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.

The chefs got to cooking for the big dinner party. Meals ranged from a tasting looking tortelloni to some suspect elk. Stefan threw in a good joke to keep the contestants on their feet, telling them they only had 12 minutes left when in reality it was three hours. Again, I laughed, but no one else did. The best part by far was when John got bitten by what looked like the Facehugger from Alien. Fight back, seafood! Win your freedom.

With 30 minutes to go, the chefs packed up and headed for Chihuly Garden and Glass, an awesome blown glass garden located in Queen Anne, Seattle. While the contestants made their final preparations, we were treated to the Faris and Pratt families mingling amongst the glass sculptures. "I almost broke one," Chris' mom confessed laughingly. "I touched it." But as he told Anna later, he would have paid for it. Awww. Best son ever. In the kitchen, Danyele was lamenting the fact that her chops tasted like shoes, which is not the best of flavors, while John fretted about coming face-to-face with the guest judge and his former boss Rick Moonen, who was sure to tell the "blunt, hard truth" about his Facehugger chowda.

The chefs set up at individual stations and off the judges -- Padma, Tom, Gail, Rick -- went. First up: Brooke's lamb-stuffed squid, which Chris praised for incorporating every flavor. Another guest described it as "one of the best things I’ve ever had in my life." Doesn't sound good to me, but everyone seemed pretty pleased by it. Sheldon's pork was also a hit, with Anna gushing over "the sweetness of the pork belly and the savoriness of the sushi rice." But it was Stefan's goulash that earned the pregnant lady stamp of approval. "I feel like Stefan’s goulash is what a pregnant woman craves," Anna exclaimed between bites.

Kristen was living in oxymoron central. "I'm feeling really good about my dish, but there are always doubts for me," she said of her tortelloni dish. She needn't have worried. "I think it's the perfect bite," Rick announced. "I couldn't wait to go back for another one." Micah's braised pork ribs with celery puree were another story. "Too much cream," Tom declared. "Some of the components didn’t quite add," Rick said. Gail wanted Lizzie's crusted wild salmon to be more seared, with some sort of caramelization. "I do wish it was seasoned a little bit more," Anna added. Eliza's elk rib-eye didn't fare much better. "The meat's not bad," said Tom. "I just find the rest of this really bland." In comparison, Bart's elk was "beautifully done."

The judges stopped by Danyele's table, where she confessed "I'm nervous like always." This is one of my own shortcomings -- I tend to admit when I'm scared -- but if I've learned anything over the years, it's that you can't let them see you bleed. And that's what Danyele did. She opened her boar up to a world of criticism, the most notable of which was "the boar is boring." Josh served a giant slab of pork that led Gail to declare, "It’s insane what Josh put on these plates in front of us." Reason number 568 Josh needs to stop making pork dishes. Josie once again copied Micah with a braised pork ribs dish. "I think Josie's dish really sounded great, but there wasn't enough contrast," Rick said. On the other hand, John's chowda earned nothing but praise. "John’s chowder really is everything I crave when I’m not in Seattle," Anna said. "It's a hug from the ocean," Rick declared, enacting the aforementioned hug.

NEXT: Chris Pratt has a more questionable taste in food than I initially suspected.

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