Top Chef 7 Ep 5: A Culinary Cow Pasture

This episode started with a look at the how do you say “partnerships” that have sprung up between Tamesha and Angelo and between Ed and Tiffany.  I guess the producers are trying to put a romantic spin on both of these relationships, but it seemed like they were trying  a bit too hard.  Angelo seems to be trying to take Tamesha under his creepy wing, offering up lessons from the motivational posters he must own. I did rather enjoy Tamesha’s later comment about Angelo’s personality: “to each his own, but for me it works”.

After a short detour into the land of love, they brought on the quickfire challenge in which the chefs were presented with tables filled with live blue crabs which are native to the DC area.  The celebrity judge for this one was Patrick O’Connell who is a DC based chef of The Inn at Little Washington in Virgina, but looked like the 2nd place winner of the “John Waters lookalike” contest .  I have to say, after weeks of making my way through the complete Deadliest Catch, I immediately thought of Alaskan crab fishing.  Perhaps the quote of the night came from Angelo who upon seeing the challenge said “I had crabs once, just brought back bad memories”.  It was such a bizarre comment and delivered in such a deadpan manner that it was really unclear as to whether he was joking or not.  As for the actual challenge, Kenny  created a  trio of crab dishes that included a crab bisque that looked excellent.  Ed ended up winning with an Asian influenced crab dish, even after Angelo complained about the fact that he was essential trying to outdo Angelo with his use of Asian influences.  I guess Angelo has trademarked Asian cooking, sorry 60% of the world’s population. The most notable crappy dish was Amanda, whose dish Padma called “pungent”, and again I questioned the reason they kept her around.

For the main event, the chefs again had to cook in an outdoorsy cookout kind of setting in a cow pasture in Ayshire farms near D.C.  Maybe its just me, but I have seen enough of the cooking outside challenges for one season of top chef.  The challenge was family style challenge in which all of the chefs had to work together to create a meal with foods from the farm provided in a mobile pantry.  Once the challenge had been announced, a fight to be leader almost immediately broke out between Angelo and Kenny.  Really it wasn’t a fight about what should be done, but more a fight about who would be able to decide what should be done.  Finally, Kenny won over the group, and they decided that they would continue to work with the partners they had worked with for the last challenge. It was sad that they didn’t even talk about how to make the meal cohesive.

Our lovely guest judge came decked out in his best used car salesman style orange and yellow plaid jacket, as the chefs scrambled and fought to make their dishes with their limited resources. Immediately, we  were reminded of the huge gap of talent we have this season; Amanda was busy trying to fancy-up her vegetable soup by calling it minestrone, Tim flounders as he tries to save his bland roasted turnips, and Stephen learns that you can’t just make a salad on “Top Chef.”

Kelly managed to break the “don’t make an extra dish if you don’t have to” rule though with her strawberry rhubarb crisp. But it was Kenny and Kevin who truly deserved to be in the winner’s circle this episode. After Tamesha or the wind or Angelo’s mind control knocked Kevin’s cauliflower couscous to the ground, Kevin has to start all over again. He managed to rework his recipe and made a broccoli couscous instead. Together, with Kenny’s hot and sour eggplant, the two guys showed that you don’t need meat for a fantastic dish.

So, that leads us to the bottom 3 and no one could be surprised that Tim was kicked off, although Amanda and Stephen are on borrowed time now. We’re cutting off some of the fat from this season, so hopefully the challenges will pick up and we’ll get to see some real cooking prowess instead of hearing about the chef’s bedroom prowess.

~Tony and Julia

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