Top Chef Episode 12 – Block Party

After last week’s episode there was no way this week’s could be better.  I was just hoping it wouldn’t drop off too much.  We’re really coming into the home stretch here and now that Bev’s no longer around for everyone to kick maybe there’ll be some new drama.  Of course since the opening scene was everyone (except Grayson) in the stew room dancing about Bev’s elimination I highly doubt the remaining chefs are going to get all nasty with each other but you never know.  Seems like Lindsay and Sarah rub Grayson the wrong way and I bet Grayson could kick both their asses.  Grayson has grown on me.  She’s not as polished as the others but she doesn’t care and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

The remaining chefs are split up into 3 teams for the quickfire.  It’s a speed challenge where they have to make pasta, de-vein some shrimp, and de-cob some corn to the satisfaction of the judges, then make a dish out of the pasta, shrimp, and corn.  They have 30 minutes to do it all.  Paul laments he is paired up with Ed since every time they’ve been on a team together Paul’s brought bad luck and they’ve lost.  Sarah and Lindsay get all their tasks completed quickly and make their dish.  Grayson and Moto Chris and Paul and Ed aren’t as fast so their dishes are coming down to the last seconds.  Grayson’s pasta looked mangled, Moto Chris took way too long on the corn but they get theirs finished with seconds to spare.  Paul’s fear is realized as he forgets to put the shrimp on their plate DQ’ing them.  So it’s either Sarah and Lindsay, who have been crowing to the camera about how good their dish is, or Grayson and Moto Chris.  Of course, as any astute viewer of this season’s editing would know, Grayson and Moto Chris win.  Cue the angry face shot of Lindsay and Sarah.  Bitter.  Immunity is no longer a prize but Grayson and Moto Chris win some cash.

Padma tells everyone the elimination challenge will be a head-to-head cook-off against their partner at a block party for 200 people.  Seriously who decides on these?  Let’s have outdoor competitions in Texas during the summer.  Anyway, each group now has to decide on a dish they’re both going to make for the party where the guests will vote on which is better.  Winners stay, losers go to judge’s table.  And here’s where this week’s episode drop’s off.  With the exception of Paul and Ed the chefs pick some lame dishes to make.  Paul and Ed choose Korean BBQ, Grayson and Moto Chris pick chicken salad, and Sarah and Lindsay decide to make meatballs.  That’s right, meatballs.  Just like the watermelon cube from earlier in the season, the creativity meter is off the charts here.  Come on guys!  I don’t know who to be more annoyed with these days.  It’s Top Chef but all season long it’s been like Top Picnic/BBQ.  If you’re a chef and you get on this show wouldn’t you be a little pissed all they have you do is make stuff for lame ass events like the ones they’ve been given?  Oh, almost forgot, they also have to make it healthy because the show is sponsored by Healthy Choice.  Think about this for a second.  Your dish is being judged by the 200 guests who are voting.  If you win your head to head you’re in the clear.  Sure you’d like to win but if all you have to do is make something tasty to get through well…why try to make healthy?

And sure enough, of the three head-to-head winners two of them were way less healthy.  Grayson made chicken salad with dark meat and straight up mayo, Lindsay used fatty lamb in her meatballs, and Paul used turkey and a lettuce wrap in his.  Since he’s the only one up there who actually made a healthier version of the winning dish Paul wins.  Seemed like his had lots of flavor anyway but this was a no-brainer.  Tom gives Grayson a hard time about making chicken salad and how she’s up against some really good dishes to which she replies, no wait, interrupts and replies “Really? You mean like a meatball?”  Love it.  Lindsay did not look happy about this.

In come the losers who start complaining about how theirs were more healthy.  Problem with more healthy is they sucked all the flavor out.  Moto Chris used some sort of tofu/soy emulsion instead of mayo to make his chicken salad.  He might have saved time by just filling out voter cards in Grayson’s name.  Like tofu-emulsion is getting more votes than mayo chicken salad.  Puh-lease!  Sarah made a turkey meatball.  If someone offers me a choice between a turkey burger and normal burger made with beef I’m taking the beef one.  As Ron Swanson says “turkey can never beat cow.”  Or in this case lamb, which not surprisingly is how everyone voted.  However, this reversed with Ed.  He used beef but cut all the fat off the short ribs and had dried out bread.  Probably would have won if he ignored the healthy rule, but he was up against Paul who is still my fav to win.  How can he not be if he can make ground turkey beat cow!  All of these chefs are on the bottom for not having any flavor in their dishes.  All underseasoned.  Is it possible to make a healthy dish with tons of flavor?  Yes.  Can you replicate it for 200 servings?  If your name is Paul yes.  Unfortunately for Moto Chris he isn’t Paul and his healthy chicken salad gets him sent home.  The irony is he probably made the healthiest dish.  Only one Chicago chef left with two episodes to go before the final three.  Will Sarah make it?

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