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Top Chef - D.C. - Ep. #8 - 08/04/10 (Spoilers)

Just a note about Pea-Gate - there are 581 comments on Tom's blog about last week's episode as of the end of tonight's episode. I have to believe that's a record! And Alex is still claiming that he had no idea that Ed had a pea purée. Liar.

Two MAJOR judges on this episode of TC7....Marcus Samuelsson and José Andrés. For the Quickfire, they're charged with creating an Ethiopian-inspired dish. Samuelsson is obviously judging the QF. :-) Samuelsson explains what is important in Ethiopian food - the spicing, injera bread, the various meats. The cheftestants have a lot to choose from from the TC table - goat, lamb, spices, injera.

Amanda seemed to please Padma and Marcus, as did Angelo; and Kenny did another duo. What a surprise.

Whose dish did they not like? Kevin, Stephen, and Alex.

Which were the favorites? Amanda's goat dish, Angelo, and Tiffany. Who is the winner and who gets immunity? Tiffany! She wins one! Her's was the last dish Samuelsson tasted, and he wanted to go back for more and more. Good for her.

For the EC, they must serve dishes inspired by a foreign embassy. The cuisines are:

Brazil - Stephen ("I didn't even know they had a cuisine!")
China - Ed
Italy - Kelly
France - Amanda
India - Kevin (he's never made Indian food - chooses to make his own curry spice mix)
Mexico - Tiffany
Thailand - Kenny
Spain - Alex
Japan - Angelo

One hundred portions of their country's dish are to be served to "diplomats, ambassadors, and world dignitaries." They won't have any kitchens to use; only chafing dishes using Sterno.

They're back at the house after Prep, and Kelly gets a care package from her husband - stuffed animals...and a bottle of Jack Daniels. That'll get put to good use. :-)

The next day, they're in a gorgeous space and they have 30 minutes to lay out their dishes and plates and reheat their dishes if they need to. Tiffany is WAY behind in her final prep and is finishing up just at the end of the clock.

Kelly gets good reviews for her carpaccio; Ed's tea-smoked duck doesn't get as good reviews as I'm sure he hopes. Kevin's Indian dish is enjoyed; but Stephen's Brazilian beef doesn't fare well, nor does Alex's Spanish dishes. Not good with José Andrés there.

For the next round of dishes, Amanda's beef bourguignon was a bit dry; Angelo's Japanese dish gets good and fair reviews; Tiffany's chicken tamales were VERY well received, and Kenny's Thai green curry dish was well liked.

ROFL! In the brief in-between-commercials interlude back at the TC House, Angelo Saran Wrapped the men's toilet and Stephen comes up a little tipsy and ends up peeing on the wrap and the floor. Little boys and their silly games. ;-)

Padma asks to see Kelly, Kevin and Tiffany - and they're in the Top Group. All three get very good reviews - really, none of the judges had any issues with any of the dishes. Who's the winner? The best dish of their representative country is Tiffany - she gets a double win! Woo-Hoo!!! And a SURPRISE for her win - she'll get $10,000! Her upcoming wedding is paid for so this is gravy! LOL TC will also be matching that $10K with a donation in Tiffany's name to DC Central Kitchen, a charity favored by Andrés.

Alex, Stephen and Ed are in the Bottom Group. Stephen's dish was dry, rice was overcooked, and the chimichurri sauce was Argentinian, not Brazilian (and overly garlicky, per Gail Simmons). Alex's Spanish dish was a disappointment to José Andrés, and Tom clearly didn't like it. As for Ed's tea-smoked duck - Andrés had a good comment - Ed overpromised and underdelivered. Underseasoned, and no real crispy skin, as he hadn't rendered the fat.

I'm thinking that either Stephen or Alex might be going home. Andrés really seemed to dislike Alex's attempt at Spanish tapas.

So who's outta here? Stephen's gone. Alex lives another day. Shoot.

