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'Top Chef': Coldhearted competition

July 22, 2010 |  2:47 pm

NUP_139592_2679Jealousy and vengeful spite ruled Wednesday night, as the Top Chefs were pitted against each other in strategic challenges that forced the competitors to be judged by their peers.

The coldhearted rivalry was felt first by Andrea when guest judge Michelle Bernstein stepped into the kitchen for the quick-fire. The two have butted heads in the past, and are quite competitive with their cross-town restaurants in Miami (Angela owns Talula, and Michelle owns Michy's and Sra. Martinez). Bernstein's presence seemed to psych out Andrea in the quick-fire, in which chefs were tasked with preparing less conventional proteins. (Think duck testicles and llama.)

The bottom rung of this challenge consisted of Alex, Andrea and "that salad guy." (What's his name again? Oh yeah, Stephen.) Alex banked on working with the relatively tame (in comparison) foie gras, but once Padma ordered the proteins to be shifted to the left, he was stuck with ostrich. He decided to bard the bird, wrapping it in caul fat to keep it moist, which worked about as well as an ostrich can fly. Andrea's undercooked boar was deemed a bit too chewy and Stephen was, well, Stephen.

Sadly our local Water Grill chef Amanda couldn't rock out a win, even though she was in the winning circle alongside Kelly and Tamesha. Kelly won immunity with her emu egg omelet with goat cheese and harissa vinaigrette, turning the giant teal egg Amanda initially scoffed at into something majestic. (Hasn't our girl heard of Michael Biancaniello's emu egg cocktails?)

For the elimination, the chefs were divided into two groups and challenged with making a "Cold War" dish to be judged by the opposite team. Angelo, the constant competitor, whispered advice in the ears of the other chefs as they planned their offerings. Were his words of wisdom disingenuous? It's tough to say.

The chefs were wary of each other during the prep of their dishes, which were to be served cold. Amanda suffered another technical glitch similar to her nonuniform chopped veggies in the outdoor episode, serving a grayish chicken galantine with hunks of cartilage left inside. Even her friend Alex from Cafe Was refrained from informing her -- it is a competition after all. Despite that error, everyone except for Andrea agreed that Kenny's ill-formed concept was more egregious than Amanda's poor technique. 

While everyone ripped Kenny and Tamesha apart, Tiffany and Kevin got lots of love from their fellow contestants. Kevin's surf and turf won him a trip to the real surf in Hawaii. (You can watch Michael Voltaggio's demo of the dish here.)

Kenny--who has repeatedly gone the route of doing dishes two, three and four ways--fell victim to being unfocused in his execution, leaving each element of his lamb dish in a battle against one another. To many fan's delight, "Big Pappa" wasn't 86'ed.

Tamesha's scallops with pickled rhubarb, cilantro, basil and long pepper in rhubarb jus was way too spicy for the diners. To Angelo's chagrin, it was time for his crush to go home.

Were Kenny and Tamesha thrown under the bus by their peers or was it a fair judgment? What do you think?

-- Krista Simmons

Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

Photo courtesy of NBC UMV