Top Chef DC Recap: The War of the Restaurants

I thought Skeletor showing up once on Top Chef was impressive enough, but I didn’t expect him to make an appearance two more times. Between Nancy Pelosi as a guest judge and several of the chef’testants actually calling Alex by “Skeletor,” I was a tad gleeful.

Everyone knew that this episode was going to be restaurant wars since you need at least 8 chefs to make it work. But before that could happen, there has to be a Quickfire Challenge! The chefs walked in to find blindfolds, colored aprons and the knife block of Destiny. This meant it could only be one challenge: the relay! This is when each chef is given 10 minutes to prep and cook before handing off to the next chef, who has been blindfolded and just jumps right in.

Ed and Kevin ended up getting to be captains and proceeded to pick their teams. Kenny and Tiffany went first, while Alex was the last one to go. Kenny goes up first and just leaves an incredible amount of prep work and the base for his mustard cream sauce. Tiffany does some quick thinking and not only fillets a fish, but she leaves the red snapper’s head out so the other chefs can identify it! That’s some serious foresight.

Kenny’s path allows Amanda and Kevin to follow in plan while Kelly wraps up the dish. Alex didn’t quite follow Tiffany’s plan and went on his own route by seasoning the fish super early and didn’t leave any indicator for Ed or Angelo that he had done so.

So when Padma and Nancy Pelosi try the dishes, the Blue Team’s shrimp came out just ahead of the Red Team’s red snapper that was salty. Nice work Alex. Basically, Amanda won by not being Alex. Also, Nancy Pelosi sounds way to much like a politician when she speaks and just throws out random facts that a broken search engine about Top Chef. It felt unnatural.

The next few minutes had a tiny bit of product placement like getting in the Toyota Sienna to go shopping at Whole Foods and Restaurant Depot in hopes of making a good meal for Restaurant Wars that pairs well with Terlato Wines at Redwood.

But either way, this is the biggest battle these chefs will have short of the finale. Everyone stayed in their teams of the Quickfire, and the editing got really sloppy. I mean, really sloppy. We weren’t shown if the chefs had to plan or what, they were suddenly told it was Restaurant Wars and then were in cars driving. Combined with the pea puree fiasco, I think someone over at Top Chef needs to keep a closer eye on things.

But the two teams couldn’t be any more different. Team Blue was being led by Kenny whose calm, controlled demeanor combined with Kelly’s adorable clumsiness put people at ease. They were kind to their wait staff and donned the name “21 21” in honor of the Top Chef apartment address. With Kelly at the front of the house, she made a cold corn soup and a dark chocolate tart so she wouldn’t have to worry about not being in the kitchen. It was a smart move and showed some strategy.

Team Red embodied chaos in the kitchen. Angelo proclaimed himself their leader, and rightfully so, given Ed’s timid-ness and Alex’s sheer incompetence. But the most showing event was putting Alex as host because they didn’t want him in the kitchen. And they also took the name EVOO, for extra virgin olive oil. Meh.

But dear god, watching this episode was like watching a train wreck happen again and again. Between Alex acting (and dressing) like a giant douche bag to the point where he wasn’t there to greet the judges to not being there to say good bye. But the food was decent overall with only a few minor stumbles. Tiffany over salted one thing, but Angelo’s mastery of the craft showed through.

When the judges got to Team Blue’s 21 21, it was completely different. Kelly was warm, inviting and clearly nervous while Kenny made sure to tell everyone to check their egos at the door because they’re a team. He’s a good leader. But this team ran into some bigger issues with the dishes. Kelly’s corn soup lacked corn flavor while Kenny’s beet salad had about 15 too many ingredients on it. Kenny also tried making a cheese course that failed miserably while Amanda’s steak was too thin. At least Kevin’s halibut was excellent and stunning to look at.

But judges table was terrifying. Team Red, the one that clearly looks like they had been messing up for the last hour, got called in first – almost a sure sign of being the winning side. And they were the winning team! Ed ended up getting the overall win which meant something bad was going to happen for the blue team.

The Blue Team was as confused as I was when they got called in and told they were on the bottom. But Kenny stood up for his team and said if anyone should go, it was Alex since he didn’t make a single dish. The judges, after the pea puree issue, took it to heart and began talking about what they should do. Kevin was clearly safe with his dish, while Amanda just had to get used to a new grill. Kelly made some poor ingredient choices but her role as host was well done. But Kenny, while being a good leader, simply had two of the weakest courses. And with that, he was slain.

It’s kind of amazing that Kenny went this soon, but he obviously got way too cocky and lost sight of what was happening in front of him. Though I wonder what is going to happen to Angelo now that Kenny’s gone. Will he decimate the competition or will he be like the Joker without Batman? Either way, next week is at the CIA and features Wylie Dufresne, the renowned molecular gastronomist!