Top Chef 7/21 Recap: A Chilly Reception
As we are now down six chefs, I only can hope that a little more personality from this season’s contestants starts to show through. All we have now is the “scheming” Angelo, the “cocky” Kenny, and bullet-proof Amanda. This season needs a bit more spice.
Andrew Zimmern should have been there.
For the Quick Fire challenge this week, the chefs arrive at the Top Chef Kitchen to find an array of bizarre proteins. Padma is there, joined by Michelle Bernstein, the famous chef from Miami. Michelle’s presence does not sit well with Andrea, as they are competitors back in their hometown. The chefs draw knives for the order they will pick their proteins; no one is terribly thrilled, though some ingredients like frog legs and foie gras aren’t all that uncommon. When Angelo picks the “duck white kidneys”, we learn that’s just code for duck testicles and the chefs giggle like schoolboys.
The chefs have 45 minutes to prepare their dishes; Amanda has drawn emu eggs, which are notoriously difficult to open. Then, ten minutes into the challenge, Padma arrives and makes everyone switch ingredients by moving one spot down. Kelly’s now stuck with Amanda’s separated eggs, Kevin has the duck testicles, and Tamesha is perplexed by what to do with duck tongues. I can’t say I blame her—who knew people even ate duck tongues? Just how hungry would you have to be to even consider it? Andrea is still not happy with Michelle being there, and knows her displeasure is throwing her off her game. Once the clock runs down, these dishes are served:
Tamesha: duck tongue in broth with mirepoix, lime and sriracha.
Andrea: wild boar, risotto with dried cherries, almond, mushrooms and red wine.
Tiffany: foie gras with caramelized apples, toasted pecans, brandy-caramel sauce.
Alex: ostrich barded in caul fat and basil with mushroom duxelle and balsamic glaze.
Kevin: duck testicles meuniere with beet and licorice puree.
Angelo: seared crocodile with ginger, garlic and chiles.
Stephen: seared frog leg, frog leg confit, tomato grits and blackened bourbon sauce.
Kenny: rattlesnake francese and rattlesnake cake with leeks, bacon and curry sauce.
Kelly: emu egg omelet with goat cheese and harissa vinaigrette.
Amanda: roasted llama, sauce soubise with leek, date and bacon compote.
Michelle picks Stephen’s insipid frog legs, Alex’s dry ostrich, and Andrea’s undercooked boar as her least favorites. She likes Kelly’s amazing omelet, Tamesha’s perfectly cooked duck tongue, and Amanda’s llama. She picks Kelly as the winner and she gets immunity. Who would have thought something as obvious as an omelet would have won?
Dishes best served cold.
After the QF, Padma explains the “Cold War” Elimination Challenge. The chefs will draw knives for placement in either Team A or Team B; each chef will prepare a dish that is to be served cold. Team A will serve the dishes to the judges and Team B, who will nominate a winner and loser. Team B will then serve Team A, who also gets to nominate a winner and loser. Kelly has immunity, so she will sit with the judges for both services and won’t have to prepare a dish.
Padma then sends the chefs off for a cruise on the USS Sequoia for their planning time. Kenny is nervous because knows others are out for him and Amanda doesn’t think the others get the gravity of the competition. Angelo gives Stephen advice, which Kevin spies; he tells Kenny about Angelo’s free-wheeling advice-giving, and they both remain skeptical of Angelo’s motives. Ed and Tiffany are still sharing their plans and concerns about others; clearly the editors are trying to build some shomance drama, but even it is kind of slow. Then the boat ride ends and it’s off to Whole Foods for the typical shopping montage.
Back at the Top Chef Kitchen, the chefs have two hours to prep. Tiffany focuses on bringing summer flavors to her cold dish. Andrea is still caught up on Michelle being a judge; they started out in the Miami market together and while Michelle went on to great success, Andrea took a different path to have kids. As we saw a few weeks back, Amanda runs around the kitchen trying to get a meat grinding situation under control. Tamesha has no time for Amanda’s antics and would strangle her in a heartbeat. Now that would be drama! Angelo continues to help out Tamesha and Stephen with their seasoning. He really should keep his eyes on his own paper.
At the venue, Team A completes their dishes first. Ed isn’t too worried about anyone going after him on a personal level, so it’s just about the food for him. Kenny, however, knows he is a target. Amanda apparently never solved her meat-grinding problem, because when she gives Alex a piece of her galantine to try, he finds cartilage; he doesn’t say anything to her, as it is a competition.
