Trouble With Toast

Top Chef D.C. – Episode 12 | September 5, 2010

Remember when I said I’d be back later this week with better posts?  Yeah, I lied.  Sue me.  I’m back, at least, though all you’re gonna get during a holiday weekend is a weak-ass recap of TC.  Again, sue me.

I can’t believe this episode was the last one filmed in DC.  On the one hand, it seems like they could have (and SHOULD have) done a lot more with the city and its wonderful food options.  On the other hand, I will be super glad to be finished with the lame, punny humor that has seemed to accompany every challenge.

The quickfire challenge was a tough one, where the chefs had to pick a wine and then create a dish to pair with it.  The contestants are told at the outset that the winner will be rewarded with a trip to London, and that this will be the last “high stakes” quickfire of the season.  They only have an hour, and yet Kevin inexplicably decides to do a braised pork belly (to pair with a merlot).  Not shockingly (to me, anyway), there isn’t enough time for a braised pork belly, so he has to switch gears and cook quail instead.  He does his usual “act pissy in the kitchen” routine, which hasn’t gotten any more charming.  Kelly goes for a zinfandel and a boar and blue cheese combo (icky), and Angelo picks a white wine to pair with foie gras.  Ed and Tiffany both opt for ribeye.  Angelo ends up winning the challenge, and the chefs are told that the final four will be heading to Singapore.

For the elimination challenge, the contestants head to the Goddard Space Center, where they are given their instructions by a NASA food scientist.  They are to create a delicious dish that can also be reproduced for space eatin’.  The scientist tells them to avoid too much sugar and large pieces of food, and that spicier foods work well when freeze-dried.  Off to Whole Foods!

Prep seems pretty standard, minus Tiffany realizing that she can’t use some mussels she was planning on.  The next morning, the chefs get a note from Tom stating that their ride was outside and that the winner of the challenge would be taking it home.  I was kinda hoping it would be a spaceship, but no, it’s just a dumb old Toyota Avalon.  Angelo gets in the drivers’ seat – good luck navigating the District, buddy.

Time for dinner – and Bourdain is back!!!  Buzz Aldrin is also one of the guests, along with the usual government drones.  Kelly goes first, with her halibut and artichoke number, and everyone seems to enjoy it.  The sauce would not fly (so to speak) in space, though, says the scientist.  Ed presents his Moroccan rack of lamb, and Bourdain thinks he nailed it.  Eric Ripert thinks it is too complicated, and Bourdain gives him a hard time (and calls him “the Ripper” – awesomesauce).  Kevin’s steak with fried onions (seriously, that’s all it boiled down to) is well-received, though the scientist wonders how they would keep the onions crispy in space.  Tiffany also did halibut, and again Bourdain and Ripert argue about the dish.  Finally, Angelo’s shortribs make quite the impression on Bourdain, and when Ripert starts nitpicking, Bourdain accuses him of being cynical and snarky and having a negative world view.  Oh, how the tables have turned!

At judges table, the chefs are told that they all did well and that the difference between winning and losing was very small.  The biggest complaints seem to be that Kelly’s dish was unoriginal (though perfectly executed), Kevin chose to serve sirloin, and Tiffany didn’t take the skin off her peppers.  Tiny little errors, but I suppose that’s how it works when the season is nearing its end.  Sadly, Tiffany’s errors send her packin’, which makes her sad because she was so darn close.  I am sad that she is gone, and since she was the only remotely likable contestant in the bunch, I am now perplexed as to who I want to win.

Singapore should be interesting…

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