We open up with Spike making a coffee - which gives me a strange pang of kinship with Spike: Oh no, I also love coffee! Yikes! On to the quickfire!
There are piles of cakes! Pastries! And a guest judge! It's Johnny I., pastry Icon and James Beard award winner. Padma whips out Top Chef, the cookbook. "The challenge is to make a delicious dessert...and if you haven't a recipe up your sleeve, then improvise." The winner of the quickfire gets immunity and a recipe published in the Top Chef cookbook. I have to wonder if this book includes a recipe for watermelon shooters, and if the credit goes to Joey or Hung.
Lisa says, "I swore to myself that I would never do a pastry during this competition." However, Spike came prepared, with a chocolate molten cake recipe memorized. Score one for Spike! But then he decides to take a risk and make a soufflé. A pineapple rum raisin soufflé! My goodness!
3 worst: Antonia, Spike and Mark.
3 best: Richard, Dale and Lisa. Richard wins, for his banana scallops with guacamole.
"Tonight," says Padma, "for a little inspiration, you're all going to see the show at Second City. It's the birthplace of improvisation comedy in America."
All the chefs are pleased at a little R&R. The fools! Don't they know there's a challenge lurking in this? Seriously this happens every season.
The chefs get all gussied up and head off for some improv. At the show, the improvisers get the crowd to shout out a list of colors, then emotions, then ingredients. It turns out, in the least surprising surprise of all time, that the chefs will have to each cook 1 of these combinations. It turns out to be:
Yellow love vanilla: Spike & Andrew
Depressed purple bacon: Mark & Nikki
Magenta drunk polish sausage: Lisa and Antonia
Green perplexed tofu: Richard & Dale
Orange turned on asparagus: Stephanie & Jen
During shopping, the dishes come together. Dale and Richard are thinking curry, for the green. Richard wants to perplex the tofu by marinating it in beef fat. Antonia and Lisa are stuck with drunk sausage -- I am resisting a joke here - and resisting the Polish part of it. Somehow their dish becomes Chilean sea bass with Chorizo.
Spike and Andrew are undecided on their dish and just taking this and that off the shelves. Spike however, is obsessed with Squash soup, so that's what they make. A vanilla squash soup. Antonia says, "If he freaking wins for that, I'm gonna like, vomit in my mouth."
Back at the kitchen, the chefs find out that the electric equipment is gone. Ding dong! I guess this is the improvising part, but I think it's unfair because it hurts some chefs more than others. Namely, Andrew and Spike find that they can't just blend the squash soup.
Tom comes in to announce that the chefs have to pack everything up and go to their house and finish cooking there. 2 objections: 1, I know that this is just an excuse to get a little Gladware Product Placement in. 2, this also hurts some chefs more than others.
Spike and Andrew (yellow love vanilla) go first, serving a squash soup with a vanilla crème fraiche. Tom: "This is very simple and straightforward and just delicious."
Jen and Stephanie (Orange turned-on asparagus) go next, with a very full plate of bread, asparagus and carmelized goat cheese, all arranged in a phallic like way. Don't ask.
Dale and Richard's perplexed green tofu is a hit.
Antonia and Lisa's magenta drunken polish sausage falls a bit flat. Spike -- so full of restraint -- says, "It went out cold. It looked like turds." Antonia and Lisa also present it by quaffing a shot of tequila (for the drunkenness) -- but don't give any to the judges. Big mistake!
Mark and Nikki (depressed purple bacon) go last, and present a pork loin in bacon with sweet potatoes.
Andrew says, before judging: "Someone is going home and it's not going to be me." I am honestly terrified about Andrew ever having to go home. I seriously think he'll burn the place down.
Top 2 groups: Dale & Richard and Spike & Andrew. After some emoting from Spike about the pleasures of soup (made with love!) Dale and Richard are declared winners.
The losing 2 groups are Antonia & Lisa and Jen & Stephanie.
Jen and Stephanie are criticized for a clunky, clumsy plate and presentation. Antonia and Lisa are there for not using polish sausage at all.
I remark to Travis, "I think it's going to be Jen, because she cut the cheese."
And, I'm right. Farewell Jen, with your great big heart of gold.
Afterwards, I chatted with Max:
me: I teared up a bit, for Lion-hearted lesbian Jen.
Max: I felt really bad. I don't think anyone else deserved to go home more, I guess, but it actually rang true at the end what they were saying about how you can't make any more mistakes. That the crap is sort of gone from the competition, and everyone is pretty talented.
me: I agree with you. actually, what annoyed me mot about this challenge was the challenge. Of course, I hate improv and stand-up comedy so I'm biased.
Max: Thanks. Thanks for that. I hate...whatever you do. Recapping things for blogs.
me: Yes, i have a thriving recapping career going. What did you think about our winners?
Max: I felt really good about both teams. Andrew reined it in. Spike focused on actual ingredients and flavors. And Richard and Dale pulled off a really tricky dish, well. I wanted to try that beefy tofu/curry thing.
me: Yes, i was impressed by Richard and dale. i might be kind of anti soup, or just anti spike and andrew, but i'm so tired of cooking with heart...my dear mother taught me this recipe.. she tatooed it on my chest, and when i make it, i drop a salty tear in it. Blah.