Top Chef DC: pies and picnics

Ah, a nice one hour episode. That’s what Bravo gives us each week for “Top Chef,” unlike “Hell’s Kitchen” on Fox, which has become a two-hour marathon akin to “American Idol” on Tuesdays. But I digress. Last night’s episode began with Kenny getting a letter from his girlfriend as encouragement, something he needed after finishing second to Angelo time and again, and then being on the chopping block last week. Meanwhile, Angelo was still seething about how Kenny threw him under the bus at the judges’ table last week. Dude, you were playing the game, remember? You totally deserved that.

Then renowned pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini and regular judge Gail Simmons were there with Padma to introduce the quick fire challenge. Johnny and Gail will be the co-hosts of a new show, “Top Chef: Just Desserts” soon. Anyway, their challenge was to create a pie from scratch in two hours. The winner of the challenge would have immunity for the week.

The least favorites of the pie challenge were Alex, who made a white chocolate and tapioca pie that had egg in it, prompting Johnny to say it was more like a quiche; Ed, who made a banana cream pie but then inadvertently added celery with peanut butter to it. What??; and finally Tracey, who made a blueberry almond crunch pie.

The top dishes for the quickfire were Kelly, Stephen and Kenny. Kelly made a chocolate ganache; Stephen a curried apple pie; and Kenny a bananas foster pie with Chinese five spice. Kenny won this time, finally, and he would have immunity this week.

Next came the elimination challenge, and for this one the chefs had to re-create an American tradition, the summer picnic. They would be catering a picnic for Capitol Hill interns, using Weber barbecue grills. In prep work, Amanda and Alex got into an argument about who had dibs on an oven. Seriously? Chef Jonathan Waxman would be a guest judge this week.

Arnold admitted that he wasn’t a grill guy, so he just watched everything Kenny did and mimicked it. Amanda and Tim both made ribs, and Tracey was making Italian sausage patties. Anyway, the top four were Arnold, Ed, Amanda and Angelo. Arnold made a sesame lamb meatball; Ed a tuna dish with lentil hummus; Amanda the dry rubbed ribs; and Angelo made Vietnamese lettuce wraps with smoked egg salad. Angelo admitted that Amanda’s ribs were better than what he made. But in the end, Waxman got to announce the winner this week, and it was Arnold. The same Arnold who wasn’t a “grill guy.” Awesome. I have to say though, I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten Arnold’s food in Nashville, and dude has mad skills.

The bottom four this week were Tim, Stephen, Tracey and Kevin. Tim made pork two ways with beans and greens, and his downfall was probably that Amanda’s ribs were so much better. Stephen made a bass wrapped in bacon that the judges just disliked across the board. Tracey’s sausage sliders just had too much fennel and were a mess overall, and Kevin’s flank steak with rice and beans was too safe in the eyes of the judges–and his rice was overcooked while the beans were undercooked.

In the end, it was Tracey sent home. She’s been in the bottom too often, and was lucky last week to have immunity after being paired with Angelo.

So we’re now down to 14, and this season is just beginning. Let me know what you thought of the episode and see you next week!

  

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