I love Top Chef, but I can almost always figure out who is going home by about halfway through the episode because producers are a huge fan of foreshadowing. In this episode my first impression was that it was gonna be Andrea, because of her quip “I think I can beat anybody here”, which often is foreshadowing a chef’s over-confidence. Unfortunately, this was quickly overshadowed by some even more direct foreshadowing which I will mention later on.
With this episode it really seemed like the political side of DC is beginning to rear its ugly head, starting with Sam Kass, the current White House chef. I’d say you have to be able to cook if your job is making meals for the arguably the most powerful man on Earth. For the biparti-sandwich quickfire challenge, the chefs had to work together to make a sandwich while they were bound together by an apron and using only one of their hands. In my opinion, the most amusing pairing was that of the stout and rather whiny Tracey and of the ever-cocky Angelo, who honestly are my 2 least favorite people on the show right now. The teams had to work together slicing bread, cutting open packages, and generally trying not cut off one anothers’ fingers as they made sandwiches. This proved particularly entertaining in the case of Alex who seems deathly afraid of the possibility of even being grazed by Tim’s blade. I don’t know, but I really didn’t find any of the sandwiches particularly interesting besides those that were colossal failures. I am looking in your direction, Jacqueline and Stephen, with your ridiculous rosemary stalk sticking directly out of your sandwich. And Tiffany and Lynn, you can’t cover up the fact that your sandwich is crappy and falling apart by saying it’s “more of a knife and fork kind of sandwich”. Of course, Tracey and Angelo won, which regrettably meant they were the winners of this challenge and could not be kicked off. Sigh.
For the second challenge, the chefs had to cook healthy meals for grade school children within the budget that the public schools have to work with. This is the point where Sam Kass got a bit on the public service announcement side as he continuously repeated cliches about keeping carbs and sugar out of school lunches. In a way, this resembled the Jamie Oliver project where he crusaded to change the school lunches of the unhealthiest town in America. However, unlike “the “Top Chef” cooks, he had to deal with the very strict USDA standards that are required for school lunches. To me, this made the concept of this challenge fall a little short as it is quite unlikely that any of these meals would ever meet the USDA standards. At the beginning of the challenge, I had it figured out who was gonna be the next person kicked off of Top Chef. Jacqueline made a comment about how close to her heart this challenge was because of her troubled childhood and family life and I knew immediately that she was out.
During the challenge Kenny and Angelo were on a team together which was already interesting, but when Angelo mentioned that peanut butter and celery mousse would be a great veggie, you could already tell their team was going to be a train wreck. Kenny needed to step up and say no to Angelo’s ideas which I think quite possibly could have been him purposefully throwing the match to try and get Kenny kicked out of the game. Not to mention the fact that their final product was nothing but mush mush and more mush with bread pudding, peanut butter mousse, and sweet potato puree. Short of the chicken burger that Tracy cooked, it was almost as if they were cooking food for babies.
And then there was the Sherry chicken team. What the heck was Amanda thinking about when she decided to serve braised sherry chicken thighs to children especially if they were working within a strict budget? She totally screwed over the rest of her team by using an ingredient that essentially sucked up most of the team’s budget and that didn’t even work for the challenge. Granted, Jacqueline, messed up by cooking a banana pudding that involved what was apparently a staggering two pounds of sugar, but I still kind of feel like Amanda deserved it so much more.
It is not as if the winning team had it together much more than the rest of them though, it was basically one long session of Arnold complaining that Kelly was trying to take credit for the dish she came up with. I sort of feel like they used some production trickery by cutting what had actually been said by Kelly in effect making her seem like the victim. Somehow, although they fought through the whole episode, Kelly’s carnita tacos came out on top and won it for the team. Although they won, I just haven’t seen anything that’s been amazing this season. The coolest thing that has happened so far is still Kenny kicking butt in the Mise en Place quickfire in the first episode. Here’s to hoping I will be more impressed with the chefs later on this season.