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Top Chef Power Rankings, Week 8: Nerds Vs. Chads

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Let’s be honest, this season of Top Chef hasn’t been as kind to us in terms of well-defined personalities as the last few. So it was a good thing this week that when Eddie, the winner of last week’s challenge, was gifted with the “advantage” of choosing teams for this week’s team challenge (a houseboat party), he managed to stock his own team exclusively with band nerds, teacher’s pets, and theater geeks, while giving the other team nothing but football heroes, party girls, and burnouts.

Oh God, Eddie, what have you done?

It was Chads vs. Dads, and in a party throwing challenge, and I think you can guess how that turned out. This episode had jello shots, hot tubs, and far more nudity promised than basic cable could deliver. I believe Sara, Kelsey, Brian, and guest judge/Kenny Rogers lookalike Captain Lee (from Below Decks in a Bravo cross promo) all expressed a desire and/or a history of getting naked. Hey, pics or it didn’t happen, guys. Is this Top Chef or Top Tease?

Padma didn’t even take the innuendo bait when the chefs kept calling the jello shots “jiggle juice.” In fact, at one point, she took a jello shot and then made this face:

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Oh, Padma can’t handle her booze now? I seem to remember a slurry night of hors d’ouvres a few episodes ago.

The sour face may have had something to do with the fact that she attempted to CHEW HER JELLO SHOT. That’s not how jello shots work, Padma. The whole point of a jello shot is that you can skip the immense amount of grain alcohol contained in them past your tongue and into your stomach like a pebble across a frozen lake. Sheesh, it’s like she never went to college.

To this face, Sara half-heartedly asked, “Too boozy for ya?”

Somehow I doubt that was the first time Sara has asked that question. But as a viewer, I resent the implication that the jello shots were “too boozy.” You’ll know when the jello shots are “too boozy.” It’s when you can no longer make jello with them. Anything just short of that is perfect.

Party Team: (winners): Justin, Kelsey*, Sara, Eric

Nerd Team: Eddie, Brian, Michelle, Adrienne, David

*(winner)

Rankings

1. (even) Eddie Konrad — AKA: Smiles. AKA: The Accountant. AKA: Seppuku. AKA: Sweaty Eddie. AKA: Calamity. AKA: Nice Guy Eddie.

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Eddie did his best to sabotage himself this week, putting himself on the Nerd Team for a party challenge and taking it upon himself to cook Adrienne’s mayo-ass tacos while she went below decks to rest on her fainting couch (more on that later). Even that didn’t work. Eddie is just too clear a front runner. The judges pretended like there was a chance he might go home but we all knew their hearts weren’t in it. Did you also notice how Tom called Eddie’s shrimp cocktail “perfectly cooked” when he was actually eating it but then claimed it was “rubbery” during judges table? I see you, Colicchio.

Most On-Brand Eddie Moment Of The Episode

Did you see Eddie attempt to relate to the partygoers in a personable, hyoo-mon manner? It was wonderful. “Is this your first time on a party boat. …Uh, cool.”

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I love Eddie. I wish every contestant was Eddie.

2. (even) Eric Adjepong — AKA: Ghana. AKA: Sports.

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Eric is number two not because he’s a clear favorite, but because everyone else who could potentially fill this spot is either dropping fast (David) or hopelessly streaky (Kelsey, Justin, Sara). Anyway, Eric was on Team Chad this week, cooking up a beer-battered walleye with escoveitch with the rest of his cool friends. In the fried fish battle he seemed to out duel Michelle thanks to his fish being hot — which seemed to be a result of him making the judges wait 20 minutes while he went downstairs to fry his fish in a stove pot, since the boat generator wasn’t strong enough to power a deep fryer. Yes, food is generally hot when you get it right out of the fryer. Did Eric really just get credit for that? I like to think Sara plied them with enough booze that they forgot why Eric’s fish was hotter.

I’m calling Eric number two but not feeling great about it. His food always looks the best but it’s rarely judged that way.

3. (+3) Michelle Minori — AKA: Screen Time. AKA: Who? AKA: Trivia.

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Most On Brand Michelle Moment Of The Episode:

When Brian was trying to brainstorm theme ideas and wondered aloud, “what do people like to do at parties?” and Michelle offered, “…Trivia?”

Notable Michelle Quote:

“If this challenge is about a party then we’re out of our element.”

Kudos to Michelle for most clearly recognizing her own brand, even if that brand is a half-hearted apology for being boring. Michelle has had consistently decent food all season that always keeps her just off the lead. This week she narrowly lost the fried fish showdown but it seemed like that was mostly because the judges were butthoused on gelatinous Maker’s Mark. Michelle is clearly one of the better chefs, but right now I can’t quite imagine her shrugging her way into the victor’s circle.

Most Heartbreaking Michelle Moment Of The Episode

When Michelle heard Team Chad laughing it up in the lake (literally going down beer-lubed waterslides) and exclaimed sadly “…I want to go swimming,” while cooped up indoors.

4. (+3) Kelsey Barnard Clark — AKA: Wine Mom. AKA: Elle Woods. AKA: Roll Tide. AKA: Can I Speak To Your Manager?

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Honestly, if anyone on this show can plan a party, it’s Kelsey. Anyone who watched more than five minutes could’ve told you that. How Eddie missed this is beyond me. Kelsey and Sara both played their roles perfectly this week. Kelsey was probably the MVP of her team, taking the lead on personalized miniature grocery bags filled with “Puppy Chow,” which is apparently Southern for some kind of Chex mix/Rice Krispie treat concoction (never let Southerners name your food). Which just goes to show, if you want adorably wrapped party favors that make perfect drunk munchies, go with Kelsey. If you want to get ripshit on Jello shots, Sara is your gal.

