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Top Chef recap: Love and War

After a cool quickfire challenge, the cheftestants split into two teams to cater a reception, but the real battle happens at the judges’ table

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Top Chef

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons
Reality TV

”Wedding Wars.” The title of this episode of Top Chef is a bit of an oxymoron, considering war is violent and ugly. But an innocent bystander did get caught in the crossfire (more on that later), and the stakes in the elimination challenge were suddenly higher (there’s no more immunity from winning a quickfire challenge).

For the women, it’s like the early days of the feminist movement all over again: Four of them are still hanging on; this is the first time that so many women have made it this far in the competish. Nikki seemed ready to break out the guns: ”Being a woman, you have to be a fighter, a competitor, you have to.” Perhaps she’d like to qualify that remark and add that a girl needs some sleep.

So before elimination, there was the battle of quickfire. Padma announced the show was bringing back ”Tom’s personal favorite” (and mine too): the relay race. (Last season, Hung busted a move on those chickens and Casey chopped an onion as if she had just been introduced to a knife.) The eight remaining cheftestants were split up into two teams. I’ll refer to Antonia, Andrew, Richard, and Stephanie as Team Potatoes, because they all mashed up well together and, well, they ended up cooking spuds later. The second team consisted of Nikki, Spike, Lisa, and Dale, whom I’ll call Team Tomatoes, because they wound up making red sauce and bruschetta, but also because of their thin skins and because sometimes all you get when you cut into them is a big squishy mess. (It’s obvious who I’m rooting for, yes?) Of course Dale and Lisa were unhappy campers. Said the former, ”We don’t have the strongest cooks [pause] but capable cooks.” Meanwhile Lisa noted she had ”only worked with Dale once, which worked out well for the actual challenge — after the challenge, not so much.”

Perhaps the adrenaline from the tailgate party was still lingering in Dale, because he started acting like a meathead early on. As the teams worked out who’d be doing what in the relay — prep work on oranges, artichokes, monkfish, or mayonnaise — some mentioned they hadn’t made mayo by hand in years, a valid concern when the game hinges on speed. But Dale couldn’t help himself: ”It’s so asinine for me to hear [this] come out of people’s mouths: ‘I haven’t made mayonnaise by hand in years’… like they’re scared of it. Why are you still here?” A couple of minutes later, after his team lost, Dale got into a fistfight with a locker and yelled ”f—.” Why? According to Antonia, ”Dale decided to have a temper tantrum, and he punched the locker and then had to have his diaper changed.”

Meanwhile, Lisa ”smoked [Antonia’s] ass on those oranges.” Oh, if only Barack and Hillary could work out the Democratic nomination with a relay race (the same relay race!).

Then came the Wedding Wars (which, Padma explained earlier, were replacing the usual Restaurant Wars). A lovely-looking couple named Corey and J.P. were to be married the following day, and the cheftestants were invited, so long as they could cook up canapés, dinner, and wedding cakes for 250 guests in 14 hours or so. Dale chimed in again, complaining that he has no experience as a caterer because he’s a ”restaurant dude.” What, are you scared? Somebody should have pointed out that Wolfgang Puck dishes it out for the Academy Awards Governor’s Ball.

NEXT: Gender biases