Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Top Chef DC Recap 3: Grillicious

With the draft over, everyone gets to see if their culinary judgment was sound. Is Angelo really the favourite to win it all? Does anyone know anything about Lynne? Is Tracey definitively the worst chef remaining? Let's find out!


Quick Fire Challenge

As blatant shilling for their new Top Chef spinoff, Top Chef: Just Desserts, Bravo trot out Gail (the hostess of the spinoff) along with the Chef co-host Johnny Iuzzini, who apparently really likes rockabilly. Given the set-up, it is inevitable that we're getting a dessert challenge. And we are. The contestants need to make a pie, which naturally causes everyone to freak out and panic.

Quickfire Losers

Alex (Saunter, -0.5): There's no reason to pile on all the chefs here, this was clearly something out of most of their comfort zones. Alex came up with a white cocolate, tapioca and chevre pie. The judges quizzed him about whether there was an egg in the filling, and when Alex replied in the affirmative he was informed that he had just made a quiche. That is exactly the point in time when Alex realised he wasn't winning the challenge.

Tracey (Garthmeister J., -0.5): As opposed to Alex, the exact moment Tracey realised she wasn't winning the challenge was the moment Arnold alerted her to the fact her pie was burning. Unless she realised it as soon as the challenge, despite her having "former pastry chef" on her resume. She gamely makes another pie, but unfortunately this second blueberry-almond pie, though unburnt, still sucks.

Ed (Daddy, -0.5): Ed had a great idea for a pie. A banana cream pie. To me, that sounds tasty, and if Ed had walked up to me and said "hey, want some banana cream pie?" I would say "fuck yes, that sounds great!". If Ed then added "it comes with salted peanuts and spuma" I would then say "urgh, no, and also what is spuma, I said no right?". Ed comes up with the brilliant plan to explain that this is how his grandma makes it, but the judges see right through him and his spuma.

Quickfire Finalists

Kelly (Garthmeister J., +1): Apparently Kelly is not a one-taco wonder, doing a solid job with her raspberry and chocolate ganache tart, which looks fantastic. Kelly did claim that opening up a restaurant at some extremely young age means she can do anything, so we'll see if that holds up.

Stephen (Gracie, +1): Stephen recovers from the abuse he took during the draft (from me), and scores with his curried apple pie. That'll show me. MGM Grand, represent!

Quickfire Winner

Kenny (Gracie, +3): If someone said to me "I have a great idea for a pie! It will feature Chinese 5 Spice!", well I would not eat that pie. Even if it was a bananas fosters pie. Kenny has gone and proven my anti-Chinese-five-spice-in-pie-even-if-it-is-a-banana-fosters-pie bias to be wrong and even wronger, by taking this challenge down. This was the first blood for Kenny, who has loomed as a potential challenger to Angelo, without actually winning anything. Until now. Gracie grabs the points with glee.


Elimination Challenge

What do you think of when you think of Washington DC? That's right, you think of interns. Top Chef decides to celebrate this by having a grilling challenge at some place called Mount Vernon, so they can feed a horde of interns. I sure hope these chefs know how to use a grill!

No, a lot of the chefs do NOT know how to use a grill. For shame. Hope they don't fuck up the food, which needs to be cooked! On a grill!

Oh dear.

Elimination Challenge Finalists

Ed (Daddy, +2): Did Ed think back on his use of spuma in his banana cream pie with regret? Probably. Did he second guess himself after Colicchio thought his dish for the Elimination Challenge sounded too busy? Definitely. Was Daddy pumped when Ed made the top 4 with his tuna loin sandwich? Abso-fucking-lutely. We'll see if Ed finds his sea legs, because if he does he could make some noise in this competition.

Amanda (All-Star, +2): During this episode we learned that Amanda is an ex-junkie. We also learn that she believes in "Prison Rules" when it comes to the kitchen. We also learn that a lot of the other chefs enjoy making fun of her. Let's just say, if next week we discover a few chefs have gone missing... well, I'm sure you can put the pieces together. The ex-junkie thing goes some way to explaining the sherry-chicken thing. And despite every other contestant recoiling in horror at her technique, Amanda does herself proud with her ribs and asparagus, which Angelo (much to his shock) professes to love. Go figure. All-Star looks like a savant with this pick, though she might be a boom or bust kind of chef.

Angelo (All-Star, +2): Kenny pointed out earlier in the episode that he notices that Angelo seems to trot out Asian flavours all the time, but hey - those Asian flavours win. Speaking of Asian flavours, Angelo made a Vietnamese lettuce wrap and a smoked egg salad. At this point it's not a surprise to see Angelo in the final four, it's just a surprise not to see him win.

Elimination Challenge Winner

Arnold (All-Star, +6): BAM! All-Star gets Elimination Challenge points from all three of his chefs, including the winner... and the winner wasn't even Angelo! Quite the start, and even better when his winning chef was the one blanching about grilling, and had to ape the movements of Kenny to even get his grill lit. But lit the grill was, and tasty his sesame lamb meatball with gazpacho and tabouli. I have to admit, when I saw a picture of the meatball it did indeed look great, and so it was.

Elimination Challenge Losers

Tim (Garthmeister J., -1): Tim claimed to love grilling. Tim claimed to have a secret weapon: a rub used in his restaurant. Unfortunately, the rub must suck, as his pork two ways was shot down by the judges. This was not what Garth was looking for from his first pick in the draft.

Kevin (Saunter, -1): Another first round pick, Kevin disappointed with his Puerto Rican skirt steak, which was apparently inspired by his in-laws. These top round picks have to deliver, as one can't rely on your lower picks to be top-shelf. Unless you're All-Star, apparently.

Stephen (Gracie, -1): This time, the MGM Grand does not represent. After announcing that "fish is his thing", Stephen then produces a mediocre bacon-wrapped sea bass dish. I have the feeling that Stephen has the capability to continually be bad enough to be one of the poorest dishes, but not quite bad enough to be eliminated - a worst case scenario for Gracie.


Tracey (Garthmeister J., -1): Ah, Tracey. The chef who was picked last turned out to have been indeed the least talented chef remaining. Showing an extremely amateurish approach in most challenges, Tracey decided to make sausages. "Easy," she said. When she ran out of time she decided to make sliders. Unfortunately the slides were seasoned completely incorrectly, overloading them with fennel, made them too large, and then undercooked them. This was enough to send her on her way, and Garth might count himself lucky to only lose a grand total of 1.5 points.


Points Table

All-Star: +10
Gracie: +3
Daddy: +1.5
Saunter: -1.5
Garth: -1.5

Everyone should be frightened. If Angelo continues to deliver, while Amanda and Arnold keep chipping in, All-Star could be hard to catch. Gracie and Daddy had their top picks do something, but Saunter and Garth must be scratching their heads. Tracey did indeed turn out to be the 15th pick, but is Andrea next on the chopping block?


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