Pregame: So, Andrea is gone. Kelly’s roommate is gone. Kelly said it is hard – of course one might argue that having a bigger room is cool, but I get it. After all, if it can happen to a roommate, it can happen to me. And Kelly was close too. At this point half of the field is gone. I have some hunches about the pecking order at this point among: Angelo, Kenny, Kevin, Kelly, Stephen, Tiffany, Ed, Alex and Amanda – but of course so do you. It’s not like last season where the Final 4 became obvious by this point.
Quickfire: We see Padma – and we see MARCUS SAMUELSSON, the winner of Top Chef Masters this past season. In addition to that, he of course is dedicated to showing the world African cuisine. Of course, DC has one of the largest Ethiopian populations around, so he wants the chefs to come up with an Ethiopian inspired dish – after a quick tutorial. Finally a quickfire OF DC! No high stakes, but immunity on the line – Samuelsson briefs the chefs on spices, injeera (the bread) and advising them to do something stewlike (or that you can pick up with the injeera).
Angelo apparently has worked at one of these places before – he says it is easy to overseason … I don’t know – spiciness is a good thing here. We’ll see how it turns out. Anyway, he thinks he, Kenny and Ed have the edge here. I don’t know about that – the chefs seem at sea. In any event, Tiffany does not know what she is doing at all – neither is Kevin … but they are figuring things out, winging it … just trying to get the flavors right. Really, this is kind of fascinating. Anyway, Marcus comes around … Stephen makes lamb meatballs which are not enjoyed, and Alex makes a lamb tongue stew. He does not like spicy food – so I know I would not go to his restaurant, yuck! Padma is not impressed. Kenny the mis en place machine as usual does a duo – just a lot of food.
At the end, Marcus did not like Steven and Alex – Kevin ending up on bottom was the only real news. Amanda (!), Angelo and Tiffany are at the top. The winner … did Angelo’s edge do it? YAY!!! Tiffany won! She’s been gathering steam – the immunity is clutch of course.
Elimination: DC is an international city (oh, is it?) … so the chefs will pick a country (out of 9 on the board) and cook a dish for diplomats. They do not have power at the site so the dish has to be already cooked (though it will be warmed). Of the countries, Brazil causes the most consternation … of course Stephen ends up drawing that. (Fogo de Steve?) Kevin draws India though he does not know anything about it. Kelly, with Italy, is making a carpaccio. That seems relatively unambitious, but we’ll see. Stephen is making flank steak, right up the churriscaria alley, but his skills have been lacking so far. Alex got Spain – and is making a torta and a veal salad … once again, all over the place.
So we get to the dinner. At this point, Alex’s idea of a torta seems less good – since you are not cooking it on site, can’t it become icky. When the judges, with guest SPANISH judge Jose Andres gets a hold of it – he was no fan. Steven’s steak was not a hit, especially when his rice was overcooked. He was not familiar with Brazil, but more importantly – he screwed up cooking rice. Blocking and tackling! Kevin was scared that he could not cook Indian food – he never had – but somehow the judges liked his flavors. He is a dark horse, I tell ya. Tiffany, drawing Mexico made a tamale – the judges were blown away … this is especially impressive considering her immunity – she did not have to do this.
The Good: Tiffany, Kelly (with a strong carpaccio) and Kevin make the top 3. Kevin has been up – he’s been down – up – down. At the end of the day though, Tiffany gets the win with her tamale that Jose Andres fell in love with. Given the immunity, this was a huge day for her – and she got a $10,000 bonus to boot. Her wedding is set! It is easy to root for her.
The Bad: Stephen’s disastrous rice, Alex’s disastrous everything and Ed’s meh duck. Really Ed knew his mistakes – and he clearly has shown his stuff. It does not seem like a dish that should get him eliminated. Steven vs Alex becomes concept (Alex trying something beyond his ability) or Stephen (who screwed up cooking rice).
Padma Says: Stephen was overdue. Really of the final 9, he felt 8th at best. We are almost getting to the heavyweights. 8 people left = sounds like restaurant wars time!