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.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: restaurant wars return

I confess I’ve only been watching Bravo’s “Top Chef” for one-plus seasons now, but I’ve become hooked in a hurry. So this was just my second time experiencing “restaurant wars,” when they break up the final eight contestants into two teams and have them run an actual restaurant for the night.

But first, the episode began with a Quick Fire challenge, and the guest judge this week was Rick Moonen, who owns a sustainable seafood restaurant in Vegas. They would have a tag team cookoff, in which each chef had 10 minutes out of 40 to complete a dish, but while one chef was working the others were blindfolded. Man, that looked HARD. They drew knives and Jennifer and Michael V. had to choose teams…Jen chose Kris Kringle (Kevin), Mike Isabella and Laurine, deciding to let the brothers be on the same team and duke it out, literally. So Michael had Brian, Eli and Robin.

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Top Chef Masters: too much to overcome

Last night was the fifth episode of “Top Chef Masters” on Bravo, which means there is just one more initial show before the six winners square off in single elimination for five weeks to determine the grand prize winner. And it was a pretty close race last night despite one chef not even plating food in the quick fire challenge.

The contestants were Rick Moonen from Mandalay Bay; Nils Loren, a Swedish native who learned French technique before moving to open a restaurant in New York City; Lachlan Patterson from Boulder, Colorado, one of the youngest competitors on the show so far; and Michael Chiarello from Napa Valley, CA, and a Food Network personality.

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