgating party for a Bears game.

Spike wants wings, Dale makes ribs, Richard doesn’t know how to cook for a bunch of blue collar jamokes so he decides to make “pate melts” (good luck), Nikki makes heros (bad idea), Aussie Mark is making chicken skewers, Metrosexual Ryan doesn’t care about you sports fans and is going to make something called “California Tailgate” (yeesh). ADHD Andrew is making some delicious sounding bacon shrimps, Stephanie is going for meat and potatoes, Jennifer is making a chicken suvlaki and a tabouleh for Zoi, Ryan is going apeshite with wine and a few courses. Lisa is doing skirt steak, Antonia is doing jerk chicken.

Nice plug for Weber grills. Mark is using charcoal, everyone else is using gas. Ahhh that is a whole other argument. I’m a charcoal girl, myself. He gets points with me already for that move of “testicular fortitude”.

Guest other judge is Paul Kahan of Blackbird (fabulous, you have to go there if you come to Chicago. It’s on my list, and Avec is a sister restaurant of it).

The bacon is a hit, predictably. Ryan is working the crowd in a big way, which is wise. I hope his ambitious food matches his schtick (though exit polls say hard to eat). ADHD Andrew is wearing a helmet (appropriate for those that flail about wildly) and they love his shrimps. Richard Dent is interested in the quinois tabouleh. Richard Dent! The Fridge loves him some ribs. Mark is having a hard time with his grill and it’s a big old mess. I’m still glad he went charcoal, but folks aren’t happy with it.

Nikki ran out of her food by telling people to come back for seconds before the judges had a chance to try it. She’s also a horrible salesperson and should not talk, just serve. It sounds like between Mark, Nikki and Ryan (or is it Spike? I’m confusing them – oops, it’s Ryan) are the ones most likely to hit the door.

Antonia, Dale & Stephanie are first into the judging room. They are the top three favorites, but the judges loved Dale’s ribs the most. The Fridge would be so proud. He also won a Bears jersey and a new gas Weber grill. Gas! Bah!

Mark, Nikki & Ryan are in for the whopping. Nikki didn’t make her own sausage and that brought her down a notch, and the judges didn’t get half of her dish (because she gave it away… just stop talking, Nikki), plus she put shrimp on the plate for no good reason. I want her to go. Can you tell? Ryan chose a non-tailgating style dessert and basically too much food, and once again Tom looks like he just wants to roll his eyes and shake his head at these kids. I love Tom, he doesn’t play. Mark’s food was decent but no one loved it.* The presentation was sloppy, he doesn’t seem to care about a whole lot. In fact, he looks a little hungover…

Blackbird Chef Paul doesn’t like Nikki either. They’re all irritated with Ryan’s inappropriate menu. Mark’s food was just boring and the chefs call him a “disaster”.

The verdict: Ryan’s packing his knives and going. Fair enough, he had no idea who he was cooking for. It was more about him than Da Fanz.

* They mention that he takes a spoon, tastes off it, puts it back in the pot and serves with it. Let me say that every cook and chef does this. The difference is that they don’t do it in front of everyone. So don’t be horrified that he did it, be horrified that he did it in front of everyone.

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