Four chefs enter! One chef leaves! Four chefs enter! One chef leaves!

God willing, that chef will be Art Smith. I’ll take Waxman if I have to.

Tonight, chefs Roy Yamaguchi (Roy’s Restaurants), Art Smith (Table Fifty-Two), Michael Cimarusti (Providence) and Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto) battle it out to see who joins Hubert “Give Up Now” Keller, Michael “When You Look Up Douchebag in the Dictionary” Chiarello, Anita “Hey, what’s that over there? You’re dead and I win.” Lo, Rick “Suck My Enchilada” Bayless and Suzanne “My Cat’s Breath Smells Like Cat Food” Tracht. Join me!

LAST WEEK: Nobody likes Michael Chiarello. He moves on to the champions round to (hopefully) get whupped upside the NapaStyle.

(I have to warn you: This isn’t very funny. Because this episode? Is BORING AS HELL.)

10:01: I don’t trust anyone who has “dozens of restaurants coast to coast.” Or who’s named Roy Yamaguchi. Or whose face is limited to a single facial expression without risk of fissures.

10:03: Who’s got two thumbs and trusts Art Smith? This gal! I like Art Smith so much, I’m totally willing to overlook the Oprah connection.

I must ding him for playing for his own charity, since I dinged Bayless for the same thing. Note: I do not actually give a crap about this.

10:05: What’s with the pre-quickfire chit-chat with the painful overdub?  Apparently we needed some dedicated time to make a fat joke about Art Smith.

QUICKFIRE: Make a dish using only foods from the aisle at Whole Foods that corresponds with the knife you’ve chosen. Using $20.

10:07: Waxman: “I don’t deal with things in cans…I don’t open jars” Sigh. Were you not a musician, as you told us to establish your coolness quotient?  So you’ve eaten food from a can.  Don’t forget your roots, boy.

Also, he’s apparently blind so he doesn’t actually know what’s in the cans, so this could actually be kinda fun. But I have a feeling it won’t be.

10:09: The judges for this challenge are Whole Foods employees who are obediently sitting around a table with that forced-perky look WF employees all have. So we’ve hit an all-time low in terms of interestingness of judges. Really, I think we peaked with the Girl Scouts and it’s been all downhill from there. Bring back that red-haired girl, she was a hard-ass.

I’m warning you right now: I’m already bored.

People claim to be scrambling, and yet no one appears to actually be moving. Or able to use a pressure cooker.

10:11:  Okay, Art Smith.  I like you.  And I get that you cooked for Barack Obama, and that’s super-duper for you. Now let it go.

Roy is unable to cook anything that doesn’t have an Asian flair.  And he doesn’t cook in 20 minutes.  And he hasn’t actually been on the line for years, because he has THIRTY-SEVEN RESTAURANTS.  Admit it, Roy: You are Chipotle Grill.

So he throws an egg on his pasta. Way to rip me off, Roy.

10:16: Roy is slowly but inexorably becoming my new Michael Chiarello.

Art Smith assumes that WF employees are foodies, and not people that are good at stacking overpriced peppers in a friendly way.

Case in point: they are astounded at the inventiveness of an egg on pasta.

10:18:  And they give maximum points to the thing made of chocolate. You cannot compete against chocolate, especially in any kind of mousse-like form.

10:19:  ELIMINATION: Each chef creates a “mystery box” of foods for a fellow competitor, because this show has utterly run out of ideas and has become Chopped.

“There is no sabotage in professional chefs.” One, that sentence is painfully grammatically incorrect, unless it’s correct in a way I’d never anticipated. Two, that’s why Spike will never be a top chef.

Well, that and all those stupid hats.

10:22: Roy is an “icon in the business.”  Also icons: the Burger King and Wendy.

I’m guessing Roy is also an icon to the Botox production and sales community.

10:24: Okay, I started to get bored last week, but this week is really killing me; at least last week there were disturbing magicians to keep me on my toes. If I’m going to be this bored, I may as well liveblog Hell’s Kitchen.

