Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Well, I had crabs. So it just brought back bad memories."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In the swirling hubbub of my travels over the past month, I have failed in my efforts to properly document the shenanigans of Top Chef Season 7: Hail to the Chef (from henceforth I must write that entire ridiculous title out in full). As of today, I have not just two or three, but FIVE recaps to complete. Also, it's Tuesday. Which means that the next episode airs tomorrow. The forecast for completion doesn't look good. Yet, I shall carry on. Particularly because I'm desperate to get to last week's shocking elimination.

When last we saw our chefs, they faced double elimination in a hotel restaurant challenge. Though I was glad to get rid of some of the dead weight, the chefs were saddened back at the now quiet townhouse. I tried to think about Ed and Tiffany's burgeoning friendship instead of the creepy way that Angelo whispers in Tamesha's ear while they sit on the porch alone. He says that he sees himself in her. Tamesha, run for the hills!

In the Top Chef kitchen, Padma waits for the chefs, accompanied by a giant table of crabs and a horrifying example of plastic surgery and inappropriate hair dyeing, Patrick O'Connell. I am not won over by the knowledge that he is a James Beard Award-winning chef. I didn't think it was possible to be more grossed out by him, but then he began to speak. Like a serial killer. Shudder.

After two inappropriate yet inevitable STD jokes, the chefs made a mad dash to the crab table. Despite the Maryland connection, I felt it was an unimaginative challenge, though I'd gladly dive into any crab dish that doesn't contain mayonnaise. Tamesha was allergic as a child (wtf is right, Tamesha), so is completely unfamiliar with crab preparation. Where did they find these chefs, I ask you??

For the sake of completing my mountain of recaps, a condensed version of the results:

Worst Dishes:

-Andrea's heavy, potato-burdened crab salad
-Amanda's "pungent" gelee
-Kevin's confusing lost crab

Best Dishes:

-Ed's refreshing thai crab salad (I wanted to eat it immediately!)
-Kenny's trio of crab flavor
-Angelo's tiny spoonful of delicate crab broth
Winner: Ed!

Elimination Challenge:
As Timothy tries to recover from his unexpected defeat as Only-Chef-From-Maryland-Thus-Inevitably-Good-with-Crab, Padma informs the chefs that they'll be traveling to Virginia's first certifiable organic farm, where they'll be required to work as team to put forth at least six family-style dishes for a group of local chefs and farmers. Kenny and Angelo immediately assume the leadership role in their heads, while the rest of the chefs freak out at the knowledge that they won't actually know their ingredients until they arrive.

After a strong battle of the wills between the two alpha dogs, no decisions are made. There's talk of teams, and one person working a grill, and compromising, but nothing really seems to get done. Kenny determines they should all work with their partners from the previous challenge, giving us as viewers the first real hint (via Ed's hesitance) that Alex is just as skeezy as we thought.

After a montage of the farm complete with galloping horses, yellow flowers, and butterflies, the chefs are seen scurrying over to the impressively arrayed tables of proteins and produce. Predictably, some quibbling ensues over who will work with what protein. Mostly dissatisfied, the chefs then race over to an odd assortment of mismatched tables and various sources of heating elements, including a grill with lava rocks and some hot plates. This is going to be rough. Thank goodness for the mobile pantry in the back of the vehicle Toyota has selected for its product placement spot.

To add insult to injury, it's also apparently quite wintry outside. Miami-based Andrea in particular seems to be suffering the most, working just as hard on her meat as she is to keep a scarf around her throat. I am sympathetic to her plight-ever since I moved to California I have developed an extremely thin skin. I find temperatures above 80 degrees and below 50 to be practically intolerable!

During prep, we learn that Amanda is making minestrone. While I check my notes to determine if she has any culinary background at all other than working at Jason's Deli, there is a horrifying moment where Stephen is mashing up hard-boiled eggs with a potato masher. Kelly and Timothy have a minor argument about beets and turnips, and Angelo yet again refers to food with adjectives more appropriately used to describe body parts. Tamesha's virginal ears were so shocked by a "making love to the duck" comment that she knocked over Kenny's couscous. He reacted quite calmly and began making something with broccoli. What a gem.

The judges and farmers are seated on one long table, which I found very appealing. My heart leapt with joy upon seeing my beloved Eric Ripert. He is so kind to the cheftestants, and not pretentious at all. Adore him.

One dish after the other prove underwhelming to the judges, with the exception of Kenny and Kevin's curried eggplant and couscous, Andrea and Kelly's pork and beets, and of course Angelo's duck. Stephen's hideous salad, Amanda's boring minestrone, and Timothy's poorly seasoned vegetables were the standout losers.

Kenny took home the win for his carefully constructed dish, but Timothy couldn't defend himself against a charge of bad vegetables.

Whew! One down, four to go!

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