Mama Mia! It was Prince Spaghetti Night on Top Chef when the Chef Boyardees had to make-a pasta for a bunch of old school Italians. It was just like the Olive Garden, except the bread sticks weren't as good.
Yes, the main challenge had to do with storied New York eatery Rao's, which, if you really want to look like a real Italian you pronounce Ray-o's, not Row's. But before we can make all sorts of mafia jokes and other Italian stereotypes, we have to first deal with the Quickfire Challenge.
When the chefs walked into the Top Top Tippity Tippity to the Tip Tip Top and You Don't Stop Chef kitchen, they saw Padma, surly as always and Isaac Mizrahi, the lead designer for Target Department Stores. He was standing there with one arm crossed against his belly and the elbow of his other arm crooked at his hand, with a prissy fist making small circles near his cheek. His lips were in a little pout that is somewhere between a Real Housewife after Botox and a sorority girl making her "picture face."
"Listen up, assholes," Padma started. "You're going to cook a dish and we're going to eat..."
"No," Isaac said.
"What? They're going to cook and we're going to eat, that's what we always do."
"What's your problem?"
"This is about fashion, and there is no food in fashion."
"What are you talking about, you asshole? This is a fucking cooking show. How do you think we're supposed to judge this."
"Listen, I told that Andy Cohen that I didn't want to do this, and he forced me to, so if I'm going to do it, I am not eating any food. I do not want one calorie to pass these lips."
"What are you..."
"I swear to..."
"If you don't..."
"N-O, no, sister."
"OK, fine. Alright, jerks, cook something and we'll..well, we'll do something with it."
"We'll look at it."
"What? That is the most..."
"I will look at your food and I will tell you if I might maybe think about eating it, but I will not taste it. There is..."
"Yeah, yeah, there is no food in fashion. Alright, asshats. Make something Isaac will think is pretty."
As they're cooking we find out that Carla, the Owl Princess, used to be a fashion model and her involvement in fashion lead to food. Say what? Isaac may be a miserable jerk, but there really is no food in fashion, so how a career predicated on not eating lead her to be a chef, we'll never know. We also learn that Angelo, when he's not burying the bodies in the back yard, is really into fashion. His favorite designer in Roberto Cavalli. Ew. No one's favorite designer is Roberto Cavalli, because he's a crappy designer. That's like saying, "My favorite designer is Michael Kors for Marshall's." Of course when Isaac comes around to eat Angelo's dish with his eyes he tells Isaac, "My favorite designer is Roberto Cavalli," and Isaac looks at him like he just said that his favorite magazine was Vague and he just loves its editor Anna Winter.
Anyway, it's Richard who takes home the win for making black ice cream that was all rough and crackley. Like a gorgeous homeless person, it was nice to look at, but not something you really want to put in your mouth. But Isaac liked it and he hasn't eaten anything since he and Linda Evangelista shared a Tic-Tac backstage at his fashion show in 1993, so what the hell does he know.
When he was done judging the competition, Isaac turned to Padma and grabbed hold of the giant warrior necklace she had on. "Padma, is this from your new jewelry line? I'm not sure if it's really right, I think if you could..." and as he rambled she looked at him and a red-hot rage built up in her body, slowly turning her entire body (minus the scar) totally flush. Then, like a special effect from a '60s movie, lasers shot out of her eyes. Isaac immediately exploded and a small shower of black paillettes flitted up into the air and then settled into a crinkley pile on the floor.
"There's only room for one diva on this show, boys. Now get someone in here to clean up this, this...mess." Three Italian men came in with brooms, and after they swept up the sparkling remains of Isaac Mizrahi, they said that they were the staff of Ray-o's, a famous Italian eatery. The chefs divided into three groups and each talked to a member of the team that owns the restaurant. They were supposed to cook a dish that was somehow inspired by each man's story, but apparently even the producers thought that was lame, and we never heard about it again. Instead they all had to cook a classic Italian dish. This had everything to do with Ray-o's and not sponsor Buitoni. No, they had nothing to do with this, I'm sure.
So, the first group, all the remaining ladies, has to make the appetizer course, the second group—Dale, Tre, and Mike Isa-bella—has to make the pasta course, and the third group—Angelo, Fabio, and Richard-o—has to make the meat course. I'm not saying the courses' Italian names, because I hate being forced to speak a foreign language I don't know. It's just going to make me sound ignorant and white like a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills speaking Spanish to her maid, or awful and affected like people who order a "tall" anything at Starbucks.
When Fabio found out he wasn't cooking the pasta course, he had a bit of a meltdown. "What? No gnocchi? Cosa vuoi dire che devo cucinare il corso base di carne? Ho solo voglia di cucinare gnocchi. Questa è la sfida italiana e l'unico italiano in esso non può cucinare un pasto italiano? Che diavolo? Se non riesco a fare gli gnocchi, quindi sto solo andando a casa. Dammi il mio gnocchi maledetto!"
Yes, even in the Italian challenge, Fabio was not allowed to cook gnocchi, the one dish he knows how to make. Naturally Fabio, Mike Isa-bella, and a spirit that was once called Antonia are the front-runners because they are Italian. This pisses off
Tiffany, because she says she's worked in an Italian restaurant before and she doesn't have to be Italian to know how to cook some good food. Poor Tiffany. She's like a Black Jan Brady. She is good and talented and beautiful and always being overlooked and underestimated. We'll root for you, Tiff!
