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Top Chef - D.C. - Ep. #12 - 09/01/10 (Spoilers)

He's BAAAACKKK!!! Anthony Bourdain, that is. Color me HAPPY! :-)

And before going to the TC kitchen, the show starts off with Kevin saying he didn't think he'd make it this far - a foreshadowing?

They arrive at the TC kitchen for the QuickFire - a table is filled with wine bottles. The Quickfire is to choose one of the wines and create a dish to pair with it. It's the *final* high stakes QF - the winner will be going to London for 6 nights.

Wow - Kevin's braised pork belly dish doesn't get cooked fast enough in the pressure cooker - with about 10 minutes to go, he switches gears and goes with quail - with a red wine choice. Hmmm...

Tiffany chose a Shiraz - she went with a Waygu beef.
Kevin picked a Merlot and when the pork belly didn't work, made quail.
Angelo chose an Evolution white wine and paired it with foie gras.
Kelly went with a Zinfandel and made a beef dish with a blue cheese crust.
Ed had an Italian red, and went with a Waygu rib eye.

The worst pairings were Kevin's quail and Kelly's beef. For the two best dishes, Dana Cowin chose Angelo's foie gras and Tiffany's Waygu beef.

The winner is Angelo - perhaps he's back in a good cooking groove. He gets the trip to London. Then Padma tells the 5 of them that only 4 will make it to the finale - and that they're going to Singapore for the finale!

The remaining 5 chefs head to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and Tom meets them in the Control Room, and they get a message from the astronauts in space. They are asked to create "space food" - and the winning dish will be served in space! Buzz Aldrin is a special guest judge. A head scientist gives them some basic guidelines - food shouldn't be too large, shouldn't have a lot of sugars, as it doesn't freeze-dry well, and well-spiced foods are always very welcome in space!

Ed's going with lamb and Moroccan flavors (later noted to be yogurt-marinated lamb and a lamb kebab); Tiffany seems to be going with Asian-inspired flavors and fish (pan-seared halibut with a coconut curry). Kevin's going with beef and seemed to be picking out some hot peppers from the produce area (he's going with a NY strip steak with a bacon-jalapeno marmalade and a corn puree).

When they come back, they're in the TC kitchen beginning prep. Angelo is doing a ginger-lacquered short ribs with a horseradish sauce, and Kelly's doing a pan-roasted halibut.

Oh NO...Tiffany had put her mussels in the fridge, and they've all frozen solid - they're dead. NOT good! Back at the TC house, Ed and Tiffany are commiserating about the mussels. What will she do now?

The next morning...a note on the kitchen counter says their ride is outside, and the winner of the challenge gets to take it home - a Toyota Avalon all tricked out. :-) They pull up to the International Trade Center, and they have 1 hour to finish cooking. It's a *very* tight kitchen, and they're all on top of themselves. Ed and Angelo bring in a table to try and give them more work space.

So Tiffany's dealing without any mussels; Angelo's short ribs could be too sweet. Hmmm... The guests are seated, and in addition to Bourdain, it's Eric Ripert, Colicchio, Buzz Aldrin, the head food scientist from NASA, and two other astronauts from NASA.

Kelly's dish is out first...she sees Bourdain and said "he always says it like it is and I'm interested in hearing what he has to say!" The head scientist from NASA says "too much liquid".

Ed's Moroccan lamb dish comes out. One of the astronauts says "people forget about trash; usually you can take it outside and throw it away, but in space you can't!" She was referring to the bones from the rack of lamb.

Kevin's up next with his strip steak. He gets good reviews on flavors; the crispy onions would be a challenge to keep crispy, says the head scientist.

Next up is Tiffany with her halibut and coconut curry. Again, a lot of liquid? But Bourdain likes the fish sauce. Ripert doesn't like the combination of the sauce, rice and fish together.

Finally, Angelo comes out with his ginger-lacquered short rib. (God, that sounds **SO** good and that's going to be one recipe I pull off the Recipes page at Bravo's TC website!) Buzz Aldrin likes the flavors a lot...but Tom Colicchio didn't like the candied ginger - thought it too sweet, but said overall the flavoring was good. Bourdain LOVED it and didn't understand Tom's "dark, cynical side." :-) Come on - is THAT all we're going to get? Hopefully there will be more at Judges Table. :-)

They're all tasting each other foods in the "in-between" and it seems like the flavors were all good, according to Kevin. They *did* happen to all look very good - which one could be the worst? Tiffany? Kelly? I think the overall flavor on Tiffany's would be better received; Kelly's seemed to be rather plain - at least visually.

And they're all there at Judges Table. Tom Colicchio said the measure between the winners and losers was very small, so they all did VERY well. They're critiqued in front of the judges....Ed gets good overall reviews, although Ripert still said it was too complicated. Tiffany's dish gets criticized on the tomatoes in the dish - the skin should have been removed. Kelly's dish gets high compliments from Eric Ripert. Angelo's dish was (mostly) well received, although his comment about "making love to the short ribs" got an eyebrow raise. :-)

And finally, Kevin's dish was good - but Bourdain said he thought that perhaps Kevin played it safe. And after the cheftestants go back into the Stew Room, Bourdain was pretty adamant: "This is TOP CHEF - sirloin? Really?" He's got a point. But Tom seemed to favor the fact that Kevin made something that would remind them of home. But there's still the issue of the fried onion rings and how to accomplish that in the freeze-dried world of space.

OK, we're back - decision has been made. Bourdain gets to announce the winner - and it is? Angelo! Another double QF/EC win (his second)! So that makes two double winners who've won doubles twice - Angelo and Tiffany. He also gets Bourdain's latest book, "Medium Raw", the car, AND he gets to watch the next launch from NASA - AND his food is going in to space! Quite the haul for winning this challenge!

