Okay, so I missed Dale getting unceremoniously booted from the island, er, house. I'm still crossing my fingers for certain people to make their grand exit tonight. While I do that, I'll be doing the "Top Chef Drinking Game" with a special Dogfish Head brew, their Aprihop India Pale Ale.
Dagnabbit, Dale's cryin'.
10:00 Wouldn't you want $100,000 of Glad products? Me neither.
10:01 Damnit, how the hell have Lisa and Spike managed to hang on this long? Seriously!
10:02 Today our final five will filet flank! Butcher beef! Massacre meat!
10:04 The challenge: cut individual chops from rib eye, and don't mess it up. It's all really tough and aged, And do it in twenty minutes! Jeez I hope they don't filet themselves. Even Spike.
10:06 So who won the quickfire? Rick Tramonto is Padma's co-judge today.
I love Rich's hair, by the way.
10:08 So there is more to do! They have to cook these chops now, but this time they are only being judged on how close to medium rare it is.
I'm a little disappointed. Not many dumb things being said tonight.
Antonia's butter-based beef. Chest pains!
10:09 They all look good, no? Unless you don't like beef. I can't really tell whose Rick likes the most - or least.
Steph = least successful. Butchered poorly - "almost like a lollipop" (UPDATE: "lollipop"-like is a good thing - this French cut has to make the steak look like a lollipop, with the meat as the candy part and the bare rib as the stick part. To say it's "almost like a lollipop" means it's not good enough. Sorry about that ambiguity.)
Rich = undercooked.
Lisa = "tomahawk chop" is perfect, as is that of...
Antonia's had a nice crust.
10:10 It's all about showing up the others, ain't it, Spike?
10:11 And lookie here - the elim challenge is to take over Rick's restaurant. Each person has to create an appetizer and an entree. Spike gets first choice. Any bets on what he keeps away from the other contestants?
10:12 So Steph is the top chef according to Spike - or is she the top female chef? I don't know. Spike wants Antonia out. I think he sees her as a threat.
10:15 Especially long beer break:
10:16 Uh oh. The cartoon voice of Dilbert's Alice is back.
10:17 Is he allowed to keep the other steaks from the others? One thing everyone seems to avoid: those nasty frozen scallops. No big deal - they have everything at their disposal in Rick's kitchen. And just three hours. Yikes.
10:19 They're describing their dishes and all I hear is wha wha wh'whaa
10:20 Oh, that's right - Spike chose those nasty frozen scallops! And they're all torn, so he can't sear them as he likes.
10:21 Dammit these people talk too fast! There goes that lucrative court stenography career. At least they all like this challenge.
10:22 Lisa and Rich are worried about Tom's advice. And Tom looks concerned with Spike. So... Antonia and Steph as possible winners tonight?
10:23 Ooooh, the dishes have to be "expedited" (or timed in their delivery). Interesting - Spike is complaining about how he screws himself over. I didn't think he'd realize that.
10:25 Already we have some insight into tonight's mystery judges: the past three winners of Top Chef, Harold (Woohoo!), Ilan (the prick) and Hung (again, didn't watch that season)! Why tell us just before the commercial break? That is sooo not Bravo's style.
10:30 Advice from the winners: be yourself, don't be the fan fave, don't shave anyone's head? Oh, right. Seems DRINKworthy.
10:31 Oh boy! Tasting menus! And nobody was prepared, of course.
Ladies and germs, the appetizers (Cliff note form):
Lisa: Grilled and chilled prawns with tomato salad crostini - needs more sugar but the lemon is great. Why chill the shrimp?
Rick: Hamachi with crispy sweetbreads, and avocado and radish. Hung is happy, Rich is ... what starts with r?
Spike: scallops and hearts of palm and oyster mushrooms. Spike likes it, as we hear - so that means we're being set up for lackluster reception from the judges.
Steph: More balls! Sweetbreads, golden raisins and pinenuts. Harold wants toasted pine nuts but that's the only problem. And Hung likes sweetbreads. No comments, please. I do, too - oh, wait.
Antonia: mushroom and artichoke salad, and poached eggs. Perfect eggs but not the most perfect dish. No artichoke "presence"
10:34 And now the entrées:
Rich: Beef filet, potato purée, turnips and pickled brussel sprouts. Ilan don't likey the tenderloin! Wait, how did they like this dish again?
Lisa: NY Strip steak with peanut butter mashed potatoes. Dang, they LIKE those potatoes, but not the beef.
Spike: Tomahawk chop, sweet potato purée, blanched brussel sprouts. Too sweet, Ilan thinks it's busy. Rich: "Yeah, it's okay" Ouch!
Steph: beef tenderloin, mushrooms, applesauce. Gorgeous, "I'm gonna finish this whole dish" Hung in three words: "I love it." Niiiice!
Antonia: Bone-in ribeye with, um, I missed the side dish. Ilan is falling in love. Why don't you just marry it? The most rounded in Rich's estimation. We may have a winner!
10:39 So it's tough to assess who's on top here. From the appetizers, it seems that Rick and Steph are on top. But let's look at those entrées: Steph and Antonia are the real pleasers, and they did like Lisa's potatoes. I totally missed what they said about Rick's dish.
10:41 Genital herpes meds ad: Thanks for sharing, er, not sharing. Yep.
10:42 So who fared the worst in this elim challenge? Appetizer-wise, I'd say Spike and Antonia, entrée-wise it's, hmmm, I don't know. I just can't figure this one out. So let's let the judges do it for us!
10:43 Don't get weepy, folks.
10:43 Rick: They loved the appetizer, but the entrée was a problem.
Steph: Never usually shows pressure. Again, though, Stephanie's dishes made them happy. Like Rick, she's never made it.
Lisa: Padma wishes the shrimp was warm, and Rich wasn't too pleased. As for the entrée: Rich really wanted to hate it but he couldn't. But Tom said it was unevenly cooked.
Antonia: She made what she'd eat in a steak house. The steak was perfect.
And Spike: The meat was cooked well, but Tom told him he should've sent the scallops back and changed his plans. Oh Jesus, Spike, stop arguing! It's like he is just daring them to send him home. And now he's finally realizing it was dumb! DRINK!
10:48 Steph showed them something new. Is that good news or what?
Rick: His appetizer? THE best thing they ate.
Antonia: Very thoughtful.
Spike: issues with both portions, and bad portions. Rich expected more after that quickfire.
Lisa: apathetic despite an amazing palate. Focuses less on technique.
10:49 I think it's Spike and Lisa for the fall.
10:54 Made it this far...yaddayaddayadda.
First, the winner is... Stephanie! (Wow. What a surprise. I had no idea.)
10:55 I just get this feeling it's Lisa going home tonight. I just do. Let's see how my track record holds up.
Well, Rick gets accolades, as does Antonia.
10:56 And it comes down to our two veterans of the bottom two - Spike and Lisa. Again, I think it's Lisa, but I'm not 100% on that this time. And it's not because I dislike Spike.
10:57 Lisa: just not enough passion. Spike: everything on that plate is by design. Follow through!
And the loser is... SPIKE! Looks like I was wrong this time. And yet that feeling of utter elation I thought I'd feel just ain't there. Well, Spike will probably make it to Puerto Rico anyway. They'll probably have all the eliminees come back in some "guest sous chef"/ "guest of the house" / "guest something" capacity.
10:59 We're not going to see the finale next week, are we? They'll find some way to drag this out for the next month. Just watch.
I have no more comments about this episode. But I will say this: we are closer to a female Top Chef than ever before, that's for dang sure.