We learned such tantalizing secrets about the chefs tonight. Ed's a cross-dresser. Angelo prays before a shrine of posters of four-star chefs and mostly wants to win on Top Chef to help get a visa for his Russian mail-order bride, whom he has met twice and can only afford to call when Bravo network is providing a sponsored Motorola cell phone. Amanda... well, Amanda gave away most of her secrets weeks ago.
For the Quickfire, contestants were commanded to make great food from bad food-puns (nobody dared select “hide the salami”), with the winning dish adapted by Schwan’s as a frozen entree. Clearly the most delicious and creative was Kevin’s surprisingly light meat-lover’s breakfast, with bacon three ways (chopped, pureed and frothed) under a perfectly poached egg, but since it would have turned into a greasy hockey puck when frozen and reheated, guest judge Rick Moonen gave the win to Ed’s mushroom gnocchi.
In the elimination challenge at the Washington National's ballpark, the chefs mostly refused to lower themselves into the fetishized world of greasy, salty ballpark foods. No one made refined Cracker Jacks or nachos, there was no beer-foam, and nary a peanut in sight. Angelo’s “hot dog” riffed on Momofuku’s celebrated pork bun, but for the second challenge in a row, he took a shortcut on the starchy vehicle. Last week he used frozen phyllo and was slammed for it. Undaunted, this week he rejected a plan to make his own steamed bao, settling for squishy packaged hot dog buns. Tom Colicchio’s own ‘Wichcraft only makes sandwiches on bread baked the same morning from the celebrated Sullivan Street Bakery, so perhaps this was a poor choice.
Everyone seemed to enjoy Tiffany’s meatball sub, and Padma sucked hers down like it was a burger from Carl’s Jr.
If Top Chef lesson #1 is “making desserts gets you sent home,” then lesson #2 must certainly concern the things you can’t make ahead: blinis (gets soggy), pea puree (gets stolen) and RAW FISH TARTARE. Amanda’s brown tuna was a case in point: even though the chefs thought it was tasty and covered with well-prepared vegetables, it failed even to triumph over Kevin’s limp fries showered over chicken skewered so deeply that it poked the eater in the back of the throat. Eric Ripert tweeted (@ericripert) that flirting with bacterial safety is guaranteed to get you sent home. As she packed her knives, Amanda choked back a sob and said "leaving Top Chef was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” which is quite a statement considering her hard-living past.
Ed emerged triumphant with his crunchy-creamy risotto fritters, hitting the ball out of the park with a perfect salty snack. He’ll relish this victory when he goes home tonight and tries on the rest of Tiffany’s wardrobe.
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