Kelsey made “Alabama Oysters” which I was convinced were going to be testicles but in a shocking twist turned out to be actual oysters — served with hot sauce and lemon and, in Kelsey’s case, pickled watermelon rind. The judges loved them, and their favorite part was that they were… cold. Jesus Christ, did everyone on Team Chad get credit for masterminding the weather? “Cold” is a flavor now? What is this, a Coors Light commercial?

5. (-1) Justin Sutherland — AKA: New Spike. AKA: Cheech. AKA: Slick. AKA The Weez. AKA: Bacon.

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I’m shocked Justin didn’t try to put CBD into Kelsey’s party favors. Or maybe he did? Maybe he spiked the food with psilocybin and that’s why the judges all confused temperatures for flavors? If so, nice job, Justin. Justin was essentially Team Chad’s mascot this week, declaring “I know how to throw a party and I own a boat,” at the beginning of the episode, which is one of the most Chad things anyone has ever said. Later he poured beer on the waterslide and dove down it.

If there are more party challenges, Justin is a stone-cold lock for the finals. Judged on food alone… I have no idea where Justin stands. This week he made… a watermelon salad? Which seems kind of dull and obvious but the judges loved it so I guess that’s just the kind of knowledge boat-owning experience will get you.

6. (-3). David Viana — AKA: Maybe. AKA: Superfan. AKA: Mouse.

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I’d been keeping David in the top five these past weeks based on his strong start winning all the early quickfires, but his descent down the rankings is starting to look terminal. David was on the Nerd Team this week, which is a little unfair because David doesn’t quite seem like a nerd. A choir kid, maybe. I’ve also realized that it’s almost impossible for me to think of David as an adult man. He has grey hair in his beard but I always think of him basically as a 12-year-old boy. I think it’s the sideways cap and youthful glee he gets when meeting famous people.

This week, a partygoer came up to New Jersey-born David and sarcastically asked, “So, are you from Alabama or Tennessee?” Which was either a solid dad joke or a prelude to a hate crime, I’m not sure which.

This week David made a seafood dumpling with a coconut foam that the judges didn’t like because… they wanted it to be a potsticker? It was very confusing. Anyway, I hope David can right the ship and manages to not faint the next time he meets a celebrity.

7. (+1) Sara Bradley — AKA: Party Mom. AKA: One-Upper. AKA: Abe Fro-ma’am. AKA: Jiggle Juice.

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That Party Mom ended up on the winning team in a party challenge is one of the least surprising developments in the history of this show. Some people you want next to you in a foxhole. Sara is the person I want next to me in a jello shot situation.

Most On-Brand Sara Moment Of The Episode:

“We’re not gonna make 100 jello shots. We’re going to make 300.”

Notable Sara Quote:

ON HER IDEA OF A PARTY: “Most of the time it probably involves me taking my shirt off and runnin’ around.”

Sara made a shrimp roll with ranch sauce this week. She also drank jello shots and put on an inflatable fish and fell down. I love Sara.

8. (-3) Adrienne Wright — AKA: NPR. AKA: Dangles. AKA: Hollow Bones.

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Boy, Adrienne sure picked a convenient time to be sick this week, didn’t she? I don’t actually think Adrienne was faking it, I just think she has hollow bones, like a bird, and is thus more susceptible to infection. In any case, Adrienne’s cold meant that she skipped out on service and let Eddie cook her tacos, which meant that they were possibly better than they would’ve been otherwise (remember when Brian won a challenge after Eddie cooked his chicken log?), and she skipped out on judges table so they couldn’t criticize her directly.

By the way, this is what Adrienne’s “fish taco” looked like:

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I am livid.

This is why you don’t let the chef from Maine make the tacos. Is that… a store-bought flour tortilla quadrant topped with a corn and veggie melange? The most infuriating part of this abomination is that not a single judge called her out on it. We got judges over here worrying if the brine made Brian’s porchetta “too hammy” and not one person objected to a “taco” served on a quarter tortilla wedge. My God. Dammit, Padma, didn’t you go to high school in LA? She must’ve been drunk.

9. (+1) AKA: The Hair. AKA: Hipster Joe Flamm. AKA: Slouches The Wonder Butcher. AKA: Cool Lurch.

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Brian finally got got this week and was anyone surprised? Last week he responded to Tom’s admonition to “be yourself” in a foreign language (“Oui, chef”) and this week he further took that message to heart by making a… porchetta inspired by the flavors of the South Pacific. Well done, sir, truly. “This is the dish that best represents me, a white guy from Nashville. I call it ‘Porchetta Gaugin.'”

Brian also thought it’d be a great idea to carve his porchetta while standing in a hot tub. Man, I think… the party guests… are the ones… who are supposed to use the hot tub… Watching poor Brian’s team imagine what a party was supposed to look like was watching the 40 Year Old Virgin describe sex.

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Staying up all night and then standing in a hot tub while serving pork in the 100-degree heat also seemed like a pretty bad idea, health-wise. Though I guess the upside is that you can pee without leaving your station. Of course, Brian was probably so dehydrated by the sun, pork, and hot tub that he wouldn’t have to pee for days.

Oh well, now Brian will have time to go home and nurse his kidney stones. Rest in Power, Droopy Dog Giving A Deposition.

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