Top Chef DC: finishing strong

“Top Chef DC” is already winding down, as we’re now down to the final five chef-testants. It really seems like yesterday that the season began, but when they show each of the chefs during the intro, you realize that we’re pretty far in and almost to the finish line.

Last night’s episode began with host Padma Lakshmi introducing guest judge and Top Chef Master Rick Moonen. Padma started rattling off some dumb cliches like “top banana” and “the big cheese.” She then announced the quick fire challenge, which was to create a dish using idioms like those she was rattling off. Others included “sour grapes” and “hot potato.” The winner of the challenge would receive a unique prize–having their dish become a staple on Schwan’s trucks nationwide. Moonen’s least favorite dishes were Kelly’s chicken with grape puree and Amanda’s mac & cheese, which Moonen said was just too heavy. His favorite dishes were Ed’s potato gnocchi and Kevin’s bacon three ways. The winner was Ed, probably because his could more easily be frozen than Kevin’s, which had a poached egg in it.

The elimination challenge was a ballpark one, where the chefs would venture to Nationals park to cook at a concession stand. After deciding that each would be responsible for one dish and what those dishes would be, the six chefs realized that one of them would also have to be taking orders from customers. Angelo volunteered because no one else stepped up, but when they arrived at the park, he realized that doing so would put his own dish in jeopardy. Still, Kevin, among others, made Angelo stick to his word.

Kelly made a crab cake BLT, Tiffany made an Italian meatball sub, Amanda a tuna tartare, Angelo a sweet glazed pork sandwich, Kevin chicken kabobs with romesco sauce and aioli, and Ed shrimp and corn fritters. Some of the Nationals’ players –Adam Dunn, John Lannan and Matt Capps (who is now with the Twins) — were allowed to sample the dishes first, along with Tom Colicchio. The judges were served, and along with Moonen, Eric Ripert would be a judge as well. Has anyone else noticed that Gail Simmons has barely been on this season? They must be working her hard on that new dessert show!

Anyway, Padma asked them all to come to the judges’ table, and the two favorite dishes were announced–Ed’s fritters and Tiffany’s meatball sub. The winner was Ed, and he is clearly starting to finish strong and make a case for possible victory here. So is Tiffany for that matter. Ed’s prize was a trip to Australia and a copy of Moonen’s fish cookbook.

The least favorites were the other four–Kelly’s was just okay, Amanda’s fish was cut the day before and therefore started to oxidize, Kevin’s chicken was boring and yet had too much going on, and Angelo’s pork was too sweet and made the buns mushy. So, going home this week….Amanda. I am kind of glad, because she’s getting downright annoying, and seriously, how was she still hanging on anyway?

The remaining five–Kevin, Kelly, Angelo, Tiffany and Ed–are pretty strong contenders, but I think either Kevin or Kelly will be heading home next. Or Angelo, who is proving to be weirder and less of a contender each week. Seriously…they showed him talking to his fiancee from France, who he met twice and then asked to marry him. The dude is obsessive and strange, but still appears to be a phenomenal chef.

So who do you like? Hard not to like Ed at this point, but any of the remaining chefs are capable of winning. Thanks for reading and see you next week…

  

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