Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Sugar snap peas...put your back into it...I love me...look at me go!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Yes, I'm writing one of TWO recaps that I MUST complete before this evening, so as not to have three waiting in the queue after tonight's episode. All of my gallivanting around California and various wedding travels have really put a damper on my Top Chef recapping-spirit! This is terrible, because it's just around this time in the season that the show gets really good, having shed the weight of the less competent chefs.

Opening scenes:

Episode two featured Angelo's sabotage, Kelly's soapboxing, and Jacqueline's 2 pounds of sugar demise. The episode opens with Amanda sitting forlornly on the townhouse's fitness orb, not the least bit sad because of Jacqueline's departure, but instead worried that the other chefs don't take her seriously. Angelo sits in a random spot of mulch in the backyard with his coffee, meditating on how to remove Kenny from his mind.


The chefs were sure to cringe inwardly when they were greeted by Padma and Johnny Iuzzini, who any Top Chef fan worth her salt will immediately recognize as a famous pastry chef. Which means dessert challenge. Cue the ominous music. Desserts=Achilles heel of all chefs. Padma gleefully informs the chefs that they will have to make a pie, one good enough to impress Johnny and Gail, the host of the upcoming show Top Chef: Just Desserts. Clearly, the producers saw a window of opportunity after so many failed confectionary efforts on the show-let's come up with a competition where you might actually want to eat the sweet course placed in front of you!

Arnold and Kelly begin the challenge by immediately quibbling over space. Their tiffs are becoming more and more obnoxious. Arnold is surprised by how annoyed he "gets of her." I give her a point or two, however, for at least having a decent pie recipe up her sleeve, unlike the other 99% of her group.

Angelo has never made a pie before. Of course. By using Jedi mind tricks, he is able to turn a curry into pie. Kevin makes a beautiful lattice top for his pie, and Tracey refuses to share her pie idea with anyone, which is basically code for her panic at having to create a dessert. Have these chefs never watched the show? HAVE A DESSERT IDEA READY TO GO, for the love of God!

After we get a glimpse of the burgeoning enmity between Ed and Alex, we learn that Tracey did not measure the ingredients for her pie. There are no words. It's baking, like a chemistry experiment! There is no room for guesstimating!

The trio of judges loathed Alex's tapioca quiche, Ed's weird celery spuma, and of course, Tracey's hot mess. On the other hand, Kelly's chocolate ganache tart, Stephen's bourbon pie, and Kenny's bananas foster pie were interesting and delicious. Kenny FINALLY won a challenge, to his and my own relief.

In perhaps the most inappropriate cultural reference on culinary television history, Padma informs the chefs that they will be preparing a picnic lunch for capitol hill interns. I'm really thinking that it was possible to have a DC-based, government-themed season WITHOUT a reference to interns. Television has no shame.

While most of the chefs are fine with the idea of bbq, Arnold laments that he's not a grill guy, and worries it will clog his pores. Whilst shopping at Whole Foods, Kevin informs us that he's going to go outside the typical American bbq and Tracey decides to "make her own thing", which equals sausage. Something tells me these are not good signs. I also get worried when, back at the Top Chef kitchen, Arnold says "I know we're going to see a whole lot of bbq, but I'm going to do something different." Um, perhaps you need cluing in on the actual wording of the challenge, Arnold.

Timothy and Amanda are both making ribs. Angelo is doing "Asian-style picnic." So clever, Angelo. Kenny relives his first time grilling, at age 7. His "when I was a chef at such-and-such juvenile age" stories are getting a bit old for me, I have to admit. Tracey's handy Kitchen-Aide shuts down mid-grind and she decides not to case the sausage, despite the productive little tune she concocts to motivate herself. Uh-oh. Tom visits the kitchen, and all I can think of as he strides to each station is what MUST be his theme song.

The next day, the chefs arrive at Mt. Vernon, awaiting the parade of interns. There is some inevitable stereotyping with the women and the grills. Kenny astutely points out that Angelo has thus far been preparing exclusively Asian food. While he's certainly motivated by his competitive nature, Kenny is right-Angelo is going to have to show us what else he can do, at some point.

Padma, Tom, and Gail are joined by Jonathan Waxman. Arnold's lame kofta and barley salad are refreshing. Angelo's food is once again universally adored, declared a "magazine cover" dish by Waxman. Surprisingly, Amanda's plate of ribs, grilled asparagus, and salad with bacon hazelnut vinaigrette snags the judges' heart-strings. I start to worry about Tracey when Tom almost chokes on the plentiful amount of fennel seed. I give Angelo props for honestly admitting that Amanda's ribs are excellent.

Back at judge's table, Ed, Arnold, Angelo, and Amanda are declared the winners. Though it was obvious that the judge's loved Ed's unique lentil and tuna dish, Arnold's lamb was selected as the best. Predictably, he's beside himself.

Tim, Stephen, Tracey, and Kevin find themselves on rock bottom. Tim's ribs simply couldn't compare to Amanda's, Stephen's bacon-wrapped sea bass was completely unappetizing, Kevin was dinged for "safe", unimaginative Puerto Rican food, and Tracey's too-big, too-spicy, and too-rare sliders were slammed. After Jonathan Waxman declared that his 10-year old son could have made Tracey's patty, it was fairly obvious who would be going home, even though it stung for all four when Tom stated that it was not a good day for American chefs.

I'm going to miss Tracey-her quirky songs, inexplicable admiration for Angelo, and ruddy rotund figure added a layer of warmth to the season.

On to episode 4!

No comments: