It's Christmas time! Winter is here! Snow and frost and all that garbage, so Top Chef puts on the timely challenge of... cooking with berries! Eh? Virtually every other week of this season has lined up nicely with whatever festivity is going on at the time with a Thanksgiving episode, so it's puzzling that this week goes in the exact opposite direction.
Regardless, it's a run of the mill "Top Chef" week. Season Four winner Stephanie (with her perm) joins the crew as a guest judge this week. Things are pretty wide open for this Quickfire Challenge, as the chefs are allowed to prepare any dish they want! Well, sort of. Everything in the pantry is wrapped in aluminum foil, and anything they unveil they're forced to use as an ingredient. Also, they can only use the foil to prepare the dish -- no cookware, saucepans, etc. I once heated up a can of beans in aluminum foil (before realizing I probably could've just used the can itself), and watching the competitors fashioning strainers and cake pans is one of the more entertaining parts of the challenge. Ultimately it's Asian hottie Kristen who gets immunity after she makes a killer sponge cake.
The annual Berry Festival is the setting of Elimination Challenge, with competitors going head to head spotlighting a different berry in their dishes. Tesar vs Stefan get saddled with gooseberry (yuck), Bart vs Brooke get blackberry, Micah vs Sheldon take strawberry, Lizzie vs Jose take raspberry, and Josh vs Danyele get blueberry. With immunity in her pocket, Kristen gets the double play and picks up the $10000 prize on the Elimination with her tayberry dish.
Tesar vs Stefan gets off to a disappointing start as the European Sensation commits the cardinal sin of picking frozen fish to use in his dish. Doesn't help that Tesar throws him under the bus, blabbing about it to anyone who will listen, topping it off with the super douchey statement "It wasn't the fact that it's frozen; it's that it's not sustainable." Gotta love that guy.
The other highlight is Stephanie saying what we all think about Josie: "Is she high?" I wonder that every week, but it's worse than ever this time because she's so far behind on preparing her dish that she has to put on a show to stall for time. Alas, Danyele goes home with some mess of a chicken terrine dish, so we'll be deprived of her heavy eyeliner from now on. Side note: why do some girls do that heavy eyeliner on the lower lid? It makes it look like the girl's been crying the whole time.
The drama's pretty fantastic this week. Between Tesar and Stefan snapping at each other and everyone seemingly at their wit's end with Josie's goofy demeanor, we get some great pantry and apartment moments. All in all, a great episode, even if it seemed out of place to see cooking with berries when I have 9 inches of fresh snow on the ground.
Final Grade: A-