Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Did I thank you for the duck nuts?"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Here we go, here we go, here we go! Four of five recaps done, moving on to yet another politically-titled episode, "Cold War."

Quickfire Challenge:
As cherry blossoms continue to bloom, the chefs wake up in a Timothy-less house vowing to do what they can to get back on top. The footage of the their cheerful attitudes upon leaving the townhouse becomes delightfully ironic when they stroll into the Top Chef kitchen to find Michelle Bernstein sheepishly grinning next to a table of so-called "nasty proteins." I feel a twinge of pity for Michelle B, who somehow always draws the short straw when it comes to selecting episodes for the big-time chefs. This isn't her first rodeo with rattlesnake, geoduck, or duck white kidney.

The chefs visibly cringe while picking knives to determine order, though upon a closer glance at the table, I only see the need for two or three of them to freak out. Fois gras is hardly unusual for successful restaurant chefs, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be difficult to work with frog's legs or wild boar. I'd pick rattlesnake of course. They say it tastes like chicken.

In the second deliciously ironic moment of the episode in only ten minutes, Angelo selects duck white kidneys, which, as it turns out, are actually testicles. We'll see if he calls this dish sexy.

The exotic protein challenge isn't new on the show, so I was especially excited when they mixed it up a bit and had the chefs stop mid-prep to switch proteins. Anything to keep us from seeing Angelo's "testicle marshmallow." The chefs are unfamiliar enough with pretty much all of the proteins that they don't really change up their plans after the switch.

In the end, Michelle and Padma determined that Stephen's frog legs, Alex's ostrich, and Andrea's wild boar were the losing dishes. I'm pretty sure Michelle has it out for Andrea, being that they have competing restaurants in Miami.

They deemed Kelly's emu, Tamesha's duck tongue, and Amanda's llama to be the best dishes. Kelly's balanced emu omelette had the best flavor, and she won immunity.

Elimination Challenge:
Padma explains the details of the elimination challenge, cutely titled, as I mentioned, "Cold War." The chefs must prepare a dish "best served cold," and will be divided into two groups. Each group will be judging the other's food. Of course, the only way to properly plan for such a challenge is a Potomac River cruise on the USS Sequoia. Where many treaties were signed and presidents pondered. Kenny immediately takes a spot at a desk to think about his strategy alone, while other Alpha Dog Angelo is on a sabotage mission, passing along potentially disastrous ideas to innocent, gullible cheftestants.

Back at their old hangout spot, Whole Foods, the chefs predictably head towards the sexy seafood section. Angelo is there giving Tamesha his blessing on her scallops + rhubarb jus idea. He gives Stephen a bit of advice as well, while Tiffany, Ed, and Kevin confidently circle the produce and grain aisles.

In the kitchen, we learn that Andrea cannot get it out of her head that Michelle Bernstein is there to judge her. Kenny worries that his fellow cheftestants will judge his dish solely based on their desire to eliminate him from competing. Tamesha loses her cool when left alone too long without Angelo's help. Speaking of Mr. Sexy, he spends more time helping his proteges than actually working on his dish.

The challenge takes place in a "stately room", according to Amanda. Group A, consisting of Kenny, Kevin, Ed, Amanda, and Alex, cooks first. While Group B delightfully takes their place at the table, we see another bit of foreshadowing when Alex lies to Amanda about what her dish tastes like.

I'm so distracted at first by Angelo's 50's style slicked-back hair and v-necked blazer with no shirt underneath that I first I don't notice how RIDICULOUSLY critical Group B is of their competitor's food. It was as if they liked NOTHING. Angelo and Tamesha tag-teamed to lambaste every dish, while Andrea attempted to sound like a culinary goddess across the table from Michelle. Tiffany was the only one who had any sort of objective judgment to share, and Kelly, who also won the chance to sit out with her elimination, kept quiet. Group B decided that Kevin's dish was the best while Kenny's was the worst. Can we say RIDICULOUS one more time?! In what world would Amanda or Alex serve better food than Kenny?!

Tom and crew were clearly irritated and dismayed by the lack of objectivity displayed by the second group. Just when I thought I couldn't love Tom more, my heart warming over my enjoyment of the episode, I was gifted with the incredible gem of a deleted scene, in which we learn Ed actually stole a girl from Angelo a few years back.

I gleefully observe Group B head to the kitchen, delighted that it's now their turn for judgment. Sadly, Group A proved to be much more generous, delicately taking bites of each dish and attempted to offer constructive criticism. At least until they arrived at Tamesha's shockingly spicy scallops, which was universally panned. Tiffany's tuna was voted as best dish, sending her up for the win with Kevin. Tamesha would be stewing at the bottom with Kenny.

It was highly pleasing to see Kevin win-he is teddy-bear appealing, makes good food, and clearly doesn't allow prejudice to cloud his judgment when it comes to what actually tastes great (even if his rival is making it). Kenny was extremely dissatisfied to be on the bottom, understandably, but not exactly surprised. He of course believed Angelo was snaking him, though he didn't share that sentiment with the judges.

Thankfully, the judges sent the lesser chef home, that being Tamesha. How much longer could she manage to hold her own, anyway? Last week's episode proved that even the very best chefs competing aren't safe, and I'm not sure that T could function without skeevy Angelo.

I'm inching closer and closer to my goal, y'all...three more left!

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