Saturday, June 26, 2010

Top Chef DC – The Chefs Are Schooled In Lunches

Top Chef - Out of the Lunch Box

In the Top Chef kitchen, Padma introduces Sam Kass, assistant White House Chef and Food Initiative coordinator.

Timothy tell us that he’s a pretty important person…feeding the President of the United States.

Padma says a successful government is bipartisan. (Haven’t seen one of those for awhile.) She says the chefs will be working in pairs to make a sandwich in 30 minutes. The chefs find that unusually easy, until Padma reveals that they will be working with a single apron tied around them and they may use only one hand each.

Obviously, the teams with a leftie will probably make out better. Angelo, with a sandwich shop in New York, says he would be so disgraced if he didn’t win that he would probably have to close down his shop.

Tracey is thrilled to be partnered up with Angelo, because of his sandwich expertise and also because she has a crush on him. (We learn later that she lives with her girlfriend and HER child. Whatev.)

Timothy and Alex are having a hard time teaming together. Alex is terrified that Tim is going to cut him while he (Alex) is holding whatever has to be cut. That WOULD be tricky.

There are some absolutely yummy sandwiches being made. I’m in awe of their creativity and their skills at doing all of this one-handed. I get really nervous when Lynne and Tiffany start using a giant slicing machine. What if something or someone slips? No, all is well.

Time is up. Here are all the dishes.

Padma asks Angelo how the challenge was. Angelo says Tracey is like is his twin sister. (I’m sure that’s what she wanted to hear after having her arm tightly wrapped around his waist for a half hour.) Sam says theirs is tasty.

To Andrea and Kevin, Sam says, “I like that pickle in there.”

We don’t hear Sam’s comments on every team’s sandwich. To Kenny and Ed: “I like the little spice you have in there with the chili.”

To Kelly and Arnold: “Very tasty.”

Tiffany and Lynne – “That’s a little hard to eat.” Lynne comes back (weakly) with “It’s more of a knife and fork kind of sandwich.”

Losers – Stephen and Jacqueline lacked creativity using white bread, Lynne and Tiffany’s didn’t have great texture.

Winners – Angelo and Tracey. Angelo AGAIN?!! WHO does he know? Kenny is MAD, because his sandwich came in second.

The Elimination Challenge is to do a healthy and delicious school lunch for the same budget as the public schools have - $2.68 per child or $134 for 50 kids. Sam is taking away 4 dollars to cover labor and other costs to get the food on the table. He says the schools have a lot more than that taken out.

Arnold says the budget is the most challenging thing. He says he spends $130 on himself ALONE when he goes out. (Cute cap. From his pre-Top Chef stylist, I wonder?)

They’ll work in teams of 4, with each chef responsible for one dish. Tracey and Angelo get to pick their team. They pick Kenny and Ed, which is quite smart. If their team is the losing team, that gives Kenny a bigger chance of going home.

Amanda has the insane idea of adding sherry to her chicken. Tamesha wants to make gnocchi. Luckily (for her), other people veto that.

Kelly is bossing her group around with her pork carnitas tacos idea. She’s actually making whole grain tacos from scratch. That’s kind of awesome.

The chefs shop and have to take tons of stuff away at the checkout line to stay within their budget.

Kenny is not happy with his team’s menu. Jacqueline’s pudding is too starchy and not good. There was no money left for her dish. She adds more sugar to break down the starch. I didn’t know sugar could do that. Arnold is not happy with Kelly. He thinks she keeps taking too much credit for the menu. (Well, the main part WAS her idea.)

Next day they arrive at a school to feed the kids. Angelo puts his peanut butter into a foam gun (y’know, one of those things that makes whipped cream from regular cream) and the valve is broken. He needs it to spray into the celery. He asks Kevin if he can use of one his valves. Kevin says he only has three of them. His team agrees with him instantly not to share! Andrea (?) says Angelo and Kenny are on the top and she’s on a mission to break Starsky and Hutch.

