Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pea Brains: The Top Chef D.C. recap

I love the name Aaron Schock, because it totally sounds like the lead singer of a punk rock band, not the perky (and abtastic) Young Republican that he actually is.

Anyway, Rep. Schock is in the house, wearing his smart little congressman pin (and a suit, you pervs!), to judge the Quickfire Challenge.

Turns out, members of congress can’t be wined and dined the way they used to and can only be served food on tiny sticks.
(My next cocktail party? I’m totally serving blocks of cheddar cheese with American flag toothpicks. Now that’s classy.)

The challenge is simple: Make a bite-sized hors d’oeurves that fits on a toothpick.

(I was amazed at how many Cheftestants instantly went for kabob. Sort of a super literal translation of the food on a stick concept, don’t ya think?)

The best part of this Quickfire Challenge? Watching Angelo chop up those vegetables. It was so fast it reminded me of Franklin, the lovesick vampire, speed-texting the word “motherf**er” on True Blood, for those who get the reference.

Anyway, a Congressman is actually the worst possible Top Chef judge because, as Amanda points out, they smile constantly.

So while Padma looked annoyed at many of the miniature offerings (Padma was in a particularly bad mood this episode—more on her later), Rep. Schock kept that inscrutable campaign smile going. It was impossible to tell what the little bugger was thinking (except “cut welfare and drill for oil” of course).

Stephen for his part, was very very confident that his 3-course meal on a stick would take home top honors (and damned if it almost did.)

Bottom 3: Alex, Ed, and Kelly.

Top 3: Kevin, Angelo, and Stephen, who was praised for putting “a lot on a stick.”

In the end, Angelo won $20,000 and immunity for his cucumber cup with spiced shrimp and cashew.

But Kevin was drinking the Haterade.
“If they like eating Chinese food all the time, that’s their problem.”
Who is this “they” he was referring to? Aaron Schock and . . . the third gunman? Because as far as I know, Schock was judging alone and for the first time.

The Elimination Challenge is to make a power lunch for 24 diners at the Palm Restaurant in D.C.

They draw knives to pick a protein and Andrea gets swordfish, which she doesn’t like.
Her solution? To cover up the swordfish flavor as much as possible. Great plan, Andrea.

Both Angelo and Ed get these giant lobsters, which is really a disadvantage, because they have to be broken down. Plus, they obviously emit some sort of powerful radiation that will turn both Ed and Angelo into Lobster Man. Occupational hazard, I guess.

The other thing you need to know about Ed? The password is . . . pea purée. Keep that in mind.

Amanda and Kelly both have porterhouse steak, but Amanda totally can’t deal and removes the bone to make filets, which is kind of cheating.

Back at the house, Andrea is wearing the most awesome skull and bacon t-shirt that I need to own, now.

Tiffany and Ed are allegedly flirting. Everyone talks about those two as though there should be some “boom chicka waa waaa” music behind them, but all I ever see them do is talk. They don’t even throw in a stray cuddle.

“Ed is not flirting with me,” confirms Tiffany. “I got a man.”

Meanwhile, Kenny tells Alex about Ed’s pea purée and this gives Alex a great idea to steal: He, too, will do pea purée.

Brilliant! (If you think Alex’s idea larceny is bad enough, wait til you see what he does next.)

So the next day, in the Palm’s kitchen everyone is prepping their food and Ed can’t find his damn pea purée.

He asks everyone, except for Alex, oddly enough, who is sitting there stirring a giant bowl of pea purée.
Perhaps Ed thought to himself, “No one would be that obvious, would they?”

The devil’s greatest trick was convincing the world he didn’t exist.

So Ed has to think fast and make some sort of vegetable medley to go with his lobster.

Something else of note happens in the kitchen: Kelly has a big vat of salt and she refuses to share it with anyone! In fact, just to prove to everyone that she only brought enough salt for herself, she dumps the whole thing on her porterhouse.

In the dining room, the cast of my favorite morning show, Morning Joe, is in the house! (Along with other D.C. players like Senator Mark Warner, Chef Art Smith, and Tim Russert’s cutie-pie son Luke.)

Host Joe Scarborough, who used to be one of those Newt Gingrich “Contract with America” congressman (I’ve since forgiven him), seriously bemoans the end of the days when House members were wined and dined with “huge steaks, smoking huge cigars.”
“Those days are over,” he says sadly.
Now, it’s just cheddar cheese on a flag stick.

(On an unrelated note, I totally want to be in a book club or, like, a pilates class with Mika Brzezinski, who I love.)

Poor Tom Colicchio has apparently been put in a timeout by Padma and has to eat in the kitchen by himself.

Out comes the food:
Kelly’s porterhouse with crispy potato arugula salad
Amanda’s NOTporterhouse with pomme Parisienne.

Everyone agrees that Kelly’s porterhouse is too, yes, salty, except for Joe Scarborough, because it reminds him of the good old days.
No one notices that Amanda’s porterhouse is actually a filet.

Tiffany’s swordfish with olive-raisin tapanade
Andrea’s swordfish smothered in a vanilla beurre blanc.

Everyone agrees that Andrea hates swordfish, and also people who eat swordfish.

Stephen’s pan-seared salmon with warmed vegetable salad
Alex’s applewood-smoked salmon, now featuring Ed’s pea purée!

People are frickin' licking the pea purée off their plates.

Angelo’s butter-poached lobster with foam
Ed’s lobster ballotine.

Nobody understands the foam.

Kenny’s peppered lamb with fig-pistachio bread pudding
Kevin’s double-cut lamb chops with olive and goat cheese rissole.

Consensus? Kevin’s lamb is too tough.

Afterwards, all the Cheftestants are talking Pea Gate.

“If Alex stole Ed’s pea purée, that’s kinda grimy,” says Kevin.

Alex is beginning to get wind of all this character assassination.

“It was coincidental that Ed lost his pea purée,” Alex protests. “I didn’t even know he was making pea purée!”
(Once again, I find myself wondering: Do they notice those big cameras following them around? The ones that record pictures! And words!)

And lest you were still thinking that there was a chance that Alex didn’t do it with the pea purée in the Palm kitchen, Kenny points out: “There’s no way Alex could’ve gotten his pea purée that silky if he just made it this morning.”

Ladies and gentleman of the jury, the prosecution rests.

Top 3 are Tiffany, and—dramah!—Alex and Ed.

I’m particularly happy for Tiffany, because she was so sure she was going to be in the Bottom 3, she even got “how to be in the Bottom 3” lessons from Stephen.

But of course, Alex wins. And of course, the thing that takes him over the top? His splendiferous pea purée.

Bottom 3 are Kevin, Kelly, and Andrea.

“I guess that’s what happens when you don’t share your salt,” mumbles Amanda. (My new favorite catch phrase.)

But Andrea’s disdain for swordfish and the people who eat it, did her in. And she’s going home.

As she and Kevin and Kelly hug it out, a truly sentimental moment, stinkypants Padma looks up and says, in her most villainous voice: “That’ll be all. Thank you.”

At least she let Tom Colicchio out of his time out.


Jennifer Mendelsohn said...

Hilarious. Laughing out loud. AGAIN!

Cliff O'Neill said...

Oh, this episode pissed me off for so VERY many reasons.

I knew bringing this show to D.C. would do this to me.

Grumble, grumble.