And Whoa! Major drama next week between Angelo and Alex - looks like Alex really sets Angelo off by being incompetent (or Angelo's temper gets the best of him? I'm thinking the former :::grin:::) And it looks like RESTAURANT WARS next week, as perhaps Kelly is leader for one team as she's in civilian dress back in the kitchen? Can't wait - RW is always a good episode.

Just checked the episode listing for next week - yup - it's Restaurant Wars. Speaker Pelosi (UGH!) and Frank Bruni are guest judges.

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  1. I was glad to see Stephen go home, although it would have been great if Alex went. Stephen has consistently been in the bottom three, and poorly cooked rice would ruin any dish. I thought both Stephen and Alex's dishes looked rather unappetizing, as well. And I was happy Tiffany won!

    1. Tom has more about Pea-Gate on this week's blog, already up:

      http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/blogs...

      Halfway through Page 2 of a 3-page blog, he says:

      "I can’t conclude without saying a word or two about last week’s pea incident. I was just cooking at a benefit and some folks there, fans of the show, came up to ask me about the incident. I know viewers are up in arms about it, assuming that information is being withheld from them (and usually assuming that the producers are covering up for Alex). But here’s the thing: I actually called the producers and asked about it, and they genuinely do not know what happened. This show is part competition, part “reality TV.” Had the cameras caught Ed making the actual puree that Alex used or Alex lifting Ed’s pea puree, believe me they would have been thrilled to air it – it would have “made great TV.” "

      He goes on to say there are only two cameras in the kitchen - so they can't catch everything. The producers have gone over every inch of footage and they didn't capture anything about Alex taking Ed's purée.

      He also throws a diss at Kenny when he says "By the way, whichever contestant asserted last week that there’s no way Alex could have made so good a pea puree without having begun preparing it on their prep day was wrong. It takes twenty minutes tops to make a great pea puree."

      11 Replies
      1. re: LindaWhit

        It was nice of Tom to provide a follow up, and answer some lingering questions. It will be interesting to see what is said at the reunion. It's funny because while watching the episode last week, I thought why can't you make a good pea puree in one day. I've never made pea puree so I wasn't sure if there was some kitchen trick I was unaware of, glad to know I'm not a total moron. ;-)

        As for this week, I was glad to see Tiffany do well. Her dishes looked delicious, and I loved how Gail didn't like the same things Tiffany fixed with a typical tamale. I like Tiffany, and I hope she is able to keep it up in the coming weeks. I also want to add that Gail is really bringing it at JT, she is saying a lot of things I'm thinking while watching.

        I knew Tiffany would be in the top three this week, but I was surprised to see Kevin and Kelly. Based on the judges comments alone, I thought Kenny would also be in the top. Amanda should thank her lucky stars that there were 3 dishes worse than hers. I was really surprised to not see her in the bottom, and I think she was too, I honestly thought the judges might bring back more than 3 people.

        The magical elves threw me this week, I thought it would be the end of Kevin this week when we saw him on the phone with his family.

        1. re: lizzy

          Yes, I also thought that they'd send Kevin home because of the phone call and they kept stressing that Kevin had never cooked Indian style before.

        2. re: LindaWhit

          Why didn't they look at the receipts from Whole Foods and seen who bought peas? If only one did, that for sure was not Alex.

          1. re: rccola

            It's already been established that Alex bought peas. He said to Kenny and Andrea at the TC house kitchen that he had them but they were "crappy". He bought a lot of food items he probably wasn't going to use. He had no idea before going to WF what he was going to make; so he said he bought a lot of things.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              Established or "he said?" What other proof is there?

              1. re: rccola

                I'm going with what Alex said - he said he bought peas amongst all the other things he purchased, but said they were crummy. Only *then* did Kenny and Andrea say that Ed's peas were great after he pureed them.

