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Top Chef-Tailgating

Watching now.

Jennifer wins immunity. I didn't think much of her dish. Richard picked Michelob Ultra??!!! Are you kidding me? That's like trying to cook something that goes well with water. That's not beer! Stephanie's choice of Hoegaarten was excellent and her dish looked and sounded great. Wish I could taste it.

And what is with that pretzel crumbles? What up with that? I feel bad for Mark because he has no idea what football tailgating is, poor guy.

Oh, and Richard's pate melt? Lets say I'm dubious.

OK, foreshadowing just happened. I think its either Spike or Mark.

How did Nikki get this far?

Mark goes for the charcoal, I hope it works for him. Risky.

The Fridge, Dent, and Sayers?? Simply awesome.

Spike uses jicama? In Chicago? Too wimpy.

Ryan's food is way too fru-fru for football. And the judges agree with me.

Andrew definitely got issues.

OOh, Lisa's looks good.

Quinoa tabbouleh? Oy!!

OK, looks like Mark is gone.

Dale. Antonia, and Stephanie. are the winners. They ARE the most consistent. And Dale wins!! And he gets a freaking Bears jersey and a studly grill grill, I guess thats OK, I still would rather go to Italy.

OK, Gail Simmons still bugs me.

OK, whaling on Nikki, Ryan, and Mark now.

Nikki is clueless.

Ryan is a cry baby.

Mark is the slob. His area did look pretty disgusting, and coming from me, it must be truly disgusting.

Oops, got it wrong. Ryan goes. I guess they faked us all out. And the schmu
ck still won't admit he missed the boat on the challenges. He's an idiot.

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  1. agreed. not a fan of ryan at all. glad to see him gone.
    go stephanie. everything she makes looks fabulous.
    but agreed that dale's looked really good here.

    also for the quickfire (great idea by the way) i think it was some mich ultra with lime or something. not that that's good beer or anything. i thought jen's did look good. and i couldn't BELIEVE how many of them were anti beer. i mean really.

    1 Reply
    1. re: AMFM

      Loved that Chef Colicchio noticed that Stephanie was up in the Top 3 yet again. Consistent, consistent, consistent - that's got to count for something for her down the road!

      And re: the QF - did they know which beers they were drinking? It didn't look like it - just a pour from the pitcher in front, and out of the 3 they tasted, they chose one? So if Richard doesn't like the taste of beer (I believe he said he didn't drink it), going for the watered-down Mich Ultra makes sense for him.

    2. Two Top Chef #5 threads is gonna be hard.

      1. i dont drink beer, so i'll take everyone's word about what is good/what is not. but when i saw jennifers dish i was like "yes!" i would so eat that.

        lol i totally said the same thing about dale when he won the grill--he would of rather gone to italy.

        the judging really suprised me. i thought for sure it was nikki. she has really made crappy stuff every week (minus the pasta) and im shocked she made it past this week...although i am shocked she slid by with her blueberry fungus and cheese droppings. She totally did a riff on sandra lee with the prepared sausage. I mean how hard is it to make peppers and onions with a jus and heat some bread? oh and the random shrimp on the side?? My monkey could do all of that--in his sleep. My only sympathy is that she was the last to serve the judges and I guess she ran out. But I would of saved some for the judges and just told everyone else i was out. how can you forget tom and padma???

        i am so glad ryan went home. he was so full of hott air i was sick of him. I screamed in excitement when he was sent home (there was a whole bunch of us watching and we had wagers on who it would be. i picked him just because i thought he was a jerk). im glad mark was not axed. i would miss his accent. i thought he was so cute tonight because he was pissed off several times yet when he said it, he had a totally straight face.

        andrew cracks me up. i think he is hilarious.

        richard's dish looked great. i though lisa's did too.

        whoever made that "one shrimp" dish, it may of been great, but i think i would of been a little disappointed on the size. I mean com'on people were serving burgers, ribs, chicken sandwiches, etc. One single shrimp...it looked miniscule in that large bowl. maybe its my americaness speaking out, but i would of felt a little cheated.

        stephanie has been my favorite since week 1. she is this seasons casey. i hope she goes all the way.

        btw, was anyone not really impressed with the guest judge in the QF??? I wonder why she didnt return for the Elimination challenge. Has that happened before? i know the two are from the same restaurant but i thought that was just weird.

        Glad to see they are finally taking into account audience opinion. I wonder how they chose who got to sample the food.

        3 Replies
        1. re: asiansensation007

          <stephanie has been my favorite since week 1. she is this seasons casey. i hope she goes all the way.> Stephanie has WAY more talent than Casey! not even in the same ballpark...

          1. re: ChefJune

            I agree COMPLETELY, Chef June. Stephanie is heads and shoulders above Casey. Shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence. It's more like Stephanie is the new Tiffani (without the attitude) or the new Lee Ann (with slightly more talent and/or consistency that could take her all the way).

            1. re: charmedgirl

              Agreed. Stephanie is more talented than Casey. She is more like Lee Anne Wong. And I know everybody absolutely loved Casey but I kind of thought she sometimes smacked of insincerity -- like when she was saying how glad she was that Howie helped her in the finals. She was trying to be diplomatic but it didn't come off that way on TV as she said it with so much hesitation.

        2. Nikki had to go for grilling pre-made sausages with onions and peppers. She thinks like a mom packing lunch for her kids, not as a high level chef. Anyone who made an effort with their own food, however foul, should have stayed over her.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Minger

            Wasn't it Nikki who made the "mom" comment, "When you swear, you draw attention to yourself"?

            (Clearly from my userid, I have no problem with moms in general ;-)

          2. Whether Mark understands the tailgating concept or not, his station was very unhygenic. Ick. I think based solely on that, he should have gone. I thought it was a toss up between him leaving and Nikki- sausage and peppers? Come on! I don't care how great it tasted (and I do love sausage and peppers) it was uncreative and kind of lazy of her. I was surprised when they told Ryan to go, even though his dish totally missed the mark.

            5 Replies
            1. re: mercyteapot

              Chef Kahan's blog/interview at bravotv.com implies that it wasn't close at all -- that with Ryan trying to do so many dishes, that didn't even comply with the challenge, all the dishes suffered. I think both Nikki and Mark were lucky -- I knew they were going to be in the bottom 3. I was kind of relieved to see the judges be consistent about expecting people to comply with the challenge concept.

