Top Chef DC: Episode 7

Finally – it took 7 weeks, but some intrigue is injected up in here.  For the other six weeks – in case you need some sleep – click here.

The Pregame: The chefs start out in the house waking up yada, yada.  Obviously Kevin is happy to finally get on the board.  Really he has been long overdue.  Look at his credentials – Bocuse D’Or USA – how is he lagging behind Kenny?  But either way, some things have started to click.  Kenny of course, is puzzled.  He has been “the Beast” throughout this thing – and his food has largely been well received.  So being on the bottom is a surprise for him clearly – and it might have been the format of the episode and the catty strategists who did it to him.

Quickfire: Back at the oh so inconspicuous Hilton for and the Top Chef kitchen.  Padma is here with some Congressman – apparently the youngest guy in the delegation this time around.  He goes into this yammering about how there are rules for gifts that can be accepted by Congress people and whatnot (well – the illusion that both parties are not crawled up snug inside corporate America’s bottom still needs to be perpetuated), so the cheftestants have to create a great bite on a toothpick.  Of course, this is just another amuse bouche thing – to a degree.  Stephen observes such a restriction makes sense to prevent corruption (oh the naivete).

Anyway, when the dust settles, the Congressman helps make the decision.  Really as a chef this would probably bother me a little.  Especially someone as twerpy looking as he.  But anyway – he is the arbiter of taste here.  Alex (shocking, huh), Ed and Kelly are on the bottom … Angelo gets the win for some sort of cucumber thing – fairly standard for him.  Of course, he has been the favorite since Week 1.

Elimination Challenge: Of course, nothing about DC food or anything – just another stupid play on the seat of government.  The Power Lunch.  So the chefs have chance to deliver a lunch at The Palm, a real fancypants restaurant here I cannot afford to go to unless it’s Restaurant Week or it’s on my employer’s nickel.  The whole power lunch thing seems silly to me.  Are the chefs going to staff a golf round to?  I know some people are allured by the idea of smoking men in fedoras making decisions in backrooms – frankly it creeps me out.  I mean these power lunches involve lobbyists, right?

The chefs draw knives for proteins – Alex gets salmon.  His mind is racing as always.  Of course, his ability to be creative is not the problem – it is the empirical evidence he cannot cook that is the issue.  He gets paralyzed during these proceedings.  At the same time Ed (who somehow always seem in Alex’s group though he does not like him – at all) gets lobsters (as does Angelo).  These things are enormous – even for lobsters – their wrangling is very funny.  Meanwhile, Alex is stumped for ideas – but then he sees Ed doing a pea puree …

After the first prep session, the show goes to The Palm.  Somehow, Alex has a pea puree in front of him.  Now … on his twitter, Chef Tom said that contestants let him know that it was not stolen.  But Ed could not find his pea puree, and Alex had some.  So obviously this looks suspicious – to everybody.  Really Tom can tweet all he wants.  Either way, masterful editing.

The tasting involves the judges, and some real power players – cue NBC tie in – like Kelly O’Donnell and legacy child Luke Russert.  Overall it’s a pretty detestable group – since these power players are the ones destroying the ability to have any meaningful news about anything.  Hell, Morning Joe is there, sigh.

The Knife Twist: Even better than this, when the food came out – Alex’s dish was a smash and guest judge Art Smith slobbered over the … pea puree.  In the meantime, Ed had been without his pea puree and was panicking.  Tiffany – per usual – calmed him down.  Ed is trying to make the best of it.  Tiffany herself made some swordfish which was a little overcooked, but looked pretty good.  The diners liked it, especially in comparison to Andrea’s monstrosity which seemed sweet.  In confession, Andrea of course said she has little experience in swordfish – it is not something she knows how to do.  Ed’s lobster, even with meh peas – turned out very very tasty … even against Angelo’s – though he used all the chef tricks (foam, etc).  The other notable misfire was Kelly – whose porterhouse was too salty.

The Winner: Ed, Tiffany and Alex are brought in as your win candidates.  When Art Smith mentions his love of the pea puree, it’s hard not to notice.  I don’t think Alex stole it – but given how bad Alex has been so far – this is a total surprise.  Tiffany was relieved to be in the Top 3, even crying given her worry about the overcooked fish.  But it worked.  She is easily the most likeable of the cast.  The winner … ALEX!!!  The winner gets their picture on the wall … of the Palm … Alex … yeah.

Who Packs Their Knives: Kelly had the salt lick steak, Andrea had the craptastic swordfish she was negative about, and Kevin made lamb that was too spicy.  That said, Kelly’s dishes have been good largely and she knows where the mistake was (is that good or bad – I think good).  Kevin won last week – he has some skill.  Andrea has been scrambling.

Padma Says: Andrea.  Steven lives another day.

Easily the best episode of the season – not as talented as Season 6, but not Season 5 desultory.  The field seems wide open though Angelo is the most gifted.  Let’s see what happens.


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