                Why would he say he bought them and they were crummy if he didn't buy them? I'm certainly not defending Alex, by all means. But *he* was the one who brought up the "crummy peas" first.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  He might say it as an excuse for why there were only one pot o' peas in the kitchen. If the peas were crummy (yet Ed bought from the same store), the puree should have been crummy. So can Alex judge raw ingredients?

                  1. re: rccola

                    The conversation about buying crummy peas happened the night BEFORE we saw the one pot of peas in the kitchen. So it wasn't an excuse. And the peas could have been crummy in their raw state (I'm assuming he tasted them), but could have been improved by other ingredients as Ed obviously did.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      We seriously need to stop belaboring this, however, since the peas were missing in the morning and the contestants couldn't go back to the kitchen that night, setting up an alibi is a possibility, don't you think?

                      1. re: rccola

                        Yes, we do need to stop belaboring this. I stand by my previous post.

          2. re: LindaWhit

            So sad that at this point, I am more interested in pea puree gate rather than the competition itself! Maybe next week's Restaurant Wars will re-capture my attention. Anyways, on Tom's blog he states that there are only 2 cameras so they can't capture all the action/drama. However, on Gail's blog she seems to indicate there are quite a lot of cameras since she states "... considering how many cameras that we have shooting them." Hmmm.....

          3. Thanks to lovely technology, I can watch the show via slingbox while being overseas! Nonetheless, I thought the challenges tonight were interesting, yet highlighted just how limited many of the chefs are on several levels (knowledge, cooking, technique, etc.). I agree that just because one is a chef they shouldn't know the world, however I think reading or brushing up on some global cuisines before the competition wouldn't be a bad idea...

            Stephen *REALLY* deserved to go home on a number of levels. Perhaps this is way too close to my own identity and life, but he didn't even cook a dish inspired by the right country and made an ignorant comment regarding Brazil. It is almost the same size as the USA, does the USA have a cuisine?

            Thankfully Stephen's ignorance was pointed out by the judges and visitors like Marcus S. While beef is a staple throughout most regions of Brazil (most notably the South and Southeast), there were a number of other approaches that he could have taken: Portuguese, Italian, Japanese, German, and West and Southern African Flavors (OK - I'm done ranting....). Beans and rice in Brazil are staples, but hardly ever together... Still, Stephen couldn't even cook rice and served a sauce popular in ARGENTINA.

            It was nice to see somebody other than Angelo or Kenny finally win a quickfire AND challenge.

            15 Replies
            1. re: vinhotinto75

              Actually, I had chimicchurri sauce serverd to me at a rodizio restaurant. Not sure if that was just the restaurant's choice, but the restaurant was billed as a Brasilian place.

              1. re: Phaedrus

                Chimichurri is not Brazilian, it's very Argentine.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  I know that it is Argentine in origin, BUT, I have had it in Honduras, and in Brasilian restaurants. The point is that the sauce itself is ubiquitous in Latin American countries. I think dinging the contestant for that is pretty damned silly. Its like saying spaghetti isn't Italian, its Chinese since Marco Polo brought noodles back to Italy from China.

                  1. re: Phaedrus

                    Don't get me started. There were noodles in Italy before Marco Polo. Besides, no one said noodles weren't Italian OR Chinese.

                    and Brazil is a VERY Portuguese country. That's the language they speak. It's not "Latin." Ask any Brazilian!

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      Its obvious this is a pet peeve. All I am saying is that you can very easily take this to the silliest extreme.

                      Portugese and Spanish has Latin as the root language.

                      1. re: Phaedrus

                        Since ChefJune asked, I'll add my input!

                        Ok - as I said in my post above, this hits a little "too close to home," since I was raised in the "country that doesn't have a cuisine." I now get to spend my time divided among three continents and while Chimicchurri might be a fad ingredient in North American and even Brazilian-style steakhouses (Churrascarias) outside of Brazil, I have NEVER seen it at some of the top Churrascarias in Rio, São Paulo, or Porto Alegre (the land of Churrasco and Rodizio).