              1. re: mercyteapot

                That whole unhygenic thing was weird--I don't remember that ever coming up in previous seasons, although there's been lots of carting around raw meat to picnics and such. Seems like if editors wanted to focus on hygiene they could have made anyone look bad from the right angles. And where are the hairnets and gloves in the TC kitchen, if we want to get all picky about that stuff?

                1. re: mercyteapot

                  I think Mark was hungover from his "pool" party and it showed. I couldn't believe he tasted his chowder and put the spoon back in the pot! Wasn't somebody else disqualified on the spot for doing that in a previous TC series? They were working in a professional kitchen and he tasted from the cooking spoon and got the boot.

                  1. re: ginnyhw

                    I actually saw Mark last night at a fundraiser. He was manning the Public station and serving those anchovy things they served at the zoo. He looked much more cleaned up and handled himself quite professionally.

                    Yeah, I thought it was weed but you're probably right ginnyhw. It's probably the drinking from the bubble bath.

                    1. re: ginnyhw

                      You're thinking of TC #1, the first episode - the loud-mouthed Irish guy. When they were in the chef's restaurant with limited time to show their line-cook skills, he dipped his finger into the sauce to make sure it tasted right. This was not acceptable in that chef's kitchen, so he was sent outside.

                      At elimination, the loudmouth Irish guy (I don't remember the name, just the accent, sorry!) kept saying how he'd been in a million restaurant where it was perfectly fine to do that, so he was right. No amount of "you operate under the chef's rules, not your own when it's not your kitchen" would dissuade him.

                      It wasn't so much the hygiene as it was the attitude for that TC contestant.

                      I think none of us really want to think about tasting spoons, fingers and whatnot...we'd never eat out if we did! ;-)

                  2. Is it me, or have there been too many "food for the people" challenges so far this season? Heck, I' make food for the peeps every day in my kitchen--seeing people with fauxhawks do it on TV is not my idea of excitement. I give some props to Ryan for doing his own thing and I'll miss his metrosexual vibe, tho he looked much hotter in the interview segments than in the challenge footage. Hopefully this is the last of populist cuisine we'll see, and the last time Padma's forced to wear a football shirt. Shallow alert: What was with that gray turtleneck she was wearing at judge's table? I miss the bright colors and funky jewelry of last season. Should be a rule that the more boring the challenge, the more outrageous Padma's fashions.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: newhavener07

                      I agree with newhavener07. The level of the challenges presented this season must be stepped-up. Is this Top Chef or Top "Food Network" Chef?

                      1. re: Hurner

                        It's insulting to the people of Chicago that the producers seem to think that tailgates and block parties are the main components of the food scene. And next week looks like Second City comedy night--huh?

                      2. re: newhavener07

                        Re: Padma's wardrobe -- they're in Chicago in the fall, instead of Miami or LA -- seems like this was a chilly rainy day, thus the hot chocolate offerings were gratefully embraced. Not that her turtleneck had to be gray...

                        1. re: momjamin

                          Even in the cold Padma usually wows--someting like plaid spandex with alpaca fringes and a ponyskin hoodie...

                          1. re: newhavener07

                            Good point. But at least she changed out of her Flashdance sweater from the quick fire ;-)

                        2. re: newhavener07

                          Re: fashion--what was with Tom's little outfit? Note to Tom: Samuel L Jackson looks cool in a scarf/beret combo. You, Tom, are no Samuel L. Jackson.

                          1. re: Nettie

                            i laughed out loud when i saw chef tom wearing a beret and a fashion scarf (it wasn't cold outside) for a bears game. getting all over nikki for not making her own sausage in chicago and then wearing that get up? - wow.

                            on a totally different note, andrew has not been front and center in the last few shows. i knew he reminded me of someone but i could not put my finger on it. then i watched e.r. last thursday. i have never seen andrew and dr. archie morris in the same room. check it out:



                            1. re: xman887

                              I laughed out loud at that scarf/beret combo too. It was so goofy.

                              1. re: xman887

                                LOL! You're dead-on re: Andrew and Dr. Archie - if not twins separated at birth, brothers separated when they were young! :-)

                                And Chef Colicchio has worn that (or a similar) beret at other outdoor functions, so it's not the first time we've seen him with it.

                          2. i like richard's style. i know with shows like this a lot of the creation of "personalities" is accentuating certain characteristics in the editing, but his creativity has been very pronounced, and all the outside-the-box cooking is refreshing. few people on top chef cook boring food, but everything i've seen him make has been ambitious on a whole different level, and i admire it. he sort of reminds me of marcel, with fewer foams, and who isn't a complete weenie. and his food always sounds and LOOKS good.

                            1. Oh, and it was pretty funny that viewers voted to play touch football with Tom. He really looked like a linebacker in a couple of the those shots from the rear.

                              1. I am dissapointed (at one point angered) that they bowed down in front of their almighty advertisers once again and used all A-B related beers (including Inbev beers that they now have distribution agreements for in the US). All the talk of quality ingredients from Colicchio and quest chefs on the show are negated when you utilize mass produced beers to pair food with. You think they would do this with wine and show up with boxes of low end wine and ask them to pair food with it? I doubt it. It was a slap in the face to all the craft brewers that put taste before profit and produce quality, flavorful products. A huge opportunity to educate consumers and chefs about the world of beer outside of mass produced crap, wasted in the name of advertising dollars.

                                47 Replies
                                1. re: LStaff

                                  Amen--that was outrageous! Especially with such great beermakers in the Midwest to choose from. Land Shark Lager? Michelob? They might as well have a Kool Whip challenge or a Hamburger Helper bakeoff. I was horrified by the selection of beers, and it seemed like there were only a few styles represented. Where were the porters and stouts? Speaking as someone who has driven hours out of my way to pick up a case of Great Lakes Holy Moses, it was infuriating!

                                  1. re: newhavener07

                                    land shark lager is particularly wretched beer. it's in the pick your own six-pack for $3.49 bin at mgm liquor warehouse. dh couldn't get over it. otoh the red hook that dale picked was vaguely decent compared to the rest of the swill-- yet jen won with the land shark and dale lost with the red hook. hmm.

