January 19th, 2012
11:45 AM ET
This week we learned the Restaurant Wars hangover cure: one part Charlize Theron, one part Eric “The Ripper” Ripert, one part Padma in a romper, and a dash of product placement.
For the Quickfire, everyone’s favorite subtitled guest judge told the cheftestants they had 30 minutes to create a dish incorporating three random ingredients from a conveyor belt.
It was a completely absurd premise featuring a bunch of junk food, with a few choice seafood ingredients thrown in. The whole thing would’ve been more entertaining if we had seen the nervous interns behind the curtain swapping items on and off the belt as the Benny Hill music played.
Despite making the best dish, Beverly was disqualified because she failed to plate her rice krispies (#firstworldproblems). So instead, Lindsay got immunity for her clam and grouper bouillabaisse.
Enter: Charlize Theron, who explained that she plays the Evil Queen in one of the 12 forthcoming Snow White movies (the “dark” one). Who cares, right?
Oh, we had to care because the Elimination Challenge called for a “wickedly beautiful” dish for the Queen’s gothic feast. It was Snow White and the Seven
Fast forward to the dining quarters, which looked like a level from “Castlevania.” Ed emerged with the first course: tuna tartare with a duo of light and dark sauces denoting good and evil. Ripert noted that the sauces were good but that they were even better when combined, which is a totally boss trick in the chef world.
Next, Paul presented a colorful plate with “temptations from an enchanted forest” - foie gras with bacon, pumpernickel, cherries and beets. Taking up most of the plate was a bloody beet juice handprint. It sounds dumb as I write it, but it looked outstanding and the judges thought the flavors matched the bold presentation.
Beverly had the third course. In an uncharacteristically gutsy move, she cooked the very thing that almost derailed her last week: halibut. The fish was accompanied by black rice and red curry. It looked boring, but the halibut was cooked perfectly, so the haters from last week now know what’s up.
Lindsay came next with the always-dicey scallop, served over a “witch’s stew” with dragon beans. In a rare moment of pure food bliss, Tom could only utter “this stew is so damn good.”
Scallops on “Top Chef” automatically bring to mind the equally dangerous risotto, which is what Not-Evil-Queen Sarah made. The judges swooned over her purple red wine risotto with lamb heart.
The night’s riskiest offerings were still ahead. Grayson made black chicken with foie gras, leaving the chicken’s feet intact for a slaughterhouse feel.
Since murder wasn’t wicked enough, she also threw in an abortion theme, saying the quail egg represented the baby that was inside the chicken when it was butchered. Um, chicken fetuses don’t gestate inside the womb, what with the whole laying-eggs thing, but sure!
Anyway, the judges loved it. So that left Pebbles, and surprisingly, the indigent man’s Richard Blais stuck the landing with cherry pie and a poisoned apple with fake maggots.
Tom declared the fairy tale feast the season’s most exciting food, and Ripert said it was one of the best “Top Chef” meals he’s ever had (it only took this season’s chefs 117 episodes to hit their stride!). The judges lavished praise on all seven cheftestants before declaring Paul the winner because Paul WINS ALL THE THINGS.
Sarah, Bev and Grayson were on the
All three ladies lobbed one last desperate rant to sway the judges, with Bev crying and making nonsense utterances about “family” and “heart” and oh, what else is new.
But the Queen demanded Beverly’s head, so the immunity disqualification came back to bite her. Alas, the most enthralling episode of the season ended with a whimper - a Beverly whimper. Which is how every episode has ended.
Without their doormat, let’s hope the hothead chefs butt heads with each other.
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