Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Top Chef DC – They Try To Make It Right But The Damage Has Been Done

Top Chef DC - Covert Cuisine

I’m a little peeved that there will be no Kenny this week, so they better wow me with this episode.

At the house, Angelo tells us that he’s mentally exhausted. In the Top Chef kitchen, Wylie is standing there with Padma. The Quickfire Challenge is to cook from a mystery box. All the boxes have identical ingredients and as they’re cooking, more mystery boxes will arrive and they have to use everything. The winner gets $10,000.

The ingredients start out as fish, fava beans and a can with no label, which turns out to be Hominy. Kevin thinks that Angelo looks really unsettled. Angelo tells us that he doesn’t have a vision for a dish.

The next ingredients (delivered by a sun-glassed man in a dark suit) are squid and black garlic. Kelly has never used black garlic before, so she’s concerned. Alex is his usual ninny self.

More ingredients arrive – ramps and passion fruit. Tiffany is funny. She says (to us) that she’s never used ramps and she doesn’t know if she’s supposed to use the leaf or the stem.

Angelo has lost his mojo. Cold or hot, he can’t decide how to serve his dish. MORE ingredients. Are you kidding me?, Amanda exclaims! It’s jicama. Padma comes into the kitchen (in not so great cargo Capri pants) and announces that they have 10 minutes left.

Here are the dishes. It IS interesting to see what they come up with identical ingredients. Alex says the first smart thing ever – “Alex; Quickfire - equals bottom. It’s a mathematical equation.”

Results – Alex is right for once. He’s on the bottom. Amanda is too. Her dish was oily.

Top dishes: Tiffany - Wylie liked the way she integrated all the ingredients and got so much flavor into her broth; and Kevin – His dish was nicely balanced.

And the winner is…my local boy? No, it’s Tiffany, but that’s okay, everyone is soooo happy for her. That makes her Top Chef take $20,000 so far.

The Elimination Challenge is “a case of national security”, Padma says. They’ll be cooking at the CIA. They’ll each get a classic dish, determined by a knife pull, and they have to create a new identity for it with its same original flavor.

They’ll be serving CIA officers and CIA Director Leon Panetta. Amanda tells us that she “could seduce some secrets out the KGB”. Cute or coy? I can’t decide.

Alex tells us he was a videographer and has only been a chef for 6 years. I think he should book some more Bar Mitzvahs.

Kelly has no idea what Kung Pao shrimp is, so when they go shopping, she looks for a prepared sauce so she can see the ingredients. That’s smart. And I think she is REALLY clever to turn her Kung Pao shrimp into a soup.

Angelo is changing Beef Wellington into a pizza, which I think is a really good idea. BUT he’s using FROZEN puff pastry. NEVER a good idea.

They ask each other what their spy names are. I didn’t know that was a thing. I thought only porn names were. I have the greatest one of all time. Gypsy Independence! C’mon, you can’t beat that, can you?

We listen to Alex blathering about how his spy name would be Dr. Zhivago. I don’t even want to think about what his Porn Name is. Then he says his favorite spy is Maximilian Smart. Not surprising.

They walk into the CIA and they’re really impressed by all the security and the solemnity of the place as they walk past the gallery of Directors’ portraits.

Ed is sure there are cameras and speakers hidden everywhere.

I like Kelly this week. I think she’s using her head. Oy, there’s a problem. She’s using a rice cooker and Tiffany tells her it turns off automatically and it doesn’t. Her rice is ruined and way overcooked. NOT that I’m blaming Tiffany (and neither is Kelly). Stuff happens. Tiffany encourages her to just make some more rice on the stove really fast. She doesn’t want a competitor to go out for a dumb mistake.

Angelo’s dish is first:

Beef Wellington

Tartlet Topped With Slivers Of Beef

He’s not happy with it and neither are the diners. They guess immediately what it is.

Leon says. “Poor disguise. They would have caught this individual and hung him.” There’s too much hilarity around the room. I find that rather ghoulish myself.

Leon thinks the dish is salty and the pastry is a little hard. His minions agree. (Don’t they have to?) Eric says. “Beef Wellington EES more challenging.

Kelly - Kung Pao Shrimp

Spicy Shrimp Broth With Rice & Szechuan Shrimp Tempura

Wylie tells Leon that he knows what the dish is and that for once he knows something Leon doesn’t know. Har har. Various CIA folks say it tastes like Pad Thai. Tom guesses it's Kung Pao shrimp and he likes it very much. (I like that he doesn't know what the original dishes are.) Wylie thinks Kelly's idea of turning the sauce into a broth is a good one; he just thinks there was too much. A CIA guy liked the texture of the nuts with the rice.