                                    1. re: newhavener07

                                      There was a Red Hook ESB--was Red Hook absorbed into A-B a few years ago?

                                      I did notice one very dark beer on the end that could have been a stout or porter, but I didn't see what it was. Was it Michelob Dark or something?

                                      1. re: Nettie

                                        AB bought a large share of Red Hook. i don't remember the percentage.

                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                          OK, I looked it up. I found an article from January 2007 that says:
                                          Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer, owns 33.6 percent of Redhook and a 39.5 percent stake in Widmer.

                                          1. re: Nettie

                                            Well red hook and widmer recently merged so who knows how much A&B actually owns now.

                                    2. re: LStaff

                                      My cousin called during the episode so I might have missed it, but were any of the beers by Goose Island? They are a Chicago company AND now distributed by A-B.

                                      1. re: LabRat

                                        Only a few labels were shown, I didn't see mention of Goose Island. There was an amber bock that I didn't catch the maker of--anyone see it?

                                        1. re: newhavener07

                                          No Goose Island. It was all crap beer. I believe Michelob makes an amber bock now.

                                          1. re: aelph

                                            Yah, the QF was little more than a product placement for A-B. Every one of the beers used is in the company's stable. No Back Road, no Goose Island, no Lakefront or Leinenkugel (which are just across the border in Wisconsin) or any other craft beer, which are easier than ever to get these days. And this was in the same episode where Nikki got slammed (rightfully) for using premade sausages. Well, if she gets docked for not making her sausage, the producers should get docked for turning a good idea for the QF into an advertisement for the ol King of Beers. On an unrelated note, I was stunned at how few of the contestants knew anything about football. Mark, the sole foreigner, gets a pass. While I doubt Dale will make it too much farther, it was nice to see the one football fan win this EC.

                                            1. re: FlaHopper

                                              Jen said she was a football fan -- that she grew up watching football with her dad and that both her brothers played football. A couple of other cheftestants also mentioned being fans. Dale was just more obvious because he was not just a football fan, he was a Bears fan.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                True enough, but there were several of them (Richard, Mark, Ryan, Spike, Andrew and Nikki come to mind) who said they don't like/follow football. That just struck me as an awfully large segment of Top Chef contentants that don't like/follow the biggest sport in the United States.

                                                1. re: FlaHopper

                                                  Think about it. Think about the hours they work, the amount of hours when they work. I can see them being totally detached from the normal flow of American life.

                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                    Sure, but as Ruth pointed out, Jen grew up watching it, as did Dale. I'm not saying that I expected all of them to be huge football fans, but I was surprised by the number of contestants who seemed to have no background at all with the sport. If it were only a couple of them it wouldn't have caught my attention, but when it's half or more of the chefs expressed that they either didn't like/follow football at all, that really struck me as unusual.

                                                    1. re: FlaHopper

                                                      Honestly, it may come as a surprise, but, while I have plenty of football fans in my family, there are plenty who are not (including me), which doesn't mean I couldn't come up w/ a dish that I thought would be appropriate for a tailgate party.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        Exactly, whereas Ryan clearly knew as much about football and tailgating as he did about chicken piccata. Again, I didn't expect everyone to be a fan. But I also didn't think so many would have so little background with the game.

                                                      2. re: FlaHopper

                                                        I know football is the largest fan sport in the US, but there are plenty of people who couldn't care less. All I was saying is that given the homogeneity of th the chosen career, I am not surprised they are not fans. This is not a random selection of a large random sample space of people, this is a pretty select number of people within a very specific population.

                                                    2. re: FlaHopper

                                                      Actually, I think Nikki mentioned some experience with tailgating/going to games. Mark isn't an American, but he did mention being a rugby fan. I'm not at all surprised that self-proclaimed metrosexual Ryan, Richard and Andrew the cooking nerds and Spike the "alternative" guy weren't into football. But at least some of those guys participated in throwing the ball around after the challenge, so they aren't totally oblivious to football.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        OK, I was going to agree to disagree on this point, but then you brought up the footage of them throwing the football around. Watching Andrew heave that wobbly duck into the air just looked horrible. Sure it showed that they were trying to get into the spirit of the event, but it also showed that 1) Andrew has probably touched a football fewer times than Mark; and 2) many of the chefs were fairly oblivious to football. That being said, a few of them (Robert, Andrew) made great tailgating dishes all the same.

                                                        1. re: FlaHopper

                                                          i'm glad someone finally gave andrew a helmet.

                                                          i actually don't know any chefs who follow football. when chefs get an unoccupied 3-4 hour block of time, they sleep-- they don't watch football, or go outside and toss perfect spirals to their homeboys across the park. football games are shown during prep time and holiday meal time. it's like saturday night live-- nobody who works in hospitality has ever seen that show, in its entirety, even once. we'll miss every reference to it. it's easy for chefs to become sort of cultural ignoramuses because there simply is not much downtime at all, and even when there is time to get out of the kitchen, it's filled up with something related-- visiting the farm of a producer, going mushrooming, doing a demo at a cooking school, doing research, teaching a class, eating other people's food. look at how many of the chefs were clueless about current movies for the movie challenge-- they don't have time to see movies.

                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                            Again, I'm not suggesting that all of the contestants should be season ticket holders. But sports, and football in particular, is a common cultural touchstone. I was aware of football by the time I was seven. It was also an organized sport in every middle and high school I attended. Even if I wasn't a fan of the sport, I would think that I would have an awareness of it. Maybe fewer people than I think have grew up tossing the football around in the backyard or eventually at a cookout or tailgate party. Sure, chefs and staff are busy folks, but they weren't doing a demo at a cooking school when they were 14.

                                                            1. re: FlaHopper

                                                              Dude, not everyone cares about sports, deal with it.

