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Top Chef - D.C. - Ep. #10 - 08/18/10 (Spoilers)

In the house before heading over to the TC kitchen, it looks like most people are avoiding Alex. Interesting - a lot of confessional chatter from Kevin and Alex. And Alex is realizing that he's not getting along with anyone in the competition (DUH!) but he doesn't care.

The title of this episode is "Covert Cuisine"...how apropos with a "mystery box" Quickfire Challenge and later serving the EC challenge at the CIA headquarters with Director Leon Panetta and Wylie Dufresne doing the judging. (Added halfway through the episode - AND Eric Ripert is there as a judge! Woot!)

For the Quickfire, Wylie's there to guest judge. They start out with one mystery box, but during the course of the challenge, another Mystery Box will show up at each station, and they MUST utilize all of the ingredients in the Mystery Box. And it's a high-stakes QF - $10K to the winner.

Fish (assorted choices in the various Mystery Boxes), fava beans, and a blank can, which is hominy. Angelo seems completely ferklempt with the ingredients. The next Mystery Box arrives, and there is squid and black garlic. And then a 3rd Mystery Box comes in! It's ramps and passion fruit...Ed says "What the f***? I don't want that!" LOL

And holy crow - Mystery Box #4! They were jicama - Amanda said "I julienned it and threw it in there!" (Thanks for the correction, lisavf!)

They look EXHAUSTED...all of them - Amanda, Angelo, Ed most of all. Having all of those additional ingredients added all within 20 minutes of starting out with the first box's ingredients had to be tough.

Least successful - Alex and Amanda
Most successful - Tiffany and Kevin

The winner? Tiffany - YAY!!! :-)

On to the Elimination Challenge, they must transform famous dishes into different culinary fare. Padma has to go all super-secret agent man talk on the cheftestants. Oy.

They draw knives, and they have to re-imagine the following dishes:

Tiffany - Gyro
Amanda - French Onion Soup
Angelo - Beef Wellington
Alex - Veal Parmesan
Kelly - Kung Pao Shrimp
Ed - Chicken Cordon Bleu
Kevin - Cobb Salad

The winner gets a trip for two to Paris. And Angelo bought puff pastry at Whole Foods instead of making his own - rut-roh!

How amazing would it be walking into the CIA Headquarters! They have 1-1/2 hours to cook; Ed notices that the corner of the kitchen there are speakers and cameras. (I wouldn't be surprised if you're watched in the bathrooms as well!)

So is Kelly making regular Kung Pao Shrimp when she's supposed to change it up? And whoops - Kelly was using her 8000 feet above sea level usual manner of timing things and cooked her rice in the rice cooker for 1 hour. Rut-roh! Tiffany helped her out and said make more the old school way!

And Tiffany helps Kelly a LOT to get her dish plated - good for her! She wants to compete on an even playing field.

And ROFL! Amanda said "I don't think I disguised my dish enough - even Helen Keller would be able to tell what it was!"

Leon Panetta said they would have captured this guy immediately in reference to Angelo's Beef Wellington. :-) Not a good disguise.

And Wylie said to Panetta "I know what it is" in reference to Kelly's Kung Pao Shrimp and then said "For once, I know something you don't!" :-)

Tiffany's up - she has the Gyro. And Panetta figures it out. No real comment on how it tastes. Kevin's Cobb Salad is figured out as well, but Chef Colicchio really liked it.

And then out of the blue, Director Panetta is called out of the dinner when an employee hands him a folded note.

Amanda's and Alex's dishes are up next. And Amanda is talking about liking Alex; that he's like the wise old Jewish uncle she never had, and she doesn't want to see him fail.

Amanda's French Onion Soup disguise was a good idea, but didn't get good reviews on flavor. Alex's Veal Parmesan was universally panned as very poor on execution. (Maybe he goes home?)

Ed's Chicken Cordon Bleu is the last up - Chef Ripert figured it out immediately, but it seems like the flavor was well received.

How much is the disguising of the dish going to weight the decision as to who wins/who goes home? This isn't going to be an easy one to figure out - but in the preview before commercial, it looks like Angelo is in the bottom group.

