Thursday, September 02, 2010

Top Chef: Season 7, Episode 12

Too the Moon, Angelo. Too the Moon.

Previously: They’re off to the ballpark, where Angelo wants Kevin to chill out. Amanda makes grey tuna, and Ed wins at the top of the 9th. Amanda is sent back to the minor leagues.

Welcome to the Emmy-award winning Top Chef. I bet Padma is still shocked, like how she shouted out during the acceptance speech. But watching this season, Top Chef, I wouldn’t pin your hopes on a repeat. It’s back to the “Amazing Race,” I say.

Opening shots of the Washington Monument and people waking up and putting on makeup. Hey, did you ever notice Kevin’s restaurant back home is called “Rat’s Restaurant.” I mean, why?

Kelly is in the garden with Angelo talking about missing her husband. Then we learn that Angelo got divorced last year because apparently his ex-wife’s family is embarrassed with a chef as a son-in-law. Maybe Angelo needed to cook for them more often.

The five remaining cheftestants arrive at the Top Chef kitchen and notice all the wine in the kitchen. Angelo gets all excited because he says he loves wine. Dana Cowin, editor in chief of Food and Wine, is there and so is Padma dressed like a waiter. Ed mentions that he’s Facebook friends with Dana Cowin. Yeah, him and 3,080 other people.

Cowin then speaks and I totally missed what she said or means. Something like “10 percent are awful and 10 percent are genius.” But I wasn’t sure if she was talking about wine or parents. I’m so tired.

Padma says they have to cook a dish and pair it with a wine, and this is the final high-stakes quickfire and the winner gets a trip to London. You know, I think Padma’s outfit makes her look more like an equestrian. Whatev, I don’t think it’s working.

The cheftestants each go and pick a wine, and then start cooking. They talk about their wine and why they chose it and a bit about what they’re making. Kevin wants to make pork belly for his red wine and plans to do it in an hour in a pressure cooker.

But when he checks his pork belly, they don’t seem cooked at all and he has to scrap it with just seven minutes left. So he bunts and decides to grill some quail but he’s not happy about it as he tells us while swearing with just a few minutes left.

Tasting. Thank God these things are shorter with fewer cheftesants’ dishes to try.

Tiffany: Paired with a shiraz, she makes a cocoa and black pepper-encrusted wagu beef tenderloin and spring risotto. Padma calls it beautiful.

Kevin: Paired with a merlot, he serves up his last-minute quail. Kevin tries to make it sound like he planned to pair the red with quail from the beginning, but Cowin notes that quail is sometimes delicate compared to the heavy red wine.

Angelo: Picked a wine called Evolution white wine and paired it with some kind of foie gras dish.

Kelly: Paired with a zinfandel, she made a wild boar tenderloin. Cowin asks what the foam was, and it was blue cheese.

Ed: Paired with an Italian rosso wine, he serves up grilled rib eye with spring risotto. Sounds just like Tiffany’s dish.

Cowin says the least successful were Kevin (quail beautifully cooked but not matched well with the merlot) and Kelly (never go with blue cheese foam with wine).

She did like Angelo and Tiffany and I learn that Cowin’s favorite word is “beautiful.” And the winner of the challenges is … coming up. Dang, they haven’t done that for awhile.

Commercials. Morningstar meatless grillers look like flat cardboard sheets piled on top of each other. Why can’t vegetarian hamburgers look plump?

So we had to wait for the commercials to find out that Angelo won the quickfire. He actually hasn’t won for awhile, so he’s hoping this gives him momentum going into the elimination challenge.

Padma tells them that only four will go to the finals and for the first time in the series’ history, they’ll have the final in a foreign country. The finals will be in … Singapore! What? How do they go from D.C. to Singapore. I kind of feel D.C. really didn’t get featured that much this season. Now they leave for Asia. Angelo’s all excited and tingly inside because he thinks he’s Asian and going to Singapore would be like going home but like not really.

