Greetings, and happy first day of Hanukkah! Today is also National Maple Syrup Day – making it a perfect occasion to pour some syrup on a pancake menorah. It's also a perfect occasion to watch Top Chef and chat about it online, which we're about to do in the comments below this post. Join us!

Here's how it works: Just watch tonight's episode — which Bravo will air (and also stream online) at 10 Eastern tonight — and join in as we all post witty observations about the show in the comments section below this post. (I've collected a few of my favorite comments from last week's open thread in this separate post — so be sure to check that out.)

By the way, despite what you see in the picture above, there will be no pancakes on tonight's show. I pulled that image from a past-season episode just because it fit the maple syrup theme. And also for aesthetic reasons – because who wouldn't want to look at a smiling Padma Lakshmi standing near stacks of delicious pancakes? It sure beats looking at a smiling Nick Denton with pancakes on his head, anyway.

To kick off tonight's conversation, I figure this would be a good a time to check in on how well the remaining chefs have performed this season based on their "FreyScore" rankings (a numerical system I invented that scores chefs based on all their challenge victories and top/bottom-three finishes his season – see this post for an explanation of how the scores are calculated). Here are the latest standings:

1. Gregory Gourdet: 1.5
2. Doug Adams: 1.0
3. (T) Mei Lin: 0.5
3. (T) Katsuji Tanabe: 0.5
5. Melissa King: -0.25
6. George Pagonas: -1.0

Two things of special note here: First, George (or "Greek Justin Timberlake" as commenter Mysticlights dubbed him) may be in last place, but because his score averages only two episodes so far (given that he was eliminated on episode 1 and reinstated only last week), his number could jump dramatically if he wins a challenge or two. Second, it's striking how quickly Doug is surging up the ranks. Two weeks ago, he ranked fifth and Gregory had a comfortable lead over everyone; now, thanks to two straight elimination-challenge victories, Doug is in second place and has narrowed Gregory's lead to only a half point. Could Greg's once-seemingly-inevitable victory be not-so-inevitable after all? Could we actually have a horse race on our hands? Let's discuss it tonight!

And while we're at it, we can also discuss these events that will transpire on tonight's episode:

  • The sausage-making theme of the quickfire challenge will inspire several chefs to smirk and snicker like middle-schoolers over penis-related allusions – including Patriots linebacker Rob Gronkowski's "I like to eat a big sausage" declaration, and Katsuji warning to a fellow chef not to get "cocky." (Hehehe. He said "cock." Hehehe.)
  • The elimination challenge will involve making dishes inspired by one of six "famous New England authors" – a list that inexplicably includes Edgar Allan Poe, a writer who the vast majority of his literary career in New York and Baltimore. Maybe they just wanted to see if any of the chefs would try to cook a raven?
  • After selecting Steven King as his challenge-inspiration author, Katsuji will create a dish that looks exactly like splattered blood and guts. "It looks like somebody got keeled" he will explain. And it's true. It really does look like somebody got keeled.

OK, time to grab some maple sauce-covered latkes and get this party started. I'll see you in the comments!

[Image via Bravo]