Tiffany - Gyro

Roasted Leg Of Lamb With Smoky Eggplant, Tomatoes And Pickled Onions

Leon guesses her dish. Eric says, “EET’S the most elegant gyro” he’s ever eaten. Another guy says he would order it anywhere.

Kevin - Cobb Salad

Romaine Lettuce, Tomato, Bacon, Roquefor, Avocado, Cucumber And Turkey

He definitely should have made a lettuce soup and had the other stuff as garnishes.

They all guess Cobb salad, except Leon, who thinks it’s a Mexican dish at first. Tom is a bit miffed because it’s a salad and Kevin hasn’t changed much. But Tom loves Cobb salad, so it looks like he might let it slide.

Padma asks Leon if they have a lot of formal dinners here. Then a steward comes and hands Leon a folded piece of paper. There are serious looks from all the diners as if the end of the free world (or at least dinner) is coming.

Leon excuses himself with, “Business calls.” Probably someone wanted to know if he wanted his usual car wash that week with the pine-scented air freshener or the piña colada one.

Eric looks particularly solemn. Padma wants to know if they’re used to Director Panetta having to dine and dash. Yes, they are.

Amanda, Alex’s only friend in the kitchen, says he just has a problem with execution. (Maybe his dish will get him executed. I didn’t mean that.)

Amanda - French Onion Soup

Consommé With Oxtail Marmalade, Caramelized Onions, Shaved Gruyere

Everyone could tell it was French onion soup and they all thought the marmalade was way too sweet.

Alex - Veal Parmesan

Veal And Parmesan Cheese Tortelloni With Tomato Sauce And Tempura Cheese

Tom looks at it and says OMG that can’t be good. Someone says it's lasagna. Tom says the veal is as tough as pulling a post in Yemen. It’s really poorly executed. Eric would have preferred to see less disguise and a better dish.

Ed - Chicken Cordon Bleu

Toasted Chicken Breast, Ham And Cheese Croquette, Spring Onion Soubise

I love onion soubise. Eric says it’s obvious that it’s a Cordon Bleu. They all like it, but Padma says it wasn’t disguised well. Padma tells the CIA peeps that they have to leave now to do a top secret deliberation of their own.

Angelo tells us it would be traumatic if he went home. Kelly wonders if Leon knows who killed JFK and if there are aliens. Angelo says he knows they are living in LA, pointing at Alex.

Let’s cut to the chase.

The top dishes are Kelly’s, Ed’s and Tiffany’s. Tiffany wins again. She wins a trip to Paris. That’s pretty great. She says she has a honeymoon now! Ed can’t be mad.

The losers

Alex, naturally, Amanda and Angelo

The A’s have it!

Tom asks them who is willing to admit that they’re the 7th best in the competition. Amanda exclaims she’s NOT. Back in the stew room, Angelo says he SHOULD go home. He is SO not going home.

But if Alex makes it ANOTHER week, I’ll push Bravo’s Andy Cohen myself!

And it’s…Alex, who is going home. That’s great, but I also feel as if it’s too little too late - a week too late, actually.

Kenny getting sent home and Alex still being there reminds me of when an underdog team or player unexpectedly beats an established team and you just know the next week the underdog is going to be beaten handily anyway and you think, well, what was the point of THAT? We got rid of the underdog eventually and so why did we have to sacrifice Kenny the week before? Does that make sense?

The point is that as great as it is that Alex has been eliminated, it would have felt a whole lot better if Kenny were still around. I’m glad Alex is gone, but it should have happened a week ago…at least. And IT COULD HAVE.


Anonymous said...

I missed that Tiffany told Kelly about the rice cooker. I thought Kelly messed it up simply because she forgot to account for the lack of elevation (she said in her interview that it takes a minimum of 1 hour to cook the rice in Colorado).

Sue said...

Hey Amy,
That was why they had that dramatic closeup of Tiffany at Judges' Table when they told Kelly they liked her rice.

That WAS bad that Kelly didn't remember she was cooking at sea level. Heaven help her if she bakes something.

Anonymous said...

Porn name, spy name, drag name, all the same construction, I guess it just depends on your aspiration!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

So can we send home Amanda next? I don't know why she grates on me so. Maybe because she flirts and poses as much as she cooks?

Chef Gulzar said...


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Thanks for sharing this.

James Parker….
Chef Gulzar masala TV

Sue said...

I think a porn name is completely different from a spy name. And I never heard of a drag name before. I have to give that some thought.

Ask and you shall receive.