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Top Chef DC ep 9: Restaurant Wars
The quickfire involved blindfolds and tag-teaming...try to keep your mind out of the gutter while I explain, you pervert. The chefs split off into two teams and each member had 10 minutes to cook while the others were blindfolded, then the next person had to pick up where that person left off without any communication. At the end of 40 minutes, the team with the best tasting completed dish wins.
The teams were: Ed, Tiffany, Angelo, Alex (Red) versus Kenny, Amanda, Kelly, Kevin (Blue). Kenny was first up for the Blue team, which was a wise decision because he can crank out prep like he’s got ants in his panties. Anyone remember the first challenge when he butchered those chickens in 4.5 seconds—and his competition?
Tiffany chose a snapper and left the head on so her teammates would know what kind of fish they were working with. She’s a smart one! Amanda followed Kenny and immediately figured out his plan, unlike Alex who put salt on the fish, causing Tiffany to want to strangle him. By the time Angelo stepped up, he had no idea what was going on with the fish and why it was salted. Blue team, on the other hand were clean, organized and silently communicated to each other through their food (like ninjas!).
In a random turn of events, my staunchly-conservative father’s favorite lady, Nancy Pelosi (oh ya know, the Speaker of the House) showed up to taste the dishes. She looooooooved the Blue team, and thought the Red team’s fish was “a little salty”—and she would know.
Winner: The Blue team won $10,000 to split among the four of them.
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Restaurant Wars Elimination Challenge
This is always the highlight of the season, and usually has the most bickering and chefs selling each other out like a Black Friday Sale at K-Mart.
Kenny sees restaurant wars as a personal battle between him and Angelo. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Angelo, but Kenny’s imagination has villainized him even more than the amazing editors at Top Chef ever could.
Onto the battlefield! Each team had to prepare 3-course menu with two options for each course. Every member of the team was responsible for at least one dish. Frank Brunni, the former NY Times food critic (and a real salty dog) was the guest judge. The other special guests were Bill and John Terlto who provided the wines for the showdown.
Ed and Angelo set out from the start to push Alex out of the kitchen and to have him involved as little as possible. They plotted in the van on the way to Whole Foods, which really got Kevin’s goat (not because he likes Alex, but because he’s an angry little man). Alex was chosen to run the front of the house, and Ed dictated what he would cook.
Angelo took on the role of Executive Chef for Evoo (extra virgin olive oil…seriously.), which is weird since it started as Ed’s team. Of course, since both Ed and Alex were on this team, pea puree (the theme of the season), had to be included in at least one of the dishes. Everything Alex did in the kitchen, Angelo or Tiffany came behind him and fixed—waste of manpower.
On team 2121 (the address of the Top Chef House), Kenny was Executive Chef and Kelly was front of the house. Their team was really organized, while Angelo’s teams ran around the kitchen like a bunch of monkeys at a circus.
At one point, Angelo declared “silent kitchen” like Tom Cruise enforced silent childbirth on Katie Holmes. Just ain’t right. Meanwhile, Alex was out front abusing the wait staff. He showed them how to scrub tables and screamed the menu at them. Not really an effective way to get people to do good work for you, idiot. Later, the servers messed up the first order (intentional?) and Angelo gave them a stern talking-to. In the meantime, the judges came in and impatiently waited to be seated while Alex schmoosed the table with the messed up order. Chaos!
Evoo’s food: Tiffany’s soup was on the salty side; Angelo’s soup was “great”. Alex’s spacing of the food was way off. Tiffany’s bass was a little overcooked, but had amazing flavors. Ed’s fish dish was “really nice” and the steak he and Angelo made was tasty. The judges’ biggest concern was the service, since Alex messed up every presentation. Also, there was nothing Mediterranean about the food (which was supposed to be the restaurant’s theme).
As for Team 2121, Amanda was using a wood-burning grill for the first time and struggled with cooking her beef. Kelly’s front of the house outfit looked like a Fred Flintstone shirt—and I don’t mean that in a good way. However, she was there to greet the judges immediately and provided exponentially better service than Alex.
Looking at the menu, Padma was instantly excited for the cheese course—much respect! Tom unknowingly quoted Coco Chanel, and luckily the extremely masculine food critic was there to point that out. I giggled.
However, things started going downhill once the food started rolling out. Kelly’s soup was “thin” and “flavorless” while Kenny’s salad had too much going on in it. Amanda’s beef was cut too thin, but the sauce was good. Kevin’s fish was “very pretty” but Kenny’s cheese was “awful” and a “horror show.” Ouch.
Top: Evoo (Ed, Tiffany, Angelo, Alex)
Winner: Ed, to which he replied “cool”
Bottom: 2121 (Kenny, Amanda, Kelly, Kevin)
Even after all of her struggles, Amanda had never been more confident going into judges table. What a fool. Kenny was shocked his team was the worst because Evoo was super unorganized. At least Frank Brunni was there to provide some seriously amazing quotes like “This was a beet salad done through the guise of Hamburger Helper,” and “It was like having a great pair of shoes with a really mediocre suit” about Amanda’s beef.
Then the class level in the place was taken down a few notches when 2121 attempted to throw Alex into a river with cement shoes. Kenny accused him of not doing anything at all, and Kevin unabashedly said Alex should go home. Kevin’s rant continued in the back room as he screamed at Alex, and Kenny laid it out for everyone: Alex is useless and needs to hit the road. Angelo actually defended (sort of) Alex by telling him he didn’t have to justify himself to the losing team.
None of this mattered--even though Kenny had strong leadership, he served 2 crappy dishes and got kicked to the curb. What kind of lucky stars does Amanda have, seriously?
Eliminated: Kenny--“The beast is gone, it’s anybody’s game.”
Alex, is that you?
Quotes of the Week
“Our dish was tight”-Tiffany
“I’m gonna let Angelo know he’s not the only one organized and disciplined”-Kenny
“Tiff and Skeletor will work on the meat”-Ed about Alex
“They seem like they’re whistling Dixie over there”-Angelo (I’m surprised he knows what that is, it’s so beneath him).
“The best against the beast”-Kenny about Angelo
Kenny (see ya!)