Who else is going to Singapore? Not Tiffany. DAMN. She's asked to PYKAG. :-( So it's Kevin, who doesn't deserve it, IMO, and Kelly and Ed.

Shoot - I was really rooting for her. Yeah, she's won a trip to Paris and $20K. But she should have been there in the finale!

And the previews for the finale in Singapore look CRAZY!

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  1. I thought the same thing on the possible Kevin foreshadowing.

    I'm to the point now of not wanting themed challenges. Can't they just cook? Does a Top Chef really need to make freeze dryable food? Five chefs yet, and we're still on gimmicky challenges. Blah.

    I thought Kevin adapted well with the pork belly fail. He knew his pairing would not be good, but he managed to put some good meat on the plate in a short period of time.

    2 Replies
    1. re: debbiel

      To me, the foreshadowing is never as it seems. The editors are good at making you think what will happen, but it never does. Think back to all the teases you've seen over the years.

      1. re: debbiel

        "I'm to the point now of not wanting themed challenges. Can't they just cook? Does a Top Chef really need to make freeze dryable food? Five chefs yet, and we're still on gimmicky challenges. Blah."

        Especially when the challenge is so gratuitous!

        There was absolutely no point to the challenge! None of the chefs seemed to take any aspect of it into consideration, and none of the judges seemed to care.

        (I haven't read the thread yet, so forgive me if this has been mentioned already - I'm a bit late to the party!!)

      2. Too bad Tiffany's mussels froze. But could you really freeze-dry them for space anyway?

        1. Astronaut Leland Melvin presented my daughter with a NASA science award 6 years ago - super nice guy!!!!! I was excited to see him on tv.

            1. re: debbiel

              I'm with you - Noooooooooo!!!!!! Who am I going to root for? I don't think Kelly can win it, so I guess Ed ? IDK - sad night for me.

              1. re: debbiel

                I agree. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

                1. re: debbiel

                  Seriously bummed, as I just wrote in the OP. She SO should have been there. Kevin shouldn't be. BUT....it's not a cumulative judging situation, as we all know. It's the "best dish tonight". :::Sigh::::

                  The contest is between Angelo, Ed and Kelly, I think. And out of those three, I'd root for Ed, I think. Not crazy about any one of the final 4 but those 3 are "tolerable." Oh well.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Quote: "the contest is between Kevin, Ed, and Kelly, I think."
                    ___________

                    Do you mean as to who to root for? Why on earth would you think Angelo couldn't win this season?

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      Sorry - I fixed it. I *meant* Angelo, Ed, and Kelly.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        S'ok. I wasn't offended. Just confused.

                        I wouldn't be shocked to see Kevin win this. I don't think he's so much weaker than the others as to be counted out already. That said, I think I'd give Angelo 1:1 odds, Kevin maybe 10:1. I don't really have a personal favorite of the remaining chefs, though I dislike Ed.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Exactly - I'm not crazy about any of them - I'd say Angelo and Kelly are probably close to even-Steven...Ed's a close third, and Kevin's tagging along in the rear. :-)

                    2. re: LindaWhit

                      Yeah, no one thrills me. I'd be disappointed if Kevin won, but I could handle any of the others winning. My order of preference: Ed, Kelly, Angelo, Tiffany in some surprise comeback, Kevin.

                      1. re: debbiel

                        seriously bummed!!! She was from Beaumont!!!! I was rooting for her! SO maybe they did the foreshadowing with Kevin just to throw all of us off. Maybe the writers read the chowhound threads!!! Well she definitely is my fan favorite.

                        I wanted to see her in the finals. This isn't as big as Carla's upset loss in the finals but I dont know who to cheer on now.

                        1. re: porkbutt03

                          Did you catch that "Beaumont, we have a problem," from the often misquoted "Houston, we've HAD a problem." Beaumont is a mere ninety mies down I-10 from Houston, too bad to see her go.

                      2. re: LindaWhit

                        Yup -

                        I'm with you. Linda!
                        I was really rooting for Tiffany :(
                        At one point I liked Kelly, but ehhhh...

                        I'm not crazy about any of them either, but I think I'll have to *root * (not that he deserves it) for Kevin...only cuz he is from Jersey. (I think!?)

                      3. re: debbiel

                        Completely disappointing, but I figured it was her or Kevin. I was hoping Kevin. Tiffany made out pretty well, though with some high stakes wins and a trip. I predict that she will be voted fan favorite, so hopefully that will be some consolation to her.

                        I thought the freeze dried challenge seemed kind of lame, but it didn't really have much of an effect. I thought maybe they'd actually freeze dry it, or do a freeze dried version and a regular version, but that would have been pretty stupid.

                        1. re: JayEsBee

                          That is exactly what I thought they were going to do, make them freeze dry the stuff and then serve it.

                          1. re: Phaedrus

                            that would have made some sense.

                        2. re: debbiel

                          my thoughts exactly! I'm super bummed that Tif went home!

                        3. BTW, thanks for yet another great recap Linda!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: debbiel

                            Thanks! Just two more recaps to go. :-)

                            And I just saw Ed's QF dish on the TC Recipe Finder list, so I was able to fix that in my original post before I got locked out...I'm glad they get the recipes up quickly now!

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Just two more recaps to go--until Just Desserts that is! ;)

                              1. re: skoolpsyk

                                LOL!!! I'm pretty sure I'll be watching JD (at least the first couple of shows) but I seriously doubt I'll be live-recapping. ;-)