Recap: Top Chef D.C., Episode 3

Posted by Angela on July 3rd, 2010

After landing in the bottom last week, obvious frontrunners Angelo and Kenny are worried. Especially Kenny, who hasn’t won a challenge yet. Luckily, a letter from his girlfriend Juicy (what kind of name is that?) inspires him a bit. Meanwhile, Angelo is depressed over having had his name dragged through the mud when he lost the last challenge… Despite the fact that he won the first three challenges of the series.

Source: Bravo

Johnny Iuzzini and Gail Simmons, the top judge and host, respectively, of the new show Top Chef: Just Desserts, show up. They announce that the challenge is to make a pie from scratch, and all of the contestants immediately look depressed. Tim monotonously wonders what he got himself into. They get two hours to cook and the prize is immunity.

A quick roundup of what goes down:
– Kelly immediately starts driving Arnold crazy by claiming his station. She claims to be good at making pie since she had to do everything herself when she first opened her restaurant. I find her annoying and hope that she fails miserably.
– Angelo, who has never made pie before, decides to make a sweet yam curry. Not sure how he plans to incorporate this into a pie, but I guess we’ll see.
– Alex is working on a tapioca pie with almond crust. Kenny and Ed make fun of him in interviews, saying he has no technique.
– Ed makes a banana cream pie and decides to make it more exciting by adding celery. I have no idea how this can possibly work.
– Tracey adds way too much butter in her pie and it ends up looking disastrous after coming out of the oven. She says the pie takes entirely like butter. Not too surprising; she looks like someone that likes her butter.
– Kenny’s working on a bananas foster pie in a cobbler style. It looks amazing and so far he seems to be the only one doing well.
– Stephen’s doing curried apple whiskey date pie with saffron glaze which he calls “non-traditional.” He says it tastes good, but the presentation doesn’t look so good to me.
– Amanda makes an apple pie with rosemary, bourbon, and hazelnut crust. What is with this girl and cooking with alcohol? I’m sensing a major alcoholic here. While the judges taste it, she tries to defend herself, saying she’s not a pastry chef but did her best. Johnny throws it right back in her face by quickly replying that even non-pastry chefs like his grandma can make pies.

The bottom three are Alex (who is told that his pie is “more of a quiche” since it includes egg), Tracey (who we all knew would do disastrously due to the butter overload), and Ed (who is angry about this, but really, what can you expect when you decide to make a perfectly good-looking banana cream pie “exciting” by adding salted peanuts and celery spume?).

The top three are Kelly with her chocolate ganache pie (which even I have to admit looks good), Stephen with his curried apple whiskey date pie, and Kenny, who wins his first challenge with his bananas foster pie with currant and Chinese 5-spice.

Padma announces that the challenge is to prepare a picnic for the Capitol Hill interns at Mount Vernon, cooking on grills only. Alex creepily remarks that he’s excited because he’s never taken advantage of an intern before.

During prep work, we discover that:
– Tracey is crazy in the kitchen. She talks to herself as if she’s possessed while she’s chopping meat and all of the other chefs seem disturbed.
– Angelo is doing a Vietnamese-themed picnic, which he calls “freaking awesome.”
– Amanda is ridiculously possessive and hectic. She explodes at Alex because he used an oven that she labeled but hadn’t started using yet… just as Tom walks in. He asks her about it and she scrambles to explain her irrational behavior, joking that she goes by “prison rules” in the kitchen. Later, Tiffany says she can’t even look at Amanda while she’s cooking because she’ll get stressed out.

Back at home, the other chefs ask Amanda about her dish (pork ribs) during a smoking break. Everyone (especially Angelo and Stephen) look disgusted when she says she can’t pull the bones out of the pork. Angelo declares in an interview that she’s a great chef and smart, but that he can beat her. Somehow I continue to love him despite his cockiness.

At Mount Vernon, the chefs scramble to finish their dishes before service starts. Kenny criticizes Angelo in an interview, saying that he thinks Asian food isn’t a good idea for a picnic. Seems like we could have a rivalry of Season 2’s Ilan Hall vs. Marcel Vigneron proportions brewing again. For the record, I was Team Marcel all the way.

Hungry interns and judges begin flooding in for food shortly, and I am elated to see that Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto is the guest judge. The man has a great demeanor and was one of my favorite chefs on this last season of Top Chef Masters.

During service:
– Alex tells us that he’s making pork butt, which he says is his favorite meat to cook: “I would want to eat the ass out of that pig all day.” Ooookay.
– Angelo describes his dish as having “really clean, sexy flavors.” Interesting.
– Canadian geese fly overhead and drop a bomb of the Number 2 variety on Tim’s table just as he’s serving the judges.
– We only see a glance of each chef’s dish, which is what I hate about the earlier rounds when there are still so many chefs left.

Right before leaving, Angelo eats his words later, and says that Amanda’s dish sticks out and might even taste better than his own. While waiting to be called in by the judges, Tracey claims she’s clairvoyant and that her psychic readings are 85% “on the money.” Okay, Tracey. Okay.

The top four are Ed, Arnold, Amanda, and Angelo. They’re all complimented quickly and Jonathan announces Arnold to be the winner.

The bottom four turns out to be Tim, Stephen, Tracey, and Kevin. At Judges’ Table:
– Stephen says that he hasn’t done his dish for a picnic before, and the judges call it greasy and flavorless. Jonathan says the bacon was nearly raw and the fish overcooked and that it was a bad choice for a picnic challenge.
– Tim gets skewered for having vegetables on his plate, badly cooked meat, watery beans, and wilted greens.
– Kevin’s plate is described as the safest Puerto Rican food she’s ever tasted by Padma. Gail says he needs to step it up.
– Tracey gets criticized for using too much fennel and an undercooked patty. She simply says sorry and gets more criticism for having stopped trying when things went wrong. Jonathan says his 10-year-old son could have made that patty with some meat.

In the end, Tracey gets out for her horrible burger and I’m ecstatic. Next week will include a double elimination and the cheftestants are back to cooking in teams. Eric Ripert is back as a judge and I also spot Mike Isabella and Brian Voltaggio from last season as diners. I’ll be back next weekend with another recap!

Category: Top Chef, TV recaps