It’s that time that happens in every Top Chef season: the time that I’m forced to choose a new favorite after my original favorite is kicked off.  This might be because I tend to pick my original favorite based solely on looks.  Not sure.  In any case, I think I’m going to go with Paul as my new favorite with Grayson in second.  Though I’m still hoping for Nyesha to come back from Last Chance Kitchen and take the whole thing.

Tom pops into the kitchen to tell the chefs that they’re heading back to San Antonio, while Sarah and Lindsay continue to stew over Beverly’s Restaurant Wars win.  Quickfire time, and Eric Ripert is guest judge this time around.  Even I know who he is.  The producers get imaginative this time around, and set up a conveyor built with ingredients on it; each chef must choose three ingredients from the belt and make a dish in 30 minutes.  The longer you wait to choose ingredients the more options you have at the cost of time to cook.  I like this Quickfire…it seems challenging but not impossible.  The winning chef gets immunity which is usually off the table this late in the game.  The conveyor starts, and most of the chefs go with the idea of starting something basic that they can add to as an ingredient arrives.  And what ingredients they are!  Pop Rocks, Goldfish, Wonder bread, Oreos, I think I saw chocolate sauce.  Then in a moment of true inspiration, the producers wait until no chef is close to the belt and send out a bucket of lobsters.  Chris makes a mad dash for them but can’t get there in time…and the producers take them off the belt!  Delicious.  Meanwhile, something Paul identifies as “bitter melon” goes around and around.  The chefs move away from the conveyor belt…out come the lobsters!  Around they go again and Chris misses them again.  I’m assuming Gail is back there laughing her ass off.  Third time around Chris finally manages to get his hands on one of the lobsters at the last second…I could watch this all day.  In any case, Beverly doesn’t get her curried Rice Krispies on the plate and she’s upset about it, not only because she disappointed Ripert but now she can’t have immunity, which Ripert is sure to point out cost her the win on the challenge.  Nice.  Unfortunately, the win goes to Lindsay who is almost as unbearable as Sarah.

Elimination is up, and Padma tells them that they must make a dish fit for a queen…Charlize Theron to be exact.  I naturally assumed Gail…I hope she at least makes an appearance tonight. The chefs must create a gothic, seven course meal for Charlize and company.  This could be very interesting, as those are the only parameters given which means the chefs could go truly crazy here.  Also, if Chris doesn’t win this challenge, he should be sent home on principle…I mean, this is his wheelhouse, right?  Paul is making an enchanted forest.  Grayson is making a mutilated chicken (hopefully she works on that name before service).  Ed is making something wicked and nasty…specificity is not Ed’s strong suit.  Sarah is making wine-infused risotto and oh my I want to go to there.  Lindsay is making seared scallop over a witch’s stew, whatever that means.  All these dishes sound interesting though…I’m actually pretty invested in where they’re headed at this point.

The judges arrive, and it seems that Emeril will be joining the judges this time as opposed Gail.  This is a terrible choice.  In any case, Ed’s up first with his tuna tartar with white and black sauce representing the battle between good and evil.  Charlize finds his dish “assaulting,” which in this case is a compliment.  I’m sure I’ve heard Padma use that as an insult.  Paul is up next with his enchanted forest, which consists of foie gras with bacon, pumpernickel strawberries and pickled cherries and is completed by a bloody hand-print made of what I assume is beet juice.  The dish is really one of the best things I’ve seen definitely on this season, if not multiple seasons.  The judges say that the taste matches up with how awesome it looks which is good news for Paul.  Beverly goes third and serves up seared halibut with forbidden black rice which brings up more great reviews from the judges.

Lindsay is up next with her immunity, and she openly admits she played it safe with her seared scallop over “witch’s stew” and dragon beans.  There are such things as dragon beans?  I’m so intrigued.  Tom says that the stew is “so damn good.”  These people are bringing it for the A-lister tonight.  It’s Sarah’s turn and she’s serving the aforementioned wine risotto with a lamb heart.  Charlize doesn’t blink at eating lamb heart and says she’d like more.  The judges again love the dish.  Grayson takes her turn with her black chicken and roasted beets.  She says she wanted to look like the chicken got slaughtered on the plate, and she put an egg on it to represent the hen’s child.  Dark stuff.  Again, the judges are over the moon with the presentation and the taste.  How are they going to come up with a bottom three?  Last but not least we have Chris with his poison apple cherry pie, which I have to say looks pretty damn cool.  Again, the judges love the dish; Tom says its easily the best meal of the season.  Eric says it’s one of the best meals he’s ever had on Top Chef.  I really have no idea where they’re going to land with this.

Padma cuts right to the chase and calls all of the chefs in together.  Somewhat surprisingly, Charlize is at the Judge’s Table and not Eric Ripert; however, I’m thrilled to report that there is an actual Judge’s Table set built!  Ultimately, Charlize gives the win to Paul for his enchanted forest…I think I backed the right horse here.  Ed, Lindsay and Chris are sent back to the stew room in safety leaving Sarah, Beverly and Grayson  in the bottom and one of them will be getting the axe.  The judges proceed to nit-pick the three ladies’ dishes to death and at least have the decency to look embarassed while they’re doing it.  Ultimately, Beverly gets the axe which I suppose means that at least we won’t have to watch Sarah and Lindsay rip on her anymore.  Also, it makes that loss in the Quickfire that much more hurtful.  And the producers love that.

And some final thoughts:

-Let’s get this out of the way…we’re all preferring the Theron version of Snow White to the Roberts one, correct?

-According to Paul, Beverly’s had the most experience of everyone left.  Did not see that coming.

-Grayson butchering that black chicken was a little too real for me.  Glad I wasn’t eating while recapping.

-“If there was an eighth dwarf…” “It would be Tom.”  It’s really a shame Gail wasn’t there to trade barbs with Charlize.

-Okay, Chris seems nice and all, but he’s gotta be going home next week, right?

-Last Chance Kitchen Update: Dammit, Beverly beat Nyesha!  I mean, Beverly’s fine and all, but the comeback story of the season is no more.

Home Food Top Chef Recap-"Fit for an Evil Queen"