This is Las Vegas, baby! It’s just like they always say: what happens in Vegas can be rehashed into a corny reality competition theme a billion different ways. It’s all about strippers and vices and gambling and excess and crisp flavor profiles and clean mouth-feels. Huh? We’re back to the super-Vegas-y tropes. The Quickfire Challenge is “angels and devils.” Prepare a dish that represents your good side and your bad side. “Like your angel of cooking healthy vs. your devil of clogging your diners’ arteries,” Padma says. Well that is the single most literal interpretation of this cooking challenge, Padma. Actually, the single most literary interpretation will be Bryan’s “white” vs. “black” dessert. Also: racist. But you have to admit that Padma’s interpretation is not very imaginative when it comes to cooking. “Like the angel of salt and the devil of pepper.” I guess it could have been worse. If she’d said that. But she didn’t, so let’s move on.

Oh, and before we even finish talking about the Quickfire, let’s talk about how Mattin is gone.

R.I.P. Mattin.

In solidarity (huh?) with Mattin, everyone wears his Le Petit Princekerchief.

It is really convenient that everyone was able to find one of those in their suitcase. I’m sure that the producers didn’t have anything to do with this. Just a regular solidarity movement, you know how these things go. (Also, it is 2009. Can TV start recognizing the fact that we have at least some mild idea of how TV works?)

Anyway, Angels and Devils. Michael’s angel is modern cooking and his devil is traditional cooking? Or vice versa? It is hard to understand which one is the angel and which one is the devil, I think in large part because it makes no sense. Ron’s angel is sea bass in carrot, and his devil is sea bass in yucca? Again, I know that these guys are talented (sometimes) chefs and not comparative literature scholars, but huh? Ash’s devil is only cooking one dish, and his angel is his mom, who is still very proud of him.

So Ash is in the bottom three, along with Bryan’s racially insensitive desserts, and Lorine for her inability to cook well ever. The best dishes are Michael’s, Eli’s, and Robin, who went “all in” (get it? Vegas!) on the sympathy vote with this challenge, telling her story of being diagnosed with two types of lymphoma. So I guess one of the types was good and one of the types was evil? Her food tasted just like cancer? Sorry. It’s not funny. It is awful when bad things happen, always. And everyone with a traumatic personal story deserves one free pass on this show (like when Ron’s vice was coming to America on a raft or whatever?). But now that she’s used hers up, I don’t see her making it much further. She should have saved it for an Elimination Challenge.

For the elimination challenge, the guest judges are Penn and Teller, who walk into the kitchen and immediately proceed to do a routine they’ve been doing for more than 20 years.

If it ain’t broke, wear it out! The challenge this week is to deconstruct a classic dish. Top Chefs are always deconstructing, or at least pretending like they were deconstructing when they mess up, so this ought to be easy enough. The twist is that they have to deconstruct a specific dish, determined by drawing knives. Some people seem more confident than others. Kevin is nervous because he already made chicken mole negro and it bombed. Mike is nervous because he doesn’t even know what eggs florentine is.

And then there is Ron.

This is basically how he looks the whole episode. He doesn’t seem to know how to make paella, much less what a deconstructed dish is. “You mean you break the dish and pour your food in a sloppy heap on top of the shards?” At one point some of the other chefs try to give him tips on what aspects of paella need to be on the dish, and what a deconstructed dish should look like, and Ron is just like “What?” and shakes his head and wipes is brow and is like “what?” again, and then is just like “you guys are crazy.” GOOD LUCK, RON!

For some reason Toby Young is back, and just as boldly annoying as ever. Speaking of paella, the most ridiculous Toby Youngism of the night is when he pronounces it “pie-ella” and then teases all the other chefs for trying to sound Spanish by pronouncing it semi-correctly. Uh, relax, Professor Words. It is annoying when people adopt phony foreign accents to make themselves sound cultured or worldly, but it is not showing off to just pronounce the word the way that EVERYONE pronounces it. There’s no confusion or pretension about paella. Shut up, Toby Young.