                                                              1. re: FlaHopper

                                                                "But sports, and football in particular, is a common cultural touchstone. I was aware of football by the time I was seven. It was also an organized sport in every middle and high school I attended. Even if I wasn't a fan of the sport, I would think that I would have an awareness of it."
                                                                Awareness, yes, but who tailgates at a high school game? I attended HS football, soccer, and basketball games. Because it was the "thing to do" (and I lived right behind our HS). But after that? I wasn't much interested in sports until well into my adult life. My entire family was *not* sports-oriented. None of us participated in sports during our school years or after. I knew really nothing about it. Even now, I watch pro football moreso than any other sport. But usually only in group settings with friends - but if my friends weren't into sports, I probably would still be as uninterested in sports as I was growing up.

                                                                So as Phaedrus said - not everyone cares about sports.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  Well I am still not sure which ball goes with which sport, but I do understand the type of food that gets made for a tailgating party. I honestly don't think the sports element changes this challenge: the challenge is to make food that can be eaten outside, involves a grill, and feeds a crowd. Oh, and tastes good. Clearly that was still too complicated for some cheftestants, but I don't think we can fairly attribute their shortcomings to their lack of appreciation of da Bears (word choice here is tongue in cheek, of course). This was really a very simple challenge (not easy to be the best, but it had simple rules), and Ryan just didn't get the whole idea of grill cooking. Poached pears do not equal grilling food. Didn't someone get kicked off last season for poaching lobster for a grilling challenge? Poaching doesn't involve grills, cheftestants! So we can argue about the cultural relevance of sports, but I don't think there is an argument here that mitigates the challenge results.

                                                                  1. re: Adrienne

                                                                    I don't disagree with you Adrienne, but we already know there are those cheftestants - Ryan being primary amongst them - who don't *listen* to what the challenge is and cook the way they want to.

                                                                    So sports theme or not, there are those that are either too stubborn or too stupid to listen and play the game the judges' way. And get kicked off because the food is inappropriate. You can only beat them over the head with a 2x4 so many times to tell them what the challenge is about. Regardless whether they're standing in a parking lot or field with big massive grills in front of them - and they choose to poach. :-)

                                                                    And there ARE also people out there who don't tailgate. Don't know anything about it; don't know what to do. I've worked with more than enough people who are so *not* into sports nor could they give two hoots about what tailgate food is supposed to be about. Rarity? Yes, I think so - but they do exist.

                                                                    ETA - as I was driving to work today, I also thought that this scenario goes both ways - how many people don't know the *first thing* about cooking - despite the fact that they have to eat every day? Some people can't make spaghetti and meat sauce. Can't make a decent fried egg. Things those of us that know how to cook deem as the most basic of "how to cook" foods. But they don't because they have *no* interest in doing so. Don't want to learn how; are more than willing to let someone else do it for them (i.e., go out to eat, or stick a frozen entree into the microwave).

                                                                    So knowing what tailgating is about or what foods go well in a tailgate party doesn't always match up with the personality.

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                      I don't tailgate either but I still think that if you are into food you should know a bit about a lot of different types - including grilling, beer, chicken piccata... :)

                                                                      glad to see him go!
                                                                      although i am by NO means a chef and i think nicki cooks practically on my level so she should be next.

                                                                      1. re: AMFM

                                                                        Yet again, I agree anyone who knows about food should know *something* about grilling and chicken piccata. :-) However, it was pretty obvious that Ryan thought he knew better as to what to serve at the tailgate party. His bad.

                                                                        And I agree - Nikki hasn't done anything to prove herself. I like the progress chart at Wikipedia as to where the cheftestants are falling into the High/Low/Smack Dab in the Middle. Eventually, those that continue to fall Smack Dab in the Middle are going to be on the Low end of things and be nudged out the door - i.e., Jennifer and Spike.


                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    Right, so if you were told that you'd be cooking at a tailgate party you would look like a fish out of water. Trust me, I understand that there are a lot of people who don't care about sports. I was just surprised that so many of the chefs seemed out of sorts at the idea of cooking at a tailgate. Now, I'll take my football, my spatula and my dog-eared copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and shuffle on.

                                                                    1. re: FlaHopper

                                                                      see-- i don't think that the not *following* sports thing-- and not being able to *cook tailgating food* necessarily correlate. i think that lots of chefs do know how to use a grill, and i think that overall most of the chefs did a good job making grilled/tailgating food-- even people who'd like to jump on richard for being a mini-red-smoker-toting molecular gastronomy dork have to admit that he made basically a burger, one that could be appreciated on a couple of levels. i think most of the chefs did fine at creating decent grill/tailgating food, with the notable exceptions of ryan and mark, and possibly jennifer. even nikki's offering was tailgating-worthy, just not very chef-worthy. you don't need to know how to throw a football to be able to grill a burger, you don't need to know anything about baseball to make some killer apps for the world series.

                                                                      in fact (this is what always happens to dh), chances are that if a chef shows up to a football party, s/he will end up on the grill all night while everyone else watches the game-- it's the perception of what the event is about-- for a chef it's the food, for the crowd its the game-- & lo and behold at the end of the party everyone's like "oh that was a great game" and the guy standing at the grill asks "who won? who was playing?" and everyone gives him crap for not caring about football.

                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                        Exactly. If I don't want to get married, does that mean I don't know how to cook for a wedding reception? Cooking is cooking. You don't have to know anything about football to understand that the challenge was about cooking food that was hearty and appropriate for a casual, outdoor setting. Plus, they'd already been told that the theme of the episode was "simple pleasures."

                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                          Ruth, you made me laugh out loud -- I agree with your comment completely.

                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                            Heck, I was in marching band and still don't know anything about football. Music, yes. Football, no.

                                                                          2. re: soupkitten

                                                                            i thought jennifer's looked good actually and appropriate. i figured stephanie's (and i love her) had to have been fab because hers didn't seem particularly appropriate to me but everyone still loved it.

                                                                            1. re: AMFM

                                                                              Stephanie used one of the cardinal rules of cooking: when possible, add bacon.

                                                                              1. re: AMFM

                                                                                maybe i missed it. jennifer did a neo-greek number? i remember skewers and a quinoa-based tabbouli salad? i don't remember how it looked when it was finished or how it went over with the crowd or the judges. certainly seems appropriate to me, if she pulled it off-- i agree that any street-food type of dish would probably go over fine before a bears game.