HOLD THE PHONE: KELLY CHOI EATING FOOD. Or chewing on the inside of her lip to stave off hunger. However, Brian reports: “I saw her eat two things: a nut and a berry. She must have been really full after that berry.”

10:26:  Is there a way to see the Julia & Julie movie where I don’t have to see any of the Julie parts? Because I don’t like Amy Adams, and I’m not such a big fan of Julie Powell these days, either. But I’d pay $10 just for Meryl with the chicken.

10:29: Roy makes a box for Art, who is scared that he might have to butcher some kind of rare sea creature. He doesn’t. He gets chicken. And yams. And corn. I’ve never seen anyone get so excited about corn.

Art makes a box for Roy and hooks him up with mahi-mahi, because they are besties.

10:30: Cimarusti: “I know you’re a pork man.”


Roy’s deep orange, tightly-pulled face would scare me if I weren’t already in a state of permanent freak-out over Kelly Choi.

10:33: Waxman, are you trying to get pity for being somewhat blind? You are in the wrong place.

10:34: Waxman’s plate looks like a pile of pureed crap with some more crap on top, but I bet it’s fantastic.

Gael’s hat is great, but even that isn’t saving this for me.

10:35: Art is scared of pseudoBalaban. Art could EAT Balaban. And I don’t mean that like a fat joke, I think he actually could.

Art’s plate is like the world’s best Swanson dinner. Fried chicken, side dishes, tiny dessert. You know you loved the Swanson chicken dinner with the little brownie. Don’t lie to me.

10:37:  Gael would never order mahi-mahi in a restaurant. Mahi-mahi is like the Top Chef Masters Episode 6 of fish: boring.

10:38: As I thought: I would totally eat Waxman’s plate. Are Gael and he going to have a staredown? I think I know who would win.

10:40:  The culinary students were all supremely uninteresting.  Understandably, you don’t want to piss any of these people off but come on. You are JUDGING. Show a little Girl Scout initiative.

Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghey on 30 Rock: “This is boring. I’m bored now.”

10:44: CRITICS TABLE: Actually, I take back what I said before. The MightBeBalaban scares me, too. “Did you think the ingredients were synchronous on the plate?” How did he make that sentence so ominous?

Art is like the already-famous, overweight, white gay version of Carla from the last season of Top Chef. Or Carla is the thin, bug-eyed black Art Smith. Hard to say.

10:46: Roy is complaining about having to make 13 portions himself. THIRTEEN WHOLE PORTIONS. How can you ask such a thing of someone? HE IS ONLY A MAN.

Waxman and Gael are having a discussion about plate shape. Really?

Pinch me. Not because I might be dreaming, but because I might be sleeping.

10:49: Everyone is so friendly…it makes for supremely boring television. After the next commercial: GROUP HUG TABLE, followed by CIRCLE JERK TABLE and then barbeque and jamboree. Then we braid each others’ hair and talk about who has the biggest crush on who. I say Smith and Waxman, and they should have to play Seven Minutes in Heaven.

Wait, the judges are being mean to Roy! So that’s something. But he’s “brave for admitting his shortcomings.” Exsqueeze me? I’m dying for some Colicchio here: “STAND BEHIND YOUR DISH OR WE WILL CUT YOU.”

10:53: If I still cared I would call it for Art, but this show is slowly eroding my will to live.  Thank god the normal version starts up again next month.

A highlight: Brian’s next nickname for ¿Balaban? “Balaban’t”

10:55:  Gael: “Roy, for your fabulous mahi-mahi, I want to give you…two and a half stars.” BURN. He barely makes 15 stars, but doesn’t really care because he immediately has to get on a plane to check in on Roy Restaurant #54143B.

10:57: Waxman v. Smith. Gael gives the fried chicken 5 stars. Smith takes it. He cries.

Aaand, everyone is hugging, and I don’t even know where I am anymore.

10:58: In the final Showcase Showdown, I’d love to see Art get wasted with Hubert.

Roy: “We’re going to be friends forever.” WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? Did you make each other lanyards? Did you all sign each others’ chef jackets “KIT”?

NEXT WEEK: The final showdown.