LOL!! In the in-betweener, they're talking in the house about what Leon Panetta knows - Alex says "he knows who killed JFK" and Kelly said "He knows where the aliens are living!" Angelo responds to her saying "There's one in L.A." and then shoots a thumb at Alex sitting next to him. :-)

Now they're in the Stew Room...Padma asks to see Tiffany, Kelly, and Ed. Kelly REALLY owes a lot to Tiffany helping her with the rice, especially after Chef Ripert complimented her on it.

Tiffany and Ed both get very good reviews as well. Wylie says the winner is TIFFANY! Another double-win for her! She gets to visit the Hilton Arc d'Triomphe in Paris.

The bottom group is Alex, Amanda, and Angelo - the Three A's. Amanda knew her dish wasn't disguised as much as it could have been. But the marmalade was too sweet in her dish as well.

Angelo gets called out on the frozen pastry, and knew he hadn't disguised it well either. Ouch - Chef Ripert said "You ended up with something sad."

Alex and his big pocket spoon get called out on using sous-vide by Wylie when he hadn't ever used it before, and Chef Colicchio said "I've had better frozen tortellini" in reference to his main dish.

OK - Judge's Table - all three aren't doing well on either execution, disguise, or flavor. This is a toss-up - but I think it's going to be Alex and his beyond-tough Veal Parmesan or Amanda and her dishwatery French Onion Soup.

AND it's Alex! Finally. Will be interesting to see how he's greeted in the Stew Room - not well. Kevin looks like he doesn't get up, and only Kelly is shown hugging him.

LOL! They're serving food at National's Stadium next week....and THERE might be a great tee-shirt line from Rick Moonen: "Raw fish at a stadium - that takes real (base) balls." :-)

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    1. re: lisavf

      Thanks - will make the change (couldn't figure out how leek was just julienned and thrown on there!)

    2. Anybody notice Wylie eating gyro off his knife?

      14 Replies
      1. re: mnosyne

        Yeah, also saw Ripert eating off his knife at one point. What was up with that?

        Dang, I have an early day tomorrow - can't wait to catch up on all the commentary

        1. re: lisavf

          Noticed that too. Weird. I would feel self-conscious doing it at home, let alone in front of chefs and television cameras.

          1. re: guster4lovers

            Done in Europe. Foodies do it. "Can get more sauce to mouth". (Agree it is odd in general in America)

            1. re: huiray

              I have some friends who grew up in Europe and the way they use the knife is odd at first when you eat with them. They use it more than just for cutting.

              1. re: Manassas64

                Interesting aside. Europeans use both hands to cut and eat, Americans tends to cut, set aside the knife and change the fork to the right hand and then stab or scoop with the fork. The was how some American POWs were captured while in transit out of nazi occupied territories during WWII. They managed to speak French or German well enough to go unnoticed but got caught because of their eating habits.

                1. re: Phaedrus

                  Interesting, I never knew you're supposed to put down the knife and change fork hands. I've always just used the left hand for forking when I'm holding a knife.

                  1. re: dmckean

                    It's not a matter of "supposed to" or not. You eat the European way, as I do most of the time (having watched the way my father ate as I was growing up...he picked it up from his business travels). I found it much easier to eat the European way. (There's a very long thread on General Topics about European vs. American way of eating).

                    1. re: dmckean

                      My mom used to yell at us for not putting the knife down and changing hands - so I think it must have been a rule when she was kid....

                      I noticed both Wylie and Eric eating off the knife - it made me laugh.

                      1. re: dmckean

                        My husband is ANAL about that! I never learned that, but fortunately I am left handed, knife doesn't end up in my left hand, so he doesn't get on me. But my poor kids! I think it originally had something to do with superstitions about left handed knife weilders...

                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                          Maybe it was to separate the Americans from the English..

              2. re: lisavf

                That really struck me too-- both of them eating off their knives, a couple of times-- really odd.

                1. re: DGresh

                  I eat my peas with honey
                  I've done it all my life
                  It may taste kind of funny
                  But it keeps them on my knife.

              3. re: mnosyne

                Yes, I noticed it and it bugged me! ALSO...Wylie shook hands with at least one if not two people with his LEFT hand. I was left wondering if he was trying to somehow "protect" his chef-knife-wielding hand or something, LOLOL.

                1. re: elisssabeth

                  Yep saw the left handed hand shake too.

              4. Woot! Alex gone!!! Tiffany double win!!! What a great episode!

                I'm all about Tiffany now. It's been building for several weeks and now I'm all there.