Elimination challenge. Padma says they will be going to NASA, and Kelly is all excited because she says she went to space camp and she’s a self-described space nerd. They don’t really learn what the challenge will be so they all hop in the car and head to the Goddard Space Flight Center.

The cheftestants enter a control room and Tom Colicchio and some NASA nutritionist is there to greet them. She manages the food program for the International Space Station, and they play a message from two astronauts currently at the Space Station. They learn that they get food like coffee and scrambled eggs and even chicken fajitas, but funny how they all look like silver IV bags. Their challenge, natch, is to make a dish that can be freeze-dried and sent into space.

The NASA woman tells them that food in space shouldn’t have a lot of sugar because sugar doesn’t freeze well, large chunky ingredients aren’t helpful, and spicy food apparently tastes better in orbit.

Tom tells them they’ll be cooking for guests like astronauts and NASA scientists, and special guest Buzz Aldrin. Apparently this is a really big deal but I’m like, I’m so over Aldrin after I endured him on “Dancing With the Stars.” Yeah, he walked on the moon. Yeah, he’s America’s hero. Yeah, he was the inspiration for “Buzz Lightyear.” But retire the guy already. (Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against old people. Just old people who stay at the party too long.)

The cheftestants go shopping at Whole Foods, and Ed goes straight for the rack of lamb, while Angelo buys boneless short ribs and Tiffany looks for fish and mussels. Sounds like Tiffany’s doing something Thai. I think she’s already thinking of Singapore. Angelo, BTW, almost runs into a woman with his cart. Spaz.

Commercials. Breyers’ Smooth and Dreamy doesn’t look like a fudge ice cream sandwich. Just looks like a big frozen Oreo.

Back at Top Chef kitchen, Angelo looks like the only one running like crazy. Everyone else looks pretty calm. Angelo is also drawing some kind of diagram on a napkin. Is that his flight plan?

Tom walks in for his little visits. I just have to say, Tom is no Tim Gunn of “Project Runway.” Tim Gunn offers constructive criticism, while Tom goes around making faces and asking boring questions. This whole segment with him was very unenlightening. And after meeting with everyone, he doesn’t even do his backstage summary like he normally does. Useless. I just wasted 10 minutes of my life. Thanks a lot Colicchio.

Tiffany grabs her mussels from the frig and they’re frozen. She’s all like “nooooo” because they’re dead and she can’t use them. Then she says “Beaumont, we have a problem.” I think she’s doing an allusion to “Houston, we have a problem” but I don’t know who’s Beaumont.

Back at the house, Tiffany tells Ed she has to throw away her mussels and Ed tries to cheer her up and say it’s not totally lost.

The next day, at the house the cheftestants come downstairs and find a note. Kevin reads it out loud and says that their ride is outside and the winner of the challenge gets to keep it. They go rushing out the door and find this really cool black ride that looks like a hipper town car. It’s a Toyota Avalon and everyone jumps in with Angelo taking the wheels. Do they even know where they’re driving to?

They arrive at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. Then they start checking out the kitchen. In walks the executive chef Xavier, who just basically welcomes them and that’s the last time we ever see the guy. Really? Two minutes of my life. Gone. Thanks for nothing Chef Xavier.

Tiffany works on her broth without the mussels and she tries to fix it by adding a bunch of other stuff. The she talks about how she worked at the iHop in the 10th grade and was told no woman can go in the kitchen. Hey, in her interview her hair is shorter and stylish. Looks like it was taped later. What’s that all about? Was it taped in … Singapore!? Hmmm.

The guests arrive for dinner, and there’s Buzz Aldrin. Tom asks what it’s like walking on the moon and Aldrin says “magnificent.” Yeah, what else is he going to say? “Dude, it was dope” or maybe “it was the bomb.” I don’t think so.

Anthony Bourdain is also at the table, I guess because he’s a “world traveler” that he’s qualified to judge what astronauts would eat. There are also a couple of astronauts and the NASA woman from earlier.

