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Top Chef: It's Tailgate, not California Flairgate

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We open with Spike delivering a delusional soliloquy - worthy of Hamlet, really, (he's holding out a skull with a giant checked fedora on it) - about how he's resented right now because "as the show goes on, the gossip starts to happen....people are afraid, maybe a little threatened because I'm a talented dude." Maybe! Maybe they find you annoying!

Lisa is happy that she won, but pondering her fight with Dale. Lisa and Dale seem to make up...until Dale tells her he's just kind of warning her that everyone hates her.

Lisa says, "Dale can go f*ck himself, as far as I'm concerned."

QUICKFIRE

There are 16 pitchers of beer lined up. Karna, the head chef of a famous Chicago restaurant, is here. The challenge is to create a dish that pairs perfectly with beer. The chefs get to taste 3 and choose one to create a dish around it.

Richard says his "strategy is to take a buzzword...this one is "'simple pleasure.'" Richard says that "A chef needs to be able to make a good sandwich" agreed!

Stephanie, who I like more and more, creates steamed mussels with a cilantro vinaigrette. Spike lamely cooks...nothing...he presents a charcuterie plate and a tapas of clams. Lisa makes a bacon cheeseburger, which reminds me that I should eat one of those this weekend and Jen makes shrimp and scallop beignets with fennel and avocado puree.

Top 3: Jen, Richard and Stephanie.
Bottom 3: Nikki, Spike and Dale.

Jen wins. She's so happy! In a rare moment of genuine emotion, I say to Travis, "Jen seems so guileless."

"And GUY-less!"
he says. Oh wow.

Spike says, "I'm sure she feels on top of the world after Zoi getting booted. Like, yay Lesbians." I immediately make myself a "Down With Spike" t-shirt.

ELIMINATION CHALLENGE:
The chefs will be cooking tailgate at a Bears game. They have $350 dollars, 2 hours of prep the night before, and don't have to work in teams. Hurrah!

Off the chefs go to Whole Foods. Spike, in a patented Spike move, races in and buys all the chicken wings he can find. Dale goes with ribs. Richard is getting pork, and Nikki is doing a sausage hero, because when she goes to a ball game that's the first thing she wants. The first thing I want, always and everywhere, is coffee. But at a ballgame I might correct it with a bit of whiskey.

Mark is making chicken skewers and a chowder. Blah. So over chicken skewers! Ryan is talking about how he spends money on good clothes and likes to dance. Apparently this means he will not cook tailgate, so he's doing "Californian Tailgate in Chicago." This involves poached pears. Uh oh.

Jen, who has immunity, is doing a Greek dish as a tribute to her girl Zoi. Someone please tell me they're still together, because I will really just cry if they aren't.

Post prep, the chefs return to the Real World house and start drinking. Dale irons his apron. Spike and Mark get in the tub together (Spike is wearing his chastity hat) and drink champers. Antonia thinks it looks like a "cheap porno."

The next day at the game, the chefs set up their grills. Richard goes with a gas grill. Mark says he's "the only one that had the testicular fortitude to pick a charcoal grill." I kind of agree that gas grills are lame. Although I think much easier probably, for this type of challenge.

Spike says his game plan is "to try to show my charisma, personality." I really find it annoying that as the seasons go on, some chefs think that the challenge is about putting on a show rather than cooking.

Ryan is having difficulty with all of the elements of his tailgate, so he works the crowd and enlists their help. Stephanie says, "Ryan is a full of shit schmoozer guy...some of us are just here to cook." Ha.

Andrew is wearing a football helmet, saying, "I'm in the game! This is my house! This is what I do!" Andrew has so many houses.

So far there doesn't seem to be a straight-up flop, although Mark is having some difficulty keeping his station clean. Tom says, "It's an absolute disaster over there."

Nikki also didn't save enough onions&peppers for her sweet sausage, to serve the judges.

JUDGING:
The top three fan favorites are Antonia, Dale and Stephanie. Dale and his ribs wind up winning.

The losing three are Mark, Nikki and Ryan. I'm assuming that Mark is going to go home, since his station was so repellent to Tom. Nikki is being criticized for not making her own sausage, and Ryan is being faulted for basically not cooking tailgate. Ryan goes into a really, really long tangent about his style and life. He gets up to, "Now, I don't want to say California flair," when Tom cuts him off that the food actually wasn't even good.

Ultimately, Ryan must pack his knives and go. This surprised me. I really thought it would be Mark! Ryan says that he "went too big. I cooked Ryan Scott....I don't just cook with my hands. I cook with my heart." He then says his full name about 10 times.

After, I chatted with old Max.

me: THOUGHTS. Spike must go!

Max: Yes, he was really disappointing. First, not liking beer/thinking it tasted the same. THEN, thinking he was charming the fans by asking them when the Bears won a Super Bowl? Sloppy.

me: Also, i have to say that it REALLY irritates me how he keeps conflating charisma and cooking skill, like in the block party episode.

Max: Yes, Ryan did the same thing. It's a little obnoxious.

me: oh you mean "California flair" Ryan?

Max: Yeah. Metrosexual" Ryan. Who calls themself that? NO ONE REASONABLE!

me: Poached Pear Ryan? Why didn't he just serve the tailgaters flirtinis? Did you find the hot tub thing a bit weird? I thought it was just a ploy for airtime.

Max: Like, they were very aware they were being crazy and kooky.

me: The hats weren't enough. Although he was wearing a hat for good measure. you know, if i were on this show, I would wear a clown suit and set myself on fire alot.
.
me: My final thought: i think Stephanie is going to go all the way. I really like her.

Max: Yeah, she's tremendous. She's so modest and talented and great.

me:agreed! oh max! we agree on something!