Top Chef Episode 13: I’ll Seetoh it You’re Eliminated

The remaining four cheftestants are reunited on the other side of the world, where there is a sharp contrast between Ed’s devil-may-care attitude and Angelo’s devil-may-have-a-stick-up-his-ass attitude.  Also along for the ride are Kelly, expertly dressed as a tourist, and Kevin, who, by virtue of him being the one I’m rooting for, is allowed to wear such a stupid looking hat.  Once they’re all in the same spot, Padma shows up with Singapore’s own Tony Bourdain, KF Seetoh.  He gives them a tour through one of Singapore’s hawker food centers, feeding them along the way, until they circle back to a visibly drunker Padma, who introduces the Quickfire: create street food using only a wok. And, for the first time in Top Chef history at this late in the game, the winner will get immunity (lazy judges).   Angelo tells us he’s going to win because Asian food is his passion.  Ed, on the other hand, is simply focused on “kicking Angelo’s ass,” potentially adding a couple twists of the insult peppermill to the injury that was Ed sleeping with one of Angelo’s girlfriends back in the day.

Cooking  commences, and it’s apparent that the secret ingredient in all the cheftestants’ dishes is sweat.  Kevin “doesn’t wok,” garnering some surly heckling from the still-even-drunker Padma, but he throws together a nice looking seafood stew with lobster, cuttlefish, and crispy shallots.  Angelo, trying way too hard to both impress guest judge Seetoh and prove that he knows his way around Asian food, attempts a riff on Singaporean chile crab by replacing the crab with frog legs.  Kelly makes Chinese noodles with lobster, cockles, bean sprouts & Chinese broccoli; and Ed—the new villain on the block—makes a copycat dish of stir-fry noodles with lobster, black pepper sauce, & gai lan.  For a non-native English speaker, guest judge Seetoh has a lot to say about all the dishes, but it’s Ed who wins the coveted immunity, keeping the competition’s status as Angelo’s to lose.

The Elimination Challenge is another team affair.  The cheftestants are tasked with catering a party for Food + Wine magazine, meaning Dana Cowin will once again be at the table along with Tom, Padma, Gail, and Asian Bourdain.  No Ripert this time, probably because he’s been called away to assassinate a high ranking member of the Yakuza.  Back at the hotel room, Ed continues to heckle the rest of the gang, using his immunity to get in everybody’s head.  The final four decide to each make a single dish for the elimination, but Ed’s foresight tells him to make two.  When Tom comes to roost and intimidate in the kitchen during prep, Ed’s clairvoyance pays off, so Kevin, Angelo, and Kelly have to scramble to make an additional dish.  As whiny as they were about it, they sorted it out quickly, leaving one final hurdle for service: the waitstaff’s ability to speak or write English.  Even this, however, was surmountable for the cheftestants, who were once again in the zone.  Ed emerges as the clear cut winner with his two dishes, a sweet and sour pork with crispy rice & potato cakes, and a banana fritter with chili paste.  The former is an “explosion of taste” (I think I’ve heard that used somewhere before), and the latter, according to Colicchio, was perfect stoner food. Gail’s input was also insightful, blurting out “Holy Asian extavaganza, it was so taste delicious!”  I don’t know what taste delicious means, but her enthusiasm told me she really enjoyed it.  Kevin was not far behind Ed with his perfectly executed congee and 63 degree egg and creatively named clam chowder with flavors of Southeast Asia.  Angelo has some beginner’s luck with a lamb tartare & curry oil, but his shrimp broth was more sauce than soup.  One out of two was apparently better than what Kelly put together, and her two mediocre dishes were not enough to move on.  She had a great run, but with things being as close as they were and her being forced to cook outside of her comfort zone, she would have lost eventually, just like she did to demi-god Jose Garces on Iron Chef.  Next week, Ilan, Hung, and a few more Bravo-owned chefs show up to help out, Angelo gets sick, and we wrap up the season.  Let’s hope Kevin brings home the win.

Top Chef [Official Site]