>Top Chef: The Return Of Pea Puree To Save Alex’s Ass

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.
Good bye.
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.

Team TwentyoneTwentyone–named because that’s the address of the Top Chef manse.
They are the cool calm and collected team. They work well, plan well, and seem to get along.
This is not going to be good.
Kenny, still wanting to “unleash his beast”and I’m imagining it to be quite impressive, takes the reins as Executive Chef, but he runs a nice democratic team. There is discussion and input on the food; there is fair play and people trusting one another.
Again. Not.Going.To.Be.Good.
Kelly is nominated to run the front of the house, so, like Alex she hands off making her dish to someone else. What? She didn’t? She made two dishes? A chilled corn soup with crab salad and a chocolate ganache for dessert.
Team player.
In the kitchen and at the restaurant, they all seem to be working well, though, Amanda–Best Of The Best–cannot seem to keep the wood-fired grill burning. She blames it……on the grill. And during service, when diners keep sending back her steaks as being overdone, she blames that…..on the steaks. Damn, if only she’d had a cooperative grill and some team playing steaks, she could be the Best Of The Best.
Angelo watches Team TwentyoneTwentyone and notes how well they work together and reminds us that being overconfident is dangerous.
Pot. Kettle. Meet Angelo.
Kelly greets her staff and tells them what she needs, and reminds them that she is there to help, and they are a team. There’s a theme of team that runs through TwentyoneTwentyone, and Kelly brings out all the dishes for the staff to taste. Knowledge is power for Kelly.
The judges arrive and Kelly is there to greet and seat them. No waiting for Gail, so she has put her call to the producers on hold and asked for the pizza to be sent to her hotel.
Kelly describes TwentyoneTwentyone as, ahem, “progressive American cuisine” that is fresh and seasonal. Then she brings out chilled Corn Soup with a Crab Salad, when corn is not in season. And the soup itself is more water, like what you get when you open a can of corn and drain it.
Kenny’s beet salad has, again, too much on it. Tom says that someone once said that when a woman gets dressed, before she goes out, she should remove one accessory. Guest judge Frank Bruni–a noted and vicious food reviewer,–tells us it was Coco Chanel.
But they all agree that Kenny could have left off an accessory or two.
They love Kevin’s Halibut; Frank Bruni says it’s gorgeous and that Kevin should be a painter. I don’t know if that’s a compliment or a slam. They loathe Amanda’s steak, and somewhere in the kitchen, Amanda is horsewhipping the grill, and locking the steaks in the freezer for ruining her dish.
Kelly offers up Kenny’s cheese course, and a Chocoalte Ganache for dessert. Gail loves the silkiness of the ganache, the texture of the ganache, the crustiness of the ganache, while Frank Bruni minces about bland ice cream. But, according to Bruni, the real terror of the meal if Kenny’s ginormous Goat Cheese plate.
Perhaps this is the beast, finally unleashed, I don’t know.
All I do know is that judges hated it, and it scared the hell out of Frank Bruni.
Team EVOO gets the win. Bruni says he enjoyed Tiffany’s crudo, and there is no mention of over-salting. They thought Ed’s turbot was the best meal of the night, but then it happened.
That question.
Who was responsible for the lamb?
Tiffany looks at Angelo. Ed looks at Angelo. Even Alex looks at Angelo. And Angelo says it was Alex’s dish but that he and Ed prepared it because Alex was out front. I mean, c’mon, even Alex was wondering who was responsible for a dish whose name he forgot.
And all that is forgotten as Ed gets the win, a bottle of wine, and a trip to Napa.
Team TwentyoneTwentyone is declared the loser and Kenny is dumbfounded. He tells the judges about how sloppy and disorganized EVOO was in the kitchen, and Gail reminds him that only the food, which only three members of Team EVOO prepared, and the service, Mealymouthed wonky-lipped Alex, counts.
Kelly gets props for being nervously charismatic, and Kevin gets the shout out for his halibut. Amanda is flabbergasted to find out the steaks were overcooked because she’d never heard that at all, from anyone, anywhere, anytime, ever.
Meanwhile, somewhere along the Potomac, and black van pulls up to the water’s edge. Two men climb out and open the back doors, removing a box of steaks and a wood-fired grill, loaded down with concrete, that they proceed to hurl into the river.
Nixon would be so proud.
At the judges table, Kenny then tells them that Alex did no cooking whatsoever and that was one of the rules. I just know the judges will want to see Team EVOO again and find out the truth, but…..no?
They send TwentyoneTwentyone back to the stew room, where Kevin explodes on Alex for not cooking and Alex responds by saying he butchered the meat and prepped the fish and did whatever was asked of him, yet, oddly enough, he never mentions doing any actual cooking of the lamb dish with the pea puree.
I swear, Alex needs to buy pea puree the biggest bouquet of flowers he can find because this is the second time this season that mashed peas have saved his ass.
Angelo, lips all a’twitter like he’s being interviewed by Morley Safer for 60 Minutes, tells Alex to stop talking.
Kenny must take his beast and go.
I was a bit stunned.
One team completely ignored the rules because they all agreed that one member was no good, and they don’t at least get called out for it? I seriously hope that Karma comes back to kick Angelo’s ass, because it’s quite apparent he doesn’t want to win on merit but rather by doing whatever it takes to get rid of his competition.
I am still Team Tiffany, but I’m pissed she stood by and let this happen.
I want Angelo gone next week, and Alex the week after. I want it that way because I’d love to see Angelo’s face as he is told to Pack his knives and go while Alex gets to keep on not cooking his own food.
You’re playing fast and loose Top Chef, and here in Smallville, we don’t like it.


Filed under Bob, Bravo, Reality TV, Top Chef, TV

3 responses to “>Top Chef: The Return Of Pea Puree To Save Alex’s Ass

  1. >chortle!Maybe Angelo and Alex will disappear into the depths of the CIA next week and will never be heard from again…

  2. >If Kenny had made two really good dishes instead of two bad ones, his knives would still be unpacked. And what was with them deciding to make a dessert course? As soon as I heard that, I knew they were going to be the loosing team.

  3. Joy

    >That whole episode really sucked. Alex should have been GONE! Well, he shouldn't even be there at all. I just knew they'd call that first team back in and at least question them. Kenny was a good leader which should have accounted for something since it has before. All of it bothered me big time.

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