Tom arrives and is impressed by Kevin’s yogurt foam, which the kids will think is whipped cream.

Tom remarks to Kenny that he has a greater chance of going home.

The kids arrive and seem to like the food. The judges arrive – Tom, Gail, Sam and Padma.

Dishes are here.

They taste the food from Kevin’s team first. Sam likes the cole slaw. Padma thinks Alex did a great job on the chicken and Sam loves that he used apple cider instead of sugar. They all like Kevin’s melon kebab with the yogurt “whipped cream”. (Yay for Kevin!) Tom says the weak link is the mac and cheese.

Angelo and Kenny’s team:

They say that Ed’s sweet potato purée has way too much pepper in it. They like Kenny’s bread pudding and Tracey’s chicken burger. They are not impressed by the healthfulness of Angelo’s peanut butter and celery.

Kelly’s team:

Gail loves the color of the plate. They rave about Kelly's pork carnitas. Tom says Arnold’s salad pulls it off nicely, “I’m very happy with this.” Padma thinks Lynne’s bean cake is bit spicy, but they all like Tiffany’s dessert.

Stephen and Amanda’s team:

Sam’s eyebrows go up when Amanda says she made chicken with a sherry jus. (REALLY, WHAT was she thinking???) The collective eyebrows of the judges REALLY go up when Stephen says his rice dish has 165 grams OF FAT!!! He corrects himself and says 165 calories. WHEW! Kind of moronic.

Gail: “I have to say the words sherry jus don’t often come into the lunchroom scenario.” Duh! Of course the alcohol burns off, but there’s still the flavor of the sherry, which is not appropriate for a school lunch. Actually, Amanda is the moron. THAT is sooo stupid. She needs to go home for that.

They like Tamesha’s salad. Sam says Jacqueline’s pudding is too sweet. Padma likes the fresh strawberries on top. Gail says Stephen’s rice is mushy.

One kid says he didn’t like Stephen’s dish because it had "just rice and all that nasty stuff".

Sam tells the other judges that when kids grow up tasting high fat and high sugar food THAT'S what they become accustomed to. Getting to them when they’re young will change the course of their entire lives.

Back in the stew room, all the chefs quiet down for a minute and listen to Kevin snoring. Well, c’mon they have to be exhausted.

Padma comes out and calls Angelo and Kenny, Ed and Tracey along with Amanda, Stephen, Tamesha and Jacqueline. Everybody’s a bit confused. Are these the winners or not?

Padma announces that both of their teams had the worst menus of the day. OH! So Kenny had it exactly right when he predicted why Angelo picked him. He has a huger chance of going home – 50% as opposed to 25%, and Tom was right too when he mentioned that as a possibility.

Jacqueline tells the judges that she had to make a banana pudding, because there wasn’t money for chocolate. She said she added about 2 pounds of sugar. I have to figure that out. Is that really so bad? 32 ounces per 50 kids. That’s more than a tablespoon per kid. Is that possible? 2 teaspoons of sugar per kid. I guess that IS a lot.

Sam Kass (he’s cute) says that’s what happens when you’re not using good ingredients. You have to make them taste better by adding more fat or sugar. (I’m not sure that applied in this case, but okay.)

Amanda says the sherry chicken was her idea. Sam asks, “You had money for sherry?”, meaning how did they have money for that, but not for better dessert ingredients. Amanda never answers. I want to know what she would say.

Next they’re pretty hard on Angelo and Kenny’s team. Sam says he sees a lack of effort in adding vegetables to their menu and that it’s easy to load up on starch and sugar. Gail says Ed’s chili sweet potatoes were way too spicy for kids.

Kenny says he realized that there was a lack of vegetables and that’s why he roasted the tomato for the burger. Sam says, “Tomato’s a fruit!” Sam IS cute, but he is a bit humorless. Kenny looks amazed.

Tom asks Angelo if he would have made the celery with peanut butter if he hadn’t had immunity. He actually admits, “I can’t answer that right now.” Kenny looks appalled AND amused.

