Top Chef Season 6, Episode 2: Things Get Dicey


It’s Battle O’ The Sexes Week on TC, replete with barbs from
both genders, choice words from competing lesbians on gay marriage rights, and
a certain Midwesterner with a permanently pained expression on her face who
can’t get it together with seafood and who, then, must pack her knives. And go.

But first, we see a sleepy-looking Padma introduce this
week’s guest chef, Todd English, he of the chiseled jaw and the Olives outpost
in the Bellagio. (Aside: They need to dig up some juicy new celebrities as
guest chefs. Remember when, on Project Runway’s last Bravo season a
year-and-a-half back, Sarah Jessica Parker walked through the doors and the
designers had an ecstatic meltdown, as if under the influence of Maryann from
True Blood? TC could use some guest judges like that.)

And here’s the Quickfire Challenge: The chefs must roll dice
on the craps table that has conveniently materialized in the Top Chef kitchen,
and the number they roll is the number of ingredients they have to use
(excluding freebies of salt, pepper, and oil) to make their dish in thirty
minutes. Kevin rolls a ten and murmurs that it’s a lot of flavors to have on one
plate, but he rocks it nonetheless with an asparagus and celery salad with
fennel cream and a boiled egg that is perfectly cooked, notes Mr. English. Sir
Todd called a lot of food “interesting” in a way that made many an expression

Now comes the brotherly rivalry. Older brother Michael tries
to sous vide fish in half and hour (not smart), and then comments that younger
bro Bryan—who is over in the corner nitrogen-freezing gazpacho—has some
outlandish ideas. I project my own life into the dynamic: Michael is mildly
successful but never satisfied with the fruits of his own ambition (me); Brian
strives to distinguish himself and dodge the long fraternal shadow cast by the
older sibling. Anyway, this round goes to the younger Voltaggio, who
makes good with the frozen gazpacho and collects a shiny gold chip worth
fifteen thousand smackers.

And before there’s even time to contemplate the Ordinary
overtones popping up this season, it’s time for the Elimination
Challenge: In saunter Karen and Greg, a soon-to-be-wed couple carrying trays of
their favorite shots. The men chefs will cook for Karen’s bachelorette party,
and the women will cook for Greg’s bachelor party. They have to match food to
the shots, which include Moscow Mules (traditionally only vodka, ginger beer,
and lime, though this one has a suspicious pink hue and someone mentions
grapefruit); tequila; and Golden Delicious, which Ash describes as “sweet,
gooey, and disgusting.” A Google Search for “Golden Delicious cocktail” found references
to apple cider and cinnamon schnapps. Grody.

A classic round of reactions: Jen (who is quickly shaping up
to be my favorite bitchy character this season) thinks this male-female
division is bogus. Ashley is indignant that she has to participate in a
challenge around marriage when she, herself, can’t get married to another
woman. Preeti, also gay, can see Ashley’s point but isn’t as riled up.

And Hector looks at the camera and puts forth that, cooking
skills-wise, “girls tend to be a bit more green.” Sounds like Hector’s been
hanging around Mike Isabella—who, in a commercial inset, labels Eli and Kevin
the “pickle brothers.” I’m leavin’ that one alone … for now.

The race through Whole Foods, the frantic cooking montage,
the pool-side setup where the men have their party on one side and the girls on
the other for the G-est rated pre-marriage festivities ever—except after the
cooking’s over, when several of the guy chefs (including Kevin and Eli) jump
into the pool.

Laurine, who hasn’t been given much airtime as yet, makes a
comment that the guy’s food seemed “contrived.” But it’s clear from the judge’s
reactions that the men do, indeed, win this round. Props to Hector and Eli, who
make it to the top four—Hector for his surprising ways with tofu ceviche, Eli
for his tuna tartare with puffed wild rice. In the end, though, Big Brother
Michael scores the win. The Bro Wars rage on …

And going home is Eve with her twangalicious Midwestern accent. I’m sure her
restaurant in Ann Arbor
is a lovely little boite (if her accent fascinated you,
be sure to watch her introductory video), but it didn’t really seem like she
was competition material. And she botched it with shrimp again last night,
after flubbing, I believe, scallops and shrimp last week. So, adieu, Eve,
see you on the reunion show if they have one this year.

Next up: Jen gets testy with Hector.