"Everything is better with bacon."
"Do a hash for a hashtag challenge."
"Pick an ingredient and hand it off to someone else to use in their dish."
"Use a dessert ingredient in a savory way."
Seriously, Top Chef viewers? This is as creative as you could get, in sending to the producers your suggestions for this week’s Quickfire Challenge, which required the remaining 10 chefs to prepare a dish according to suggestions and directions sent in by Twitter followers? The first three Tweets above made the cut this week; the other three were ignored. I’m hoping the Bravo folks already deleted better suggestions, like: "Force Heather Terhune to wear Beverly Kim in a Baby Bjorn while they cook. #stopthecrying."
After telling us that he spent his formative years selling weed to his friends and decided to change his life after waking up one morning to an apartment that was trashed with dog food and "(unintelligible) s--- everywhere"—sheesh, were you living at Jesse Pinkman’s house on Breaking Bad?—Paul Qui of Uchiko gets a win for his bacon fat, crispy bacon, blackberries chorizo and mushroom hash. The prize: $10,000, but no immunity.
It’s a hometown win, as the gang is now on Paul’s turf in Austin. We saw them make the drive, and listened to their annoying patter. Heather, it seems, likes a guy with dark hair and who’s tall and funny. "It’s difficult to have a long relationship because I’ve been so career focused," she says. Riiiiiiiight. That’s why you’re single. She also says she’d choose a night with former judge and Louisiana restaurateur John Besh over $5,000. Good thing. He might want that money, a la "Indecent Proposal."
After the Quickfire the gang heads to the Driskill Hotel for some drinks and a very awkwardly unsexy pretend-flirtation between Heather and Chris "Malibu" Crary of Whist Restaurant in Santa Monica. Patti LaBelle saunters in, all silver sparkle and flat-ironed bob wig, and gives us a lounge-lizard version of her hit, "Lady Marmalade." Host Padma Lakshmi then steps on stage to tell us that LaBelle is the guest judge for the Elimination Challenge, for which the chefs will prepare a dish inspired by the person who inspired them to start cooking in the first place.
Cue more tears as the contestants talk about beloved grandparents, parents, uncles and—in Brooklyn chef Ty-Lor Boring’s case—Japanese nannies who make a mean chicken tender (?). Back at the house, Beverly cries again, this time because she misses her husband and son. Chris Jones of Chicago’s Moto gives us an unwelcome glimpse of his crack. And Edward Lee of Magnolia in Louisville, Ky., tells us he’s got balls and "I’m gonna show ‘em." Please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t.
The next day the chefs are given two hours to cook before serving their dishes to LaBelle, two of her friends, head judge Tom Colicchio, Lakshmi and occasional judge Emeril Lagasse. Cookbook author LaBelle is wearing her best Sophia Loren Collection wig, and promises to serve fried chicken and mac-and-cheese to Tom and Emeril if they ever come to her house. "We’ll be there with bells on," Tom says. "LA-Belles," LaBelle says. The hits just keep on coming on this show!
When Heather serves up her beef stroganoff with ribeye, Emeril says he’s unsure of even what kind of meat it is. "It’s Bigfoot," LaBelle deadpans.
And now, some fun with homoeroticism!
Emeril: "I feel like I’m at a banquet at one of those hotels you would drag me to."
Padma: "I don’t even wanna know the rest of that story."
Oh, har, har, har! Please, get the unemployed writers from the canceled NBC comedy "Community" up in this piece! These people need some material!
The judges choose the bottom three: Heather, Chris C. and Grayson Schmitz, who served up monstrous steaks and defends the decision by saying that’s how everyone eats in Wisconsin. Chris’s salmon was seared too fast so ended up leaching out some sort of white mucus (yum!). And Heather’s dumplings were dry, chewy and overcooked while the meat was "so gristly, I couldn’t cut it," LaBelle says. Shadenfreude-Schmitz smiles.
The top three: Beverly’s Korean braised short rib with edamame scallion puree; Sarah Grueneberg’s pork sausage, cabbage and spinach; and Edward’s modern take on bibimbap with lemon chili sauce, which works for LaBelle’s friend even though she’s allergic to the dish’s key ingredient (egg).
Sarah wins, inspiring more tears. Even LaBelle looks ready to bawl. Heather, who at the credits will be described by Padma as "the queen of mean," is announced as the loser. "She reaped her own karma," Beverly says. "There is a personal satisfaction with that."
Next week: A monster barbecue, and Sarah gets dizzy, huffs oxygen, gets sent to the hospital and gets no sympathy from Edward: "I would’ve pushed through it. What is she, dead?"