Aside for the fact that Jamie Lauren finished in the bottom three for the first time (but she was never in trouble; more on that below), this week's episode of Top Chef bordered on being snoozefest. Sure, it was the annual appearance of the ubiquitous Rocco DiSpirito (would someone buy his book please?), but the idea of watching a television show about television chefs trying to be television chefs when cooking on another television show, all while the guy from Dancing With the Stars judged them was a bit ... much. The episode did, however, have some tender Jamie moments and more people spitting out the cheftestants' food, which is always fun.
1) Pads introduces Rocco as "one of the most recognizable faces in the culinary world." Poor guy isn't even called a chef anymore.
2) Quickfire Challenge: The Rocster loves the bacon, so the cheftestants have to whip up a breakfast amuse bouche. Jamie—who, NB, eats chicken soup for breakfast—finishes in the top three again with her modernized bacon and egg mini-sandwich. For the second week in a row, she finishes second to Leah.
3) Elimination Challenge: The chefs have to do a two and a half minute cooking demo in front of cameras while preparing some dish as if it's for millions of TV viewers. Jamie once again sticks to a dish she knows, and even says she's confident because she's done television before. It's at this point in the episode we realize she's getting a lot of screentime, usually a harbinger of a bottom finish.
4) Fortunately, Alex is getting even more exposure, because he decided to make a creme brulee, physically impossible to make in the time allotted. Should've read ahead in the recipe, buddy.
5) All kinds of chaos ensues when the chefs do their demos for the judges. Tom actually runs away after eating Melissa's super-spicy shrimp. Jeff from Dilido Beach (don't read it too fast) throws around a lot of words no one else can pronounce. For the time this season, disaster strikes Jamie and she ends up in the bottom three. While doing a salad topped with a fried egg, the egg white doesn't set. She puts the egg atop anyway, and Gail doesn't like: "It wasn't even runny, it was raw."
6) More quotables: "I want to hang out with him all day" —Gail, on Fabio, who has already stolen the season. We're calling it now. He might not win, but he'll be the most memorable.
7) Winners: Ariane, Jeff and Fabio win the live demo challenge, meaning their dishes get judged on the Today Show, and in a Top Chef moment for the ages, Kathie Lee Gifford spits out Jeff's cabbage roll live on TV. The 40-year-old Ariane—who is the target audience for the show to begin with—takes top honors.
8) For her victory, Rocco awards Ariane .... a set of tools? WTF?
9) Thanks to her raw egg, Jamie is in the bottom trio with Alex (who made the creme brulee) and Melissa (who made the whole left side of Padma's mouth throb). Fortunately for the San Francisco coalition, Jamie—who cried herself to sleep after being in the bottom three (aw)—was never in any real danger, thanks to Alex's incredibly-poor decision making. Alex is sent home.
10) Moral of the story: in the Top Chef earlygoing, don't try new things. Every single eliminated chef has packed knives after taking a chance on a novel dish: Patrick's black noodles, Jill's ostrich egg, Richard's banana smore, and Alex's 45-minute creme brulee.
NEXT WEEK: Gail's bridal shower, Fabio entertaining Gail's bridal shower, a Dana Cowin cameo, and one of most intangible but accurate food descriptions known to the culinary world: old people food.