Put a Moustache on This Burrito and Call it a Wrap

Fidel Gastro recaps Top Chef Season 7, Episode 10 like only he can.

The shock of Smoove K’s departure is hanging around the Top Chef house like a sushi burp. Kevin’s dyspepsia is directed squarely toward raptoresque Alex, whose villain stock—rallying since the first mention of hookers and booze—is now at an all time high after not making a dish last week and generally sucking at life.  At least he’s oblivious to the hatred.

For the Quickfire, Wylie Dufresne is on the scene to taste what has come around from what went around.  Yes, Top Chef is now biting the style of Food Network’s Chopped with a “mystery box” challenge, even matching the $10,000 prize money by making it a high stakes Quickfire.  It’s like that symbol of a serpent eating itself, but instead of a snake, it’s Bob Tuschman with his feet in his mouth garbling how great the implied cross-promotion will be.  As the question-marked boxes are set down by dudes from the Matrix, we begin to see cracks in Angelo’s oily-skinned façade.  We also learn that his “girlfriend” is in Russia, and that $10k would help to purchase, er, bring her to the US.

All the cheftestants are thrown off by this challenge, presumably because they signed up for Top Chef and not Chopped.  It’s especially cruel to Cokey and Alex, both of whose fondues were a fon-don’t (that’s terrible), and both of whom wind up on the bottom.  Alex expected it, but Cokey really chalked it up to this mystery box challenge being the “toughest mystery box challenge EVER!” (I searched high and low on the internet and couldn’t find any results of the myriad other mystery box challenges Cokey has participated in, so I’ll take her word for it).  At the top, pseudo-local Kevin laid down a clever hominy puree, pan seared rockfish, and a salad of jicama & passion fruit, while Tiffany put together a fish stew with hominy, fava beans, saffron & black garlic. Both were good looking dishes, but Tiffany’s stew was the victor, and now she’s got another ten thousand bucks to pay for her choice of a wedding or a bitter divorce courtesy of her and her Ednanigans.

Since our government still has nothing better to do or say than “nom,” the Elimination Challenge makes use of some CIA imagery and downtime by making the cheftestants disguise a well-known dish, essentially creating a spy on a plate.  Some of the classic dishes include Cobb Salad (probably not a good idea do salad here) and French Onion Soup (also a bad idea to try a soup with this one).

More interesting factoids come to light as the chefs struggle at being masters of disguise. Turns out creeptacular Alex was a videographer prior to becoming a chef (which somehow gives him an edge in this challenge?), and that Colicchio loves Cobb Salads (doesn’t everybody?).  Angelo, visibly shook, makes the mistake of using store-bought puff pastry, and is generally on a crash course with the GPS set to “pack your knives and go.”

At the dinner table, both the CIA folk and the judges have no problem guessing most of the dishes, so it comes down to what it should come down instead of all the stupid government themed challenges, the execution of the dish.  With 7 cheftestants still standing, the decisions get tougher, but the expected results come to pass, with Ed, Kelly, and Tiffany in the winners’ circle.  Ed’s reverse chicken cordon bleu was an easy guess, but Eric Ripert’s steely blue eyes did not miss the fact that this dish was chock full of components, and the fact that Ed was able to execute them well overshadowed its lack of disguise.  Kelly’s decision to turn kung pao shrimp into a soup, even after a rice mishap, was also well received, but it was Tiffany’s deconstructed gyro that once again allowed her to bat for the cycle.  She’s a little bit like Ryan Howard.  When her bat’s hot, she’s unstoppable.  Hopefully, for her sake, she won’t settle back into a slump in the coming weeks.

For the first time, we see Angelo on the bottom.  It’s kind of sad when you can pinpoint the moment that a reality show contestant cracks, but with him being such a cocky jerkface up to this point, it serves him right.  Joining him are Cokey and Alex, also meeting expectations. Cokey made her disguised French onion soup too sweet, and Alex, once again, just totally blew it with poorly cooked meat and crappy pasta (at least it wasn’t storebought).  I suppose when you don’t have a pea puree to steal, you’re bound to wind up at the bottom.  I know Alex is crappy and all, but he seemed to be the only one that followed the rules.  Unfortunately, his disguise was more the poor execution than the dish itself, and after floating along for a few weeks longer then he should have, he’s given the boot.  I’d love to see if he’s serving pea puree on his menu these days.