This week's Elimination, thankfully, does not involve pre-prepping and transporting massive amounts of finger food. Rather, it's a movie-themed challenge in which the cheftestants will create a six-course dinner (inspired by their favorite films) hosted by telegenic Chicago movie critic Richard Roeper, who inherited the chair opposite Roger Ebert on At the Movies after Siskel passed away, and who now can no longer use the trademark thumb rating with his rotating guest hosts due to contractual disputes between very ill thumb trademark owner Ebert and whoever refused to pay enough for use of said thumb.
Anyway, Roeper's hosting the dinner for his friend Aisha Tyler, an actress/comedienne/author/etc. whose few appearances with Roeper on At the Movies conveys the impressions that she may be a friend with benefits. The cheftestants will be divided, via knife drawing, into teams of two -- except for Dale. Numbers on each knife designate which course each team will cook. As the drawing ensues, things divide precisely along gender lines. In order of courses, the teams are: Andrew and Richard; Spike and Manuel; Jennifer and Nikki; Ryan and Mark; Zoi and Antonia; and Lisa and Stephanie. Andrew and Richard together again -- wow, they couldn't have planned that one any better.
So what to do with Dale, the thirteenth wheel? He gets to choose any team he'd like to join, significantly increasing that team's competitive advantage. He barely bats an eye before choosing the first course, and "Richard." Not a peep about Andrew, so we know whom Dale thinks is the best. As does Antonia -- she thinks "his food tastes good, hands down," and sees her stiffest competition in the evening's openers. Dale rectifies his omission in a talking head bit, where he says he's "chomping at the bit" to work with Richard, and that he thinks Andrew is "equally creative." He thinks the three of them, as forward-thinking, progressive chefs, will make a good troika. Andrew's not so sure -- he's miffed that Dale's muscling in on his turf. I think Andrew's competitiveness with Richard has inspired a little man crush, and that Andrew's mostly upset that Dale's intruding on his time with Richard.
The threesome decides to find inspiration in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory for their first course, which gives them a lot of latitude in the creativity department. Richard explains (as he kicks his trusty red mini-smoker into action) that it's about "creating a gumball that tastes like a roast beef sandwich that turns into a blueberry pie." He's clearly the mastermind behind the choice and the de facto team leader -- it'd be pretty fantastic if they actually managed to recreate that gumball.