Thursday, August 26, 2010

Top Chef: Season 7, Episode 11

‘It got ugly the first day you walked into this place.’

Previously: They were cooking at the CIA with Ed aka Muffin Winthrope, and Angelo is using frozen puff pastry that CIA Director Leon Panetta says is too hard. If I were Angelo, I’d be worried about that clicking sound he’s hearing on his mobile phone. Tiffany wins, and Alex has his cover blown as a “poor chef.”

You know how you watch something over and over and then you pick up all the little details? Well, during the intro when they talk about all the prizes, Padma is wearing that really bright fuchsia blouse and I notice now that as she talks her shoulders are bumping up and down like a puppet master is pulling her strings. How much you want to bet Tom Colicchio is pulling the strings? It just looks weird. Now you’re going to notice it every time you watch this intro.

Opening scenes with cherry blossoms still at the basin, which is probably such a lie because the cherry blossoms only last about two weeks. And the weirdest thing is Ed is walking around in a yellow dress and Tiffany is cracking up like there’s no tomorrow. And literally Ed is walking for maybe a full five minutes before anyone explains if this is some kind of fraternity initiation or something. Turns out it’s Tiffany’s dress and that’s the closest he’ll ever get at getting into her pants, er, dress.

Then they get into the insecure comments of the remaining cheftestants, like Kelly who drew a target on Amanda’s head, and Angelo saying he has to clear his head after he landed on the bottom three. Then he says when he was a kid, he would cut out photos of four-star chefs, light a candle and then kneel down in front of the photos to pray. Hello stalker.

Amanda is teasing Angelo about how he does mantras as positive daily reinforcements. The way she talks is really childish like she’s in high school. I’m really getting tired of her. After Alex leaving last week, I hope she’s next to go so we can just focus on some good cooking.

The cheftestants arrive at Top Chef kitchen and there’s Top Chef Masters contestant Rick Moonen of RM Seafood in Las Vegas. I can’t remember if he won this past season? That show seems so long ago. I bet you there’ll be season three of Top Chef Masters airing even before this Top Chef DC reaches the finale! Anywho, Padma is saying things about “top dog,” “top banana” and “big cheese” and I thought it was all something to do with ballpark food but she says they are all food idioms.

So they each have to pick a food idiom that relates to a food product and cook a dish. The winner gets his or her dish frozen in memory as a Schwan’s home-delivery dish. Never heard of Schwan and I rarely eat frozen foods. Not because I’m snooty about it, but just because it takes so much energy to create frozen food that it’s not good for the environment.

They start scrambling to cook and everyone’s picking on Amanda, like how last week they all focused on Alex. So that’s a good sign because maybe Amanda is going home. Angelo, however, thinks Amanda is the dark horse and he thinks she’s smart. I think he just wants to get into her pants, er, dress.

Angelo is scrambling at high speed and is kind of talking to himself a lot this episode, but really all I notice is his black jeans are on the tight side.

Tasting. Here’s how it went and their food idiom they picked:

Ed: “Hot potato.” He made a hot potato gnocchi with spring vegetables. It looks really nice and Chef Rick asks about the herbs. Padma calls it a lovely spring dish.

Tiffany: “Spill the beans.” She made a pan-seared cod over stewed beans. Rick asks how she cooked them in an hour, and she admits that she used canned beans.

Kevin: “Bring home the bacon.” Does a trio of bacon, including chopped bacon, bacon with poached egg and a third that I didn’t catch (I really should tape these things, but then it would take me forever playing and pausing).

Kelly: “Sour grapes” (Oh, how appropriate) and she makes a pan-roasted chicken breast over carmelized brussel sprouts with grape sauce. Rick says “interesting” and it’s exactly in the tone you think.

Angelo: “Bigger fish to fry.” He makes a fried tilapia satay with Asian tartar sauce. Rick eats a lot of it but doesn’t say anything.

Amanda: “Big cheese.” So obvious that she makes mac and cheese but throws in bacon and jalapenos, and then serves it with a big pork chop on the side. Rick teases her that she made something “nice and light.”

Chef Moonen talks about what dishes were a mess, and they were Kelly’s chicken because the brussel sprouts with the grape juice was odd and the dish “didn’t sing.” And the other is Amanda’s sledge-hammer of a mac-and-cheese-with-pork dish, which really hit him in the gut. Amanda, of course, disagrees and then does this incredibly whiny voice that is worse right now than listening to nails scratching across a chalkboard. I mean, really, grow up! I will die if she doesn’t go home tonight.

Moonen’s top choices were Kevin’s bacon dish that reached a “new level of lightness and balance” (that’s a big accomplishment with bacon) and Ed’s gnocchi, which was well conceived and very light. I’m getting a feeling Chef Moonen likes his food light. He names Ed the winner, and his gnocchi will be frozen and served across the tables of lazy Americans every where.

Commercials. Samsung, please don’t show me close up shots of scale-y hands. Gross.

Padma says the cheftestants will be cooking for the oldest sports institution and that’s baseball! Yes, I love baseball. But I do not love the Washington Nationals, who I find have very boring players. Angelo says he’s part Dominican so baseball is in his blood. Funny, baseball is not the first sport I think of when I see Angelo.

