Well, 8 people left – hey, that’s an even number! You know what that means. 8 episodes down, recaps here!
Pregame: No real need to format this – we all know this episode. Of course with Stephen gone, it seems like we are down to the people who could win (well, them and Alex and Amanda). The chefs per usual, mosey on down product placement boulevard to the Hilton/Top Chef Kitchen, and …
Quickfire: It’s the tag team cookoff! As we have seen before, there are blindfolds – and the chefs draw knives. Only Ed and Kevin’s knives have numbers on them (Kevin #1), the rest are blank. So Ed and Kevin choose up sides (Ed, Tiffany, Alex, Angelo vs Kevin, Kenny, Kelly, Amanda) put the blindfolds on and voila! As Padma mentions, no immunity anymore, but there is a $10,000 prize to split with the winning team. No points for figuring out who got picked last. Tiffany and Kenny lead off (sensible given Kenny’s speed in prep) … Tiffany starts with a fish while Kenny starts with shrimp and a cream sauce. Alex and Amanda go next. In relay fashion, the weaklings go early-middle (not first, because that can set a bad vibe, but not too late because it becomes impossible to clean up after them). Alex seasons the fish, which makes no sense given how early it is, while Amanda actually gets pasta started and some mushrooms going. Scrubbing in third is Ed vs Kevin – not much here, aside from the obvious fact that Kevin’s team is a better position because of the lack of previous prep boners. Angelo and Kelly are the anchors … Angelo does not notice that the fish is already salted so salts it again. On one hand, how does he not see it? On the other hand, who would be that stupid?
Anyway, after all of this, Roasted Red Snapper for Ed’s team, shrimp and pasta with mustard cream sauce for Kevin’s team. The taster? Nancy Pelosi! Reknowned chef, except that she isn’t. Still, a chance to mooch off of DC. Anyway, she says she’s a foodie – I say her face is immobile. Apparently she frequents a Starbucks near where LG works – it seems her face is immobile there also. Anyway she tastes the fish and likes it, and notices it is salty (duh), while she loves the pasta especially that the pasta which was not over salted. To nobody’s surprise, Kevin’s team gets the nod. No edge though – just money. Of course, this leads to what we all knew:
Restaurant Wars!: Yep. These teams were the teams to make the restaurant. Some famous non-Toby Young restaurant critic would be doing the judging. All the usual rules apply. Full menu required, 3 courses, 2 options per course, and everybody is responsible for at least one. Obviously Tiffany is not pleased Alex is on her team, but hey who knows. Kenny frames the debate as a chance to take Angelo down, but I don’t think Angelo is a real favorite anymore. I mean the Top 6 to me at this point are all legitimate threats.
ANYWAY, on the shopping trip, Angelo and Ed are head plotting about trying to keep Alex out of the loop. They go and get lamb for Alex’s dish (foreshadowing!!), and their entire process seems confused. Meanwhile, Kevin’s team has their menu plan, is running along like a well oiled machine. I mean, you look at the talent level of the chefs on each team and it SEEMS that Kevin’s team is the heavy favorite here. After all, even their worst chef, Amanda, has shown the ability to deliver positive cooking. This is no Robin from Season 6. To the surprise of nobody, Angelo and Kenny are the executive chefs. Kevin’s team has nobody who is a natural for “front of the house”, so Kelly gets it by default. For Ed’s team, Alex would be up front so he cannot screw up – seeing how he mangled the meat in prep (causing Angelo to fly into a panic) – this is probably a good idea. Angelo is agitated here – adversity is not something he does well. In the kitchen, the mania vs calm of the two teams is stark. (this is Top Chef – so if you are a veteran viewer, I need to say no more)
We get to the restaurants. Ed’s team calls their place EVOO – after extra virgin olive oil – also the acronym Rachael Ray made famous … so I am not sure whether that is something Top Chefs want to be known for. Kevin’s team’s place is called 2121 after the house number of their place – which is more sensible, and capably vague. It seems like Ed’s team is in trouble given the chaos, and seeing how rude Alex is to the help in front. Alex never struck me as a douche, just someone who can’t cook – though this segment seems to try to undercut that. In the kitchen, Tiffany is worried about her fish because of the bad prep by Alex, while on the other side Amanda is having trouble working the grill (wood grill – the temperature seems tempermental).
So how did the cheftestants do?
Service: Alex looks nervous, stammered a bit. He did not do a good job, but it did not seem too fatal. Kelly bested him here, but I don’t think anything dealbreaking happened.
First set: Angelo’s tomato confit soup, Tiffany’s fish … judges think Tiffany is a bit too salty, but the soup is a big winner
Second set: Tiffany’s striped bass, Ed’s turbot (turbo pronunciation is weird, how do you catch a turbo??) … both dishes are praised, Ed’s a bit more. But Tiffany is praised as making a comeback.
Third set: “Alex’s” lamb chop and Angelo/Ed’s ribeye. Neither seemed praised – looked like a hit or miss type of thing. Alex forgets to thank the judges or tell them goodbye. Classy.
Service: Kelly is nervous. At her restaurant, normally her hubby does this. But she does all the right things Alex failed to do, prep was smooth. She was not bubbly or a good BS’er but no matter.
First Set: Kelly’s corn and crab soup, Kenny makes a salad. Kelly’s soup is found weirdly nonseasonal and too thin while (as usual) Kenny’s salad is too busy.
Second Set: Amanda’s steak, Kevin’s’ halibut. The latter very highly praised while Amanda’s sauce is praised while the steak was uneven.
Third Set: Kelly chocolate ganache, Kenny puts goatcheese fried on strawberry-rhubarb relish. The cake was admired. Chefs are so scared of dessert on this show that a good one is praised. Kenny’s cheese is a disaster across the board – looks like a bad mozzarella square.
Judgment: Somehow, when I saw the chaos of one team and how starkly it was presented – it would be so typical of this show for the chaotic team to win – and that is exactly what happens. Ed’s team – Ed, Tiffany, Angelo and – gulp – Alex are winners. Ed’s turbot in particular got the individual victory while he got a gigantic bottle of wine for it. Not quite a trip to Hawaii is it? Alex’s lamb is talked around.
They come back out and send in the blue team. Kevin and Kenny are stunned it turned out this way. Kenny in particular is shocked that the other team’s horror in the back could result in a win. Of course what matters is the result, right? I’m stunned Kenny did not realize this. Also, how does that cheese go out when it was being tasted? Afterwards, Kenny also mentioned that Alex did not cook his dish – which is true of course. Would this be grounds for elimination though the team won? The editing of course leaves us in suspense. Coming out of course, we get the promo of Kevin yelling at Alex – and Kenny browbeating him. Alex has nothing to say, since of course he didn’t cook it. But hey, they won, right? The team did what they had to do.
Who is Gone? I think Amanda has shown she is not good enough to win – and her dish was not the worst, but still bad. Kenny made 2 poor dishes, but held the kitchen together smoothly. He has not done a good job editing, but the skills are there and he has been good in the past.
Padma Says: Kenny! WOW. First surprising exit. Kenny is deluding himself saying now the competition is wide open – it has been wide open for a while, really since Tiffany’s double win. But I am surprised. Kenny didn’t NOT deserve it for his food. But Amanda was a more a propos choice.