                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                  I think the reaction Jen got was that people seemed dubious about the quinoa tabblouli at first, but liked it when they tasted it. She was serving it with souvlaki -- was that the dish that was made with the pounded skirt steak?

                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                    i think i might be really confused about who did what-- i thought lisa was the one making a joke about "beating her meat"--lol! if people liked the food, then it was successful tailgating fare-- i think any fare that you can eat easily while standing up is a great candidate, so to me, all the contestants' dishes looked like they would work at a tailgating party--except for ryan's. i guess it's making more and more sense that he got sent home for not following the challenge at all.

                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                      You may be right -- I checked the Bravo site, and Jen's souvlaki was made with chicken.

                                                                      2. re: soupkitten

                                                                        The "Da Bears" thing is an SNL reference and someone (Spike?) said it on that episode.

                                                                        1. re: southernitalian

                                                                          "Da Bears" is the way many Chicagoans refer to our team. It's way more than an SNL reference, no matter who said it on TC.

                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                            I think it is safe to say Spike got it from SNL. He doesn't strike me as one who is up on regional dialects of the midwest.

                                                                  3. re: FlaHopper

                                                                    Uh...I don't follow sports...no interest whatsoever. Never have, even when playing them. I love that Spike got creamed for asking *that* question. But, really, who gives a crap? One might beg the question as per pop culture that it's impossible to avoid certain sports "names," unfortunately...

                                                                    I'd be happy as a clam if all sports nonsense vanished from everyday discourse.

                                                                    And, basically, good on the cooks who professed no knowledge of The Bears...again, who gives a toss...?

                                                                    (fyi: I lived in Chicago for a decade and I've never given a thought about the Sox, the Cubs, or Da Bears)

                                                                    They "tailgated" because that's the latest patronizing sop to a misperceived Middle America: Food Network does it, Mario Batali has a NASCAR book about it...

                                                                    Tailgating's pop du jour

                                                                    hence the middle of the road courses presented by the Top Cooks,
                                                                    it's merely a misapprehended(easily digestible by the Coasts) Chicago identity(um...tailgating and block parties)...whatever...

                                                                    1. re: aelph

                                                                      I was going to comment, they may not know much about football, but on the other hand, they clearly haven't watched Food Network during the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, or they'd know all about tailgating. Not having watched certain FN specials can't have hurt 'em ;-)

                                                                      1. re: aelph

                                                                        Listen, sports isn't and doesn't have to be for everyone. But there's no denying that an awful lot of Americans, including the people of Chicago, follow and enjoy the sports, particularly football. So to dismiss it and tailgating as patronizing sop is overly dismissive and incredibly shortsighted. Further, the tailgating and block parties were great elimination challenges because as simple as they might have seemed, both events clearly created challenges for a number of the chefs.

                                                                        1. re: FlaHopper

                                                                          I agree. And it's not like the food that won really was the least sophisticated. In reality it's what a chef must do - create food that people want to eat, not food that impresses other chefs. Now if it can do both - that's a true top chef!

                                                                          1. re: FlaHopper

                                                                            I don't deny it. I do dismiss it, tho'.

                                                            2. re: LStaff

                                                              "You think they would do this with wine and show up with boxes of low end wine and ask them to pair food with it?"

                                                              Sure, if they advertised. When you've had shows based on prepackaged pastas (a la Bertolli) and focusing on Velveeta cheese and bottle ranch dressings, anything's possible. In a contest between quality and advertising dollars, I know where I'm going to put my money. This is TV, you know.

                                                            3. Double entendre of the night: "I'm out there with a rolling pin...beating my meat." - Lisa

                                                              I'm going to go out on a limb and disagree with cutting Ryan. He comes off as a deer in headlights, but he does show that he has the skill to stay competetive (at least for a couple more episodes). Nikki, however, showed absolutely no creativity in her dish of Whole Foods sausage and sauteed peppers. And in general, it doesn't appear that she can do much cooking beyond what passes for cuisine in Massapequa (not that Spike or Miguel are anything more than one-trick ponies, too). If she was just "cooking for the masses" as she explained and didn't have time to make her own sausage, at least she could have drawn upon her background to create her personal take on an Italian beef combo or anything else that would have shown some technical skill. What's next from her? Ronzoni baked ziti with a side of Mrs. Paul fishsticks?

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: JungMann

                                                                yeah, i don't see how store bought sausage and sauteed peppers (that weren't even served to the judges, mind you) kept her in the running. that's pretty inexcusable.

                                                              2. This season is really starting to pick up steam, the movie challenge, the elements challenge and now the tailgate have been way more entertaining than the earlier episodes. A clear stratification between the chefs is starting to show; I think Richard and Stephanie will consistently be in the top 3 (or at least out of the bottom 3) while Dale and Anotonia will be between the top 3 and bottom 3 week in and week out - those two are really hit and miss. My bet is Spike is next to go, seems like he's just hanging on at this point and doesn't have the culinary skill to keep up with the rest with Nikki following closely.

                                                                Mark seemed totally off his game in last night's episode. He's another one that has been up and down but he just seemed to be out of it last night. Perhaps it was the bubble bath with Spike - note to Bravo; NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT!

                                                                I was SHOCKED that no one made chilli for the tailgate, for me there is no better tailgaiting food than chilli make that in a minature bread bowl (if there were any bakers) and I don't see how someone could loose. While the grill would have been used to primarily heat the chilli - it would have been easy enough to cut chunks of steak and mix it into the chilli right before serving that were charred.

                                                                I couldn't be happier that Ryan is off the show - I'm sick of the chefs complaining that they don't want to do a certain challenge because "it doesn't fit their expertise." And what the hell was the deal with the judge during the quickfire???

                                                                13 Replies
                                                                1. re: wingman

                                                                  I kind of liked that judge, the whole quickfire had a kind of sapphic synergy...

                                                                  1. re: newhavener07

                                                                    Same here. I found her poker faced judgement most welcome.

                                                                    1. re: Hurner

                                                                      But even at judging I didn't think she really articulated her thoughts on the dishes. To me it felt like she didn't want to be there - great that she was able to sample the food, but it's a TV competition, if I can't figure out what is in the judge's thought process it doesn't make it too compelling.

