'Top Chef': Taken out at the ballgame
This week's episode brought viewers into the ballpark and offered a literary/culinary challenge based on food idioms. Throughout the night, Ed brought home the bacon with a double-whammy win, Amanda sucked on sour grapes after her imminent elimination, and the big cheese Angelo realized he's not the hot potato he once thought himself to be. In fact, the rest of the contestants might have a bigger fish to fry. I hate to spill the beans, but that bigger fish just might be Tiffany. She's been looking good lately. (Certainly more so than Ed in that canary yellow maxi dress. What was that about?)
Rick Moonen showed up as the guest judge and deemed Kevin's and Ed's dishes punning on food names the best. Kevin's bacon with a side of bacon -- actually, it was bacon puree, chopped bacon and bacon foam with a poached egg -- was a playful tribute to the pig-obsessed zeitgeist, but Moonen thought Ed's gnocchi to be a better fit for the frozen food aisle (is that a compliment?).
For the elimination challenge, the chefs were to cook amped-up ball park food at the Nationals' stadium. Working as a team, the remaining chefs had to figure out a way to take orders and distribute food. Because no one wanted to take the job during the planning process, Angelo stepped up. But once he realized how impossible it would be to cook and take tickets, he reneged on his offer. Kevin was not about to make concessions, which resulted in a heated battle. Luckily, Ed stepped in to work Angelo's side of the griddle and smoothed things over.
As soon as service started, it became obvious that Tiffany's Italian sausage sub and Kelly's crab cake BLT were the crowd favorites, but the judges didn't agree with the latter. They thought that Kelly's bacon was too thickly cut, and that the combined bite was entirely too salty. They much preferred Ed's shrimp and corn risotto fritters with jalapeño aioli, which got him the second win of the day (that makes the last two episodes double-doubles as Tiffany rocked out a two-fer last week as well.)
The judges weren't so fond of Angelo's sweet glazed pork with sweet sesame pickles on a "lobster roll." Moonen's Moon 'n' Doggie, a shrimp corn dog creation inspired by his first stint on "Masters," would've been a better fit for his store-bought hot dog buns. As it was, the bread overwhelmed the flavor of the meat, and the judges thought the entire dish was simply too saccharine. For a guy who owns a sandwich shop, he seems to have lost his mojo. Something tells me he spent that night at his shrine of the four-star chefs, asking them and Tony Robbins to bring him some focus.
Amanda, who was ridiculed by Ed for being "an annoying slob with no technique," was sent home for her gray, oxidized tuna tartare. Taking Angelo's advice to grind the fish the day before was ill-advised, and an unconscionable decision in the face of Eric Ripert and Moonen as judges. I think she might be having one of those self-described pity parties in her head.
It was a bit of an embarrassment, particularly for someone who works at Water Grill, but you've got to give the girl some credit: She was the only sous chef to make it that far. And though she might not know how to win the judges over quite yet, she sure does know how to make the guys weak in the knees. Angelo certainly seemed smitten, and those beefy Nationals players seemed stoked to hang around her station. Something tells me it wasn't for the food.
-- Krista Simmons
Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons