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Top Chef Recaps: "The Bland Leading the Bland" LOL!

The epic New York season of Top Chef is finally upon us. To honor the occasion, New York comedian Max Silvestri takes us through the season episode by episode. His take, below:

2009_01_top_chef7.jpgThough it's only been three weeks, it feels like forever since the last new Top Chef. Who is even still on this show? Is Richard Blais on it? I love that guy. He's a Trail-Blaiser! Honestly, I'm kinda drawing a blank. I miss Daniel Notchface (Baba Booey). Notchface is the hero Top Chef deserves, not the one his beard needs. Huh? This episode better bring it.

Padma brings out acclaimed pastry chef Jean Christof Novelli to introduce this week's Quickfire Challenge. The chefs groan as they realize it'll be a dessert challenge, because adults who who actually appreciate food realize dessert is a total chump course. Oo, there, I said it. If you're hungry after a meal, order another appetizer or go back to the kids table. Catty in '09, guys! Somebody get me a saucer of milk.

But there's a catch: like Chubby Checkers in 1960, this challenge is going to #1 on the charts with...a twist. (That terrible ham-fisted simile joke is a sneak preview of the forthcoming horribleness of Toby Young.) Anyway, the chefs can't use sugar in their desserts. They have to use Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Fudge Soda! Is Dr. Pepper an adequate substitute in recipes for real pepper? Is this challenge an adequate substitute for real culinary skill? No to both? Cool. Let's get "cooking".

All the chefs make weird sugar-free desserts. Carla doesn't want to be known as a baker in this competition. (Don't worry about it, "baker" isn't in the Top 10 list of things I think you are.) Ariane is probably secretly really happy because all her favorite recipes actually include Diet Dr. P. Melissa says that her specialty food is Latin food, "at the moment." She must be really talented to change her specialty all the time. Or the opposite. And Stefan completely geeks out with Chef Novelli. "I'm French. JK! Mousse comes from Finland. JK!" French people make him nervous? Settle down.


At some point, there is a commercial break with former cheftestants Malarky and Stephanie showing an "awesome" "recipe" you can make with DDP. The soda sauce really "puts it over the top." They both look like they wish they were dead. Sorry, dudes!

Novelli doesn't like Ariane's food. Finally, Ariane on the bottom. (Yuck, that's what not what he or anyone said.) Radhika wins immunity. She's on Cloud 99 Brought to You by the 99 Restaurant's Bottomless Buffalo Fingers.

Time for Elimination Challenge. A lot of stuff happens: everybody splits into two teams to cook the food they actually want to cook family-style, Radhika picks the team without Stefan, and Eugene doesn't think anyone else has the balls to cook food as disgusting as his. Melissa might have said she wants to make "fish cooter tacos." Great. But that's irrelevant. We need to talk about Toby Young.

Toby Young, who once wrote a book about how he is a dick and bad at his job and is now a restaurant critic, is the new permanent judge. And is there anyone watching this show who does not think he is the absolute worst? And I don't mean that in a "how can he be so mean!" way, I mean that in a "who the hell invited that guy to the party who won't stop making extremely terrible and complicated conversation-stopping jokes" way.

He begins his judgeship on the show with a sixty second bon mot on how George W. Bush misled the American people by starting a war based on the false intelligence that WMDs were in Iraq when really all this time the weapons of mass destruction they were looking for had been in the soup that Radhika just made because the soup is so bad it has bioweaponry capabilities. Oh, Toby, you CARD. "Like Tom Cruise's cameo in Tropic Thunder, this dish was an unexpected surprise." UGH. More like NO-by Young.

My friend Gabe deftly pointed out he's like Simon Cowell without the talent or hair. But I think he's like the lady from the Weakest Link but with a more feminine physique. "You are the weakest judge. Goodbye!" Hey, remember when you thought you'd never hear another Weakest Link joke again? Well I thought the same thing about WMD jokes so I'm pouring one out for Toby here. I want to pour out arrows on his head. At one point I thought I saw a hearing aid in his ear and I got sad because I just saw the Wrestler and Mickey Rourke has a hearing aid in it and it's a little tragic. (Though I do wish someone would suplex Toby Young onto a pile of glass.) But then I realized it's probably not a hearing aid but a earpiece so he can be fed jokes live by his writing team, Bruce Vilanch and a mummy. I say a mummy because his jokes are old and slow-moving and are unable to kill even Brendan Fraser.

Sorry, I got worked up. More stuff happens. Each team sits at the judges' table to eat the other team's food. While that other team watches on secretly! Some feelings are hurt. Some bad food is served. Melissa cries because the judges think her fish tacos taste like cat food. Jamie, Stefan, and Ariane are the top three. Jamie's very happy because her ninth try at scallops brought her closer to being the next Top Scallop. (Fabio is the best.) Eugene, Melissa, and Carla are brought in as the bottom three, and two of them will be eliminated. They all make impassioned pleas to stay, which means they've started to figure out the game a little bit, but not enough to cook good food. Eugene and Melissa are going home. Lucky, Carla. She realizes she shouldn't have made a protein. She swears that one of these days "a vegetarian dish is going to come out of me." Yuck! Can we get a cleanup on Aisle Barf?