Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fanning the Flames: The Top Chef D.C. recap

A serious question for you all: Who on earth is going to win Fan Favorite?
Let’s face it, none of these contestants are particularly likeable.
I guess Tiffany could win, just by simply not having an offensive personality.
Or maybe Alex could win, in an ironic, “Vote for the worst” kind of way.
I actually like Angelo, with that sexy whispery voice of his, but he’s definitely been ramping up the crazy in these past few episodes.
Maybe that dude from Episode One with the smelly dreadlocks will win. He seemed nice.

As the show starts, Ed is wearing Tiffany’s dress and being funny. He’s in a good mood, because he doesn’t know yet about this scathing review in the New York Times of his new restaurant. Oh, he was so young then.

Angelo needs to rebound from last week’s dismal performance. This is his lifelong dream, you see. He talks about how when he was a kid, he would cut out pictures of 4-star chefs and create a little altar to them that he actually prayed to. I keep waiting for him to say that he’s joking, but, like his “I have crabs” revelation from a few episodes back, no such disclaimer comes. That, my friends, is true nuttiness.

Rick Moonen is the guest chef.
And Padma is acting strange.

“We want to see who is Top Chef. Top Dog. Top Banana. The Big Cheese. . .Do you see a trend here?”

"I’ll take, Kenny’s new nicknames for $600, Alex?”

Actually, Padma is using idioms so this will be the food idiom Quickfire challenge! Uh, okay. I have another idiom that applies: Scraping the bottom of the barrel.

The winner will have their dish immortalized as Schwan’s frozen food.

Tiffany gets Spill the Beans (pan seared cod over cannelloni and kidney beans)
Amanda gets Big Cheese (Mac and cheese with the kind of ginormous pork chop a cave man might use to bludgeon somebody to death.)
Kelly gets Sour Grapes (chicken breast with red grape sauce)
Angelo gets Bigger Fish to Fry (Fried tilapia)
Kevin gets Bring Home the Bacon (In an homage to his fallen comrade Kenny, he does bacon 3 ways)
Ed gets Hot Potato (gnocchi).

Nobody had the balls, so to speak, to choose “Hide the Salami.”

“Who were the bad eggs?” says Padma. (Maybe the people writing her dialogue?): The bottom 2 are Kelly and Amanda.

And “whose dishes were more your cup of tea?” (Make it stop!!!!): Top two are lovebirds Ed and Tiffany.

And . . .Ed wins! If only he could bottle this happy feeling and save it for a rainy day—like say, the day the New York Times destroyed his career.

Elimination Challenge:
Take Me Out To the Ballgame. Working as a team, the cheftestants must create high-end ballpark food. Fun!

Naturally, Amanda decides to make tuna tartare. (Buy me some peanuts, crackerjacks, and . . . tuna tartare?)
Ed goes with shrimp and corn fritters.
Kelly is making a crab BLT.
Angelo is making pork buns.
Tiffany is making meatball subs.
Kevin is making ho-hum chicken.

It’s not much of a team challenge, except for the fact that someone has to take orders at the front of the stand.
“I’ll do it,” says Angelo, much to everyone’s relief. They all think he’s a sucker for offering, but stay mum.

Of course, the next day, Angelo figures the equation out for himself. If he’s upfront that means his food is alone in the kitchen.
So he decides to renege his offer.
No one likes this, especially Kevin, who thinks that Angelo should be a man of his word. He also thinks that taking orders is now officially Angelo’s problem, not his. Basically, he’s being a dick (and kissing his Fan Favorite award goodbye, not that he ever really had a shot).

Ultimately, Angelo decides to avoid confrontation with Kevin and take the orders. Ed says he’ll tend to Angelo’s food. He’s being nice. Not Fan Favorite nice or anything. But nice all the same.

So everyone wants meatballs and crabcakes. And NOBODY wants tuna tartare and chicken. Awkward.

Three players from the Nationals—Adam Dunn, John Lannan, and Matt Capps—taste all the food.
They feed each other, which is kind of cute, and not at all gay.
They seem to like everything, except for the one thing that one of the players describes as a “chewed up caterpillar that exploded in my mouth.” (Amanda’s tartare maybe?) Which is exactly the kind of thing my next-door neighbor would say. (He’s 6.)

Angelo goes back and sweetly reminds the cheftestants to please make sure they have enough food for the judges. This Fan Favorite vote is really heating up!

The judges taste everything.
Eric Ripert is grossed out by Amanda’s oxidized (and therefore grey) tartare, but Tom likes the accompanying vegetables and Rick Moonen thinks it took some “baseballs” to make a tartare. See what he did there?

They all think that Kelly’s crabcakes would be great if she was trying to sell beer (i.e, they’re too salty.)

Angelo’s pork is good but his hot dog bun is mushy.

Similarly, Kevin’s chicken has mushy french fries.

Ed’s fritters are a taste explosion in everyone’s mouth.

Tiffany’s meatballs are sloppy but delicious and I would like one now, please.

Our extra bit of footage during the commercial break shows Angelo talking on the phone to his (mail order?) Russian bride. Turns out, he’s only seen her a couple of times but they talk on the phone constantly. Oh, this is not going to end well. (I hope they’re at least using Skype.)

Judgment time: Because this was allegedly a “group challenge” (still not buying it), the judges want to see all of them.

They applaud Angelo for taking front of the house. But instead of letting the poor guy take a little credit for doing it, Tiffany has to make sure that everyone knows that he said he would, and then he said he wouldn’t, and then he finally did it even though he really didn’t want to. Thank you, Tiffany.

“Let’s move on,” says Tom. Indeed.

Top 2 are Ed and Tiffany, again. And Ed wins! Again. Take that, New York Times! Everyone knows that the New York Post rules and you drool!

Ultimately, Amanda gets sent home for her oxidized tuna.
The funny thing about Amanda is that she is pretty and witty, and yet still has no shot at Fan Favorite. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes her slightly annoying. Maybe it's that bratty little sister vibe she gives off. (Takes one to know one?). Suggestions welcome.


Jennifer Mendelsohn said...

You made me laugh out loud again!

Now I'd have to go back and re-watch, but I thought the caterpillar comment was in response to Ed's winning risotto fritter balls or whatever they were??

Cliff O'Neill said...

Oh dear! That Times review! Oh. Mah. Gaw! Tragic.

Also, how funny is it that we both came to the same conclusion on the creepy Angelo's Russian mail-order bride thing?

Lastly, OF COURSE Tiffany's gonna win Fan Favorite. I thought that was a foregone conclusion. (Though my Eddie will always be my special fave for reasons totally personal ;-) )