Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Top Chef DC 7: Mind Your Peas and Qs

Let's get back into the swing of a proper re-cap, but before I begin... did anyone else think that this week's episode was going to be Restaurant Wars? From the ads I somehow got the impression from the way it was shot that this might have been that time of the season. Ah well, soon enough.


Quickfire Challenge

This week's guest chef? Well, he's not a guest chef at all! He's Rep. Doogie Howser, who looks to be younger than anyone competing in the challenge, and probably younger than your children. He explains that Congress has some rule that representatives can't accept any food item that couldn't fit on a toothpick, to avoid any potential ethics conflicts. Seriously, WTF! I think I also remember a rule how the Speaker of the House is chosen by trying on glass slippers.

Hey Congress, you know what would fit on a toothpick? A black truffle, stuffed with diamonds and caviar, coated in gold dust and cocaine. WHERE'S YOUR GOD NOW?!

And what would I receive for my truffle/diamond/caviar/gold/cocaine culinary masterpiece? $20,000 and Immunity! Well, either that or my proposed bill promoting strip mining using the tears of enslaved children will be passed. Either way, America wins! The only issue would be ensuring that Amanda didn't try and snort the toothpick before I won my 20k.

Quickfire Losers

Alex (Saunter, -0.5): Alex purports to be a canape master, and then somehow comes up with scallops with crispy bacon, strawberries, and basil essence. First of all: scallops?! Seriously, chefs, DO NOT USE SCALLOPS. In fact, the only way you could set yourself up for failure better would be to make a dessert featuring scallops. And looking at Alex's "dish" he almost did that; seriously, scallops and strawberries? Sorry Saunter, Alex still appears to suck.

Ed (Daddy, -0.5): Poor Ed didn't really seem to get a handle on his dish. He claimed to have an idea of what he wanted to cook, but wasn't sure how to make it work with the whole "toothpick" thing. Damned Congress! His tuna confit, with grilled tuna and avocado and sweet and sour watermelon(?!) didn't fit the bill (heh) here, and Ed seemed to know it. Cheer up, bucko.

Kelly (Garthmeister J., -0.5): Here's what Kelly made: seared scallops with salted watermelon and a watermelon vinaigrette. *sigh* Seriously, do I need to explain what went wrong here. And maybe watermelon needs to go on the "Death Food" list, along with desserts and scallops? Both Kelly and Ed managed to fail when using those ingredients.

Quickfire Finalists

Stephen (Gracie, +1): So, Stephen once again... no, wait, this is the finalists. HOLY SHIT, STEPHEN'S FOOD DID NOT SUCK. Granted, it wasn't an actual chef doing the judging, but some Congressman from 9th Grade, but even so. Even more than that, he avoided the scallop curse with his scallop and beef with a crispy potato cake and béarnaise sauce. The dish was described by Rep. Doogie Howser as "meaty"... I guess for the win Stephen should have just put a hunk of grilled rib-eye on the fucking toothpick (though Stephen may have fucked that up, so good job on what he made here). Sorry Gracie, this is a false dawn.

Kevin (Saunter, +1): Woo Kevin! This man is continuing his resurgence, if he was actually surging in the first place. So maybe this is just his "surgence"? Anyway, his surging is going pretty well right now, thanks to his grilled pork and mushroom kabob with sherry vinegar. You know what grilled pork is, btw? MEATY.

Quickfire Winner

Angelo (All-Star, +3): Fucking Angelo. He is so devious he even out-thinks Congress, creating a cucumber cup into which to stuff his spiced shrimp and cashew, with the toothpick stuck into the cucumber. By this logic, Kenny could have formed a vessel out of, I dunno, a halved and hollowed out giant pumpkin, and filled it with a pig that had been roasted on a spit. Meaty enough for you, Congressman? Seriously, Angelo should have just gone for my truffle/diamond/caviar/gold/cocaine idea, at least it's honest cheating rather than this pansy-assed skirting of the rules with fucking fucking cucumber. Fuck.

As an aside: when giving her dish to the Congressman, Amanda did everything but lick her lips and announce that she just found men in positions of power so sexy. Maybe the Congressman is too familiar with these attempts at bribery, and just prefers whores of the non-crack variety.

And, hey, Congress... what if the toothpick is presented between the breasts of a naked whore? Who is also coated in gold dust and cocaine? God, I bet the fucking sub-committee who came up this rule thought they were being so fucking smart. It was probably Angelo.


