Once again dawn breaks over the Potomac and our cheftestants begin to rise. Amanda stretches and yawns, and we hear, in voice over, how much she misses Stephen, but how, now, the “best of the best are in the competition.”
Not so, Amanda, because you’re still here.
Downstairs Kenny is still annoyed that he’s constantly in the middle, and he doesn’t get it. Kenny, howsabout listening to the judges and try not doing so much with so many ingredients. But Kenny digresses, and instead reminds us that it’s time to “unleash the beast.”
Yeah, we’ve heard that before, too.
The Blindfolded Team Challenge!
Amanda shrieks and cowers. The gist of this challenge is that the cheftestants break up into two teams of four and, while three are blindfolded, the other one works to create a dish. After ten minutes, another blindfold comes off and fools rush in, er, chefs , rush in, to complete the dish.
Kevin is one team leader and Ed is the other.
Kevin picks Kenny, Kelly, and because he has a thing for K‘s–Kamanda. Ed picks Tiffany because, as we are reminded again and again, he wants to, ahem, “work” with her. Then he chooses Angelo, and settles on Wonky Lipped Alex, who doesn’t mind being picked last because he knows he can cook.
The two teams are off, and Team K is focused and neat and tidy and sets each subsequent chef up quite nicely to make a flavorful dish. There are prawns, and pasta and cannelini beans, and it all comes together nicely.
Team Ed is a mess. It’s a slopbucket kitchen, and Alex, who goes second, decides the first thing he needs to do is season the fish, which won’t be cooked until Angelo gets unmasked. Tiffany cringes, knowing that it will be a salt-fest.
Hands up, Utensils down, and Padma announces that the special judge for the quickfire will be Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. The GOP instantly releases a statement saying Pelosi is unqualified to judge, but she marches on.
She loves Team K and The Prawns, but finds Team Ed’s Salute to Saltiness a bit unnerving, though, ever the politician, she says it’s still good. Obviously Nancy is up for reelection and doesn’t want to offend the chefs.
Team K gets the win and it’s announced that the elimination challenge will be…drum roll…restaurant wars! The dreaded restaurant wars. And, since the teams will remain as they are, Tiffany looks for a knife to gut Alex, and we get that old bon mot, You’re only as good as your Weakest Link.
The teams will each create a three-course menu, with two options in each course, and, remember this, each chef is responsible for one dish.
Team EVOO–which stands for Extra Virgin Olive Oil–will do a Mediterranean-inspired menu.
Right away, as they spilt into Ed and Angelo at Whole Foods, and Tiffany and Alex at Restaurant Depot, Angelo and Ed plot to keep Alex out of the kitchen. They decide he’ll be front of the house, and they’ll do the cooking.
Each chef is responsible for one dish.
Back in the kitchen, they are an unorganized mess, until Angelo decides that he’ll be executive chef, by announcing to his team, “I’ll head this up.” In the interview section, he says that although no told him “explisively“–I believe he meant explicitly, though explisively sounds sexy….to Angelo–that he was in charge, it was, apparently, Darwin’s Theory Of Natural Selection that resulted in him taking over.
He orders Alex to be butchered, and Tiffany reaches for her knife, until she realizes Angelo only wants Alex to butcher the proteins. Which, according to Angelo, he proceeds to “f–k up” forcing Angelo to take over. Alex becomes the whipping boy, getting towels for the chefs, checking Angelo’s hair, and keeping Ed focused on cooking and not on cooking with Tiffany.
At the restaurant, Executive Chef Dictator Angelo declares that they will be no talking in his kitchen, and proceeds to continually speak. Give him this, give him that, tote that barge, lift that bail.
Alex is shuttled to the front of the house, where he takes Angelo’s dickheadedness and inflicts it upon the staff. He shouts, he barks, he speaks in Spanish. He wants new tables, and no one knows how to build a table–that’s DesignStar–so he shows them how to clean a table and make it like new.
Alex then brings the staff into the kitchen where he will describe the menu; there will be no tasting of food because Alex knows the menu so well that he is able to describe it perfectly. Remember that, too. And remember that except for his bad case of butchering, and getting towels, Alex has not been in the kitchen.
The judges arrive, and Gail snappily asks if there’s a hostess stand or do they just wait there. Gail, like any diva worth her salt, is not used to being kept waiting, but Alex is busy explaining to one table how half their order was not prepared and that they are “flying it in” right now. He doesn’t see the judges until one of his minions guides them to their table.
As a front of the house man, Alex is a mess. He mumbles and mispronounces and forgets things as he speaks. A Summer Salad is dubbed summer salad because it sounds better than micro greens. Pan-seared lamb chops are called braised pork chops because, well, even though the lamb chops are Alex’s dish, he wasn’t allowed in the kitchen.
Still, he knows the menu like the back of his hand.
The judges love Angelo’s soup, but find Tiffany’s crudo too salty. And they keep discussing the saltiness because there is a good ten-minute wait between the first and second course. Gail finally tells Tom that the food is on its way, only to see it being delivered to another table.
Gail doesn’t like to wait. She reaches for her Blackberry to call the producers….or order some food to be delivered.
And when the food finally arrives, Alex does, too, though he makes no mention, nor apology of it’s tardiness. Ed’s fish is perfect; Tiffany’s fish is overcooked. But that is soon forgotten as the third course arrives, with the pork chops, er, lamb chops. This is Alex’s dish[?] and yet he doesn’t remember it. And, strangely enough, it has a pea puree on the plate. Hmmmm, Ed in the kitchen, pea puree. The judges like it but wish it had more texture.
And I wish it had been cooked by Alex as the rules stated.
All in all, it was hit and miss. Some good food, some not so good. But the meal ends as the judges leave EVOO while Alex stands to one side chatting and ignoring them.
And all that is forgotten as Ed gets the win, a bottle of wine, and a trip to Napa.