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Top Chef Chicago: "I Made Ryan Scott Tailgate Food."

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The polls get more ridiculous; now, they're just messing with us.

In so many ways, the sixth episode of Top Chef was the most intense, most entertaining, and dare we say, the best one of the season. Mostly, this was due to the fact that the competition has been narrowed down enough to afford significant screen time to all cheftestants. We finally got an individual elimination challenge with all the usual follies and flops, and above all else, San Francisco's Jennifer and Ryan both stole the show, albeit in very different ways. So, let's get down to business, shall we?

1) The Quickfire: The contestants created a dish to pair perfectly with beer. Not only did this challenge offer a convenient and attractive outlet for more product placement, but Jennifer's island beer-inspired dish (shrimp and scallop beignets) won Padma (and special mute judge Koren "poker face" Grieveson of Avec), marking San Francisco's first victory of the season.

2) Second-Best Jen Moment of the Show: Acknowledging her faux-hawk during the beer-pairing quickfire challenge: "My hair is like a shark fin, I got shark fin beer ... [running hands through hair] ... Whooosh!"

3) Best Jen Moment of the Show: Zoi-basher Spike finished in the bottom three for the quickfire, camera immediately cuts to Jennifer stifling her giggles.

4) The Elimination Challenge: The chefs had to cater a Chicago Bears tailgate party, provoking Ryan to ask himself questions and then answer them: "Do I look a sports fan? No I'm not." He then proclaimed himself a metrosexual while ignoring the tailgate theme during his Whole Foods shopping trip. Around this point, our "uh-oh" meter should have gone off.

5) The Local Dishes: Happily relaxed with immunity, Jen made chicken souvlaki in honor of Zoi. Ryan went a bit overboard for his Chicago sports fan audience: chicken thigh with panzanella, "spiked" hot cocoa, and for dessert, poached pear with crème fraîche and huckleberry sauce.

6) Judges: Tom became the first person in history to wear a Chicago Bears jersey with a beret and scarf, Paul Kahan (of Chitown's Blackbird and Avec) was the guest judge, Padma somehow made fingerless gloves hot, and Gail Simmons was there too.

7) Judges' Table: Sports fan and hometown fave Dale took the top prize for his ribs. Antonia and Stephanie once again finished in the top three. Antonia could not stop high-fiving everyone.

8) The Losers: Nikki, for basically grilling store-bought sausages; Mark, for his extreme lack of hygiene (licking the serving spoon!); and Ryan, for refusing to actually do the challenge/just cooking whatever he wanted ("Ryan Scott tailgate food" was the exact phrasing, we believe).

8) Outcome: Ok, we have to admit: we were both surprised and disappointed that Ryan was sent home. We won't play the East Coast Bias card here, and even though he probably deserved to go (at a football game: poached pears? and bad ones at that?), Nikki and Mark's offenses seemed much, much more appalling. Are we alone in thinking this?

9) Farewell, Icarus: We simply loved the final moments of the show, wherein a "long-winded" Ryan bid farewell to the judges and other contestants amid a flurry of memorable Ry-Sco quotes and voiceovers. He referred to himself in the third person, said he's been humbled, and hit the nail on the head in saying that he just went too far in his dish, a crucial mistake in the first individual challenge. The show won't be the same without him, but we have a feeling we've haven't seen the last of Mr. Scott.
· All Top Chef Coverage [~ESF~]

Did Ryan deserve to go? Does our last local, Jennifer, have a legit shot at taking home top honors? And what's the deal with the polls? Reactions, predictions, and everything else in the comments.

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