Tom continues to Angelo, “I’m not saying that you would sabotage the team, because I don’t think you’re that kind of guy.” I THINK HE’S THAT KIND OF GUY! Angelo says that’s not fair and that if people had wanted to do more vegetables, they could have. Kenny’s mouth is hanging open.

Kenny says he was thinking green leafy vegetables and “unfortunately OTHER people come up and they made up other decisions.” Then Stephen FROM THE OTHER TEAM chimes in and says that Kenny should have championed for more vegetables, if he felt that way. WHY is putting his two cents in? Pipe down!

Kenny comes back with, “It’s acceptable to have pudding with 2 pounds of sugar in it?” Then Amanda yells about processed peanut butter being one of the worst foods for kids. Ed responds that sherry wasn’t the greatest idea.

Luckily, Gail interrupts the bickering by asking Amanda, “Why DID you decide to use sherry?” Amanda says she really likes sherry and she likes it with braised chicken and mushrooms. Gail says there are a lot of things she likes too. She likes vodka but she wouldn’t cook with it (for a school lunch). Go Gail!

After the chefs leave, the judges decide that Angelo’s team had the worst menu hands down. They thought Kenny should have fought for a more nutritional menu. Tom says there definitely was gamesmanship going on.

But they also did NOT like the other team's food. Gail says Amanda’s chicken was one the most unappealing things she’s seen in a long time. Sam says NO school has sherry in their pantry. It really is insane. Tom says it was like a turd on the table. Did he really just say that?

They liked the taco menu the best.

Kelly wins with her carnitas. She says this healthy school lunch challenge is very close to her heart.

Surely, they are not sending Kenny home. It should be Amanda and she can take her bottle of sherry with her!

Watch as the judges debate which was worse – the chicken or the pudding. Plus at the end, we get a little behind the scenes view of what goes on in the deliberations.

I actually have NO idea who will go home. Amanda or Jacqueline? OH, it’s Jacqueline because of her grainy pudding which was loaded with sugar.. That kind of stinks. It wasn’t her fault entirely. She only got 10% of the budget. She got shafted.

In the previews, Arnold says he’s not a grill guy because it clogs his pores. Funny. We see a lot of them smoking. I feel sorry for the camera people who have to shoot that.

So what do you think? Should Kevin have let Angelo use their foamer? And do you think Angelo tried to sabotage his team’s success, which would give Kenny a bigger chance of going home? I believe the answer is no to the first question and abso-friggin’-lutely, yes, Angelo did try, any means possible, to get rid of Kenny.


Anonymous said...

I think he totally tried. Which is probably why at the end they had two teams in the bottom, rather than just one. The producers must've realized hey, this isn't really a fair way to go about deciding who to eliminate. Especially since it would've cut out the huge rivalry between Angelo and Kenny way too early.

I always hate how they tell the people paired up with the immune players "you should've fought harder for such and such." They voice their opinions, but what are they going to do - toss the immune players in the closet and not let them participate in the challenge, to ensure they don't screw it up?

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I agree with you on who should have gone home. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard Amanda was using sherry in a lunch for school children.

Sue said...

Hi Amy,
Good point about Kenny. I went back to the judges' first remarks about Angelo's team's food AND they LIKED Kenny's Bread Pudding. So it wasn't that his dish was bad, it was the entire concept of the meal that the judges had a problem with. And, yes, I agree that they couldn't get rid of Kenny so early. I don't remember a Top Chef where two people were so on top so early. Kenny's performance in that very first Quickfire was really amazing.

I like the idea of putting the folks you don't like in the closet. But this Top Chef, NO ONE is in the closet.

I now completely dislike Amanda. The worst is that she's completely clueless. There wasn't even a glimmer of recognition about how you shouldn't use alcohol in a school lunch. REALLY! If she had kids, would she give them a little flask to take to school?!!

Emily said...

I agree with you and everyone else. Amanda should have gone home. Alcohol and school lunches do not belong together.