                1. hooray! i'm so glad that Alex's luck finally ran out. BTW, during their little alien discussion, i couldn't help thinking that Alex really does look like one of the human-like aliens from the Men in Black movies :)

                  Tiffany is going to have one *very* happy fiancee when she gets home, title or no title...the wedding is paid for, and now they've got a free Parisian honeymoon!

                  pronunciation peeve of the week...gyro. arrrrggghhhh!!!!

                  looking forward to Bayless' judging next week.

                  31 Replies
                    1. re: SDGourmand

                      Yup. After what an overbearing ass he was on Masters, I have lost a lot of respect for him. Sad, petty little man.

                      1. re: SDGourmand

                        (I can read this post now since the episode was spolied for me on another post!)
                        anyway...

                        I always confuse Moonen and Bayless - even now in my head - I'm not sure which one is which ...

                        1. re: NellyNel

                          Awwww, Nelly. :-(

                          And Bayless is taller than Moonen. Which probably only helps if they're standing side-by-side. :-)

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            Thanks Linda! It's cool. No worries!

                            I Googled and was trying to post the photo's of the 2 Ricks - but I couldnt do it...
                            (at least I can post though ay??!!!)

                            1. re: NellyNel

                              And we're glad to have you back, Nelly! :-)

                              Bayless on the left, Moonen on the right...

                               
                               
                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                LOL!!
                                great stuff!!

                                thanks Linda!! I'm excited to be back!!!

                            1. re: NellyNel

                              Bayless is the sexy one. Moonen is the snarky one.

                              1. re: NellyNel

                                Ha! I didn't realize how much they look alike until now! Bayless is the calm one and Moonen is the hyper one.

                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                  Yes Bayless has a calm, zen kind of vibe. I really like him.

                                2. re: NellyNel

                                  I always get them confused! I solved the conclusion by calling then "Rick Bayless" and "Evil Rick Bayless."

                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                "pronunciation peeve of the week...gyro. arrrrggghhhh!!!!"

                                Totally agree, but when the head of the CIA calls it a JAI ROH, it's probably best not to correct him...

                                Didn't he see the Jack in the Box commercial explaining that the correct pronunciation is YEE-ROH? That's how I learned!

                                1. re: soypower

                                  I was couldn't stop myself and I gently corrected someone who ordered JAI ROH in a YEE-ROH joint. She looked at me like I was crazy. After seeing this episode, maybe I am.

                                  1. re: chicgail

                                    I think it's regional...remember the Seinfeld ep when Elaine wanted Jai-ros from a particular subway stop?

                                    In Detroit it's yee-roh or yee-rohs.

                                  2. re: soypower

                                    i thought Eric Ripert pronounced it the same way. Jai-roh.

                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                      He can pronounce it any way his lovely heart desires. ;-)

                                      1. re: Phaedrus

                                        As much as I like Eric, his pronounciation was such a Turn OFF. For a European chef he should know better. At first, I figured he was just going along with the CIA director,but he pronounced it the same at the end of the show. It is amazing how many people pronounce it wrong. We are having lunch at Le Bernardin in two weeks and I joked that if we see him, we should teach him the right way to pronounce it.

                                        1. re: mrsjoujou

                                          He's going to have to work harder than that to be a turn off fo rme. :)

                                      2. re: soypower

                                        I think either is correct in the US, you hear both about as often, and I doubt the owners of the places that sell them really care how you say it as long as you pay for it.

                                        That being said, I always feel a bit self conscious when ordering one, I don't want to come off like a lout, but neither do I want to come off as an ill-informed elitist just in case they actually prefer the 'Jai-ro' pronunciation. Usually I just point and say 'I'll have one of those' or order the Souvlaki...

                                        1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                          ha ha-- I have exactly the same problem (and solution) as you

                                      3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        BTW, during their little alien discussion, i couldn't help thinking that Alex really does look like one of the human-like aliens from the Men in Black. ;)

                                        YES!!! LOL

                                        And let's have a pronunciation lesson for gyro - YHEE-roh? (I *know* it's not JAI-roh)

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          d'oh! that's what i meant. my sleep deprivation is showing :)

                                          clearly there are some haters here, but i like *both* Ricks - Moonen and Bayless. i'd be happy to see either one!

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            I was a huge fan of Moonen on tc masters. I think he showed real passion and seemed to be having a ton of fun.

