Top Chef Recap, Episode 11: Sense and Sensuality: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Channel of Bravo!
WTF just happened?! OK, we'll get to that later. Let's start at the beginning of the episode. Everything seemed normal ...
Sam: "I'm going to do what it takes to win ... but I won't step on anyone to do it ... because I'm not 'That Guy.'"
Quien es esa niña, who's "That Guy?"
That's right, Madonna; I'm sorry, but the only reason someone would have to keep telling us that he's not "That Guy" is because he's "That Guy."
Elia describes the experience of being on Top Chef:
Elia: "Many fillings are involved."
Actually, I don't remember many recipes with fillings. Sauces, yes, but not fillings.
Elia: "No, no, no; fillings! Like emotions!
Oh, right! Sorry.
Marcel: "I predicted it would come down to the five of us. Of course, I also predicted that I would win and we all know that's not going to happen."
The guest judge for this episode is Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin.
Cliff: "He's a demigod!"
Well, thanks for your discretion in not calling him a full-fledged god, Cliff. Because that would have been an exaggeration. OK, the Quickfire challenge is brought to us this week by ...
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Oh, sorry about that! So, anyway, they have to make a dish using chocolate and they have 90 minutes! 90 minutes?! that's like four days in Top Chef time!
Ilan makes a really disgusting-looking chicken-liver truffle that does not impress the judge.
Marcel: "Chicken liver with chocolate? What an idiot! everyone knows you should use tripe."
Sam wins the challenge. That means he gets first choice of course and protein in the elimination challenge, for which they have to make a romantic five course meal at a restaurant in Santa Barbara.
Padma: "Santa Barbara: the most romantic destination in California!" [And then added in voice-over:] "And also known for it's culinary experiences!"
Well, they do have one of the last Sambo's in the country, where you can still buy adorably racist merchandise!
Padma: "Remember, you need to make a meal that is romantic. The mark of a true chef is knowing how you want your customer to feel. Would you agree with that, Eric?"
Eric Ripert: "How can I disagree with such a meaningless statement?"
Sam makes a lobster and scallop starter. It goes over very well.
Ilan makes fideos with clams, which is apparently a crispy pasta dish. Everyone loves it.
Marcel makes salmon with beets (which Sam also used in the starter). I thought the judges liked this more than they apparently did. Gail finds the little heart cut-outs to be "precious." At first they said the dish was missing acid but then they said the acidic, almost citricy wine, was a perfect pairing so I thought that problem was taken care of. But at the judges' table they bring up the lack of lemon and they act like they didn't love the dish.
Cliff makes steak with pureed lentils. No one is impressed. They don't know why someone would puree lentils. The steak is way too rare for Padma and Tom finds the greens "useless." (I'm not sure how he was planning to use them.) Eric Ripert declares it, "'Ow you say? 'Otel food."
Elia has a nervous breakdown over her "kiss." Her desert has lots of heart-shaped elements and the chocolate one doesn't work so she has to use pieces of chocolate instead:
Tom: "The menu said we were getting a chocolate heart and I want a chocolate heart! We didn't get what we were promised!"
Someone give the baby a chocolate heart. Geez. Anyway, people seem to like the desert but the judges aren't blown away by it.
There is some drama in the kitchen during the challenge when Marcel tells Sam he won't have time to help plate dishes until after his course goes. So, in retaliation, Sam first decides he won't help Marcel:
Sam: "But then I decided to help him. Because I'm not "That Guy."
Right. So the meal is over and the judges say it was the best meal so far on Top Chef. The chefs celebrate in the kitchen with Marcel opening champagne bottles with a big knife. Don't you have to be licenced to do that? Because it can be really dangerous. As we can see by all the broken bottles sitting on the counter that were obviously the failed earlier attempts.
The chefs go back to their apartment. The shit then hits the fan. They get drunk as usual. But then they go to Hollywood Boulevard and get tattoos. I couldn't believe it! They gave Marcel Rohypnol and had "I LIKE GUYS" tattooed on his chest! Then they all ended up in jail! It was crazy!
Well, what really happened was almost as weird and disturbing. They started shaving their heads. Elia and Ilan shave their own heads. Sam decides not to do his head. Cliff's head is already shaved to he decides to shave Marcel's instead. He wakes up Marcel, who is sleeping on the couch, and they reenact the homoerotic wrestling scene from the Borat movie. It's pretty frightening. Marcel is obviously upset and he goes and sleeps in the bathroom.
Sam: "It was uncomfortable for all of us. I was especially uncomfortable; the sofa I was lounging on while I watched these events unfold wasn't as soft as I would have liked. But I'm not going to complain. Because I'm not 'That Guy.'"
Tom kicks Cliff off the show.
Padma: "Ironically, he's the one who made our least favorite dish."
Alanis Morissette: "I'm pretty sure that isn't ironic."
Thank you, Alanis; you're right, that isn't ironic. It's a minor coincidence (there was a twenty percent chance of it happening). It could even be considered serendipitous since the person who had to leave would have left anyway, making the situation slightly less tragic. Of course it also means Cliff didn't pay a very high price for his actions but I do think he was just playing around and didn't mean any harm by it.
The judges pretend that they have to decide whether to take two, three, or four chefs to the finals in Hawaii. Please!
Padma: "Sam and Ilan, you're going to the finals! Elia and Marcel, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to pack your knives ..."
[Elia and Marcel are stunned]
Padma: "... and go to Hawaii for the finals, too!"
Elia and Marcel: "What kind of sick person would play with our emotions like that?!"
They attack Padma and shave her head.