Padma says they have to work as a team and run a high-end concession stand at the Nationals’ new stadium during the pre-game period. Amanda says the last team challenge didn’t go well, and they flashback to when they were arguing with Kenny and others for the farmers dinner challenge. Remember Kenny? Seems like ages when he was on the show, huh?

The cheftestants gather to strategize, but really it’s just Kelly kind of bossing people around and telling them what food they should make. It’s weird how the guys aren’t really saying much, and then I don’t really know what they're making and they just leave. As they leave they shout out baseball teams, like Go Phillies, Go Red Sox (boo) and ditzy Amanda of course yells out “go Dodgers?” Why am I not surprised that she’s a half-hearted Dodgers fan? (Right now all Dodger fans are probably half-hearted.)

They go shopping and Ed starts talking about growing up in Boston, and I see where this is going so I will now stop talking about Ed and his stupid favorite baseball team. Oh, Angelo is making steamed buns, like Chinese pork buns, but he’s not even bothering making the buns and just buy hot dog buns. I don’t see how it’s supposed to be Chinese steamed buns when the bun is already made and probably wasn’t even steamed. He’s still talking to himself while shopping. I’m kind of worried about his stress level.

Back at the Top Chef kitchen they start prepping. Tiffany starts talking about this amazing Italian sausage she had at a state fair so she’s doing a version of that but meatballs instead of sausages. Angelo talks to Amanda who’s asking about putting her tuna through the meat grinder to make tuna tartar. Everyone says she shouldn’t listen to Angelo like he’s the kiss of death after the same thing happened to those other people earlier in this season who I’ve already forgotten about, but I’m just recapping this episode. If you want to know who, then read my past recaps.

Ed is making a shrimp and corn poppers, and he needs to make 550 of them. Ed is talking really loud to Tiffany like an old man, asking something about a cart. Amanda, of course, has to share her opinion about Ed and again she does it in such a petty and evil tone. She really is showing her age in this episode, which will be her last [fingers crossed].

They’re done for the night and then they’re back home. In the kitchen, Amanda talks about having to run a service. Kelly sounds confused because she’s probably never been to a baseball stadium where people had to order food and then pay for them. Nobody wants to take the orders, and then Angelo eventually steps up and says he’ll do it.

Commercials. I don’t get why that Blackberry Torch commercial is making all those Moby Dick references. Is that supposed to be hip now? I was tempted to trade my Storm for the Torch until I saw that Blackberry partnered with AT&T. I’m likely to buy a phone with an AT&T contract like I’m likely to watch that gross “The Last Exorcism” movie. (Did I ever tell you my mom took me and all my siblings to watch “The Exorcism” because she loves watching scary movies, and did I tell you I was 12?)

The cheftestants head to Nationals’ stadium, and it looks like a theme park. They have a big concession stand with the Top Chef banner, and they start setting up and cook. Angelo is stressing out because he doesn’t know how he’s going to cook while taking orders, so he decides he doesn’t want to take orders now. So instead he starts passing out the order slips to everyone for them to take their own orders, and Kevin’s all “no way, that’s not going to work.” Then Angelo and Kevin gets into it for a bit and it went something like this:

Kevin: “No way, that’s not going to work. We need a system.”

Angelo: “Chill out, man.”

Kevin: “You chill.”

Angelo: “Oh, you’re the bad boy of the show. We know.”

Kevin: “Yeah, and you’re the pretty boy but we’re still not taking the orders.”

Or something like that.

Kevin really reminds me of those baseball players who just blows their steam so easily when the ump calls a strike or something.

Eventually Ed steps up and tells Angelo that he’ll help him cook his dish so that Angelo can fulfill his duties as the order taker.

Then Tom walks in with three of the players. Like I said, I don’t really follow the Nationals. I just know one of the guy is Adam Dunn, but don’t know the other two. The girls, well, just Kelly and Amanda are crushing over the guys. They’re no David Wright, but I guess they’re OK for Nationals.

Amanda’s tuna tartar is turning grey. Angelo says she should have put oil, and he says he should have helped but he didn’t have time and he needs to look out for himself. Kevin asks Tiffany to taste his dish, and Tiffany says she’s no Angelo so she has to be honest and she tells Kevin something about the salt.

It’s gets a bit crazy in the kitchen and Ed delivers the quote of the episode when Kevin says it’s getting ugly and Ed responds: “It got ugly the first day you walked into this place.” Perfect!

Service begins and the fans line up, but most of the people in line seems to be women. And they don’t even look like they’re paying. I think they’re just giving the food away. Wow, I wished Top Chef would come to town and just give away food at an event.

The three players return to try all the food. Of course, they love everything, except Adam Dunn doesn’t know how to eat Amanda’s tartar so he just sticks his finger into the mess. Aww, the big lug. They leave and tells some of the women waiting on the side that Tiffany’s meatball sub was their favorite.

Fans are eating and licking their fingers, and the players are doing batting practice. Then the judges arrives, Padma, Tom, Rick Moonen and Eric Ripert.

