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'Top Chef' Recap: Lesbians Love Their Campfires!

'Top Chef' Recap: Lesbians Love Their Campfires!

As season six of Top Chef marches onward, it's becoming rather obvious who the real contenders are for the top prize. As much as we'd like to root for gay and lesbian 'family' contestants Ash and Ashley, they just can't seem to compete with perennial winners Bryan, Michael V. and Jen - the lone girl who seems to have any real talent in the bunch. Mike I. and Kevin might take a surprise win, but the rest of the contestants just seem doomed to fall one after the other.

As season six of Top Chef marches onward, it's becoming rather obvious who the real contenders are for the top prize. As much as we'd like to root for 'family' contestants Ash and Ashley, they just can't seem to compete with perennial winners Bryan, Michael V. and Jen - the lone girl who seems to have any real talent in the bunch. Mike I. and Kevin might take a surprise win, but the rest of the contestants just seem doomed to fall one after the other.

Last night the Top Chef competitors were put through a grueling 'cowboy' themed Quickfire and Elimination challenge, courtesy of guest judge, southwestern cooking aficionado Tim Love. The minute the judges announced the chefs would be forced to create a meal featuring cactus (courtesy of a viewer vote), the message was clear -- this week the judges were going to torture the contestants thoroughly.

Personally, I'm rather fond of the insane challenges episodes on Top Chef as they tend to show who really has the guts and intelligence to work it out even under the worst of circumstances. And boy, these were definitely some of the worst challenges given to the chefs on any season of the show. I mean, really, cactus? This is something you eat when you're dying in the desert for a bit of water, not something you crave as a gourmet delight at a fancy restaurant. It's chewy, gooey and altogether not a pleasant thing to put in your mouth. Yes, I've actually eaten cactus and frankly it tastes like rubber wrapped around aloe gel.

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So I had to admit to being impressed that any of the chefs managed to make something edible out of this nutsy ingredient. Oddly, Michael V. actually landed on the bottom of the Quickfire this time around, even though he's consistently been a top contender. Everyone has a bad day now and then though. And come on, it's cactus! Mike I. pulled the win for the high stakes Quickfire, winning a $15,000 casino chip. However, he was the only contestant that seemed to have any idea how the hell you are supposed to cook cactus, so no shocker there. Even the worst chef is likely to beat out the best chef if they've never worked with an ingredient before and haven't a clue what to do with it.

For the Elimination Challenge, the poor chefs were transported out of their fancy Top Chef kitchen and thrown into something straight out of Survivor. Forced to sleep in teepees in the desert, most of the chefs looked like they'd been kicked in the stomach. Lesbian chef Ashley, however, seemed almost a bit wistful over the whole 'camping' out experience. Being dirt poor growing up, Ashley said, "the outhouse is familiar to me" --causing my partner and I to both crack up over her rather tender expression regarding the rustic bathroom facilities.

Before getting to the Elimination Challenge, we have to call out yet another seriously gay moment around cuddly bear chef Kevin. Apparently, this guy just LOVES throwing horseshoes. Which he proceeds to do, with much enthusiasm, while the chefs are 'camping' in the desert. What's more, he's quite good at it -- prompting several contestants to comment on his accuracy by loudly declaring: "That's gay" and "That's gay right there." Or, at least, that's what it sounded like they were saying. Maybe my queer ears are just hearing it wrong, but if so -- everyone in my house watching heard it wrong too. By the end of this season, poor Kevin is probably going to end up having to sit down with his wife and do some serious convincing that yes, he really is straight honey.

Moving on to the 'cowboy' Elimination Challenge, chefs Brian, brother Michael, Laurine and -- surprisingly -- Ashley manage to impress the judges with their ability to make a palatable dish while cooking over a fire pit in the ground. Even the judges seem rather shocked to find lesbian chef Ashley in the top four, since she's performed so abysmally in just about every challenge. Then again, this is a girl who spent her childhood apparently cooking in these kinds of conditions, so she did have a leg up in this challenge. As did Laurine, who also had experience in outdoors-style cooking.

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Once again though it was brothers Michael and Brian battling it out for the top spot of the night. The sibling rivalry must be getting pretty snarky in the Top Chef house by now. Head to head, however, it seems to be Michael that has the edge over his brother -- and again, he takes home the win for his pork loin over polenta and dandelion greens.

Gay contestant Ash squeaks through yet again in the middle of the pack. While hanging unnoticed in the middle can sometimes be a good strategy for keeping yourself in the running, it's starting to be a bit tired - and he better get a move on if he expects to end up in the finals.

As for the losers, Robin, Ron and Mattin find themselves faced with the disapproving judges -- a spot all of them are becoming familiar with. Robin's shrimp dish was so nasty the judges said it was inedible. But Ron's undercooked black cod ceviche was even worse -- causing judge Tom Colicchio to actually spit it out in disgust. But it was French chef Mattin who  got the raw end of the deal by serving the judges a trio of undercooked ceviches. Too bad, we'll miss his cute little accent.

In a final note, seriously, can we have a ceviche ban for the rest of the season? Every season all the chefs seem to get stuck on a particular ingredient or style of cooking and that seems to be the thing this time around. I swear, if I hear that word one more time, I might just toss my own dinner at the television in a fit of annoyance. 

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Laura Vess