Thursday, August 5, 2010

Globe in the Dark: The Top Chef D.C. recap

I can’t help but to look at this episode as a palate cleanser between the drama of last week’s Pea Gate and the insanity of next week’s Restaurant Wars (according to the previews, Angelo goes nuts!). But here goes nothin’. . .

The show starts with some reflections on last week.

“I made a fatal error in seasoning,” says Kelly, whose fatal error was too much salt (imagine if she’d used too much cayenne pepper).

As for Ed, he is still flummoxed—well, “confused” and “perplexed,” to be precise—about what happened to his pea puree.
(I’m pretty sure Alex could wear a shirt that said “Pea Puree Thief” and Kenny could stand next to Alex and wear a shirt that said “I’m With the Guy Who Stole Ed’s Pea Puree” and Ed still wouldn’t get it)

Marcus Samuelsson is the judge of the Quickfire Challenge, which is to make an Ethiopian-inspired dish.

This is bad news for Kelly, who has not only never cooked Ethiopian food, she’s never eaten it. (How is that even possible?)

Tiffany decides to make the traditional Ethiopian goulash.

Amanda admits she could use “The Idiots Guide to Ethiopian Cooking.” Heh.

When Stephen serves his Ethiopian dish (lamb stew), he is sure to include some dinner rolls. (It’s true! I simply couldn’t make that up.)

Meanwhile, Angelo is feeling pretty good about himself (even more so than usual) because he used to work at an Ethiopian concept restaurant. (Not sure what the difference is between an Ethiopian restaurant and an Ethiopian “concept” restaurant, but my guess is about $12 per entrée.)

Angelo really thinks he has it in the bag when Samuelsson says something along the lines of “are you sure you’re not from Ethiopia?”

But lo and behold, Tiffany wins with her goulash. Ed looks like a proud, well, husband. He is going to be so bummed when he realizes that the guy Tiffany is marrying after the show is not him.

Now for the Elimination Challenge. Padma and Marcus bring out a big board, which is so obviously going to be a map, especially in light of Padma having just said that D.C. is one of the most international cities in the world.
But as usual, everyone is stumped. “It’s a blackboard of some sort,” someone says.

Alex delivers his best Crispin Glover 1,000 yard stare and twitchily says: “You never know what’s going on. They tell you nothing here.”

So yeah, it’s a map. And on the map, 7 countries, including the dreaded Brazil, which nobody wants. Who knew that Brazil was the “kid with the back brace in gym class” of countries?
Angelo went so far as to fake pick Brazil and then say, “Just kidding.” He got Japan.

But luckily, the most skilled chef of the bunch, the man I would consider ready to rise to the challenge, got Brazil. Just kidding, Stephen got it.

(Stephen, without a clue what to do, promptly buys Brazil nuts, which seemed pretty reasonable under the circumstances.)

Ed picks China because he, and I quote: “Had some Chinese girlfriends in the past.” Not a Chinese girlfriend, but some . . . Uh, okay.

Kevin gets India, which sucks for him, because he’s never made Indian food before. He joins Angelo in the Asian food section of Whole Foods.
“I’m here because India is in Asia,” he says, clearly not totally sure this is correct.

In the kitchen, everyone is running around like insane people and Alex does this spectacular wipeout—a kind of trip that becomes a slide that ends with a crash into the work station—that nobody even acknowledges. I mean, this thing deserved its own Zapruder film, but it didn’t even warrant so much as an “easy there, big boy” from his fellow contestants. Alex is obviously loathed.

During the commercial break, they show us some of the crazy hijinks back at the house. It involves Angelo wrapping the toilet seat in plastic wrap so that Stephen’s pee splatters all over him. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to think that my favorite chefs are not having fun with urine the night before they cook for me.

The food is served to “dignitaries and ambassadors” at D.C.’s Meridian Center.

Joining Samuelson and the judges is the brilliant Jose Andres, who happens to be Spanish—not good news for Alex (who picked Spain).

So it goes like this:

Top 3 are Kelly, with her silky beef carpaccio (Italy) and Tiffany, with her awesome looking tamale (Mexico), and—surprise, surprise—Kevin, who faked his way into a more than respectable chicken curry. (The fact that Padma liked his dish is particularly impressive.)

And the winner is. . .Tiffany! Ed would be positively kvelling, if it weren’t for the fact that he is in the bottom 3 for his “overpromised and underdelivered” tea-smoked duck. Whoops.

He is joined by Alex, whose braised veal cheeks are a total disaster.
Jose Andres calls them a “little nightmare” and Tom C. says that “nothing in the dish reminded me of Spain.”

Alex tries to defend himself by saying, “Tom told me the dish had to be merely inspired by Spain.”
Tom, looking like he is about to seriously thrown down, responds: “So it’s my fault?”
Alex, realizing that Tom is no Ed, quickly demurs. “No, I wasn’t implying that!”

Final member of the Bottom 3 is Stephen. He has made a chimichurri sauce, which is Argentinean, not Brazilian. (But may I direct your attention to my Brazil nuts?!). Also, his rice is mushy and his beef is dry.

So who’s going home? The judges make a decision that is sure to send shockwaves throughout the cast and change the dynamic of the entire season!

Just kidding, it’s Stephen.


家唐銘 said...

One swallow does not make a summer.............................................................

Cliff O'Neill said...

Ya know, I was just realizing that they edited out a comment from (I think) Stephen that was in the "next time on Top Chef" last week.

"I'm not even know that Brazil has a cuisine."

Kind of glad they took that out.

It would have telegraphed things.

Not that his experience on the show for weeks now didn't already.

Cliff O'Neill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.