TV Recap: Top Chef DC (Bravo)


Food & Wine Editor-In-Chief Dana Wowin and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi

by Sophia Sparks

Angelo appears to be auditioning for a revival of West Side Story

This week marks the last challenge before the finals.  For this Quickfire Challenge, Padma’s sidekick is Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine Magazine. The challenge is to create an amazing dish and pair it with an equally amazing wine. If you thought our chefs might not be up to snuff on their sommelier skills, fear not. Angelo’s got us covered with his genius on vino, knowing all the nuances and flavor ranges from fierce to delicate.

Kelly begins work on her Quickfire Challenge dish

Kelly thinks she has a leg up thanks to wisdom as handed down from her sommelier sidekick husband, Ed bumbles around in his charming way ultimately choosing a nice red wine, while Tiffany and Kevin make the best educated guesses possible.  But let’s get down to the real business: What in the F*** is Padma wearing? Girlfriend usually looks pulled together but this episode she’s crossing the line between schoolmarm and anime super girl.

As our chefs slave away in the kitchen, Kevin hits the fan again; shouting up a storm of profanity as he accidentally ruins his dish and is forced to pair quail with red wine (not the tastiest of choices). But it’s our darling Tiffany’s tasty seasonings and Angelo’s fois gras pairing that truly agree with Ms. Cowin’s refined palette.  She isn’t keen on Kevin’s screw up or Kelly’s too-foamy blue cheese concoction. Alas the free London trip goes to wouldn’t you know it…Angelo.

There is no doubt he is uniquely gifted but it’s that certain je ne sais quoi-off factor about him that rubs me the wrong way. Fortunately for him he can ship his import fiancée to London for the free holiday because as an EU citizen she won’t need a special visa to visit London. Yippee for European citizenship!

Even better than going to London is Singapore, where Top Chef will be sending the four remaining contestants. Despite the lack of A-list celebrities, they’ve stepped up the baller factor and we’re impressed, as is Angelo who practically quivers with delight because he “feels 100% Asian inside.” Rico Suave on the outside, Asian inside, and Eastern European somewhere in between? Talk about a global citizen with mixed identities. This episode he revealed he’s a divorcee and shows us a photo of himself with an Asian baby (presumably his).  Let’s hope the poor child isn’t biologically related nor had the misfortune of being adopted by Daddy Angelo. He shares with us that his ex-wife’s Asian family couldn’t relate to his dreams for chef stardom (why be something boring like a doctor or lawyer), alas he had to take his state of tortured genius elsewhere—mainly split between a kitchen and sketchy dating websites.

Tiffany works on her Quickfire Challenge dish

For the Elimination Challenge it’s off to NASA as promised where the chefs receive a special message from outer space. The astronauts tell them they’ve already got staples like coffee, scrambled eggs and fajitas but want some tasty freeze dried food. Scientist Vickie Koleris, responsible for the astronauts’ dietary needs, tells them they need dishes that are spicy, savory but not overly sweet. Large pieces don’t work well either. They have to design (wait for it) a dish that’s “out of this world” and they can “shoot for the stars.”

Ed decides to do Moroccan for a spicy fix, Angelo’s going to create something amazing, and Kevin’s going for good old American beef. Yawn.  In the kitchen Tom walks around looking angry, zoning in on Angelo. When the chef asks what’s wrong, Tom gives him no response, only that familiar stare. Then he picks on Ed’s Moroccan idea because he thinks what do we have here? Middle Eastern Astronauts? Brilliant, Tom. He’s nicer to the ladies though, complimenting Tiffany which makes Kevin super jealous.

guest judge Anthony Bourdain, Lakshmi and Buzz Aldrin

Kevin also opens his heart to viewers, telling us about how his mom was on life support and how he pulled the plug, another event in his life which made him into the resilient fighter he is. TMI, Kevin. Stop with the “I’m a fighter” mumbo jumbo, you repeat this every episode. Just cook us the good stuff you always do.

Our judges spend quite a while deliberating this time. Anthony Bourdain loves Ed’s authentic Morrocan and Tiffany’s halibut, neither of which Eric like. Anthony all but calls his French comrade a snarky bastard since all of the dishes are fantastic. Kelly’s dish has too much “extraneous fluid” for space according to our scientist. Buzz thinks Angelo’s is tasty but pickled mushrooms in space could be tricky, while Tom agrees the ginger is too sweet.

At Judges Table, the judges do something strange…they congratulate everyone for a job well done.  Anthony, Eric and Tom all agree Ed had too much going on but still pulled it off.  Padma thinks Tiffany’s fish was nice but mealy. Eric loved Kelly’s artichokes and asks if she went to Provence.  Indeed she has and he thinks it shows, offering her a compliment, a rare thing used in the French language.

Bourdain and Lakshmi

Angelo defends his too-sweet dish, telling everyone he took on a “submissive role, focusing on precision, making love to the short ribs.” Bourdain all but quizzically responds with a “WTF,” telling him he has no idea what he’s talking about by that description and even our resident Frenchman raises an eyebrow at the connection between lovemaking and food.  Somehow he manages to win this challenge too with a new Toyota Avalon and copy of Bourdain’s book. His motivational Tony Robbins stuff must be working.

Sadly, Tiffany’s acidic dish gets her sent home. Her buddy Ed is sad to see her go although I think Kevin deserved it for his too-safe steak.  Next week we’ll be in Singapore. Padma will yell at someone, Ed’s ultimate goal is to kick Angelo’s scrawny butt and Kevin again tells us how it’s crazier than ever. Who needs to go next?

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