After two semi-unnecessary qualifying rounds and a top 16 challenge that seemed to plod along, we finally got a Top Chef episode worth its sea salt. It had everything: characters, conflict, solid challenges, Padma on a horse, and a very on-fire Gail Simmons.
But first, we saw the fallout from last week's tense Judges' Table. The cheftestants were left rattled by Keith's departure and suspicious of Sarah and Lindsay's two-timing ways, although I think the other chefs were being a bit unfair. I'm way more suspicious of Chris Crary painting Sarah as this huge conniver when really, he bore more responsibility for Keith buying pre-cooked shrimp than she did. He's revealing himself to be a tremendous douche. If he wore a black sleeveless t-shirt, he'd be a bully from an '80s teen movie.
Top Chef Masters Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken presided over this week's Quickfire, which involved some very hot peppers and gambling. The cheftestants had to choose a pepper to work with, and the spicier the fruit (that's right, I called it a fruit; please argue heatedly in the comments...I personally subscribe to the botanical classification as opposed to the nutritional) -- or the higher on the Scoville scale, which ranges from 2000 to the millions -- the more money he or she stood to win. The legendary ghost peppers, which look like shriveled bags of pain, were the hottest ones available and worth $20,000 in winnings. By the way, how awesome would it be to have a hotness scale named after you? You're a lucky man, Wilbur Scoville.
As you may have predicted, some chefs played it way safe, and others chose the hotter peppers. I'm not sure why certain chefs still believe that playing it safe is actually playing it safe -- it's been proven time and time again that the Quickfire Challenge is the place to take a big risk. Did Beverly really think she was going to win a hot pepper challenge by cooking with a mild chile? No question, her dish this week was less spicy than her nakji bokkum from two weeks ago.
NEXT: Anyone notice Milliken licking her lips and winking at Chris Crary? Whoa, he's not that good-looking.