Also, is Teller seriously still not talking? Barack Obama is president now, Teller, we all get to talk whenever we want. TELLER, RISE UP!

So the top four dishes are Kevin’s deconstructed chicken mole, Michael’s deconstructed Caesar salad, Ashley’s deconstructed pot roast, and Jennifer’s deconstructed meat lasagna. But the winner is Kevin, who gets the glory but also gets a prop box of non-stick cookware.

Seriously, there is nothing in that box. I’m not saying this is a big SCANDAL. I’m sure he got the pans later. But he did not get the pans when they told us that he got the pans. TRUTHBUSTERS.

The bottom three are Lorine, Ash, and Ron. Let’s just cut to the chase: Ron goes home. Goodbye, Ron! I wanted to get right to it because there’s another chase to cut to, which is that Lorine and Ash will also be going home soon! Goodbye Lorine and Ash! This season more than any other season seems to have the clearest dividing line between the chefs who have a real chance of winning (Mike and Bryan and Michael and Kevin and Jennifer and maybe Ashley and maybe Eliot) and all the rest of them. Robin and Ash and Lorine and everyone who has already been eliminated are basically just drawing lots to see who gets one more week on the waterslide. ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN, YOU GUYS! WATERSLIDES ARE SUPERFUN!

Comments (29)
  1. The best part of the episode was Kevin’s oscar-worthy feigned excitement over winning that uber-crappy prize. Uh, Michael gets to train with Joel Rubachon? Jen wins $15,000? And I get $150 worth of shitty pans?!?! Seriously… $150 worth:

    • Something tells me someone else in the Gillespie family will be receiving those awesome pans come Christmas time. I can hear his mom and dad now “Gee son, thanks for the great cookware. It’s just like that set you won on that reality show. This totally makes up for you not taking that full ride scholarship to MIT.”
      Seriously though, the King of the Gummi Bears will win this whole thing.

  2. How about that Michelle Bernstein? Not only did she give Toby the death stare at service (I forgot why, but it was some asinine comment he made), but she then called him out and said “I’m Spanish and I do say pie-ey-a and Barthelona” which translates to “shut up you troll”. It almost makes up for the fact that she picked Robin in the Quickfire. Almost.

    • Also, can Ashley shut the fuck up about how she was poor growing up? I know there’s some clever editing in there, but “We were really poor so I’m not too familiar with pot roast”…. Uh, hasn’t she been a successful-ish chef for like 10 years? Shut up, Ashley.

      • Yes, I wasn’t aware that pot roast was such the delicacy. Next week: “We didn’t eat much rice growing up because we were POOR.”

  3. Since when is Michelle Bernstein Latin?

  4. they should show this episode to school children the world over as a great example on how not to lose gracefully.

    Bronze goes to all of the good chefs for the looks of disgust when robin wins. Silver to Ash for his pot-kettle-black moment. Gold with diamond accents goes to bacon guy for his heartfelt cancer speech.

  5. Robin is the kind of woman who collects Judaica. Some made out of fimo. Basically she’s every Jew’s aunt. I can’t hate.

  6. What was Mike’s Angel and Devil? Awesome bro’s wearing Ed Hardy shirts and women or minorities?

  7. See, I’ve always found that the black and white dessert is the key to race relations. Look to the cookie Gabe, look to the cookie

  8. I think the Pie-Ella pronunciation is a British thing, and Toby was sort of reacting to being semi-called out on it. He was way less irritating this time than any of his appearances last season.

  9. The contestants this season are incredibly boring – even Tom Colicchio seems to be bored of the whole thing. Foreign chefs brought in to be the comic relief aren’t funny, the better chefs have boring personalities (Kevin is so boring compared to Carla et al), leaving the douchebag Mike as the only one with any real personality. Seriously, does anyone care about the sibling rivalry? Shut it down. Press the button, Frank.

