Most of the chefs hear fried, cheese, and Italian, and we end up with three arancini.
We also start off with two gnocchi -- Nick and Nina's -- but Nick is smart. He hears Nina is making gnocchi and changes course. Some may see this as a sign of weakness but guess what? If you're competing against the Chef de Cuisine of Scarpetta and she says she's making her/Scott Conant's gnocchi, you change your dish.
While cooking, a couple red flags immediately emerge:
1. Michael and Nina are not getting along. He keeps calling her his usual brand of "terms of endearment" and saying she's his "ace in the hole," and she's saying a five-year-old could make his arancini. Yikes.
2. Travis is using liquid nitrogen, so that just makes me nervous for some reason. He's also kinda starts laughing while Carlos talks to camera about the meaning of Dia de Los Muertos. To each his own.
3. Patty and Nick aren't going spooky; they're going for a fall theme. Patty says she trusts Nick. Let's hope she has reason to.
4. Justin is using beets, one of the items Lea specifically said she doesn't like. I'm starting to wonder if she reacts to beets like Noel Crane on Felicity. If you don't know what i'm talking about, watch this.
5. Bene and Brian are ready to tell -- excuse me, sing -- to diners "Come massage your palate with our spooky spa cuisine." Oy oy oy.
"Spa cuisine at a Halloween party? That's a little outrageous." Carrie needs to get out more!
After a day of prep, the crew go back to the house, and some of the chefs head to a haunted nursing home. This genuinely scared me.
It's time for the party! And it's at Mardi Gras World! Some of you may remember Mardi Gras World from the Season 5 finale. If you want to see how our fabulous production team built the challenge, watch this. The chefs set up. Shirley admires Louis' calmness, says he gives her a twinkle. I think Carlos and Travis kinda give each other a twinkle too because they work so well together! Also, Travis admits he was Slutty Santa for Halloween, and who wouldn't that give a little twinkle to?
In come the judges in costume. I honestly am happy I wasn't the one to have the conversation with the judges about what they'd be wearing. I'm just happy it happened. Hey, Andy Cohen's there!
Lea dines with Tom and has a lot to say about what they ate. Everyone's pretty much in agreement that there were too many arancini, but the award for best arancini goes to... Patty! Yay, Patty! She and Nick actually make a great team too. Patty felt confident because she trusted Nick. We'll see if she can come into her own as a leader as the season progresses. And they had nothing to worry about their concept because Tom made a point of saying that their colors were quite Halloween-y, if not spooky.
Oh, it's also deemed that "spooky spa cuisine" isn't a thing.
The producers decided they had enough air time to show several of the chefs go to an abandoned nursing home that was said to be haunted and take a little tour in honor of Halloween. In recognition of the current trend toward reality show talent offer relationship advice and pseudo psychotherapy, we anticipate that next year Top Chef will have a psychologist tour the kitchens and chef waiting rooms during judging to offer everyone mental health tips.
Food? Cooking? Nah!