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.

Speaking of words that inspire confidence, Brooke -- being "as American as it comes" -- went with a simple cheddar cheese apple pie that Padma dubbed "homey." "It never feels like a compliment when you’re in a room full of chefs and you’ve made the 'homey' dish," Brooke said. Whatever. In the real world, people will order apple pie over chicken and waffles any day. Own it, Brooke! Micah and Josie's tamales earned a "I like the plantain" and "It’s a nice combination of tastes" respectively, while Lizzie's South African dish was mostly overlooked. Marilyn gabbed with John about serving children port wine, but didn't offer a lot of commentary on his dish. Finally, the "pleasantly chunky" (or so her mother used to describe her -- that explains a lot) Eliza received a bit of a backhanded compliment. "It’s a very mild sweetness, but I think it tastes good." Sure it tastes good, but it doesn't exactly meet the point of the challenge, does it Marilyn?

The chefs convened for Marilyn's ultimate decision. "It was an amazing display of creativity," she said. "They put me in the mood for the holidays." So which ones missed the mark? "Bart, with too many different things going on." Oooh, Bart pulled quite the face there, but it was Micah who was truly offended. "I think Micah’s was very inventive, but just a touch on the dry side, the taco," Marilyn admitted. "She called my tamale a taco," Micah responded, shaking his head. The favorites went to Josh (whose mustache was drooping from the humidity of the kitchen by this point), Stefan, and "as American as it comes" Brooke. "The best overall taste was a dish that gave you a feeling of going home for the holidays," Marilyn said before announcing Brooke as the winner! Look, Brooke certainly seemed terrified of presenting her "safe" apple pie, but when you think about it, it's actually a very smart decision. Your judge is a fan of the Olive Garden, for Pete's sake! You don't want to serve her food she can't pronounce (cough, Micah, cough).

Now that Brooke had been awarded immunity, it was time to move on to the Elimination Challenge, where the chefs would be cooking for "a local family throwing a welcome home party." And this local family turned out to be... Anna Faris and Chris Pratt! "We are just thrilled to be standing in the Top Chef kitchen," the pregnant House Bunny star gushed. Stefan was thrilled because he had a two-degree connection to the actress. "Anna and I have one thing in common: we both were on Entourage." But if he was hoping for a home team advantage, he was disappointed. "I’m pregnant so I’m enjoying eating more than ever," Anna explained before Chris interrupted, "Did you just say you’re pregnant?" The chefs didn't really laugh, but I did. Chris Pratt, you are appreciated.

Basically, the challenge was to cater the Faris-Pratts' coming home party. The prize? A Toyota Prius C. The contestants were given five minutes to talk to Anna and Chris and get a sense of what they like. Did you know Chris Pratt was a big game hunter? I don't know how I feel about this revelation. Apparently it's a big pastime for Chris and Anna's brother. "Whatever they kill they must eat," Anna said, a bit of a grimace on her face. "Sometimes that involves some pretty scary food items for us." You guys, I want to subscribe her to a lifetime supply of filets and save her from Pacific Northwest squirrel. Anyone second this? We can take up a collection. The gang headed out to check out the Prius, which oh-so-very fortunately went with Josh's mustache! It must be fate.

NEXT: Plants are soooo overrated.

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