Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Live Blogging Top Chef Season 6: Episode 7

Back to Top Chef this week after one of Bravo's inexplicable one-week hiatuses. As usual, the Quickfire gets us started, and Tyler Florence is here as the guest judge. In this "high-stakes" Quickfire, the chefs have to prepare a meal in the style of by taking three random keywords via slot machine, like "romantic," "tart," "Latin American," and creating a dish that incorporates all of the phrases. Jen is feeling really sick this week, so understandably, the kitchen is the last place she wants to be, and she lands in the bottom three for the first time, along with Robin and Eli. Kevin beats Mike and Michael for the win and, because this is a "high stakes" Quickfire, he gets to pick between immunity and $15,000, what might normally be a tough choice, but he makes it easy and takes the cash.

Padma gets all secretive and doesn't reveal the Elimination Challenge, but it becomes all too apparent when the chefs get home and find all the supplies for a dinner party scattered around the house and Padma magically waiting for them in the backyard. They'll have to work in pairs to create a family style dish for a dinner party, and Mike's wish is granted as he's paired with his favorite punching bag, Robin. They run into the house and chaos ensues as the chefs clamour for kitchen space and the scarce resources. Hey, this is Vegas, I doubt anyone cooks at home. Each pair has a bag with products hand-picked by the celebrity chefs from the Macy's Culinary Council, including Florence and Seattle restranteur Tom Douglas, serving as guest judges and dinner party companions. For the most part, the pairs, even Mike and Robin, seem to be collaborating pretty seemlessly, and I almost wish there were a few more fireworks than the zingers offered in the confessionals.

Like clockwork, Mr. Colicchio arrives to check on the chefs, and most of the dishes seem pretty promising, but I doubt they'll all turn out so well. Plating, though, leads to some issues, with tripped circuits and marginal space to get everything together, and the seemingly invincible Michael appears most worried about his chances tonight. Unfortunately, Toby is in Gail's place again tonight, which should provide for some assuredly bad jokes at judge's table. Michael and Ash's take on carbonara with halibut falls short, especially compared with Byran and Laurine's superior version of the same fish. Ashley and Eli also take a beating, with no one appreciating the salty gnocchi. The two clear favorites, however, look like Jen and Kevin and Mike and Robin, whose beef and tuna, respectively, earn heaps of praise and little criticism.

Somewhat surprisingly, Bryan and Laurine take a spot in the top two alongside Kevin and Jen. Both pairs give each other due credit, and it's a nice segment before the bottom two teams arrive and the bickering starts. Jen claims her first Elimination Challenge win this week, along with a $10,000 gift certificate to Macy's, a great rebound after her Quickfire struggles. Michael and Ash and Eli and Ashley assume their expected positions in the bottom two, and Bryan grows immediately uncomfortable at the prospect of losing his brother in this competition. He shouldn't worry, however, as Ash might have sealed his fate with his bizarre monologue at Judge's Table, showering Michael with praise and painting himself as the clear number two on this team. Both Ashley and Eli struggle with explaining their dish, and Tom has little patience for their lame excuses. Ash looks like the likely candidate for elimination tonight, and he understands too late that he may have said just a little too much.

In somewhat of a surprise, Ashley gets the boot tonight. She had stumbled in a few challenges, but over the past two weeks she was definitely on an upswing. Ultimately, she was dead weight, though, as some of her competitors are far more talented. Next week, there's some definite brother rivalry, and the testy relationship between Mike and Robin grows even more volatile. There also seems to be a big name guest judge making everyone nervous, so you'll have to come back next week to see who it's going to be.

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