The judges grab all the food and go to the seats to try them. Rick says Amanda has a lot of “baseballs” to serve raw fish at a stadium. Apparently he hasn’t been to AT&T Park here in San Francisco where you can buy sushi for $15.

It’s getting late so I’m not going to get into every comment that the judges made for each dish. Basically they seem to like Tiffany’s meatball sub and Ed’s fritters, but felt Amanda’s tartar was grey and Kevin’s chicken skewers had soft shoestring fries and they spent a lot of time talking about Angelo’s buns.

Commercials. This week’s quick look focused on Angelo on his bed talking to his fiancée. We learn he must have a great phone plan because he talks to her for five to six hours every night, and she’s a mail-order bride from Russia.

It’s night time and they show the Nationals game going on and Adam Dunn hitting a home run. Then back at the stew room, Padma comes in and asks all six cheftestants to come to judges’ table and Amanda looks so shocked.

Padma asks Angelo about how he ended up taking orders, and he says he was happy to take orders. Tiffany calls him on it and says that’s not how it went, and then Angelo fesses up to how he changed his mind. Of course, Kevin had to chime in and say Angelo was wishy-washy, and to me it’s like the judges don’t care about all that drama.

So they talk about the food and Rick talks about Ed’s creamy center. His shrimp and corn fritter balls people! Eric Ripert says he liked the spiciness. Tom says Tiffany’s dish was messy but tasty, and Rick says it was fun to eat something messy. Then as the guest judge he names the winner, who is Ed, and he gets a cookbook from Chef Moonen and also wins an Australian trip.

Ed and Tiffany are safe and they leave. They talk about the rest, with Tom saying Amanda’s dish had nicely done vegetables but Ripert says the tuna oxidized and became black which gives the impression that the fish is not fresh.

Rick says Kevin had a great idea, but the ingredients were too many and didn’t come across. Eric says the skewer was so long in his mouth it wasn’t easy to eat, and we don’t want Ripert to hurt his pretty mouth. He also says the moisture from the chicken made the shoestrings fries on top all soggy.

For Kelly, they did like the crab cakes, but the only bad things they could say was that it was a little soft, not crispy, and that the bacon served with it was too big. So I think she’s safe.

For Angelo, Rick says the pork was cooked well but sauce sucked away from the bread. Padma speaks about the food for the first time and says it was too much sugar.

So are we done? Padma?

“That will be all.”

Thank you, and they all leave back to the stew room.

The judges talk some more but you know they’re just repeating themselves. Ripert is talking about the skewer in his mouth again. We get it, Eric. You don’t want to hurt yourself while eating. Then they focused on how Angelo’s dish was so sweet.

Commercials. If Justin Timberlake’s Sony commercials are any example of his talent as an actor, I want to watch him on the big screen. He is too funny.

Judgment time. You know, they went to a baseball park and Tom totally could have made so many baseball references, but looks like the cliché writers are off this week because Tom just gives a recap of what they already said, which is Kelly’s BLT didn’t come together, Amanda made an error by making her tuna a day early, Kevin had soggy fries and Angelo had a sweet and soggy bun.

Then Padma sends Amanda home. YAY! She swings, she misses, she’s OUTTA HERE!

Angelo looks really sad, or maybe he feels a bit guilty. Amanda says she went the farthest for a sous chef. Then she cries about how she’ll remember this experience for the rest of her life and how she’s going to push herself to work harder, but the hardest thing for her is leaving this show. Yeah, it’s not that hard for me watching you leave this show. That will be all.

Next: They head to NASA and I am so tired of these shows dusting off Buzz Aldrin and acting like he’s better than slice bread. But that’s what we have to look forward to for next week. Sigh, it’s going to be a long, cranky night for the Single Guy.

Top Chef airs every Wednesday at 10 p.m. on Bravo. Check your local listings. Photos courtesy of the Bravo TV website.


Muchadoaboutnothing said...

As usual, spot on review/recap. I was also glad to see the end of Amanda. Personally, I'm rooting for Tiffany to win. She has the chops and she has integrity besides. But I hope next season's crew is better than this one. I'm starting to lose interest in Top Chef.

Ms. Glorimar said...

First, I was rooting for Angelo because I think he has very good cooking skills, but he is getting too weird and I don't like anymore how innocent and affable he looks while he tries to manipulate people. I think Tiffany is the one to win the big one, followed by her secret admirer, Ed. I would say that either Kelly or Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde may fall out from the last 3 during the next episode.

Ms. Glorimar said...

Whoops, I totally forgot about Kevin! He is another one that should go home soon. I don't like his gossipy attitude.

Carolyn Jung said...

I'm with Eric Ripert -- that tartare looked sooooooooo unappetizing having turned gray!! What was she thinking, not only chopping it up a day ahead of time, but putting that pricey, prized fish through a meat grinder?!? OMG.

JoAn said...

Yes, Amanda deserved to go home, but doggonit, she wasn't boring. Everyone else makes me tired. Angelo is going to win this competition. Don't we all know that? The nail biter will be who gets second place: Tiffany or Ed, whichever one doesn't choke at bat, no pun intended.