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Top Chef recap: Game Face

Team Rainbow almost loses its last member when Jamie under cooks her egg, but it’s Alex who gets sent home after the chefs try to do an on-air demonstration

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Michael Lavine/Bravo

Top Chef

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

Maybe he just missed Richard too much. Maybe he was checked out because his wedding was in 20 days. Or maybe he just never watched an episode of Top Chef and learned tonever make a dessert unless you are 100 percent positive you could actually pull it off perfectly. If it’s the latter explanation, then Alex learned his lesson the hard way and was sent home to his fiancé after executing a rather unimpressive dessert. A far lesser crime than serving raw egg yolk or way-too-spicy inedible food, but Padma & Co. couldn’t eliminate the final member of Team Rainbow, or Melissa, who put on her Thor horns and adequately fought her way to safety during the judges panel, even if she unfairly took a shot at the wedding-focused Alex. But we’ll get to all that later.

Speaking of Team Rainbow, our cheftestants mourned the loss of Richard at the beginning of last night’s episode. In fact, Alex was so emotional reading a goodbye letter from Richard that you would think Top Chef had been taken over by a Japanese game show that filleted each week’s loser as punishment. Jamie, on the other hand, opted to show her dedication to her former gay-lesbian alliance by covering herself with rainbows — a rainbow shirt, rainbow bracelet — making her a serious contender for the My Little Pony family.

Enough talk about rainbows. Let’s move on to the quickfire challenge. This time around, our Top Chef producers brought in guest judge/fame whore Rocco DiSpirito, or, as our walking soundbite Fabio called him, an “American chef Italianized.” (Tell me, friends, did you sense some disdain there?). But there would be no Italian food for this quickfire: The chef’s were instructed to cook a mini breakfast for Padma and our guest judge called an Amuse-bouche (or, a bite-sized appetizer for those of us who don’t speak foodie). Not everyone produced a winning dish: Fabio’s brioche with brûlée banana and espresso cream sounded delicious, but was not savory enough for Rocco (his breakfasts must be hangover-friendly); and Daniel’s cornflake crusted zucchini flower stuffed with hash boasted the unfortunate combination of tasting too sweet — thanks to the cornflakes — and looking a little too much like Mr. Hanky. The highlights? Stefan managed to fit a big, hearty Mexican breakfast — Huevos rancheros with salsa and cheese — into a tiny, niftily cut egg; Jamie made a bacon, lettuce and tomato breakfast sandwich that was good enough to distract Rocco from the fact that it required more than one bite to ingest; and Leah bagged the quickfire win, and thus immunity, for the second episode in a row with a bacon, quail egg, and cheese with grilled bread.

(Is it me, or is Leah being pegged as the villain of the season? First, she unnecessarily tried to throw some of her competitors that cooked slightly bigger dishes under the bus by saying “Well, it’s an Amuse-bouche, so I tried to make it in one bite,” after Rocco had already complimented her. Then later in the episode, after her poor performance in the elimination challenge, she admitted to the other contestants that she simply didn’t care. Yet Hosea seems to like her — Bravo is still feeding us confusing mid-commercial break vignettes chronicling their blooming romance).

But onto the elimination ceremony: After three weeks of sub-par challenges — cooking in the style of a NYC neighborhood, cooking for a group of bitter rejects, and cooking for a camera-mugging band — I was hoping that Tom and Padma would set out a table with nothing but gum, paper towels, and a shark, and tell the chefs to MacGyver up a three-course meal. Not quite — I can’t deny that I was a bit disappointed when our chefs were told they would have to create a dish for a two-and-a-half minute TV presentation, forcing them to make relatively simple, straightforward dishes that viewers at home would understand. (That being said, I do enjoy seeing chefs throw together creative plates that I could actually learn to make myself — if only Bravo would actually show us the full presentations so we can learn how!). But this challenge wasn’t purely about food — Padma & Co. stressed that our cheftestants would have to know how to present themselves on camera in order to win over viewers at home. (Why they chose the ultimate king of douchbaggery, Rocco DiSpirito, to help teach these chefs such a lesson is beyond me, but maybe our producers weren’t one of the 10 people to actually catch The Restaurant.)

NEXT: The Today Show!