Top Chef recap: More Exciting than Chicken Salad

Friends become foes, and Grayson goes on the offensive against Tom
Ep. 12 | Aired Jan 25, 2012

WHEN YOU INSULT CHICKEN SALAD, you insult Grayson Schmitz. She will defend the sanctity of that mayonnaise- (or tofu?)-based picnic staple to the death.

Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

As the chefs traded their favorite Beverly stories and imitations after her elimination, Charlize Theron paid a visit to the Stew Room to basically geek out over the stellar evil-themed dishes she just finished judging. She even bowed to them, sending them all into paroxysms of sweaty joy. I hoped that the note of encouragement from the face of Dior would inspire equally creative, visually fascinating dishes from the chefs from here on out... but judging from this episode, that didn't exactly happen.

For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs were greeted by Padma, Emeril, and co-host of Bravo's upcoming Around the World in 80 Plates (which is also the name of a fake Portlandia restaurant) Cat Cora, whom Sarah called one of the "fiercest chefs around." The six remaining cheftestants were grouped into three strategically determined teams of two: Sarah and Lindsay; Grayson and Chris; and Paul and Ed, all of whom have worked together and share a history. When Padma asked what everyone thought of their teams, Grayson answered "Fine!" a bit too forcefully. Grayson and Chris made a troubled but entertaining odd couple in the Patti LaBelle challenge. Paul and Ed are buddies but think they might be bad luck for each other, and we can only hope to see Sarah and Lindsay eliminated in one go.

For this mise en place challenge, the chefs had 40 minutes to peel, de-vein, and butterfly two pounds of shrimp (thank goodness Beverly wasn't around), shuck a crate of corn, make a pound of fettuccine, and then create a dish from the ingredients they just prepped. Sarah and Lindsay worked the best together, while Grayson was on Chris like Heather on Beverly to shuck the corn faster. (Okay, no more mentions of Beverly after this, but her absence looms large). But Chris proved that slow and top-knotted wins the race by finishing the corn before Paul.

NEXT: Who gets to say, "Thank you, Healthy Choice!"?

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