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'Top Chef': Gastro-nauts gear up for Singapore

September 2, 2010 |  5:48 pm

Pads This week, Angelo recovered with a one-two punch, Padma test-drove cross-dressing and the chefs get revved up for street food-savvy Singapore.

But before they hopped on a jet for Southeast Asia, the remaining cheftestants were chucked the wine pairing quickfire challenge, where each picked a wine and crafted a complementary dish. In my opinion, this test is getting kind of old (and not in the fine, aged wine way); next season, it'd be nice to see a beer pairing challenge with Beer Chicks Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune as judges. For this episode, though, Dana Cowin, editor of Food & Wine magazine, stepped in beside Padma, dressed in a gray smoking jacket and tie, to sample the pairings.

Cowin thought that Kevin's quail dish -- a stand-in for his botched braised pork belly -- couldn't stand up to the Merlot, and it landed him on the bottom. She loved Tiffany's cocoa and black pepper-crusted Wagyu tenderloin with spring risotto, paired with Shiraz, but it was Angelo's seared foie gras, paired with Evolution white, for the win.

The elimination took the chefs to infinity and beyond--or to NASA, rather -- to make a meal for some of the Space Station food scientists and Buzz Aldrin himself.  Guest judge Anthony Bourdain dined across from Aldrin, who's one of the few people on the planet who can trump his travel experience. 

The challenge had very few rules, compared to the current challenges the space food scientists face: Don't use much sugar; no large chunks of product; and incorporate a little spice, if possible. Angelo managed to snap up the win without following any of those guidelines too closely. Though the judges weren't over the moon with his use of candied ginger, his laquered shortrib with horseradish crème fraîche, pea puree and pickled mushrooms won him the second challenge of the episode.

Although Tiffany's Thai-inspired halibut and coconut curry dish had the flavors of Southeast Asia, it wasn't enough to win her a trip there with the rest of the gang. The judges found it muddled and slightly bland, and sent her back to Dallas.

For the final episodes, the contestants will head to Singapore, which has Angelo busting at the seams almost as much as I am for the opening of Little Tokyo's Spice Table. As for the chefs, let's hope for a street food challenge somewhere in the mix. Hopefully, the secret ingredient won't be durian, though! That would make moon food look easy.

-- Krista Simmons

Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

Photo courtesy of NBC UMV