Top Chef Season 7, Episode 4: 3 meals and a Baby

Well, it’s almost like the Top Chef gods have heard my bitchin’ and granted me a few small gifts, like more focus on chef Andrea, who coined the term “the business,” meaning the jeu ne se quoi that makes something like short ribs soooo good. Plus, we had creepy good fun with Alex, who I can’t tell if I should despise or vote as my favorite yet. One thing that changed and unfortunately for the worse was the whining. Instead of complaining, the chefs got angry, and you wouldn’t like them when they’re angry.

Lynne fumed, Amanda and Kevin got into a screaming match about nothing. Arnold and I agreed for the first time when he asked “Why are you so pissed off about?” What indeed?

I kind of get the feeling that they’re running out of ideas for quickfires. This episode’s “Make a dish for both baby and the parent” felt a little forced and kind of hard to win. The palate and digestive system of a baby is tricky, you want to expose them to different flavors, but they can’t take the seasoning that an adult palate can. Plus, it’s hard to make baby food look good.  The only interesting part of this quickfire was the split reactions about the $20k prize. Arnold swore he would use his winnings to help orphans with AIDS, Alex had his eye on a hooker and an eightball. Alex and Arnold may just be the devil/angel on the shoulder of “Top Chef” with that moment. Luckily, illicit relations and illegal drugs were not gained when Tamesha and Kenny won. Tamesha definitely got my attention with her vegetable chowder and use of licorice oil, which was a risky move that worked out.

The elimination challenge was both lackluster and confusing. The chefs were asked to present three dishes, breakfast, lunch and dinner, that could be used on the Hilton hotel menu. The twist was that the challenge would be “tournament” style, which mean the worst would move to the next round. However, as we would find out, the worst and best would be picked out of the last round, which made no sense to me. If only the worst dishes would go on, then how is it fair to pick the best, since the people saved from cooking lunch or dinner didn’t get a chance to shine?

The other fly in the ointment was that the challenge was to work in teams. Like the nerd in kickball, no one wanted Stephen on their team. However, the theme for the night seemed to be “carry my teammate.” Tiffany took the lead in her team with Tim, because that guy has bottom three written all over him. This was a smart move, since her crab Benedict saved them both from going into the Lunch round.

Meanwhile, Alex had a contender for “Creepiest chef” tonight with Angelo’s lame attempt at flirting with his teammate Tamesha. “Tamesha is really sexy,” he crooned, but considering he considers fish sauce sexy, that doesn’t mean too much.

For lunch, Alex and Ed were saved with their scallops and nudi (heh heh, “nude-y”) and Angelo and Tamesha are safe with their asian-inspired beef carpaccio. It’s too bad, because I thought that Kenny and Kevin’s hummus-inspired pasta sounded delicious and original.

The final three teams to make dinner were Kelly and Andrea, Kevin and Kenny, and Arnold and Lynne. I almost forgot Lynne was part of this season and after seeing her sour face and “looks like rain” attitude for this episode, I was glad to see her gone. The squid ink pasta she and Arnold made were marred by her refusal to cook them before the last minute. Yeah, overcooked pasta can be bad, but not nearly as bad as undercooked noodles, which seemed to be her idea. I guess teaching at the CIA doesn’t teach you that. At the end of the day, even though he wasn’t my favorite, Arnold didn’t deserve to go home because of Lynne’s mistake.

Kenny and Kevin were safe from elimination with their short ribs, even though Kevin didn’t listen to Kenny that their horseradish sauce actually needed horseradish. But it was Lynne and Andrea who won with their short ribs dish, which was properly glazed and brought (thanks Andrea) “the business.”

At the end of the day, this was a confusing episode. How can the winner of the challenge come from the bottom 3? How can Arnold be gone after his winning streak? Why is Alex so creepy yet fascinating? (quote of the night from Alex regarding baby food, “I have practice making baby, not baby food!”) It’s just a shame that this season isn’t bringing the business as far as cooking (thanks again, Andrea!!)



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