                        Stephen deserved to go for last night, but I also don't recall that he ever made a quickfire dish or elimination dish that was received well.

                        I'm wondering what I'm going to eat when I get to Chicago in a few weeks. Is there food or a cuisine in the US? What language do they speak there?

                        1. re: vinhotinto75

                          Stephanie Izard, the winner of Top Chef 4 (I think that's the season) just opened Girl and the Goat. Getting good notices.

                          Personal Chicago favorites include Red Light (Pan Asian) Jackie Shen's place in the West Loop, Spiaggia, Bin 36 restaurant and wine bar, Tre Kronor (Swedish).

                          1. re: ChefJune

                            ChefJune

                            Thanks for those tips as I know that Chicago has some great places to eat! I was just pointing out the ignorance and insular nature of certain cheftestants. I was just being facetious!

                            It always amazes me how some of these chefs can use the trendy ingredients, yet know very little about the roots, history, and other intricacies of regional and global cuisine. Again, I do agree with Chef José and others that it is not possible to know every single global cuisine, yet it clearly shows a lack of basic education to not even know about the world. Yet, I suppose it does go both ways, because a good deal of perceptions (while awfully unfair) about food in the US around the world is based on the fast food chains that predominate globally and through popular films and television shows.

                          2. re: vinhotinto75

                            <<"What language do they speak there?">>

                            Murcan. :-)

                            1. re: vinhotinto75

                              English predominantly but you might get by with German since they both share the same Germanic root.;-)

                              1. re: vinhotinto75

                                macaroni and cheese uses essentially a bechamel sauce, does that make mac and cheese French?

                                If legend is correct, the sandwich was the inspiration of Lord Sandwich of England, does that make pannini's English?

                                Besides, I think Gail's line of reasoning wasn't what killed Steven's chances. Colicchio dinged him for being not competent enough to make the rice correctly.

                                Besides, they did not have to make a dish from the country they chose, they had to make a dish that is reminiscent of the country they chose. They loved Kevin's dish even though such a dish doesn't exist in India. Stephen's problem wasn't that he used the chimichurri, his problem was that he was clueless.

                      2. re: Phaedrus

                        I've been to three Brazilian Steakhouse places (not many, I know), and there has been a chimicchurri sauce at all three. I think if his dish had been well done it wouldn't have mattered, but given the uninspired dish and poor execution, the judges were in no mood to give him the benefit of the doubt on that point.

                        1. re: JayEsBee

                          Tom C was pretty clear at JT that it was the poor execution that did him in, not the fact that it may not have been truly Brazilian...

                      3. re: vinhotinto75

                        I thought Stephen really deserved to go home as well. It wasn't so much that he didn't know about Brazilian food as that he didn't seem to care, and it showed in the sloppy way he prepared his dish. Compare that to Tiffany, who said she didn't know anything about Ethiopian food but still managed to produce a dish that was good enough to win the quickfire.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Exactly! And, it's the reason Kevin made the top three. He said he'd never made Indian food and made a point to say it was Indian-inspired and didn't want to pass it off as anything authentically Indian. "Close enough" isn't, especially when it's poorly done, as Stephen's.

                      4. I was really hoping Alex would be going home this week. Based on the edit we saw and just the look of his dish, it seems it could have gone either way. Great week for Tiffany!

                        1. Alex lied again. He said to Tom in the kitchen that he couldn't find beef cheeks, so he was using shanks instead - yet when he was presenting his dish he said he was serving cheeks. How come Tom didn't call him on that at JT also?

                          22 Replies
                          1. re: huiray

                            Thanks. I thought I caught that, too. I was planning on rewatching it tonight to confirm. You've saved me the trouble!