Kelly’s up first with her pan-seared halibut with artichoke and fennel barigoule. Tom likes it and Padma asks Buzz an unoriginal question just to give him more air time. Then Ed presents his Moroccan inspired dish of yogurt marinated rack of lamb with couscous croquettes. Eric Ripert thinks the dish is too complicated, but Bourdain disagrees with him and says it’s a home run. Or more specifically, “I’ve been to Morocco. Morocco is my best friend. This is exactly Morocco.”

Kevin’s up with his New York strip steak with corn puree. Then the astronauts talk about cutlery. Really? You’re judging a food competition and you’re going to talk about your dang spoon you used in space. Where. Is. GAIL??!

Then we have Tiffany who also made a pan-seared halibut. If this was a tasting menu, I would be so mad being served the same fish twice. They should make it a rule you can only have one protein per person. At least she served it with coconut curry. Ripert doesn’t like all the things in the curry, especially the pea shoots. Anthony Bourdain, no surprise, loves the fish sauce.

Angelo is last with his ginger lacquered short ribs with horseradish crème fraiche. Buzz finally says something about the food, saying it’s tasty and the pickled mushroom was a surprise. Tom didn’t like the candied gingered, which made the whole dish too sweet. And he looks mad about it even though he says he likes everything else. Ripert says it’s a tiny bit acidic. Bourdain says Eric is all snarky tonight because he thought the dish was very sophisticated and easily adaptable for extra-terrestrials.

In the back, Angelo is bent over looking stressed and all emotional about cooking his heart out. Or maybe he just needs a cigarette. I’ve learned that chefs smoke a lot.

Commercials. Quaker Oats. That’s an “amazingly” long commercial.

This week’s Top Chef “quicklook” just showed all the cheftestants sticking their fingers into each other’s dish to see how it tasted and checking out the competition. These quicklooks are really boring. Bring back Hosea and Leah cuddling!

The cheftestants walk right into the judges’ table. No stew room banter or Padma coming to get them. In fact, Padma looks super mad like she has an Emmy stuck up her…Oh no I didn’t!

Tom tells them they all did an amazing job and the difference between the winner and loser is very small. They go over each person’s dish and basically they tell Ed that his dish was too complicated but done well, Tiffany’s fish could have done without the potatoes and peppers, and Kelly made a true Provence-like fish.

Then Angelo talks about being in the submissive position while he made love to his short ribs. Bourdain is totally confused because he’d rather have a beer than hear Angelo talk about making love.

They’re sent to the stew room, and the judges deliberate. Ripert seems to think a lot of the food is complicated tonight, except Kevin’s dish which was boring. Bourdain says Ed cooked his heart out while Kelly played it safe. Padma loves Angelo’s dish but Tom is still stuck on the candied ginger.

Tom says Kevin’s dish reminded him of home. Ripert really liked the onion rings. But Tony says this is Top Chef not “Top Chef Sirloin.” Tom says all five dishes were very good, so “we’re splitting hairs,” which is kind of ironic to say coming from him. I’m just saying.

Judgement time. Tom announces that the winner also will be invited to watch the two remaining shuttle launch, and Kelly is about to have a space nerd orgasm. Bourdain chooses the winner as the guest judge and he picks Angelo, who’s totally surprised and wants to cry. Everyone else is totally jealous and quiet. Back in the stew room by himself, Angelo sits and slowly rubs the keys of his new Toyota Avalon.

Tom tells the rest that it’s a difficult decision, although I’m pretty sure Ed is safe. I think it’s between Kevin and Tiffany. I want it to be Kevin, but really sounds like Tiffany’s dish really failed without the mussels.

Tom this time around tells them why their dishes were good: Kevin elevated a home dish, Kelly made it look effortless, Tiffany’s flavors leaped off the plate, and Ed also gave tremendous flavor. He says he wished all of them could go, but one of them won’t for sure. He turns to Padma to do the dirty work, and she sends Tiffany home. Whaaaat? They shoot to Kevin who whispers “thank you lord Jesus.” That’s right, you have to thank somebody for getting you through. Ed looks shocked about Tiffany leaving. She’s already crying and she is the first to walk into the stew room and Angelo thinks she’s safe until she tells him she’s leaving and he looks just as shocked as Ed.