  10. Robin is kind of annoying, and yeah, if I had cancer and was also a contestant on Top Chef I wouldn’t be using it for sympathy votes, but can we all agree on the fact that Eli is a GIANT ASSHOLE? I’m sure most or all of the other chefs thought she shouldn’t play the cancer card, but it says a lot that he was the only one who actually said it on camera (that we know of…sneaky edits). What Michael I. is to women, Eli is to everyone.

    • He is 100 percent the worst. If he were better-looking it might mitigate his horrible attitude, but to have to listen to all his jerk-ass comments and look at him while he makes them, that is seriously too much punishment. He’s like the awful traif troll on my shoulder. My LEFT shoulder, because that’s where the evil goes, Padma.

  11. Can we talk about how Penn called Padma out for getting balls-deep with some bulls?

    • The TWSS was the best moment of the evening. However, it had the unfortunate side effect of causing me to visualize Salman Rushdie’s nutsack.

  12. The Fury Gummy Bear is there to make friends.

  13. This is a real shirt for sale on And in it’s description it says “Wearing this shirt to your favorite restaurant is not only a great conversation starter but is the ultimate compliment to the chef!” Right. I’m surprised we haven’t seen Fatty McGlasses in it yet (I’m from Atlanta like he is so I’m allowed to make fun of him for things that have nothing to do with being from Atlanta. That’s how that works, right?). It’s only a matter of time.

    Also, this is your T-shirt.

  14. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  15. This is really Picky McPickerson, but I made the mistake of watching TC sober this week, and the “Frankenstein’s monster” quality of the voiceovers patched together from interview tape is just too seizure-inducing. The editors should edit the words down the way want to use them, then have the cheftestant in question re-record them so it’s natural sounding and not this jerky vocal modulation craziness. Gabe, make them do it this way. Thx

    • Teev  |   Posted on Sep 24th, 2009 +10

      Clearly you have failed to appreciate that what the editors are doing is deconstructing the original interviews, then reassembling them in such a way that if you listen to the words in the correct order, by the time you get to the end of the sentence you will have the flavor of the original in your mind.

    • I’ve been reading this as a tribute to Bill Meléndez.
      YOU GUYS HE JUST DIED (Source: Sarah McLaughlin)

  16. I loved it when Ash was like I’m just gonna make salad and cobbler (or whatever that shit was) totally ranking on Robin right to her face !!! awesomeness. way to be a good sport. 10 bucks says Ash is next.

  17. Also, they say they got the red bandans from Mattins stuff. When you get kicked off, you don’t get to take your stuff with you???? maybe he really did die, so they just went thru his suitcases. R.I.P. Mattin, hope you get a golden neckerchief in heaven.

  18. The best part of the whole episode: Dude makes pork balls that look like pork balls and Sir Tobes declares, “these look like bull testicles!” (who is this guy, Short Round?) leading Padma to offer, ‘i’ve actually had bull testicles” culminating with Penn, without missing a beat, to drop this way-homer: “i bet you have.” What a cretin that dude is.

    it is kind of a good burn, but still.

  19. and in the quickfire, did you notice how it was, in fact, top scallop?

  20. Deconstructing a Joke  |   Posted on Sep 25th, 2009 -1

    angels and devils + the satanic verses + salman rushdie + padma = joke! blam-o (can i get a buh dum chh?)

  21. Deconstructing a Joke  |   Posted on Sep 25th, 2009 -1

    angels and devils + the satanic verses + salman rushdie + padma = joke! blam-o (can i get a buh dum chh?)

  22. LOVE how pretty much every contestant on Top Scallop took it EZ and copied Padma’s already unoriginal idea of healthy vs unhealthy. Except “Carrot vs Yucca Battle Royale” Ron.

    I loved his happy face when he drew the paella knife. I hate to say this, but his voice reminds me of the Patton Oswalt bit about being able to tell someone’s fat over the phone.

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