The star of tonight's show? DA BEARS! Or perhaps more accurately... DA BEERS!
It was an alcohol-fuled evening on Top Chef Chicago, and Padma wasn't the only one slurring her words by the end of it!
Even Chef Tom and Gail couldn't keep their beer giggles under control as the cheftestants took on tailgate food... with mixed results.
The show opened with a GLORIOUS quickfire... beer pairing! The only thing brighter than Padma's smile were the eleven glistening glass pitchers filled with various liquid gold. Each contestant had to create a dish that complemented the beer of their choice. The selection was varied, but I was sorely disappointed to see that Chicago brewers were conspicuously left out of the mix. Where was the Goose Island? The Piece Golden Arm? Heck, even the Rock Bottom brews (admittedly not Chicago-exclusive, but STILL!) ?? Not even a PBR or Old Style was in sight!! POOR.
Nevertheless, the cheftestants managed to use their Michelob, Land Shark, and Hoegaarden for good as they came up with tasty combos. Guest judge Koren Grieveson of Chicago's fabulous Avec was poker-faced but discerning. Steph was in the top three! But the quickfire win ultimately went to Jen for her perfectly executed beignets. Padma loved it, but then again, she did mention that Jen's was one of the last dishes that she tasted. Beer munchies perhaps? Everything does taste better when you're drunk!
And maybe it was the alcohol, but there was definitely a lot of errant gayness happening amongst the men in tonight's episode too. For instance, Ryan: "I don't like sports. I like spending my money on clothes and going out dancing with my friends". Ummmm... gay? And then of course we had the Mark - Spike bubble bath. Spike, I know you say you're "comfortable with your sexuality", but really, when you're already gay, that's got to be easy, right? Pour yourself some more of that bubbly.
But, back to our story. It was then on to the elimination challenge... tailgate food! This was another challenge that was well reported last fall, yet it was still fun to watch it all unfold. I was psyched to see that the impeccible Paul Kahan of Blackbird and Avec was the guest judge! I've been to Blackbird twice now and it is truly the best midrange / upscale dining that can be found in Chicago. The dishes are inventive and challenge you just enough to make it a truly remarkable experience, every time you go. Oh, and they've won a BUNCH of James Beard awards and nominations. Need I say more?
Ok, back to the tailgating. The beer was flowing, the fans were decked out, and the chefs grilled up a storm... some of them at least. There was even an '85 Bears celeb appearance, as William "The Refrigerator" Perry barked "I want some ribs"! Mark was a mess, Ryan was a showman, and Andrew wore a helmet. And the judges were all clearly a few pints to the wind, as Gail and even Tom couldn't keep their beer giggles down! Looks like it was a fun time.
But as we know, all fun times must come to an end. And I'll admit that it was a bit of a shocker that Ryan was let go over Mark and all of his unsanitary ways. And the judges rule: cooking bad food and being cocky and not following the challenge is worse than cooking bad food and being a hot mess. All I've got to say is Mark better watch it!
Looks like we've got a dessert quickfire challenge, and my strongest, most eager guess would be that James Beard nominated Chicago pastry chef Mindy Segal (of the scrumptious Hot Chocolate) will be the guest judge! She was definitely consulted about the contestants for this season of the show, so hopefully that's a good sign that she'll be on! I love Mindy and her fabulous restaurant - definitely one of my favorites in all of Chicago. Read my gushings on it here.
And then we've got an "improvisation" challenge featuring Second City... AGAIN, right down the street from where I live... can't believe they snuck right under my nose. Either way it's looking up to be a good week! Can't wait!