Cook, cook, cook; boring, boring, boring, and they're off to Ray-o's. The judges are sitting with the owners and workers of the restaurant and Lorraine Bracco star of Goodfellas, The Sopranos, and everything else about mobsters. They start eating and Tom Cohostio is talking about his Italian heritage and all the old Dons are talking about the restaurant business, but what they all really want Lorraine to do is talk about her famous friends. Rather than making complete sentences, she just starts saying, "Joe Pesci, Bobby De Niro, Marty Scorcese, Joe Pantiliano, Dominic Chianese, Bob Gandolfini, Ray Liota, Silvio Berlusconi, Frank Fucking Sinatra!" They all ooh and ahh and applaud her. They love her and her famous friends.
Dinner is over and, like a good Italian boy, Tom Cohostio is thanking everyone at Ray-o's for their hospitality. The owner of the restaurant says, "It's my pleasure. It's been an honor for me too. To sit at the dinner table with Tom Cohostio, Tony Bourdain, and Lorraine Bracco and all of her famous friends. It's been a dream come true."
"What about me?" Padma asks across the table.
"Oh, it was, a-great..."
"You weren't going to thank me, were you. What, is it because I'm not Italian? Is that it? Oh, so you thank all the white people at table, but not Padma. No, Padma is brown. What are you, some kind of racist? Well, I'll tell you one thing, mister." Pamda pushed back her chair and it landed with a thud on the ground as she stood up and pointed right in the guys face. "Let me tell you something about what a non-Italian can do! I am an international supermodel who had a baby with a billionaire and I live with a different billionaire. I survived a near-fatal car crash. I turned fucking Isaac Mizrahi into a pile of black paillettes with lasers coming out of my fucking eyes. I won this motherfucking show a motherfucking Emmy. This show would be nothing without me. If I weren't here, there wouldn't even be a film crew and your restaurant would be nothing but a pizza parlor trying to be all fancy. I can make this place, and you don't even fucking thank me? I'm through with this place. Come on guys, we're leaving. Tom, get my coat."
Shivering, Tom gets up from the table and places his hand on the owner's shoulder as he tries to shake his hand. "Sorry, guys. I mean, really. She's usually not like this. I'm really, really..."
And then we're back to judges table. The first group in is the winners. There's Owl Princess and Supermodel of the World Carla, the artist formerly known as Black Tiffany, Fabio, and the flutter that was once called Antonia. I'm glad the ladies finally got some recognition. It's really been a man's world on Top Chef this season. Tiff is crying because someone finally noticed Jan Brady. They had to invite Fabio in even though is Chicken Catch-A-Tori-Spelling was only decent. If they didn't they were afraid he'd go into another Italian tizzy and after Isaac and Padma, the last thing they needed this week was another hissy fit. Antonia wins for her steamed mussels, and she took her winning back to all of her Italian forbearers on the other side of the white light and told them about it. Then she said, "Now that I'm a winner, can I finally, finally join you in heaven." They said, "No, young sprite. You still have unfinished business on earth. Go back to the competition and haunt them some more."
Then it was time for the losers, which was the entire pasta course. They keep schooling them all that they should have used dried pasta from a box. Maybe this brand called Biutoni. I heard they're pretty good. Maybe if you had used them, you wouldn't be so bad off. Hmm. Anyway, Mike Isa-bella is admitting that he made crappy pasta. Dale, well, he's just kind of clueless about Italian food. And finally there is our man Tre. Oh, beautiful god Tre, who stands so strong and tall. Apparently there was a problem with his risotto. It was too stiff and sticky. Tre should not be blamed for this. If his hands touch anything, his beauty makes it, well, stiff and sticky. It wasn't him, it was the risotto. It wouldn't spread on the judges plates like they wanted it to because it was still too aroused from being around Tre.
Sadly, we knew Tre's time had come. They praised Mike's sauce and he admitted his mistake, which means he'll make it through. Dale has been way too good of a contender this season (I think he might win!) so he was safe. That left only Tre—our beloved, beautiful Tre—to take the fall.
And when the edict came, Tre handled it with his usual silent strength. There was no crying, no emotion, just resignation. He went back to the kitchen and he plunged his knives into his bag. He plunged each one in, deeper and deeper, his broad shoulders flexing with the exertion. He plunged them in and out, in and out. Over and over and a little sweat formed on his brow and he wiped it off with a brusque thrust of his forearm. He made a little grimace and threw his head back. Now he was deep in his own mind, thinking about his ultimate fantasy—winning the competition—and he got more passionate, and his knife plunging got more intense—deeper and harder. He slammed his broad open hand on the table. "Yeah, I could have won this. This competition is mine. Who's your daddy? Who's your daddy?" he shouted and plunged his final knife in, deep and sturdy, and he let himself linger in there for a moment as his neck went slack and his head bowed down to his sweaty chest. And like a good lover, Tre zipped up—his knife bag, that is—and went home. He would be nothing but a pleasant memory, a wonderful shade, an image of beauty to think about again and again.