Top Chef DC Finale part 1 Recap: Perfect Stoner Food in Singapore

This is it, the first part of the finale where one chef’testant is told to pack their knives and go home. Of course, they’re in Singapore so home is a long ways away. The finale takes place after a break in the show so usually the chefs look a little different. This time around, everyone looked the same.

Having just watched No Reservations: Singapore, I had a pretty good idea of what the chefs would be doing. So when they ended up at the food court, I knew something fun was going to happen. So they went to a few different stalls and tried a bunch of street food while being chaperoned by KF Seetoh.

Jetlagged and facing a 12 hour time difference from DC, the chefs seemed less than thrilled when Padma showed up for the quick fire. Is it just me or is Padma being portrayed as a huge bitch this season? But the quick fire is simple: using only a wok and local ingredients, the chefs had 30 minutes to make their take on street food.

Oh and there’s an epic drop for this encounter: immunity from elimination.

So Angelo is super excited about cooking Asian food in Asia even though he’s Hispanic. But there is a big wrench thrown in: all the ingredient labels are in Cantonese. So in what would normally be a giant free for all, the chefs are actually helping each other out and sharing knowledge!

Angelo, who claims to “dabble with wok,” did his take on the chili crab by making chili frog legs with pineapple salsa that Seetoh called “robust”. Kelly did lobster with Chinese noodles that supposedly captured the essence of the ocean. Kevin admitted he never had used a wok before, which is where the quote of Padma yelling, “What is wrong with you?” came from. Cheap editing Bravo, cheap editing. But Ed, the weekend wok-er, came out of nowhere with his take on noodles and lobster that took it too the next level. For such an incredible dish, he claimed the top prize of immunity! One spot in the final three has been set.

The elimination challenge may have had the longest, most drawn out explanation ever. But the chefs get to cater a party for Food & Wine magazine hosted by Dana Cowin, but they’re all working as a team. Each have $200 (which is an absurd amount for a market), must be ready to cook for 80 people and while they originally planned on making one dish a piece, Archchef Tom told them to do two at the last minute, but Ed planned for this because he’s secretly an idiot savant.

But Angelo may have two of the best lines this episode. While lamenting the fact that he lost the quick fire, he described his feelings like “the spark in the forest has been set.” He also told Ed, “you’re an ass****.” I don’t know how that got past the censors. Also, Angelo’s got a pretty sweet looking spell book.

In another impressive feat, all the chefs actually worked together as a team in the kitchen. Ed took lead on sending out orders since he had immunity and he helped with prep work. Kelly managed to roll a 1 and cut herself which is a shame. For the record, wearing latex gloves makes using plastic wrap near impossible.

Kelly’s chilled cucumber-yogurt soup with bitter melon salad was a hit. It was sweet, bitter and refreshing. Kevin’s Asian-inspired clam chowder took a New England classic in a completely different direction that Cowin called delicious but lacked heat. Angelo’s prawn dumplings possessed a rare level of refinement but too brothy and his lamb tartar was so smooth, Seetoh almost mistook it for tuna.

Immunity-powered Ed made sweet and sour pork belly that made Cowin exclaim that an endless bowl of it and she’d be happy. Gail joyously called it a “Holy Asian extravaganza.” Kevin went way out of his comfort zone with a 63-degree egg with tapioca that paid off; if it had a touch of crunch it would have been perfect. Kelly’s seared prawns were good, but she chickened out and didn’t make it as spicy as she should have. Finally Ed wrapped up the meal with his banana fritters, evidently deep frying is his fallback, which were the biggest hit of the night. Tom called them the “perfect stoner food, that’s a high compliment.” While the only negative thing Gail had to say was, “I wanted six, I got two.”

Judges table was quick for an extended episode but much like Anthony Bourdain last week, Seetoh has little patience for the judges’ long deliberations. “There are only two kinds of food in the world: good and bad. No bullshit.” Could Tom, Gail and Padma be overcomplicating things now? But there must be a winner and there must be a loser.

Showing he’s not to be underestimated, Ed claimed the win with his banana fritters. Does immunity grant super powers? But in an awkward twist, there’s no prize for winning.

On the losing side, Kelly was the last one to go. Oddly enough, Angelo was crying more than she was. And somehow Kevin is still in the game.

Next week is the finale – along with the debut of Just Desserts! But the quick clip showed three great warriors: Hung, Ilan, and Michael Voltaggio. Past winners and it’s looking like they’re acting as sous chefs. Also, Angelo evidently caught some horribly plague and appears to miss the finale completely.