Top Chef DC Recap: Balls, Bats and Back Story

Last night’s 11th episode of Top Chef DC had it all – yelling, foam, guys wearing dresses, doppelgangers and horribly awkward idioms! To top it off, I think we just hit the point in the season where I forget who some of the chef’testants were. Watching the intro just left me going “her?”

But the pressure is really on now. How else can you explain Ed wearing Tiffany’s dress (those things should really be bind on equip) or Angelo admitting that he had made a shrine to various chefs and would pray them. The more we learn about Angelo, the weirder it all gets.

The Quickfire Challenge seemed to serve no real purpose; the reward was getting the winning dish as a frozen dinner from the Schwan’s truck! Just Rick Moonen the Arch-Hydromancer and Padma saving some absolutely disturbing things. It’s like she broke and just started saying idioms but then was like, “that’s the challenge!” Basically, the chefs each picked an idiom and had to make a dish inspired by it. Sadly, no one picked “hide the salami.”

Since we’re down to six chef’testants, I can actually write about all the dishes! Kevin grabbed “bring home the bacon,” and seemed to get a bit of Kenny when he made bacon three ways. Yes, he made bacon foam. No idea how that was ever going to win because I’m pretty sure you can’t freeze bacon foam.

Amanda became the “Big Cheese” and decided to make a baked macaroni and cheese that sounded delicious with bacon, jalapenos and a giant pork chop. Drool. Kelly’s “sour grapes” turned into a chicken breast with caramelized Brussels sprouts and a grape puree. Ed clearly drank some elixir of agility and managed to make “hot potato” gnocchi in only an hour! Playing to the judge, Tiffany took “don’t spill the beans” but ended up having to use canned beans which seems to be a Top Chef no-no, but she slapped some fish on top. Angelo had “bigger fish to fry” and ended up frying some fish. This man has clearly lost it.

Kelly and Amanda were both singled out for their weaker dishes. Amanda’s mac n cheese was a “sledgehammer to the gut,” which is kind of what it should be. I don’t think “light” mac n cheese exists. Kelly’s sprouts and grapes just didn’t mesh.

But the top two were Kevin and Ed. Kevin took breakfast to a new level, but the dish couldn’t really be replicated as a frozen dinner. Ed’s dish though was well thought out and now he’ll see his face smiling on a Schwan’s box!

On to the actual challenge and lets play ball! All the chefs got to experience working as a single team, where they would be running a concession stand at Nationals Park for a baseball game. But this is where strategy starts showing up and little Miss Kelly who looks so innocent is a nefarious backstabber. So is Angelo (but he loves baseball because he’s a walking stereotype part Dominican) and spreads lies like the Dark Lord of the Sith.

While making the menu, Amanda says she’s thinking of doing a crab cake, but then Kelly says she should do dish and then ends up making a crab cake BLT! And Amanda gets further screwed over with her tuna tartar because she has no idea how to actually make it and at this point in the game, no one is willing to help. But the chefs forgot one thing: they’re running a concession stand which means someone has to be taking orders, so Angelo takes the initiative and says he’ll do. But dishes got mad, Ed helped out Angelo and Kevin just yelled a lot. Also, Eric Ripert looked hilariously confused by everything.

Amanda’s tuna tartar turned an awkward shade of gray, but as Moonen said, “Raw fish as a stadium takes some baseballs.” Kelly’s crab cake BLT was on the salty side and lacked the true BLT portion, but it got Tom to drink more beer. Note to chef’testants: if your dish drives a judge to drink, that’s probably not a good thing.

Tiffany’s take on Italian sausage was a delicious mess, while Angelo’s dim sum sandwich got lost in the hot dog bun. Kevin’s hermit chicken on the stick was dangerous, deadly and not very delicious. Ed’s shrimp and corn hush puppies were really good. But then again, I’m a sucker for almost anything deep fried. Almost anything.

But then we got some great back story on Angelo. Here’s a guy who runs a sandwich shop, has a little kid, double nipples, wants to be a professional baseball player and had a shrine dedicated to chefs but that’s not all! He also has a Russian fiancée. Probably a mail-order Russian fiancée that he’s only met a few times before getting engaged with. It’s amazing; Angelo went from the villain, to almost a sympathetic character to just absolutely crazy. Is it bad that he’s my vote for fan favorite?

As always, the verdict comes at Judges’ Table! But to mix it up, Padma summons all six of them into the chambers. Take that normal reality TV rules! Of course, as soon as they are in there they start yelling about who did what and trying to diminish all the help Angelo did.

But two chefs got singled out for the best dishes: Ed and Tiffany. Ed’s dish was called “molten” and “terrific” by Moonen, which is damn impressive. Tiffany’s dish was messy, delicious but fun to wrestle with. But Ed got the win proving him to be on fire! I think we’ve got a serious red chaos mage on our hands! For loot, he got a signed copy of FISH and a trip to Australia that seemed to come out of nowhere. Like Padma found the tickets under her chair and just decided to give them out. So the winners left and then there were four!

Knowing that one of them was going home, the room got tense. Amanda’s effort was admirable, especially since she went outside of her comfort zone but making the tartar the day before was a huge mistake – especially since she didn’t make it by hand and allowed it to oxidize. Kevin’s deadly chicken spears was a good idea that suffered in execution. Kelly’s crab was good, but the BLT side was lacking and it needed more lettuce, more tomato and Ripert claimed it needed less bacon! Lies! Angelo’s bread devoured the dish before the judges could.

But one chef had to go home, and Amanda finally got dropped. But what do you expect when Ripert refuses to eat a dish? She had a really good run and I’m sure being cute helped her out a lot with the producers. In a few years, I’m sure she’ll do well but that girl needs to get some new equipment because her belts need to be replaced.

With only five chefs left, it’s on. My money is on Kevin losing his cool and going home while Angelo finally pulls himself back together in a terrifying display of power and skill. But there’s a bit of pressure too because next week’s challenge is at NASA and the gust of honor is Buzz Aldrin. You know the guy who walked on the fucking Moon.