Friday, August 27, 2010

Top Chef Season 7, Episode 11: "To have a skewer in your mouth like that… it’s not easy”

Everyone seems to be losing their marbles as the eleventh episode of “Top Chef” Season 7 kicks off. It’s the eleventh hour – make it or break it time, and the six remaining chefs are feeling the pressure. Ed tries to relieve the tension by prancing around the house in one of Tiffany’s dresses, and Angelo reacts by talking to himself. He also reveals that when he was young he used to cut out pictures of all the famous four star chefs, put them in a special room with candles and kneel and pray before them everyday.

Yep, golden boy definitely flew over the cuckoo’s nest with this one.

But Amanda is more concerned because he reads books and that’s like way freakier. Who does that?

Rick Moonen from RM Seafood is this episode’s guest judge for the Quickfire and Elimination Challenges. Apparently, it's now a requirement for all chefs to be on “Top Chef Masters” if they want to be a guest judge on the show. Or just be short enough so that Padma looks like a giant in comparison.

This week Padma is super excited because she gets to say “top dog, “top banana, and “the big cheese,” to describe the Quickfire. It’s what she makes her lovers call her in the bedroom -- before she eats them like a Praying Mantis and then spits them out for being undercooked and too sweet.

The challenge this week is all about idioms – specifically food idioms that the chefs must use to inspire their dishes. It’s all very clever (i.e. obnoxious). The chefs draw knives and then select their idioms – Kevin picks “bringing home the bacon,” Amanda picks “the big cheese” because she likes cheese, Tiffany picks “spill the beans,” Angelo picks “bigger fish to fry,” Ed picks “hot potato,” and Kelly picks “sour grapes” because she always looks like she’s sucking on one. Winner of the challenge won’t win immunity or $10,000, but their dish will be made into a Schwann frozen food. We aren’t sure what that has to do with idioms. Maybe because only idiots eat frozen food?

Now that Alex is gone, Ed is focusing his hatred on Amanda. He tells us, “I’m not a big fan of Amanda. She’s annoying. She’s a slob. She has no technique.” It sounds like super familiar. Like when he said of Alex, “His thought process is underdeveloped, he’s a slob, he has no technique…” Ed is getting a little sloppy there with his insults. He might need to use a little better technique – put a little more thought into his processes. Or just finally sleep with Tiffany so he can stop being such a Mister Cranky Pants. Kevin is not much more profound. He says of Angelo, “Eccentric people sometimes cook eccentric.” Bravo, Kevin! That is quite the deduction there! Way to bring home that bacon!

Kelly’s just above it all. She says, “I’m like a really organized person. The other chefs seem really disorganized.” Her organization doesn’t pay off in this week’s Quickfire, however. She lands in the bottom for her pan-roasted chicken breast with caramelized Brussels sprouts leaves and red grape sauce that Rick Moonen finds out of sync. He also calls out Amanda for her macaroni and cheese with bacon and a pork chop that he describes as “kind of like a sledgehammer to the gut.” Amanda proceeds to throw herself a pity party and whines to the camera, “Nothing I’m going to make is going to be any good, so it really doesn’t matter what you make does it?” It’s kind of like a sledgehammer to our heads.

Ed and Kevin are singled out for having the best dishes, but Ed ultimately wins it for his herb and roasted garlic gnocchi with spring vegetables and mushroom fricassee. Angelo’s pleased with the victor, saying, “I can totally see his face on the packaging. I think it would look really amazing.” We can see it too – under the caption, “You’re a slob, you have no technique, so eat my hot potato.”

For this week’s Elimination Challenge the chefs will need to create fine dining versions of concession stand fare to serve to 150 fans at the Nationals Baseball Stadium. Amanda immediately thinks, gee, sounds like the perfect place to serve tuna tartar! That I’ll cut the day before! By grinding it through a meat grinder! Just like Angelo, the mind possessor, tells me to do!

And Ed thinks she has no technique.


Ed, who is making 500 corn and shrimp fritters, is feeling the heat. Not even Tiffany is safe from the steam that’s pouring out of his ears. He screams at her about a tart, but Tiffany just does her thing – she’s super pumped to be rolling out her own balls for her Italian meatball sandwich. She better watch out though. Ed might start calling her a slob for making something so messy to eat. Ugh. So gross. So underdeveloped.

There’s some back and forth about who is going to take food orders at the game – Angelo had originally volunteered to take on the role, but then starts to back out once he realizes Ed will be responsible for plating his dishes. Yadda yadda yadda – it’s really just annoying filler where everybody gets to use their whiny voice.

During service, everyone wants Tiffany’s meatballs and Kelly’s crab cakes. Really, I think they just want an excuse to say “balls” and “crab” over and over again. I want the balls! I’ll have the crabs! Can I get those together? Take me out to the ball game, indeed.

Like the fans, the judges are super impressed with Tiffany’s balls also. Though Eric Ripert finds her Italian meatball sub with fennel, basil pesto and mozzarella a bit messy to eat, the judges universally enjoy the flavors and thought behind it. She and Ed are singled out for having the best dishes of the challenge. Ed’s shrimp and corn fritters with jalapeño aioli, which by the way are not the work of a slob at all, is ultimately named the best dish and Ed wins a trip to Australia.

The judges have issues with all of Kevin, Kelly, Angelo and Amanda’s dishes. They are not impressed with Kevin’s hard-to-eat chicken kabob with romesco sauce, shoestring fries and smoked paprika that forces diners to deep throat a skewer to eat it. Eric Ripert says, “To have a skewer in your mouth like that… it’s not easy.” Women all around America nod their head in agreement.

While the judges appreciate the flavor of Kelly’s open-faced crab cake sandwich, they felt the texture was too soft, and also find Angelo’s hot dog buns to be too soft and sponge-like for his overly sweet glazed pork with sesame pickles. Angelo’s sweet pork and oversized hot dog buns are not, however, the worst transgression of the challenge. The judges are all turned off by Amanda’s gray tuna tartar. Even though Tom is appreciative of the fennel, shitake mushrooms and meyer lemon and fava bean puree accompaniments, Amanda is sent packing. Tuna tartar should never be gray. Eric Ripert’s hair on the other hand…


Alessandra said...

Eric Ripert is such a silver fox!

Ashley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashley said...

amanda probably was eager to go find her lover, hosea. isn't she a total doppelganger for that other annoying girl from the show?

Esi said...

Was it just me or was this ep really boring? I found myself starting to do other things while watching..or perhaps the whole season has been like that??

stuffycheaks said...

Amanda's rant about the pity party was really annoying. I wonder what Water Grill really thinks of her after the show

weezermonkey said...

What? No mention of Angelo's mail-order Russian bride?

kevinEats said...

I find it amazing that Angelo's MO bride wasn't from Vietnam or something.