A Just Recompense on the real challenge: "The real challenge, for those of us watching Top Chef on a meta-level, is not – repeat, NOT – to authentically represent one’s cultural heritage, but rather to figure out what an 85-year-old woman from North Dakota who thinks The Olive Garden is pretty cool (and just recently had a whirlwind tour of New York top-flight restaurants) would like."
Mary Alice from Charm City Cakes for the Baltimore Sun on top and bottom Quickfire dishes: "Time is up, and dishes are served. Marilyn and Padma dig in. Marilyn is not crazy about Bart's Belgian waffles or Micah's dry tamales -- which she calls a "taco," much to his displeasure. Marilyn's winner is Brooke, who gains immunity for her apple crostata with cheddar cheese, candied pine nuts and apple salad. Brooke is sincerely surprised as Padma had described her dish as 'homey' upon tasting it. Let that be a lesson -- homey is where the heart is."
Grub Street on Kristen: "Delice de Bourgogne tortelloni. I thought it was a dessert, but my host corrects me: 'It’s very fancy cheese tortellini with foam on top, which looks lovely' I don’t know who these people are anymore. Kristen feels 'really good' about her dish but still has doubts. Rick Moonen says it’s 'the perfect bite,' which is probably what Stefan says about Kristen’s neck."
Hit Fix on the Quickfire: "The Quickfire Challenge is simple: each chef must create a sweet and savory holiday dish reflecting his or her cultural heritage. And if it tastes like Olive Garden? Even better! And there's a twist! There's only one knife available for everyone. AND they have 30 minutes. I suspect a lot of these dishes will taste like they were made at Olive Garden just by default. I also suspect that Marilyn is far too nice to say anything negative to the chefs, so I expect a lot of encouragement even if she has to spit food into her sleeve between takes."
Reality Tea on drama, or lack thereof: "There is a massive shortage of drama this week! Instead, I'll share a few observations: John is door-challenged. Josh and Stefan are BFFs and share a Top Chef good luck charm. Aww, that's cute! Do you know what isn't cute? Danyele's eyeliner. The girl needs to lay off the extra-thick Sharpie. When Danyele seeks sympathy for her atrocious eyeliner meat, Josh is all like, So sad, but I'm not here pet your hair and sing you Soft Kitty to make you feel better. I'm here to win. For a split second, I love Josh, but then I remember his favorite mode of transportation is the douche canoe. However, if Micah doesn't calm the hell down soon, he'll be my newest most hated cheftestant."
Allie is Wired on odds and ends: "John is outsmarted by the door and crashes into it after their run to Whole Foods. Danyele and her insane bottom lid eyeliner she appears to have put on with a jumbo Sharpie, are nervous that her pork chops are a little too thin. John, who has recovered from getting his rump kicked by the door, is droning on about being taught by the Obi-Wan Kenobi of seafood, Rick Moonen. He is confident his chowder will be the prettiest princess at the ball."
Eater on meeting with the celebs: "Each chef will cook one dish for the party, and Chris and a pregnant Anna want to eat a lot of everything. Chris asks them to pack in as many calories as possible into each bite, so all the chefs will just be serving open peanut butter jars and spoons. Chris is Norwegian and Anna's German, and they are adventurous eaters. They love game, local salmon, Dungeness crab, and not hummus. Some chefs begin to plan cooking Pacific Northwest specialties, and some plan to make Norwegian and German food. Danyele plans to make a backpack that has googly eyes and stuffed animal arms and then fill it with scrunchies, and Eliza stares at the camera while slowly eating and finishing an entire jar of paste." Posted on AllTopChef.com