A quick review of last night's "Top Chef" coming up just as soon as I'm heckled by Cookie Monster...

In general, I prefer my "Top Chef" challenges to be divided as follows: Quickfires are for goofiness, while Elimination Challenges are for the contestants to show off their cooking skills as best they can. Every now and then, though, I don't mind an EC that's just as bananas and difficult as the Quickfire. It's an entertainment show, after all, and unlike Jimmy Fallon or Kevin Clash, I never get to actually taste the food.

So after a fun and light Quickfire in which the chefs had to please Elmo, Cookie Monster, Telly Monster and the men who portray them - and which Dale surprisingly won, given his non-traditional cookie and the presence of cookie purist (and addict) Cookie Monster as a judge - we went into an EC with difficulty piled on top of difficulty:

  • Cook in the middle of the night.
  • Assemble not only your ingredients, but your stations themselves - including all cooking equipment - in three hours' time.
  • And, oh, yeah, do it inside a ginormous Target store(*), where the distance between the various supplies you need to get, coupled with the time crunch, turns the affair into a track meet as much as a cooking contest.

(*) For the Jersey-ites, that's the one at Clifton Commons, right? Bourdain's (always-hilarious) blog said that it was in Jersey, and while all Targets look alike in many ways, there are subtle variations, and I go to that one a lot when visiting a friend who lives nearby.

Given those restrictions, it's amazing that anybody made anything good, but it seemed as if Dale, Richard and Antonia all made strong dishes. An exhausted Angelo went home after drastically over-salting his potato soup, which would seem to point towards a final four featuring those three (all alums of the same season) plus Carla, since Mike has been struggling a fair amount and Tiffany mainly seems to be sticking around because someone's always worse. That's not always the way "Top Chef" works out - in the Dale/Richard/Antonio season, Dale and Antonia were both outlasted by the terrible Lisa, who also had an uncanny knack for being the second-worst - but if I had to handicap things right now, those are the four I'd pick.

 

Fun episode. Hopefully, though, we get another "cook us your best possible dish" challenge sometime soon.

 

What did everybody else think?