                                                                      1. re: wingman

                                                                        i think bravo is kind of obligated to get the local chef talent in to judge the chicago challenges, as well as national/international celebrities like boulud, tsai. you have chefs who have had t.v. shows and lots of personal celeb and teaching time like bayless, and you have phenomenally talented well known local chefs who just cook really well, but they might not be as used to yakking their stream-of-consciousness while they are judging. the chicago chefs on this episode are phenomenally talented. i like that she played it close to the vest in her judging. i would rather they picked real local chefs based on talent rather than other criteria like photogenic looks or the ability to spout sound bytes like emeril or rr. i can't *wait* until they bring in achatz at the end. i don't know for sure that they will, but c'mon, they kind of have to, right?

                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          I hope they bring on Achatz, but I think he was undergoing or recovering from chemo during filming.

                                                                          1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                            i figured as much. i really do hope they bring achatz in, he's a hero in my world, although i cook nothing like him. they haven't filmed the finale yet, so perhaps he will be well enough to judge at the end. . .

                                                                        2. re: wingman

                                                                          Koren was chosen not just because of her work with Avec, but also her connection with Paul Kahan...it was a twofer. I also thought it a tad odd that both of them were judging Stephanie Izard, who, of course, is well known in the Chicago dining scene. Despite other questions regarding her "judging" I thought Koren pretty shrewd to pass on the charcuterie plate.

                                                                      2. re: newhavener07

                                                                        Did I miss something? WHO waas she? I never heard a name or affiliation.

                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                          Chicago has a tremendous dining scene. Koren came from Blackbird to open Avec, years on still considered a landmark for artisanal work.

                                                                          1. re: aelph

                                                                            I know Blackbird and Avec and Kahan. never heard of Koren. and I didn't hear her introduced to the chefs.

                                                                      3. re: wingman

                                                                        First thing that came to my mind was a chili, as well. although ryan deserved to go for that ridiculous menu, Nikki isn't far behind. How do you not have enough time to make sausages? you buy ground pork from whole foods, add fennel, salt, pepper, fat, etc, voila, sausages...

                                                                        1. re: ESNY

                                                                          I was also surprised that Nikki did not go home, but her time is coming soon unless she keeps getting lucky. If Ryan had not been such a moron (refusing to do even remotely portable food, and then making food that sucked), Nikki would surely have gone. I am glad Ryan is gone, his endless stupid prattle and "California" touchy-feeliness was painful for me to watch.

                                                                          Poor Mark, I feel really bad that he was called out on national TV for being unsanitary--must be totally embarrassing. Not that he didn't deserve it. I think he has made some excellent stuff (note Andrew copying his parsnip puree this week) but he has not had much time in the spotlight. I hope he gets a chance to shine.

                                                                          I loved the poker-faced, taciturn guest judge Koren...way to absolutely refuse to articulate anything for the cameras! It was kind of great that until she revealed the winners/losers, you had not one clue about what she liked or didn't like (except Jen's beignet, since Padma was raving about it as they were tasting). The beignet looked pretty great, and so did her chicken souvlaki.

                                                                          These episodes are getting better, but I am still missing last season...this crew is somehow not as engaging or likeable as S3. Hilarious that the always sour-faced, antisocial Dale "can't handle" Lisa's negativty. I liked Leeann's characterization (in her blog) of Lisa as a "disgruntled dog" compared to Tiffani's "vicious jungle cat".

                                                                          1. re: kenito799

                                                                            Haven't yet had time to read the blogs - work keeps interfering. :-) But I love that comparison between Lisa and Tiffani. LOL!

                                                                      4. [Let me first admit I feel a bit ashamed wasting my time discussing this stuff]

                                                                        (1) What is the deal with so many chefs who don't know/drink beer?

                                                                        (2) How is it possible that Nikki has managed to skate by this long? Other than an apparently savant-like ability to make good pasta, she has shown absolutely no cooking talent whatsoever and has crapped the bed multiple times ->

                                                                        To recap:
                                                                        Ep 1 - QF - pizza in the bottom group; EC - a good lasagna
                                                                        Ep 2 - QF - nondescript "vegan" thing EC - the abominable stuffed mushroom
                                                                        Ep 3 - QF - nondescript shrimp taco; EC - the abominable mac & cheese
                                                                        Ep 4 - QF - "technique" of not salting grilled zucchini; EC - tortellini (other than rolling the pasta, seems like Jen did everything else including shape the tortellini)
                                                                        Ep 5 - QF - taste test (who cares); EC - botched the duck prep by not rendering out the fat
                                                                        Ep 6 - QF - lame fried shrimp & asian slaw; EC - store-brought sausage?? w/ peppers & onions? which she couldn't portion out properly to save some for the judges?

                                                                        Ryan may not have made tailgating food (and what he made may not have been that good), but jeez, at least he cooked something.

                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                          I'm guessing that a lot of chefs are supertasters, and many supertasters (like me) find the bitterness of beer very unpleasant.

                                                                          I wasn't sure who was going to be in the top, as everyone seemed to like most of the dishes, but it was quite clear to me who was going to be in the bottom. In fact, I even got them in the same order: Dale came in and said "the judges would like to see..."; I said "Mark, Nikki and Ryan" and Dale said "Mark, Nikki and Ryan"!

                                                                          1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                            I'm not so sure she even makes good pasta. Didn't they rip her once for making mediocre pasta?

                                                                            1. re: ESNY

                                                                              No, I'm pretty sure they've always raved about her pasta. It was her macaroni and cheese (store-bought macaroni) and the failure of her Velveeta sauce that they ripped apart.

                                                                              1. re: heathermb

                                                                                I think I recall Tom stating that her tortellini for the movie challenge had too much flour.

                                                                            2. re: Frodnesor

                                                                              Ha ha ha. Glad to see you're not the only obsessing about this. I have no clue why Nikki has been there that long. I really thought it should have been her instead of Ryan (and I'm not just saying it because he made for some good eye candy even though he wasn't the brightest bulb). She actually kind of reminds me of Betty from Season 2 in terms of cooking talent and style -- though I think Betty was probably a bit more talented.