Team A’s dishes are:
Amanda: chicken galantine with mache and plum chutney.
Kevin: tuna and veal with romaine leaves, pine nuts and Mediterranean condiments.
Kenny: grilled lamb salad and lamb carpaccio with black eyed pea hummus.
Alex: sous vide lamb with red beet puree and tzatziki.
Ed: sockeye salmon on pumpernickel bread, cucumber vichyssoise and cream cheese.
Tiffany thinks Kenny’s lamb is a little chewy, and Angelo didn’t like the carpaccio. Tamesha thought Alex’s tzatziki was heavy and Andrea wanted more seasoning. Amanda’s galantine needed seasoning and less cartilage. Stephen thought Kevin’s dish lacked acidity; Tom disagrees, pointing out there were meyer lemon slices all over it. Angelo not like Ed’s use of bread, finding it soggy. Team B voted Kevin’s dish as the best unanimously. The majority found Kenny’s dish too convoluted but Andrea wanted to put Amanda on the bottom for the lack of technical skill. Majority rules, however, and Kenny is up for elimination. After the voting, Stephen thought the judging was fair, although he hopes no one is out to get him.
In the odd little bit of footage between commercials, we learn a very curious fact: Ed used to date the same girl Angelo dated. In fact, Angelo was dating her and then Ed came in and was also dating her. Thus, Angelo’s strategizing does not bother Ed, because he’s bested him before.
Team B then heads to the kitchen to finalize their dishes. Tiffany looks around at the duos and trios and worries that her dish is too simple. Angelo spoons on a ton of topping to his fish, knowing it’s probably too much but can’t help himself.
Team B serves up these dishes:
Tiffany: peppercorn crusted ahi tuna in gazpacho sauce with cucumber and arugula salad.
Angelo: poached sockeye salmon with cilantro and chile in pineapple tea.
Andrea: tartare trio: steak, tuna with chile oil and mushroom-fennel with roasted beets.
Stephen: chilled beef with crispy rice and jalapeno oil.
Tamesha: scallops with pickled rhubarb, cilantro, basil and long pepper in rhubarb jus.
Amanda and Alex like Tiffany’s dish. The group thinks Andrea’s trio needed more flavoring. Stephen’s dish isn’t all that great—Ed misses the beef under all the spices. Tamesha’s scallops were too spicy and weirdly cooked. Kenny though Angelo’s salmon drown in the seasoning, but Kevin would nominate it for the win. The others nominate Tiffany for the win, so she’s up for it. Tamesha’s dish voted the worst due to the intense spice and mushy scallops.
A duo of packing and going.
The chefs gather in the stew room and Andrea lets Amanda know there was cartilage in her galantine, but does not appear to tell her that she is safe. However, Angelo does tell Kenny he is in the bottom. Padma arrives to retrieve Tiffany and Kevin for their top two dishes. The judges “pretty much” agree with the votes of the other chefs. The judges really liked Kevin’s sauce and they found Tiffany’s dish refreshing and the tuna perfectly cooked. Michelle gives the win to Kevin; he will soon be packing his bags and going to Hawaii for a six night stay at the Hilton Resort.
They return to the stew room, where Kevin sends in Tamesha and Kenny. Tamesha is surprised to be there—she’s used long pepper before, didn’t think it was too spicy, and offers that perhaps she put too much jus on the plate. The judges tell her the texture of the scallops was off and there were too many seasonings competing with one another. Kevin also thought his dish was sound; Tom points out that there was no connection between the two lamb dishes. Gail says there was so much going on, there was no way to find the commonality in the duo. Kenny says that the others must have put him up because they see him is a threat, but Michelle agrees that there was too much going on with the dish.
The judges briefly deliberate, where Gail points out that using 25 ingredients per dish does not make a simple dish, plus Kenny cooked the lamb oddly. As for Tamesha’s dish, the flavors were in conflict and simply no one liked it. The bottom two return to hear the verdict: Kenny’s dish never came together and Tamesha’s may be salvageable with some work, but it was not good. Padma tells Tamesha to pack her knives and go; she’s genuinely shocked to be eliminated on what she perceives as a minor mistake. In her confessional, Tiffany comments Angelo had too much of a hand in Tamesha’s dish; on her way out Tamesha now sees she should have kept Angelo out and regrets the mistake.
Come back next week to see if Angelo screws someone else over; my money is on him continuing to mess with Stephen.