                            1. re: huiray

                              I caught that, too, and was waiting (hoping) for Tom to call him on it. Nothing wrong with veal shanks -- they're just not veal cheeks. Don't like Alex. I know this sounds weird, but there is some animal he resembles and I was trying to figure out what it is. Not a dog. anybody?

                              1. re: chicgail

                                he reminds me of the meerkats on meerkat manor.

                                1. re: jujuthomas

                                  Yes. He looks like some kind of small mongoose.

                                  1. re: chicgail

                                    I believe the word you're looking for is "weasel".

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            (Oops - wrong picture for the chef, so I had that post removed.) Let's try that again.

                                            I think it's a toss-up between meerkat and weasel. Although meerkats are cuter.

                                             
                                             
                                             
                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              I thought he looked like a wide-eyed Gollum. From Lord of the Rings? When he was still friendly.

                                               
                                            2. re: jujuthomas

                                              @jujuthomas

                                              BWAH!! You owe me a new monitor!! Coca Cola and keyboards dont mix well.

                                          2. re: huiray

                                            I meant to note that in my original post and forgot. He definitely used shanks but said at the buffet table that they were cheeks.

                                            And I agree with chicgail - he looks like a meerkat on Meerkat Manor. Although they're way cuter. :-)

                                            1. re: huiray

                                              They keep him around for the drama and loathing factors. This is TV, not real competition. People keep watching to some extent to wish for him to fail. They could have kept the guy with the awful filthy looking dreads but Alex's loathsomeness won out.

                                              1. re: rccola

                                                previews on bravo site make it look like Alex is going to be thrown to the dogs by his team if they end up on the bottom. He seriously screwed up fish prep, leaving on bones and scales, leaving the butchered pieces unusable. Angelo is his team leader and is enraged. It's funny how Ed Alex Tiffany are all on the same team, with Angelo... it is like most of the season's narration and drama have linked Ed Alex and Tiffany together. Ed and Tiffany are tight. Ed hates Alex with a passion, but somehow Alex is always stuck on Ed.

                                                1. re: rccola

                                                  I've always said the key to winning a reality show is to be psycho drama queen/king for the first half, to stay in, and then turn it around in the end.

                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                    Good point.
                                                    My problem with that scenario is that I wished TC wasn't so heavily weighted towards the reality-show side, especially as it has seemed this season.

                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                      I'm back! (for the moment!)
                                                      Anyway - not to beat a dead horse here - but TC has ALWAYS added the "drama".................not sure where you have been - but I'll just say "shaved Heads"
                                                      ...Even the much respected first season had it...all the Tiffany hate and Stephen's (was it Stepen??) tears...Then there was steamy smooch sessions etc...
                                                      Whatever it is - it gets us all talking doesnt it??!

                                                      If you notice - most of the comments here are NOT about FOOD!
                                                      It's about personalities.

                                                      I don't mind the drama and behind the scenes goings on because that is what makes the show so interesting.

                                                      And for my own 2 cent - I don't think Alex is that bad and I don't think he stole anyones puree.
                                                      Would he be that stupid when he knows they are being filmed??
                                                      He may had stolen the IDEA...but not the peas....

                                                      (Altho I have to say Linda - your animal pic comparison is Hilarious!

                                                      1. re: NellyNel

                                                        <<Anyway - not to beat a dead horse here - but TC has ALWAYS added the "drama".................not sure where you have been - but I'll just say "shaved Heads">>

                                                        Excuse me, but WHERE did I say that TC did NOT have drama added to it, in this or in any other season? What I said was that I wished [Quote] "TC wasn't so heavily weighted towards the reality-show side" [Unquote]. Read my post again - and yes, I've been watching TC since season 1.

                                                        You may LOVE the dramatainment the magical elves feed you but please don't assume that is what EVERYONE loves in a cooking show.

                                                        1. re: NellyNel

                                                          <<f you notice - most of the comments here are NOT about FOOD!
                                                          It's about personalities.>>

                                                          I think there are LOTS of comments here relating to the food.