SPOILER ALERT: Though you’ve had 36 hours to watch it, I’m still saving my (very brief) Top Chef thoughts for after the jump.
* I’m as glad as anyone that Stephanie redeemed herself and won the elimination challenge this week. But seriously: She wins for deep-frying a freaking wonton skin? How bad must the other dishes have been?
* No tears, on the other hand for the elimination of Erik, who always seemed peeved at being asked to prepare anything more sophisticated than a brunch skillet. I mean, I’m always conscious of how reality shows are edited to make contestants seem stronger or weaker according to the needs of the show, and I’m willing to believe he’s a competent chef in real life. But even I know that if you fry a corn dog and pack it up for two hours it’s going to go soggy. I don’t even order take-out french fries. The fact that he overlooked that isn’t the problem so much as that—since he must have known it would happen—he couldn’t think of anything else to do with a hot dog.
* How adorable is Rick Bayless? I’ve used his cookbooks, but don’t think I’ve ever watched any of his TV appearances. He reminded me of an especially enthustiastic high school science teacher.
* It’s a relief to see that Richard Fauxhawk is not invincible, though I still have a hard time seeing how he doesn’t run away with this season like Hung did last season. At least, I believe, he didn’t say “molecular gastronomy” once this episode, so he’s got that going for him.
* I think Spike has officially eclipsed Andrew as my most-annoying contestant of the season, which I assume means he will be around for a long time.
* As a casual reader of food magazines and journalism, I’m somewhat aware of the gender gap in the kitchens of big restaurants, but it’s good to see someone talking about it in the open on Top Chef. Do any Tuned Inlanders have enough experience in the restaurant world to know why the glass ceiling exists there?
* Zoi and Jen “know each other’s palates really well.” If you know what they mean!