Tre is gone, and Mike and Fabio still can’t get over the fact that Antonia won last week’s episode by serving a pile of French mussels at an Italian restaurant. And Dale can’t get over what the judges said about his food. “It crushes me to the core when they say my food is bland,” he says, looking glum.
When the chefs arrive at the Top Chef kitchen and find a row of fondue pots waiting for them, they also looked crushed to the core. Except for Richard: Fondue in the Blais household apparently meant “bell bottoms, high heels, and being naked.” Which maybe explains his haircut, but not the liquid nitrogen.
Padma shows up and helpfully announces that “this isn’t the 70s,” though Richard’s haunted expression suggests that for him, it still might be. The challenge is to make fondue that doesn’t involve “bananas dipped in hot chocolate.” And the chefs will have to judge each other, possibly because no actual chef could be persuaded to come on the show to do it instead.
Lots of melting ensues. Richard decides to do what Padma told everyone not to, and make bananas dipped in chocolate, but “in a way they haven’t seen before.” Which of course involves using dry ice, which means that, yes, Richard, they have seen seen you do this before.
Alas, it’s all for naught: Richard’s peers fail to appreciate his ras el hanout chili ice cream and instead vote Dale’s cringingly named pho-due as the winner, followed closely by Antonia’s smoked salmon with crème fraîche and fromage blanc and Angelo’s goat cheese fondue with pickled beet juice. Richard goes off to the confessional corner to sulk. “They’re too scared,” he huffs, clearly disgusted that his competitors couldn’t grasp his swaggering genius.
For the elimination challenge, everyone gets a field trip to Rockefeller Center, where — surprise! — they get to play Cell Phone Shoot-Out on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Antonia is “really confused by this,” as is presumably half of Fallon’s audience. The chefs take photos of different foods they must make for Jimmy Fallon’s birthday lunch at Colicchio & Sons the next day. This presents a problem for Fabio, who has no idea how to cook a burger, much less pronounce it. As he contemplates “boogers,” Antonia frets about having to cook beef tongue and Dale worries about avenging last week’s bland food with a Philly cheesesteak. Carla, on the other hand, is ecstatic about making chicken pot pie:
Afterward, the chefs sit around the dinner table and ooh and ahh over the Buitoni ravioli Antonia cooks, giving the show an excuse to make hot, sweet love to their corporate sponsor with lots of close-ups of the Buitoni name.
And then, after equally gratuitous shots of Angelo’s naked torso, it’s off to Colicchio & Sons. Fabio begins sowing the seeds of his destruction by making a cheese sauce to serve with his burger, which itself resembles meat loaf. Antonia cooks a tongue with Richard’s help, and the judges, Fallon, and various members of the Fallon family gather in the dining room.
They’re first served Fabio’s burger and Antonia’s tongue, which she’s paired with pumpernickel rye, caramelized onions, and dill slaw. Everyone loves the latter, but is unsure of what Fabio was trying to do with the burger, except maybe repulse them.
Richard’s take on ramen with seared pork belly and duck legs earns a lackluster reception, as does Tiffany’s Southwestern spin on chicken and dumplings, which one of the diners observes is more of a tortilla soup. Dale also strikes out with a Philly cheesesteak that’s undermined by a too-salty pretzel roll. Carla, on the other hand, gets a lot of love for her much-anticipated chicken pot pie, thanks in part to her decision to include a bottom crust.
Angelo also earns raves for his pulled pork, seasoned with an unlikely but successful combination of coffee, dill, allspice, and cilantro. And Mike’s sausage and peppers elicits a lot of seventh-grade-level sausage jokes from the Fallon crew. Finally, the chefs serve Fallon an ice cream cake, and everyone goes off to the stew room.
The judges call in Carla, Angelo, and Antonia and pronounce them the favorites. They pronounce Carla the most favorite of all, and give her a trip to Tokyo and a cooking segment on Jimmy Fallon. And here’s what happens:
And then Fabio gets sent home for serving meat loaf with greasy cheese sauce.
Next week: Muppets, Target.
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