Top Chef Season 7, Episode 11: Take me away from the ballgame

First things first, I sadly could not get a post up for last week’s episode due to major sinus issues and an overall week from hell. Long story short, our national nightmare is over and Alex is out of the running. Now, let’s focus on cutting the fat from the rest of this season…

The image of Ed waking up in a yellow sundress is not appetizing to start off the show with, Thanks Top Chef producers. To segue from that to the overly cutesy idiom quickfire challenge showed me that maybe I took the wrong week off from posting. Luckily, all of the chefs chose to use good taste by not choosing “hide the salami” as their idiom inspiration. Tiffany wanted to impress guest judge Rick Noonan, who’s famous for his seafood, so her idiom of “spill the beans” became a pan-seared cod over stewed beans. She luckily dodged a bullet by using canned beans by the very fact that you can’t possibly cook beans in the time of a quickfire. Using canned beans in any other challenge would have spelled doom. Tiffany wasn’t the only top contender having a hard time this episode, Angelo’s mojo since Kenny has left seems to have faltered, as he scrambled around the kitchen, trying to make “bigger fish to fry” show in his crusted tilapia satay. Amanda was doomed to fail with her “The big Cheese” macaroni and cheese dish, she has such a heavy hand, and as much as I love mac and cheese, it can be an overly heavy dish if you’re not careful. Plus, a slab of a pork chop next to it seemed so out of place. Kevin made the cardinal sin for me of using a bacon froth for “bringing home the bacon”. Why would I want to ever eat something that looks like a loogie. Someone, please explain it to me. Meanwhile Kelly made a roasted chicken breast with brussel sprouts and a concord grape sauce for “sour grapes,” which was such a strange flavor combination to me. Ed was the winner this time around with his “Hot Potato”gnocchi wih spring vegetables, which seemed to be the best representative of the idiom while still tasting good.

The elimination challenge was another group challenge, which means that heads will be butted and some terrible decisions will be made. The team had to come up with dishes to serve at a Washington Nationals game (what a terrible name for a team by the way), plus serve them at the concessions stand, which means you have to balance making things fresh with what can be done way ahead of time to keep the pace going. Plus, despite what the chefs were saying, food st stadiums isn’t that far-out and accepting of high cuisine, which is part of its charm. When I go to see the Durham Bulls, I don’t want ceviche, I want a hot dog with mustard, a funnel cake, and a tall plastic cup filled with Yuengling.

It was definitely getting cutthroat, Kelly took over the planning session, Ed took to yelling at inappropriate times, and Angelo made the conscious decision not to help Amanda by telling her that preparing raw tuna the day before for a tartare would oxidize the fish., turning it into an unappealing grey color. Not that Amanda could be saved, who serves a tartare with fava bean puree at a ballgame? Talk about not knowing your audience and not playing to the strengths of the challenge. If you’re going to go that route, the tartare could have been made the day of, done quickly, and still have been easy to serve.

It was really all about execution when it came to the others. Tiffany’s italian meatball sub was seasoned perfectly, but was a sloppy mess to eat, which to me is part of the fun of food like that, but oh well. Angelo’s sweet pork with sesame pickles was another sloppy mess due to the white bread roll picking up all of the juice from the pork and glaze. Kelly put together an unmemorable crabcake blt, which seemed to be two separate ideas than one complete dish. Kevin’s dish brought on a major case of the “that’s what she said”s with his chicken kabob, which ummm….made the customers a little uncomfortable. Judge Eric Ripert sweetly noted in his french accent, “to have a skewer like that in your mouth, it’s not that easy”….Uh…huh…..

Ed’s dish seemed to be the least featured, shrimp and corn risotto fritters, but seemed to wow the judges enough to win the challenge. Maybe I was just to distracted by Ripert’s unintentional double entendres to care? Looking back, combined with his jalepeno aioli, it does sound delicious and perfect food for the environment.

So, in the end, nothing was that shocking. Ed won the challenge and Amanda was cut loose. I’m hoping that this season will pick up now that the chaff is separated from the wheat. With the possible exception of Kevin, we’re down to the best chefs and now we’ll see who will cut the mustard…damn idioms!!



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