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Top Chef Season 5, Episode 6 — 12 Days of Christmas



Christmas is the season of giving. And that spirit was certainly on display during episode six of “Top Chef.”

Quite honestly, this show was packed like a Christmas goose stuffed with a ham.

In a matter of minutes, viewers got to see the Harlem Gospel Choir, cancer battles, a British actress’ two turtledoves of cleavage, Martha Stewart quoting Albert Einstein, spoiled duck, rancid pork and a partridge in a pear tree.

When a show employs Stewart as an appetizer, you know things will be overflowing by the main course.

The hostess queen and ex-con judged an initial Quickfire Challenge in which the contestants were asked to make their dish using only a single pot. Stewart gave advice by paraphrasing Einstein: “Make it simple, but not too simple.”

Once again Ariane won, with a “simple” Herb Rubbed Filet concoction, thus securing immunity.

The Elimination Challenge was a doozy. The 11 remaining chefs drew knives to determine who would be creating what dish inspired by a stanza from “The 12 Days of Christmas.” While some proved obvious (“six geese a-laying”), others did not (“10 lords a leaping,” for instance).

The chefs were told they had just three hours to prepare the dish, which would then be served the next day at a Christmas cocktail party hosted by actress Natasha Richardson (Lindsay Lohan’s mom in “The Parent Trap”). The event gathered hundreds of guests for an amfAR benefit to help fund AIDS research. (Richardson is the daughter of film director Tony Richardson, who died of AIDS-related causes.)

Disaster hit the chefs almost immediately when they arrived to prep their 300 plates and found one of the refrigerators opened/not working. Radhika’s duck breast and Hosea’s pork were among the casualties. But once again the Christmas spirit infused the gang, and all of the chefs — even the egomaniacs like Stefan — didn’t think twice about dropping everything to help create new dishes for the afflicted competitors.

When the big night finally arrived, the judges and partygoers weren’t exactly blown away with the results.

Hosea (Smoked Pork Loin with Chipotle Mashed Potatoes) and Jeff (Seared Cheese with Roasted Beets) were deemed the best — or at least earned the most pinned AIDS ribbons by attendees.

The judges went with Hosea, who admitted, “I came back from near disaster.”

Those on the chopping block included Jamie (Sea Scallop and Vichyssoise), Melissa (Gorgonzola and NY Strip) and Eugene (Poisson Cru with Pineapple Rings).


After a conference by the critics, head judge Tom Colicchio arrived in the holding room to deliver the good and bad news. First the good: No one would be eliminated on this most-holiday of “Top Chef” episodes. Then the bad: You all suck.

Basically, Colicchio told the folks to step it up and quit playing it safe. Specifically, as he said to Ariane, “You’re not going to win with deviled eggs” — even if the dish was inspired by six geese a-laying.


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