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'Top Chef' recap: 'Lea Michele's Halloween Bash'

CookingHalloweenPersonal ServiceTop Chef (tv program)Glee (tv program)

This week’s show begins at the chef house, where Travis calls home to talk to his mom about almost being eliminated last week.  We learn a little bit more about him – that he is gay and that his mother knows, but not his father.  Um, Travis…now we all know. Hope you told your dad before this show aired. Could make for an awkward Thanksgiving, buddy.

The chefs enter their kitchen to find Padma and Gail waiting for them. The kitchen looks like a bad office prank; everything from the blenders to the spoons and all the pantry items in the kitchen is covered in foil.

For the Quickfire challenge, the chefs are split into two teams -- Team Lakshmi and Team Simmons. They'll have 30 minutes to create 3 dishes; Padma’s and Gail’s moms will be in charge of selecting their ingredients and equipment.

The moms are given five minutes to run around with a shopping cart and grab as much as they can. The whole scene is kind of like "Supermarket Sweep." (That show was the best, and they should bring it back!) The caveat is that the chefs must use all the ingredients that the moms grab. I don’t know about you, but nothing sounds better than a mustard, cherry and baking powder soup!

It soon starts looking like Christmas morning, as all the chefs are frantically unwrapping all of their kitchen gear and ingredients, including lamb chops, clams, apples and cheddar cheese.

Team Simmons delivers dishes like Red Snapper and rice pilaf, compressed buratta with a Sabayon (which wins brownie points for Carrie for creating without a whisk!) and lamb with roasted mushrooms.

Team Lakshmi whips up clams in coconut cream, Snapper with a mustard vinaigrette and a bean and cherry soup.

At the end of the challenge, it’s “Team Lakshmi” for the win. The chefs will split a sweet $10,000 prize!

For this week’s Elimination Challenge, the chefs are joined by guest judge Lea Michele from “Glee.” Stephanie admits that she loves "Glee" and Lea Michele, sayinmg, "We can hang out! It won't be creepy at all!" Stephanie, it just totally got creepy!

Lea will be hosting a costume party, and the cheftestants will be doing the catering. They are split into teams of two and will be responsible for creating two Halloween dishes for Lea. The best pairing is definitely the team of Nina and Michael. Nina is doing great and knows her stuff, while Michael's been to the bottom too many times. Pan to Nina, and she is not having it! She straight-up does not like Michael! This is going to be awesome!

Before heading out to shop for the challenge, the chefs get five minutes to grill Lea about her favorite foods.  They learn that she enjoys a vegan lifestyle (queue the eye rolls), but that she occasionally will lean towards vegetarianism. This basically means she eats cheese. And a lot of it. She makes it known that she wants tons and tons of cheese in her dishes. She also enjoys spices, fried foods and lots of vegetables…just not beets. You might want to write this down, chef Justin; Lea doesn’t like beets.

On the day of the challenge, the chefs arrive at Mardis Gras world, which is all decked-out for a spooky Halloween event. The Judge’s come dressed for the party..well almost.  Padma is dressed as a voodoo goddess; Hugh is dressed like Price Charming. Tom is dressed kind of like Mr. Magoo; I am still unclear exactly what his costume is, but it's still better than Lea’s.

It was her big costume party, and she came dressed in a black shirt and skirt with a “cat ears” headband.  I think she must have forgotten the theme of the show and made a quick pit-spot at the dollar store on the way. Total cop-out (said the girl currently wearing black and orange and a witch headband).

The chef’s menu of creepy creations includes ash-coated vegetables, spooky spa quinoa salad, a “bloody eye” arancini and a Dios de las Muertos goat cheese and fried zucchini.

In addition to the “bloody eye” arancini, there are two other arancinis -– all also described as “eyes.” I guess Top Chefs think alike. There is also a blood pasta made with the aforementioned beets that Lea despises.

At the Judge’s Table, there are some hits and misses. Patti’s arancini was a favorite of Lea’s and definitely the best of the three that the judges ate. Carlos brought the heat in his dish, and that was well-received. The judge’s liked Nina’s gnocchi, but were disappointed in her teammate, Michael’s, “bloody eye.” Lea was not pleased with Bene and Brian’s spa-themed dishes. They served her two types of salad, when she clearly asked for fried cheese!

In this week’s Halloween themed show, the “treats” went to the Red team of Carlos and Travis. They are both safe for another week.

So, who gets the “tricks”?

The bottom teams were the Orange team of Nina and Michael and the Green team of Bene and Brian. It comes down to one team where cooperation was lacking, with one dish great and another less-than-impressive dish, or another team that completely disregarded the guest judge’s requests and delivered lackluster food.

In the end -- whoosing cameras -- Michael is asked to pack his knives and go. Go wipe the tears from your bloody eyeball.

This week’s show was a fun theme. Halloween tends to bring out the fun “spirit” in most people, including Tom, who showed more personality in the five minutes of the show where they were tasting the food than in the entire "Top Chef" series. I am pretty sure he is completely in love with Lea Michele. Something about their interactions were creepier than all the costumes and spooky dishes combined.

Happy Halloween!

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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CookingHalloweenPersonal ServiceTop Chef (tv program)Glee (tv program)
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