                                                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                gawd, carmella-- i mean nikki just sUUUUUUUUcks. new jersey housewife food from hell, no creativity. her strategy seems to skate through by taking absolutely no risks whatsoever for as long as possible, and hoping someone screws up worse than her. it's not going to work much longer. i sure hope she's the next to go.

                                                                                on mark's attempt/trainwreck: charcoal grills are a heckuva lot tougher to wrangle than most people realize, especially when there is a time limit involved (you lose time preparing your coals while the gas grills are already cooking). mark took a risk (evidently didn't have experience with the grill) and lost, the judges thought his attempt was slightly less bad than ryan's though. if it were me i'd have canned nikki for sheer boring food, but mark could've gone on unsanitary just as easily. interesting decision-- i'm fine with it though because ryan's constant *duh* made my head hurt. if nikki and spike go in the next two weeks i'll be so happy!

                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                  Was it just me or did Mark seem stoned most of the time? I actually think he's got a lot of talent but seems to be in his own little world.

                                                                                  I'm sure Nikki won't last long. I was impressed that she actually made her own pasta in the first episode. But I think she can't rely on her one-trick pony forever.

                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                    I thought the judges were way too diplomatic for suggesting to Nikki that if she wanted to impress the people of Chicago that she should have made her own sausages.

                                                                                    Where Mark went charcoal, everyone else went gas, which is a hella easier to manage.

                                                                                    How do professional chefs avoid double dipping and using an inordinate amount of spoons for tasting?

                                                                                    1. re: Minger

                                                                                      Well, I never worked in a professional kitchen (not counting the snack bar/grill in college and a catering summer job), so I should just wait for the chefs among us to weigh in, but one adult ed cooking class I took suggested using the stirring spoon to dribble a taste into a tea- or soup-spoon for tasting. Only the stirring spoon goes into the pot; only the teaspoon goes into the mouth, so you can get away with using only one teaspoon.

                                                                                      1. re: momjamin

                                                                                        That's sensible solution. I wonder what the professional chefs would suggest for busy situations in a restaurant kitchen. I remember Iron Chef Chen constantly sampling his cooking with his one ladle using via "air sipping."

                                                                                        1. re: momjamin

                                                                                          Remember the very first episode of Top Chef when Ken got booted from the kitchen at Fleur de Lys for sticking his finger in the sauce to taste it? Ken seemed to imply that Keller's reaction was just for show and that what he did was common practice. But just recently at my birthday dinner in San Francisco our waiter saw that I'd just been given a copy of the Top Chef cookbook and remarked that he'd worked briefly at Fleur de Lys and that his time there had coincided with the Top Chef taping. He said he was standing near Keller, and that what we saw was really a toned-down-for-tv version of his reaction. I believe what he said was something like "he looked like he was going to explode" and that his language was a quite a bit more colorful than what made it to air.

                                                                                          1. re: momjamin

                                                                                            momjamin is right about drizzling the taste into another spoon-- or small prep bowls are used as tasting vessels-- commonly called "monkey bowls" in kitchen slang-- because one cook will be like "taste this, guys"-- and dish out a dollop of sauce or whatever into the bowl-- then everyone gathers around and sticks her/his own spoon in, or takes a slurp directly from the bowl-- just like a bunch of monkeys might. sticking your finger into a pot of food is not cool, nor is slurping out of the stirring spoon like your gramma. in french kitchens you see the guys that go through a case of plastic spoons in a night tasting and throwing all of the spoons away, but i think that's dying out-- it's totally environmentally irresponsible.

                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                              Of course, judging by certain cheftestants and the reactions of the judges to their food, they solve the problem of using too many tasting spoons by simply not tasting :->

                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                  At a certain point on Top Chef, tasting becomes an exercise in futility. Under the Top Chef time and budget constraints, it's generally not possible to do something over or even to tweak it. You have to serve what you have. You certainly can't go back and "unseason" something, and often when you try to correct seasoning at the end of the cooking process the seasonings don't really "take" properly. You can add salt or pepper, and in some cases fresh herbs, but dried herbs need to be cooked in with the dish, and most fresh herbs are better when cooked in as well.

                                                                                                  As the cheese-coated mushroom fiasco proved, sometimes trying to "fix" the seasoning at the end just makes it worse.

                                                                                                  In the real world, no chef has to perfect a dish on the first try. Even if the diner has to send it back, the chef has a chance to correct the mistake.

                                                                                                  Top Chef presents a real Catch-22: the judges will tell them "don't serve it if you aren't proud of it" but if you don't serve something, then for sure you're going home. In addition, if you admit your dish was flawed you can be accused of "not standing by your dish" and if you don't, then you have questionable taste.

                                                                                          2. re: Minger

                                                                                            Just as I was trained I used monkey dishes (the smallest bowl) to taste from. The cooking spoon drips a few drops/chunks into the dish and you taste. You can use the same dish over and over because it never goes into the pot/pan. I've used spoons, too. I never double dipped -- blech.

                                                                                            As far as Mark and charcoal was concerned, I liked the idea -- because there's a whole extra level of flavor. Many gas grills allow you to use smoking chips, but I don't recall seeing them used. A missed opportunity.

                                                                                    2. What's up with the cell vote: Who would you want to play touch football with?
                                                                                      I thought it was an obvious slamdunk - Padma! But Tom won!!! Gross! I guess there are a lot more women watching the show than men. lol!

                                                                                      Also, initially I couldn't figure out why, but all the negativity is making the season less enjoyable than last season. Overall, I'm still enjoying the show. Glads it isn't the train wreck that was season 2.

                                                                                      I agree... Stephanie, Dale, Antonia and Richard are pretty consistent.
                                                                                      It's good that Richard made the point that he wants to show that he's more than the electric smoker guy.

                                                                                      Mark and Andrew are in the second group but definitely seem to have issues being consistent.

                                                                                      The rest form the third pack

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: dave_c

                                                                                        My understanding is that Chef Colicchio has quite the following in the gay community as well - so it's probably not all women text-voting for him! LOL

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          That has been my understanding as well. What I don't understand is your LOL.

                                                                                          1. re: Hurner

                                                                                            I was referring to the previous poster's first paragraph. He thought more women were voting for Tom, while it could very well be quite the opposite.

