Yellow Dress for Success

Fidel Gastro recaps Top Chef episode 11: Making Concessions, promising a catch phrase for every sentence.

The cheftestants have clearly begun to lose it. Episode 11 begins with Ed sauntering around in one of Tiff’s dresses, rare footage of the cheftestants outside of cooking and competing this season. Angelo also flies the freak flag by admitting to pasting photographs of 4-star chefs to his bedroom wall when he was a kid. Previous years featured more time outside of the kitchen (I think), allowing the viewer to get a better idea of who the cheftestants really were. This season, our passing judgment is limited to the cheftestants’ cooking and confessional snippets, giving us one-dimensional characters who could easily be replaced by robots programmed to complete menial tasks such as shining shoes.

With yellow dress off and chef coat on, Ed and the rest of the gang pile into the GE Monogram-Dial Nutri-skin-Glad-Toyota-Whole Foods-Calphalon Kitchen for the Quickfire.  Greeted by Padma and guest judge Rick Moonen, the cheftestants must make a dish inspired by food idioms such as “Bring Home the Bacon” and “Hide the Salami,” with the winning dish being packaged, frozen, and sold by random sponsor Schwan’s.  Sadly, there were more than enough idioms to go around, so nobody took “Hide the Salami,” even though it would have made for a great stuffed dish.  For the most part, this challenge was a total cop-out (another idiom!), as the majority of the chefs focused on the ingredient more than the idiom itself.  The lowlights were Kelly, whose idiom was “Sour Grapes” and whose dish was a pan-roasted chicken breast with caramelized Brussels sprout leaves & red grape sauce.  Also at the bottom, a pouty Cokey, who actually followed the instructions of the challenge, using the idiom “The Big Cheese” to make a macaroni with 4 cheeses, bacon & jalapeños.  Problem was, she also threw a pork chop on the plate, giving Moonen a “sledgehammer to the gut.”  Up top, Kevin (who is proving to be a fourth quarter player), using “Bring Home the Bacon” to deliver a trio of bacon puree, chopped bacon, and bacon froth with a poached egg, a dish that looks great, but probably doesn’t freeze well, so it’s Ed’s “Hot Potato” herb & roasted garlic gnocchi, spring vegetables, and mushroom fricassee that wins.

The Elimination Challenge is upscale ballpark food that will be served at Nationals Park to bunch of random fans and three players that are not on steroids (refer to Colicchio in photo above for scale).  With Alex gone, Angelo has resumed the role of villain, using every opportunity he can to sabotage others by giving bad advice or none at all to anyone stupid enough to listen (Cokey).  Meanwhile, Ed loses about twenty pounds of water weight running around the kitchen, Kelly gets the crazy eyes talking about being organized, and finally, there’s a 6-way argument about who’s going to take the orders at the ballpark (minor detail).  Villaingelo agrees to do it, but reneges the next day when he realizes that he won’t be able to prepare his own food.  Kevin’s not down for this at all, and he gets in Angelo’s face something fierce, proving once again that Puerto Ricans and half-Dominicans hate each other.  When the dust settles, Angelo makes good on his commitment (likely because Kevin would win in a street fight) and mans the tickets while everybody else cooks save for Cokey, who made the excellent decision to serve tuna tartare.  At a ballpark.  Not exactly a crowd pleaser, especially when the tuna turns gray from oxidation.

Back at judges’ table, all cheftestants are called to the winners’ line.  Tiff tattles on Angelo, telling the judges he said one thing and did another with regard to order taking, to which Angelo responds with something like, “I’m looking out for me and this is a competition and blah, blah, blah.” Still, there isn’t a snowball’s chance that his sweet glazed pork “bun” would win.  Instead, it is power couple Tiff and Ed on top; Tiff for her sausage meatball sub with fresh mozzarella, and Ed for his shrimp & corn risotto fritters with jalapeño aioli.  Batting for the cycle this time is Ed, winning a trip for him and Tiff to Australia (these guys are going to traveling a lot next year).  For the rest of the cheftestants, it was all missteps.  Kevin’s kabobs were too stabby and his sweet potatoes were soggy.  Kelly’s dish, a crab cake BLT, was missing the “L” and the “T”.  Angelo made his pork too sweet and used the wrong bread for his sandwich.  But all of these sins were forgivable compared to poor Cokey, whose gray tuna was grounds for dismissal, and she becomes another victim of Villaingelo’s advice.