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'Top Chef': American as apple pie

July 1, 2010 |  2:50 pm

Ksimmons_halfmoonbay07 Just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, "Top Chef" threw some pie in our eyes for the quick-fire challenge.

Naturally, the contestants flipped out upon hearing that desserts were involved and were even more intimidated when Johnny Iuzzini, James Beard-winning pastry chef of Jean Gorges, was thrown into the mix as guest judge. (It was also announced Thursday that Iuzzini will be the judge of "Top Chef's" new show "Just Desserts" along with Hubert Keller and Daily Candy's Dannielle Kyrillos.)

Recap after the jump>>>

You'd swear the contestants had never touched a rolling pin in their lives as they bumbled around making sloppy improvised dough, tossing in eyeballed ingredients at whim. Tracey goofed on her first attempt at blueberry almond crunch pie and had to make a second. Unfortunately her crust crumbled under the weight of the leaky filling, which made a soupy mess due to a lack of cornstarch. And then there was Ed, who decided it was a brilliant idea pair a celery foam (huh?) with his banana cream pie. Maybe he should have taken a hint from Angelo, who ended up on the bottom rung for his weak peanut butter and celery dish on last week's episode.

When Amanda defends her apple pie with rosemary and bourbon by saying that she's not professionally trained, Johnny snaps back, "My grandma isn't a pastry chef and she knows how to bake a pie." Doesn't culinary school require even a few days of pastry preparation?

A few managed to get it right though: Kelly's simple, smooth, dark chocolate ganache and Steven's daring curried apple and date pie with saffron pleased the prince of pastry. Kenny, who just got a Susur Lee-style pep talk from his girlfriend via snail mail, finally managed to pull off a victory with his bananas Foster pie with currants and Chinese five spice.

Forging forward with another American pastime, the elimination challenge was a grillin' and chillin' picnic for the Capitol Hill interns on Mount Vernon.  High points included Alex revealing he loves nothing more than chomping down on butt (of a pig, that is), and Tim's table getting dumped on by some ducks. The judges thought Tim's dish was equally fowl, putting him in the bottom rung with Tracey, Steven and Kevin. The sustainability police would likely do the same to Steven, who ruined his Chilean sea bass, making it not only overfished, but overcooked. Yet somehow the bacon that wrapped the fish remained rubbery and undercooked. What a disaster.

Arnold won the challenge with his sesame lamb meatball and roasted garlic gazpacho, shoving out Angelo, Ed and Amanda.

Tracey and her fennel-packed sausage sliders got sent home, though I'm sure she already knew that'd happen since she proclaimed herself a clairvoyant earlier in the episode. That leaves Angelo safe from further sexual harassment, and the rest of the contestants spared from her bantering back and forth with herself, similar to the not-so-liked Robin from Season 6.

--Krista Simmons

Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

Photo: Lattice crust apple pie Credit: Krista Simmons