Top Chef

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T is for Target

Padma and the Muppets head to Antonia's station first. Antonia made dark chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips, fresh caramel glaze and sprinkles. Elmo says he can taste the white chocolate and Telly comments that they are gooey and melty. Look, I know that Elmo didn't REALLY eat the cookie and that it was the guy with his hand up Elmo's ass, but let's just go with it here, okay?

Carla has made a chocolate chip cookie with cinnamon. Cookie Monster likes the texture and Telly says he likes the cinnamon but he thought it was cardamom. Padma gives a lecture about how cinnamon and cardamom grow in the same part of the world and Elmo is like, "Really? [beat] TMI." I don't know why that cracked me up.

Dale is up next; he made pretzel and potato chip shortbread cookies with salted caramel chocolate ganache. Okay, what he really did is crunch up some snacks, bake them with flour and butter so the crumbs stick together, and then brush them with melted chocolate and caramel. It's kind of brilliant but not that complicated. Elmo likes that they are both sweet and salty and Cookie Monster says they are delicious.

Blais confesses that his daughter loves Elmo, and Elmo says hello to her. Blais is thrilled, and he introduces his cookie: ice cream cookie with zucchini, chocolate chips, and mint. Yuck. Cookie Monster asks if that's technically a cookie, and Carla interviews that it's really not a cookie.

Mike made terrible looking cookies: almond and dried cherry cookie with rose petal powdered sugar. They look like chocolate chip cookies that a four-year-old girl sprinkled pink glitter onto. Cookie Monster says it's like "party in me mouth."

Tiffany made a shortbread cookie with lemon zest, rosemary, thyme, and coconut milk. Elmo makes a thyme/time joke and then Padma tells the Muppets that the coconut milk is good for their skin. Cookie Monster asks if it's good for his fur too, since you know, none of the Muppets have visible skin. Good one, Padma.

Angelo made a chocolate chip and Belgian hazelnut cookie with a chocolate-banana milkshake. My husband has been watching this while I recap and he is dying for one of these cookies. We have no cookies in our house and I'm too busy recapping to make any. When they get to this one, he was just like, "YOU ARE KIDDING ME." He loves chocolate and banana together. Anyway, he's suffering. Moving on! Cookie Monster eats the cookie and it goes flying all over the place and Angelo pretends to laugh about it but just looks confused. Does he even know what Cookie Monster is? I'm not sure.

Padma asks the Muppets who needed a little help, which is the nice Sesame Street way of asking who sucked. Cookie Monster says that what Richard made was good, but it wasn't a cookie. And also, Angelo's cookie was a little dry. Cookie Monster says that they had two favorites. The first one was Dale, because they liked the sweet and salty mix, and the second is Antonia, because she was the only one who made her cookies "chewy gooey." That is a good quality for a cookie to have. Telly points out that Antonia's weren't the prettiest cookies and Elmo says that they looked like cow chips. Antonia and Tiffany are like, "Wha??" and Elmo yells out, "COW CHIPS!" Antonia giggles that Elmo just said that her cookies looked like shit. Well, he's not wrong. Finally, the Muppets huddle up and announce that the winner of the Quickfire is Dale. Really? That wasn't really a cookie. Okay. Dale thought it was an amazing win because of the Muppets, and also he wins some money.

Padma introduces the Elimination Challenge: first, it will be worth $25,000, which is more money than they've ever given away in one challenge. They will go to Target in the middle of the night, where they will have three hours to raid the store and gather both equipment and ingredients to make a dish for a hundred Target employees and the judges. Padma delivers a commercial for Target (well, the whole episode is one, but her statement is very much copy for a Target ad), and then tells them to leave their knives at home because they have to get EVERYTHING at Target. Do they sell good knives at Target? Then again, it's not like they are going to be doing much more than chopping so I'm sure it will be fine.

The cheftestants arrive at Target and hop out of their vehicles. It's a huge Target. They all grab carts and start sprinting around the store. Here's what I don't get: it seems like many of them go to the kitchen and appliances section first and start grabbing pans and coffee makers and whatnot. Wouldn't you go to the food section first and see what they had, and then go grab the necessary equipment to make it? I guess they might be worried that someone else will get the last griddle or something, but I'm going to guess that Target has enough to accommodate them, especially one of this size. Tiffany runs around and grabs stuff, including a hat for herself. Does that come out of her budget? Blais says that he had to do four or five hundred-yard-sprints at least, so there's a physicality to this challenge. And don't forget that it's the middle of the night, so they're probably tired too.

Dale talks about how Tiffany hasn't won any challenges but she's still there, and she's starting to annoy him a bit because she's loud and goofy. But he admits that he's concerned about getting enough cooking equipment, and we see him grab three irons. Like for clothes. Antonia talks about how confusing it is to grab everything she might need, and how she is just taking one of everything in case she needs it. That seems like a terrible strategy. I really don't get why they didn't go to the food area first, even if just to spend five minutes touring and seeing what's there.

Mike and Angelo are working together. Well, it kind of seems like Angelo is just doing all of Mike's shopping for him. Mike interviews that they've decided to get one another to the finish line. Mike knows that Angelo was sort of a villain on his season, but he thinks Angelo is a cool guy. Well, that's a ringing endorsement from someone whose opinion I don't trust one bit. Mike thinks Angelo is cool? Now I dislike Angelo.

Everyone starts setting up their tables and equipment, except for Carla. They have slow cookers and small griddles and burners. It's sort of like the type of equipment you'd be allowed to have in your college dorm room. Nothing that gets too hot, and nothing that allows you to cook food that's very exciting. But you can keep shit lukewarm for DAYS. Carla is the only one who hasn't started setting up because she is wandering the aisles looking for linens. Okay, I get wanting your table to look decent, but how about cooking good food? No one cares about the linens. Blais reminds us that they have to cook for a hundred people. There are two hours left, and everyone has at least started prepping, but Carla is still shopping. This doesn't look good.

Antonia and Dale are actually cooking food now. Carla is putting a vase and some baskets into her cart. Blais says that he's the first person to start cooking, because he wants to have time to develop flavor. He's making something blue collar that he thinks people will want to eat at any time of the day, including at 3 AM. Meanwhile, Mike is asking Angelo for a peeler and salt. Why is Angelo suddenly Mike's servant? I would like more explanation about their division of labor on this task. Also, Angelo is wearing shorts with socks pulled up to his knees. What is happening with him? He is losing it.

Antonia is making a soft egg, and that seems dangerous. Eggs need to be cooked at a specific temperature and I don't know that I would trust the mass market heating elements to keep a consistent temperature over an extended period of time. Plus, she has to make a hundred eggs. Risky. Tiffany plans to make something like jambalaya, and she's using a pre-mixed Creole seasoning. Also risky. Those premixed seasonings are usually loaded with sodium. And poor Carla is still wandering the store picking up decorations. There are ninety minutes left and Carla hasn't started cooking. Things are not looking great for our ladies.

Dale, like me, has the college dorm days in mind. I used to make lots of ramen and soup in my college dorm, but Dale apparently made grilled cheese with his iron, since he didn't iron his clothes. So he's making steak grilled cheese sandwiches. He's not REALLY cooking them with an iron though. He's cooking them on a griddle and using the iron to

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