                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                              I see. I must say that Tom is looking remarkably well this season - probably the result of his increased success, exposure and income. And as far as playing touch football is concerned, Tom would be the obvious choice of partner…..if I wanted to win.

                                                                                              1. re: Hurner

                                                                                                True that. He does have that middle linebacker body shape.

                                                                                        2. re: dave_c

                                                                                          ""But Tom won!!! Gross! I guess there are a lot more women watching the show than men. lol!""

                                                                                          My wife did not vote for Tom. In fact gross were her exact words.

                                                                                        3. I'm just happy that we're now at the point where we get to see the judges taste *all* the dishes in the QF.

                                                                                          1. Shut it about Zoi already! I mean really..we get that you're pissed about her being gone but deal with it!
                                                                                            I am Ryan Scott & I am a clueless windbag. I don't care to cater to the clientele only to what I think they should like. It's a Bears tailgating party you moron! I've been to many & this guy would be possibly beaten like a baby seal for trying to serve poached pears & creme fraiche. You can get away with that crap at a 49'ers tailgate but not in Chicago.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: sugarbuzz

                                                                                              As I said before, most of the dishes were pretty fru-fru for Da Beahs.

                                                                                              1. re: sugarbuzz

                                                                                                Ryan is so inflexible that I am sure he would serve the same fru fru fooey to a homeless kitchen if called upon.

                                                                                                1. re: sugarbuzz

                                                                                                  My husband was a long time 49ers season ticket holder before he moved to San Diego and married me. I've been to a fair number of those games and I'm here to tell you that I don't think Ryan's meal would have flown in SF any better than it did in Chicago.

                                                                                                2. I was just watching a rerun & noticed that for the pissy way Dale acted when he didn't win for the elements show & bitched about the fact that Lisa won for making bacon..he pretty much ripped off her idea in his QF challenge. He made a caramel miso glazed pork.

                                                                                                    1. I love this live recap! I definitely though Mark was going home. I like Mark but his food did NOT look good and his station was a mess. Ryan's food looked somewhat decent. But yay for Mark making it through, he's adorable! I wouldn't have been sad if Nikki went home...

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Chew on That

                                                                                                        Sure Mark's adorable but the guy is CONSISTENTLY on the bottom! Every week I think he's going home, and someone else gets cut. I can maybe give him a free pass this week for the fact that he's not actually American and possibly doesn't have as much experience with tailgate food - but as for the rest of the challenges he was on the bottom of, really? Come on, judges. Just get rid of him already so we can move on!!

                                                                                                        1. re: ihearthothippo

                                                                                                          Didn't Mark win a quickfire challenge?, the one that featured Wylie Dufresne

                                                                                                          The only contestant that was consistently on the bottom is Valerie

                                                                                                          1. re: attractivekid

                                                                                                            that was just crazy. Nikki's was just plain, what I would make on a Tuesday night if I had no time. And the Australian guy was a shambles. No way Ryan should have gone home. That was just ludicrous.

                                                                                                            1. re: edub23

                                                                                                              I think Ryan just, again, showed a clueless, blind-to-reality uber-confidence that just came across as unable -or worse, unwilling- to adapt and cook for his audience. His "I'll cook it and they'll like it because I made it and *I* think it's good" mentality shows that he has contempt for his audience. That's why he went home.

                                                                                                              As for Nikki, unless that girl wins the Quickfire next week...

                                                                                                          2. re: ihearthothippo

                                                                                                            Mark won a Quickfire (the one where he left his greens behind at the market and pulled it out by using butter), and he was on a "top" team twice without winning (zoo and block party). He has been in the bottom a few times, including the last couple weeks. The only time he was safe (neither top nor bottom) was the week he was paired with Ryan (film food).

                                                                                                            Ryan was never on a top team -- he was safe a couple times, and on the bottom a couple times.

                                                                                                            Spike's stats look similar to Ryan's -- some safe, some bottom, never top.

                                                                                                        2. Jennifer crying over Zoi was hugely annoying; hopefully we won't have to keep on hearing that crap the rest of the season. Having those lovers on the show was such an annoying Bravo-plug. Very unfair to the rest of the contestants and a waste of a roster spot for someone else. There wasn't any reason Spike should have gone home over her.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: phan1

                                                                                                            agreed - but Spike should be gone by now, on his own merits
                                                                                                            (Manuel was robbed due to that less-talented ninnny)

                                                                                                          2. Nikki doesn't seem to think things through properly, ever-- for example "i got shrimp in case people don't like sausage". YOU ARE IN CHICAGO!! and the fact that she offered people seconds, many times-- and then was suprised and upset when she ran out of food. And saying that she did not have time to make her own sausage, when she could have--- what did she spend her prep time on? Everything she does makes me mad-- ever since she barked "We need to put some stuff back, we need TABLE DECOR!!!" at Dale before the zoo catering challenge (the resulting disaster of which, was almost completley her fault!)

                                                                                                            I think it has to be said-- I don't think she is very creative at all. Lasagna, Pasta, Sausage and Peppers-- ok Nikki, you're Italian. We get it. Calm down. It's one thing to have a signature style of cuisine, but she isn't even really putting a creative twist on anything.

                                                                                                            I can't see her possibly making it past next week

                                                                                                            I was not a Ryan fan by any means, but at least his food was interesting,

                                                                                                            1. I got feed up real fast with Jen going on and on about Zoi. She has had it pretty good up until now considering all the other contestants are not allowed to get romantically involved during the show.

                                                                                                              And that the guest chef at the beer challenge seemed like a real barrel of laughs. Imagine getting stuck next to her on a long bus ride. Just hope I remember to roll when I jump from the vehicle.

                                                                                                              I thought Mark was a goner when they had the friendship sequence between him and Spike.

                                                                                                              But was glad to see Ryan go he was a little too full of himself and made too many excuses for his ignorance.

                                                                                                              1. Amazing how many of them didn't realize that at a tailgate party, one hand is reserved for beer. Dale had it perfect; simple, traditional favorite with a gourmet twist. Richard's looked good too.

                                                                                                                Nikki and her store-bought sausage...totally, completely clueless. How freaking hard is it to make it yourself? Or at least make a run to Hot Doug's and have HIM make it.