Tiffany is all emotional and speechless, so they have to show Ed’s tape saying how she brought a lot of energy to the show. I really wished Kevin went home because Tiffany looked like she could go all the way. But this really shows how one wrong dish can really screw you up. And how you shouldn’t put your mussels near the freezer.

Next week: They go to Singapore, and Padma asks Kevin what’s wrong with him. Ed wants to kick Angelo’s butt, and if you thought they sweated a lot in the Top Chef kitchen, you should see them cooking on the streets of Singapore.

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


Nate @ House of Annie said...

Is it me, or does Bourdain look like Ripert's long lost brother?

I would love to see Tim Gunn walk in on the chefs as they're working on their dishes.

Anonymous said...

Single Guy... I found your blog quite by accident about a year and a half ago and have been reading it ever since! I'm a Labor and Delivery nurse in Texas. I love cooking and reading cooking blogs.
Every other Wednesday night I have to miss TopChef because of work. Even though Bravo shows reruns of it about a million times before the next week, I get up early on Thursdays, just to read your recap. It is freaking hilarious everytime! I love to read your take on it. And... I always totally agree with it! Anyway, just thought I'd finally actually comment. Love you blog!

MoHub said...

Beaumont is not a "who." Beaumont, Texas, is Tiffany's hometown.

Mrs. L said...

Sorry, but after that horrid dress she wore at the Emmy's I'm having a hard time not laughing at Padma's "waiter" outfit too.

Ms.Glorimar said...

I also wanted Tiffany to go to Singapore instead of Kevin. Those damn mussels! Even Angelo was surprised when he saw her coming out from judge's table with that sad face.

Single Guy Ben said...

Nate, I agree, they do look alike, that's why I was surprised they were so on polar opposites on the judging.

Anonymous, welcome! I'm glad I can help with your Top Chef viewing! :)

MoHub, I figured it was a small town, but it sounds like it could be the name of a dog or horse, too!

Mrs. L, I didn't really notice her dress at the Emmy. But that equestrian outfit has got to go.

Ms. Glorimar, I hope Kevin flops in Singapore!

CookDrinkDine said...

I am addicted with Top Chef, I loved Michael last season and now I love Angelo, but sometimes he gets over excited and he looses his focus...

I will have to agree that Padma since she had her baby has been having a hard time with her outfits, i don't understand why they keep putting some many layers and ruffles and ties on her... they should go with simple clean lines....

I am glad to see I am not the only one obsessed with the show! And I don't like Kevin either...

Just joined the cooking blog community, I am loving it so far!

Carolyn Jung said...

The best part of the show was when Bourdain referred to Eric as "the ripper.'' Too funny! ;)

Jenster said...

I was really sad to see Tiffany go. She's been a lot more consistent with good dishes and Kevin has been hit-or-miss, but such is the way of a reality show. (I sound so zen!)

Always love having Anthony Bourdain on this show because he likes to stir things up.

I found Padma extremely annoying during the Emmys -- You could tell she really wanted to rip that microphone from the (producer? director?) and make her own speech, but since she couldn't do that, she just positioned herself close to the mic and shouted things out every few seconds while he spoke. RUDE!

Hungry Dog said...

I was sad to see Tiffany go. Kevin has really started to get on my nerves and yes, why would you ever have a restaurant called Rat's? That's possibly the worst restaurant name I have ever heard. At this point, I want Angelo or Ed to win, although I'm not really feelin' it for either one. I still miss Kevin from last season.

Karen Tran said...

Your recaps are the best thing about this season of Top Chef! Thank you!!!

Single Guy Ben said...

Jenster, I thought that too about Padma at the Emmy's. So annoying how she was trying to steal the spotlight.

MoHub said...

I'm hoping if Padma is nursing, she isn't drinking, but she sure seemed to be more than a few sheets to the wind on that stage. Gail seemed a little drunk as well, though she wasn't quite as boisterous as Padma.