Cold War Kids

Fidel Gastro sums up another episode of Top Chef like only he can.

I will mention one final time that Timothy had a winning smile, and only because the cheftestants are somber after his leaving (except Tiffany).  One must ask, however, was it the winning smile or the fact that he looked just a little bit like Steve Urkel?  I had a professor in college that told me Che Guevara was popular because he was good looking, kind of like Ashton Kutcher.  Man, I hate good looking people, but enough about my hang-ups.

On to the Quickfire, which is judged by Miami chef Michelle Bernstein, who looks like Amy Sedaris.  I thought this was Top Chef D.C.?  (Dear Bravo, you really should have chosen Philadelphia for this season. You would have had so much more to work with (you also picked some JV chefs, so hopefully next year you will pull your head out of your ass and bring the 3-ring circus to Philly AND cast some chefs who are more interested in cooking than interracial relationships)).  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get back to the Miami chef and the task at hand, which is to make something delicious with an exotic protein. We’ll know they’ve jumped the shark when they put human in the mix, but until then, we’ve got crocodile, rattlesnake, yak, llama, and some more familiar options such as wild boar and foie gras (that’s exotic? Maybe in Missouri. Those Bravo fuckers will probably do a Top Chef St. Louis before Philly, but I’m getting off topic again).  This one’s a classic with a twist.  A few minutes in, the cheftestants have to switch to the protein to their left, leaving pseudo-local Kevin with a pile of duck nuts, Tamesha with duck tongue, and Kelly with some emu eggs that Cokey had already “cracked” using a hacksaw.  This is always an impressive challenge on both sides of the table.  For the cheftestants, it’s usually unfamiliar territory, and because of that, the judges are not only eating kangaroo pouch (or whatever else they’re cooking), but a crappily prepared version that even Bear Grylls would refuse after three days of fake roughing it.  I was actually surprised with cheftestants’ ability to handle both the switch and the exotic proteins, and this was the first time this season that I would be interested in trying every dish, nuts and all.

At the top of the heap, Kelly wins with a giant omelet made from giant eggs and regular sized goat cheese, almonds, fennel salad & harissa vinaigrette.  This was my least favorite dish. Other notables were regular guy Ed’s yak kefta with dried fruit couscous, stewed vegetables, and yogurt sauce; and Angelo’s seared crocodile with ginger, garlic & chiles.  I do remember that wee little Stephen was at the bottom, but only because the Amy Sedaris look-alike described his frog legs as insipid, which is a really big word.

For the elimination challenge, the cheftestants have to make a cold dish that will be judged by their peers, and what better way to conceptualize a cold dish than to go on a cruise in the boat version of Air Force One?  Bravo could have really played up the Cold War theme by putting them on a nuclear submarine (another missed opportunity, like not filming this season in Philly), but the boat worked fine.  There were enough nooks and crannies for the cheftestants to make an off-camera pregnancy pact to get rid of smoove Kenny, but we’ll get to that later.  Let’s talk about the cold food first.  In keeping with the Cold War theme, this episode is all about sabotage, and it starts (on-camera) with Alex (I think it was Alex) not telling Cokey that there was cartilage in her chicken galantine.  Then we get to (cold) dinner, where it is painfully obvious that the pregnancy pact I mentioned earlier was definitely cosigned by everyone but Kenny.  His grilled lamb salad, lamb carpaccio & black-eyed pea hummus was all but shit on by his colleagues.  Not cool.  I’ll admit that I’m getting tired of hearing the words duo and trio, but there’s no way his dish was worse than Cokey’s cartilage-infused galantine.  Even so, Kenny’s still the one up for elimination, while puertorock Kevin gets a spot at the top with his tuna & veal with Mediterranean condiments.

As the next group gets ready to pass judgment, Colicchio drops a casual, “You should have heard what the other team said about you.”  That was about all he said during the whole thing. Come to think of it, the judges were really quiet during dinner (more hangovers), letting the cheftestants do most of the talking.  This round, there seemed to be no additional pregnancy pacts, so the judging was a bit more honest.  Tamesha, stupidly taking Angelo’s advice because they’re doing it, overdoes it with the heat in her scallops with pickled rhubarb. Tiffany (I think), not taking Ed’s advice even though they’re doing it, gets the other top spot with a spice-crusted ahi tuna with gazpacho sauce.

Up for grabs at judges’ table is a trip to Hawaii, including airfare, but it sounds like Kevin, who wins handily, might have to pay for his kids to come along.  For the losers, it’s “duo” or die. And what have we learned from previous episodes/seasons?  You never say the following five words:

“I stand by my dish.”

And you definitely don’t say those words if your dish was not entirely your dish.  The judges, who had very little input during dinner, had to make the obvious choice here, and young gun Tamesha became the victim of a pregnancy pact gone awry.  The conspiracy to eliminate Kenny using a strategy better suited for an MTV challenge ultimately failed, so Smoove K will fight another day.  Bring on the duos and trios!