Top Chef recap: Taco or Tamale?

A viral sensation teaches the chefs a thing or two about good holiday food. Plus: Anna Faris and Chris Pratt!
Ep. 06 | Aired Dec 12, 2012

GARDEN STATE Famed Olive Garden reviewer Marilyn Hagerty shows the contestants how it's really done, Grand Forks Herald style.

Anna Faris and Chris Pratt should have been the highlight of this episode, but for me it was Marilyn Hagerty, the scribe behind the infamous Olive Garden review that went viral earlier this year. Have you ever seen a more earnest judge for the Quickfire Challenge? I'll answer for you: no, no you have not. Someone start a petition: Ms. Hagerty needs to be a permanent fixture on this show, stat.

After last week's atrocious performance, the chefs sat around thanking their lucky stars the Foodie Gods had spared them. "Stefan and I dodged a bullet," Brooke confessed. But if anything, it was Josh and John who were fortunate. "It’s a relief not to be sent home for that absolutely horrific pork dish,” Super Mario said. You'd think he'd learn to, oh I don't know, maybe avoid pork? But of course Josh's signature dish featured prominently this episode. (Try another meat, Josh!)

The contestants were ushered into the kitchen for the Quickfire Challenge. There, they were greeted by Padma and a lady who looked like "Martha Stewart’s mother," (really?) according to John. Bite your tongue, John! It was none other than my beloved Marilyn. “Somebody told me I had become viral," she said while introducing herself to the chefs. "I didn’t even know what that meant.” Even better: "It’s just been a hoot, the whole thing." Marilyn, you had me at hoot. She revealed that she was a big fan of Aebleskiver ("A lot of people say Apple Skiver. That bugs me. It’s Aebleskiver.") and challenged the contestants to "create a sweet and savory holiday dish with Truvia." The catch? The kitchen only held one knife. Readers, you haven't seen anything until you've witnessed master chefs try to slice food with a cheese grater. Or a pizza cutter. Or a spatula. I'm surprised the meals they delivered didn't taste like blood.

In addition to fighting over the one knife, the chefs also had to incorporate a little bit of their personal history into the meal. For example, Danyele's mother always used leftover Christmas ham to make a bread pudding, so that's what she did. Sounds revolting to me, but whatever floats your boat. Micah and Josie went for tamales (which infuriated Micah to no end), while Stefan turned to his Jewish twice ex-wife's grandmother for inspiration. Yes, you read that right. He married and divorced the same woman twice. "That doesn’t show a lot of imagination," remarked Marilyn. I think I love her. Bart made chicken and waffles (?), prompting Josh to show some 'tude. "You guys make waffles in Belgium? I didn’t know that." Focus on your johnnycakes, Josh boy. Sheldon made a bizarre peanut butter, pineapple, and coconut thing, which Marilyn labeled "rather unusual." Not exactly words that inspire confidence.

NEXT: Marilyn can't tell a taco from a tamale and I love her for it.


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