                                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            I was surprised that Eric Rippert pronounced "gyro" that way. You would think, being from Europe, he would pronounce it better.

                                            1. re: lenwood

                                              I'm from New York, and I have never heard it pronounced any other way!!
                                              Hubby from England never even heard of a gyro!

                                          3. Did anyone actually see Kelly use peanuts, peppercorns, chillies or chili paste in her dish during her prep and cooking of it?

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: huiray

                                              Why do you ask? Are you trying to start peanut-gate? : )

                                              1. re: dmjordan

                                                No, just curious.

                                                I'll have to watch the episode again, but it seemed she said she 1) had never cooked Chinese food; 2) had no idea what Kung Pao Shrimp (KPS) was supposed to taste like. This last remark also implied she had never eaten it.

                                                It seems she found a list of ingredients on a commercial bottle of Kung Pao sauce – clever of her! - but we don't know what that list said. I wonder if there is film footage of her writing down that list or showing that bottle label list. ☺ According to the recipe posted on the bravo website the long list of ingredients includes peanuts, dried chillies, chilli sambal, rice wine vinegar, AND Szechuan peppercorns. These ingredients would have been appropriate for Kung Pao Chicken (the more traditional protein) or Shrimp in the Szechuan style [except that rice wine is missing - I suppose the sherry substituted for that], rather than in the Chinese-American style (which would tend to use oyster sauce and no peppercorns)

                                                Although the idea was to “disguise” the original dish, so it would not look like the original (so of course an “authentic” dish in all senses was not the point), the proportions of the various ingredients would affect the final taste of the whole, and I doubt that list on the bottle she found would have given the amounts of each ingredient. I would assume she just put them together in a way that seemed to agree with her - assuming the list did show all this stuff - and came up with what Ripert called (nicely) spicy, avoiding saying KPS-like. This was smart of him, as according to his blog he himself did not know what KPS was. On the other hand, Colicchio said it had all the tastes of KPS there, or words to that effect. Not entirely sure what Colicchio was thinking of, however, when he said that - what taste did he really have in his mental files? I do note that the lady diner (the personnel director, I think?) guessed it was 'originally' KPS. So the taste Kelly achieved was identifiable to other people too as what they thought of as KPS, at least as would be eaten in America… OTOH, a “generalized” KP sauce would amount to a “generalized spicy ‘Chinese’ ” taste in a way… Do some people think of “Kung Pao” something-or-other when they taste this “generalized spicy” taste?

                                                (For myself, it also seems that the 1/4 cup of soy sauce she poured into the stock at the end according to the recipe would have changed the profile a bit away from what I would have in mind when I think of KPS)

                                                Sooo....I'm just curious about the whole thing.

                                                1. re: huiray

                                                  I am pretty sure there is footage of Kelly looking at the ingredients on the bottle while simultaneously writing them down on her list. While the ingredient list wouldn't have given her the exact amounts it would have given her a general guide. I know I couldn't describe the flavors of Kung Pao if asked point blank, but after buying a bottle and tasting it, like Kelly did, I might have an "a ha" moment. Also she is a chef, tasting the sauce and determining what ingredients are involved is part of the job description.

                                                  1. re: lizzy

                                                    Hmm, was she shown tasting that commercial Kung Pao sauce? If she did I missed it.

                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                      Please someone correct me if I am wrong, but I believe she wrote down the ingredients in WF and then she tasted the sauce at her station in the TC kitchen with all of her purchased ingredients unpacked and around her. I will try to watch again to confirm.

                                                      1. re: lizzy

                                                        I know she wrote down the ingredients in WF; I didn't see whether she purchased the bottled sauce to compare against her homemade.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          In the store, she used a bottle for an ingredients list. She purchased said bottle and used it in the kitchen as a tasting base to build her soup. They showed her tasting the bottled product in the TC kitchen (furnished by Kenmore....sorry couldn't resist the product placement). While you can guess how the ingredients are proportionately included in the product by referencing the ingredients list, tasting is the way to confirm.

                                                          She did not use the bottle in her soup.

                                                          1. re: Dee S

                                                            Thanks. I also watched Ripert's video blog, and he thought it was smart of her to have bought the bottle so as to use it as a taste test against her dish. He said he probably wouldn't have thought to do that. Score one for Kelly. :-)

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              I thought it was smart as well!