As the sun rises in Chicago, yawning and stretching begins, while Stephanie and Valerie enjoy some female bonding time over a yoga mat and a fitness ball. There's not much yoga going on, but we do get close-ups of Stephanie's intense looking workout (and reach, and reach) -- she helps set the tone by confiding that she was singing "Eye of the Tiger" on the way into the challenge. Relishing her post-win high, Stephanie keeps reminding herself that "just because you won the first challenge, doesn't mean that you're going to win all the challenges." Uh, thanks, Einstein. Way to set expectations. Valerie, with a rounded, girly voice that I don't enjoy and that I didn't notice last week (and who reminds me a little of Rachel Dratch, who I do enjoy), digs Stephanie and her Rocky vibe. They used to work together at a restaurant, says Valerie, and she hopes that "they'll get to compete together" in an upcoming challenge.
Spike good-naturedly ribs Mark, who found the previous challenge "humbling" and expresses faith in his abilities for today's Quickfire. In their bedroom, Jen and Zoi do an odd croc-switching mating ritual dance, as Zoi explains that, upon finding themselves both on the show, they decided to "look at it as, like, a job." Jennifer says that she's "keeping a little distance," so perhaps we are to understand that we're watching a pale substitute for sex. They keep using "could" and "maybe" when they discuss competing against one another, like they're not quite ready to acknowledge that it's going to happen. I'd be freaking out if I was put in a situation like that with a partner -- I can't imagine it going anywhere pleasant.
The Quickfire begins at Chicago's outdoor Green City Market. Ryan's psyched, because after last week's debacle, he wants to show he can "cook simple and cook clean," which pretty much sums up the challenge. Padma commands a "delicious entrée with ingredients from this market." Five ingredients, to be exact. Well, kind of more than five, because they can use salt, pepper, sugar, salt, and oil, but each cheftestant must choose only five ingredients from the market or from the Top Chef pantry. The winner gets immunity this time, and they have 30 minutes to shop.
Everyone takes off running (Richard barely misses a little kid), which they soon discover is really not the best way to savor what lovely things a farmer's market has to offer. Spike goes with the flow, chilling to the sound stylings of an acoustic guitarist before ambling off to find his fare. It's kind of cavalier, but I like his nonchalant attitude toward the Quickfire. Richard decides to go for some eucalyptus in order to "be as different as I can." I'll be curious to see how he uses it -- it's wonderfully fragrant, but I'm sure it could easily overwhelm just about anything. ["Yeah, Chicken Vapo-Rub sounds like a good idea, but man, it's really not." -- Joe R]