"Top Chef" 12 Days of Christmas (TV Episode 2008) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • On the eleventh day of Christmas, Bravo gave to me...eleven chefs a cookin'. In the spirit of the holidays, the chefs use their skills to give back to the community by catering a Christmas cocktail party hosted by special guest judge, actress and foodie Natasha Richardson, for AmFar, the foundation for AIDS research.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Ariane awakes feeling confident about having won the last two challenges. Eugene worries about proving himself. Hosea calls home to check on his dad, who's undergoing chemo.


    They arrive at the kitchen, where Christmas has exploded all over!!! They have to make a holiday meal in one pot. The guest judge arrives: Martha Stewart. The chef's go all gushy over the wonderfulness that is Martha.

    Jamie goes for scallops. Hosea who was a chef at a Spanish restaurant, goes for paella. Jeff makes potato risotto. Ariane makes cauliflower puree with filet mignon. She and Jamie have made peace after Ariane's most recent victory over Jamie. Fabio makes a mushroom polenta that his grandmother used to make. Eugene makes a Korean stew, but uses corn starch to thicken it.

    Martha sniffs out Eugene's corn starch immediately. (Imagine what she thought of prison food.) She thinks Hosea's paella "tastes good." She finds Jeff's "pungent," and not in a good way. She loves Ariane's.

    She was disappointed by: Jeff ("too starchy, too heavy"), Eugene ("I hated the corn starch") and Fabio, who takes offense on his grandmother's behalf.

    She liked: Hosea, Jamie and Ariane. And the winner, and recipient of her autographed book, is Ariane. Again.

    Elimination challenge.

    They're greeted by a burst of holiday song from the Harlem Gospel Choir coming into the kitchen singing "The 12 Days of Christmas." The serenade isn't just to set the mood, it's also the theme of the next challenge. They draw knives with a number 1 through 12. They'll be catering a benefit for AMFAR, the AIDS research charity, and have to prepare 300 appetizers. Nastasha Richardson will be the guest judge with chef Michelle Bernstein.

    They shop with $800.

    Their days: 12 drummers drumming - Stefan goes chicken pot pie 11 pipers piping - Hosea is thinking smoked food 10 lords a-leaping - Jeff tries for frog legs but thinks of cheese for "island leaping" instead 9 ladies dancing - Fabio, gets crab legs then crab cakes 8 maids a-milking - Melissa goes dairy with cheese and steak on toast 7 seven swans swimming - Jamie makes scallops "swimming" in something 6 geese a-laying - Ariane, deviled eggs with different toppings 5 gold rings - Eugene makes ceviche on pineapple rings (There's no 4) 3 French hens - Leah made braised guinea hen on puff pastry with pureed butternut squash 2 turtledoves - Carla uses mushroom for turtle shells A partridge in a pear tree - Radhika goes for duck with pear chutney

    They go back to the kitchen to prep for three hours. They leave at 2 a.m., cramming everything into the fridges, including hot steaming food.

    The next day they arrive at the kitchen to find the fridge is warm. Hosea's pork is ruined, so is Radhika's duck and Melissa's cheese. They all, without planning it, band together to help Hosea and Radhika. Hosea finds extra pork and Radhika has some leftover duck which Fabio gets to work breaking down. Melissa pitches her ruined brie and uses some gorgonzola she finds in the kitchen. Even Stefan thinks helping is the right thing to do.

    Off to the benefit where they set to work making 300 plates apiece.

    The guests arrive. Natasha Richardson tells the crowd to leave their AIDS ribbons at their favorite station. Natasha thinks Stefan's pot pie is "delicious." Radhika's is complimented. Tom thinks Carla's is one note and too salty. They think Eugene's is too sweet. Fabio's crab cake is as dense as his explanation of dancing crabs. Michelle thinks Jamie's is "wrong" and a guest finds it "too slimy." Melissa feels confident about her food, but Tom doesn't like it. They don't like Leah's brioche. Tom doesn't think you can win with a deviled egg, no matter how good Ariane's is. Hosea's smoked pork with smoked paprika goes over well, as does his charm. The ladies pin ribbons to his sleeve. Leah gets a little jealous. Jeff is mobbed for his cheeses. The crowd has varying favorites.

    The judges head off, while the cheftestants enjoy some champagne and worry over ribbon counts.

    Back in the stew room Padma comes for Hosea, Jeff, Stefan and Radhika. They're the top four (including both people whose food was ruined). Radhika's duck was nice and juicy and Stefan's was straightforward but good. Natasha thinks Jeff didn't need both cheeses, but it was good. And Tom says Hosea's pork was cooked well.

    The winner is: Hosea. (Who also had the most red ribbons.) He wins a copy of Michelle's book (as does everyone else).

    Padma asks for the losers: Eugene, Melissa and Jamie.

    Jamie thought her dish came out fine, but she's told it came out slimy and needed different consistencies. Tom's not sure about the choice to serve her scallop raw. Melissa is knocked for too much blue cheese at room temperature. She says people liked her dish, but Padma says she had the lowest ribbon count. Michelle is really upset about Eugene's fish, which Tom says was overwhelmed by the coconut milk and pineapple, but Eugene stands by his dish 1000 percent.

    They send them away. Michelle's least favorite was the scallop. Natasha is not impressed that Eugene didn't take criticism. Michelle thinks Melissa's cranberry sauce was a good idea, but didn't work.

    Tom is frustrated because the food was universally poor. Natasha admits she was disappointed. Michelle didn't find "deliciousness." Tom wants to talk to the whole group, because he wants everyone to know they failed.

    In the stew room, Eugene says he's going home but will go with his head held high.

    The judges have a decision.

    Tom goes back to the stew room and everybody freaks out. He tells them the food was just not very inspiring. He tells them to cook the food that they think is going to make them win. He says they're not looking for "a little throwaway canape." Leah says, "Like mine was?" And Tom replies, "Yeah." (Hey, she asked.) He calls out Ariane's deviled eggs. Then he tells them, because of the way they covered for the fridge mishap and in the spirit of the holidays, no one is going home. (What?! What a rip-off.)

    Next week: Tom comes to the house with a challenge: No limits. Fabio criticizes Jamie for doing scallops yet again. They meet Toby Young, the new judge. Carla misses Gail.

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