Elimination Challenge

Given the appearance of a member of Congress in the Quickfire, it's no surprise that more denizens of The Hill appear in the Elimination Challenge. The chefs are to take over the kitchen at The Palm and cook for some of our elected representatives, making for them a "Power Lunch" which fortunately doesn't need to fit on a toothpick.

The Palm is actually a five minute walk from my apartment, though I have never eaten there. Apparently The Palm is famous for the caricatures on the walls of the dining room, and the lucky winning chef will not only have their dish put on the menu, but they will have their face put on the wall. The chefs draw knives for their proteins, and it's off to the kitchen.

Elimination Finalists

Tiffany (Saunter, +2): And here comes one of our dark horses, Tiffany. She reminds me a little of Eli from last season, just hanging about, then suddenly producing some good dishes and BAM all of a sudden they are going deep. She knows she overcooked her swordfish with olive and raisin tapenade, and broccolini with bacon, but it is still good enough to grab a top spot. Keep an eye on Tiffany.

Ed (Daddy, +2): Alright, this was going to happen. We're going to have to talk about peas, pureed English peas to be precise. Ed grabbed a spot on the podium for his poached lobster ballantine, eggplant caviar, and English pea-asparagus fricassee. English pea-asparagus fricassee, you ask? Yes; Ed had put together an English pea puree which strangely went missing on the day. Did anyone else use an English pea puree on the day? Yes. Did this person also claim to not know what they were cooking they night before, and then was told Ed was making an English pea puree? Yes. Did this same person claim afterwards they did not know Ed was even making a pea puree? Yes. Did this same person also win the Elimination Challenge? Yes. Are we guaranteed to have this come up win the Reunion Show? Fuck yes.

Elimination Winner

Alex (Saunter, +6): Oh, Alex. Unless the editors totally framed Alex (which would be pretty low, even for reality TV editors), it seems pretty clear he lifted Ed's puree. Reading Colicchio's blog, he didn't realise there was an issue (despite being in the kitchen for some period of time), and was shocked when he watched the episode. Probably doubly so since the component of the dish which Alex was praised for most was the puree itself. Perhaps it's apt that the visage of a cheater will be placed on the wall of The Palm, hangout of politicians. Saunter doesn't mind the points, almost the sole positive contribution Alex has made.

Elimination Losers

Kelly (Garthmeister J., -1): As you may have gathered, Amanda is a ditz. How ditzy? For this challenge she forgot to bring salt. That's like a chef forgetting to bring their knives. So... how does this affect Kelly? Well, Kelly hates Amanda. And Amanda wanted to borrow some salt. So Kelly over-salted her steak in a "sorry, whups, can't spare any salt ha ha!" move. What I'm trying to say is Amanda sucks.

Kevin (Saunter, -1): This just seemed like a poor dish from Kevin, whose "surgence" might be over. He cooked his lamb sous vide, then had to reheat it, which seemed to over cook it. He then served it with a tomato concasse, which apparently was like molten lava. Not well done, and time will tell which Kevin is the real Kevin.


Andrea (Daddy, -1): And all of a sudden Daddy has one chef remaining, joining Garthmeister J. I'm surprised; while I didn't think Andrea was a top tier chef, I thought she was more accomplished than Stephen and Amanda at least. Not to be, as she goes out for her pan-seared swordfish with "risotto style" couscous, asparagus, and vanilla bean mustard beurre blanc. Her mistake, besides hating sword fish, was the vanilla bean which sounds to much like dessert for my liking and overwhelmed the dish. She also wins the "eh, I don't really fucking care" award for person who doesn't seem to give a shit when they are eliminated. No points for that, Daddy, but kudos nonetheless.


Points Table

Daddy: 19 (+0.5)
All-Star: 17.5 (+3)
Saunter: 17 (+7.5)
Gracie: 13.5 (+1)
Garth: 8 (-1.5)

Saunter is coming on like a train, aided and abetted by Alex's (alleged) nefariousness, with all three chefs still alive. Daddy is lurching atop the table, down to Ed and Ed alone. All-Star gets some value from Angelo, though he is off the boil at the moment, and Amanda is off the reservation. Gracie needs Kenny to refind his mojo, and hope for anything positive from Stephen before his impending elimination. And Garth? Garth needs Kelly to do better than being on the bottom for both challenges.


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