Top Chef: D.C. Recap: 'Chicken Run'
S7:E2: This episode we know more going in. We know who to hate and who to like. The morning-after interviews and pre-challenge passive-aggressive small talk around the house gets old fast. TWO interesting things to mention here. Firstly, they showed the contestants smoking cigarettes for the first time I can remember! Secondly, the scene wherein Andrea makes breakfast using absolutely massive amounts of butter and elicits disgusted, open-mouth stares from the others was hi-larious. She was all “Dude I like butter.” It was weird and great to see the more human side of these guys (I guess butter and cigarettes are relatable?).
Losing absolutely no time, Bravo drags out White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass before the contestants, parading their trophy bought with fame and mass circulation. This man’s hands feed your Obama. When the big man hankers for chicken nuggets, this is the guy who plops them in the fryer! We were all very impressed. Padma (inexplicably dressed in South Beach pink satin) indignantly explained that elegant, complex puns are an integral part of the reality show mythos and if one cannot keep oneself from pulling faces at every witty turn of phrase we are going to have a problem thank you very much. And with reserved indignation and narrowed eyes she announced the Quick fire Challenge: The Bipartisandwich. Silence.
The challenge was to make a delicious sandwich whilst inserted into an apron connected to another chef. Only one hand was to be used from each body to cook, meaning slicing and cutting was to involve one man holding and the other wielding the knife. This setup caused some measure of anxiety from Alex the Tan Russian as he was expected to hold sandwich meats in place while Timmy Dean stabbed wildly at the space containing the meat slab screaming “I WON’T CUT YOU. HOLD STILL. DO NOT PANIC. I HAVE THIS UNDER CONTROL”.
Jacqueline interviews that she is making chicken. A dark cloud passes overhead and somewhere a dog barks.
Kenny the Kool Kid is making a seared tuna sandwich with fruit bits. It’s clear at this point that he considers himself a black, bald, and more beautiful Jason Bourne.
Angelo is paired with Plump Tracey who confesses an ardent admiration for his graceful bone structure and lean sinewy body – in a sexual way, that is. She gurgles through the challenge, relying on Angelo’s experience as owner of a sandwich shop in New York. Angelo ends up winning the challenge for them with an Asian fish sandwich doused in what he called “liquid sex”. Tracey faints. Kenny flexes. Jacqueline whips up some chicken. Top Chef DC is just getting warmed up.
The Elimination Challenge was the school lunch challenge from most other seasons, though we were reminded of the D.C. location once again by a tangential connection to Michelle Obama’s Move It! Program for tiny fat kids. The contestants were admonished to make their meals healthy and were given a budget of 160 dollars per meal (about $2.60 per child). Arnold Mynt very insensitively comments that he spends more than 160 dollars on his own meals. Goddamn hipsters (just kidding he’s from Tennessee).
Angelo and Tracey were given immunity as reward for their fish sandwich, meaning they were a liability to the couple they paired up with. Angelo ended up picking Kenny to be in his group. This made Kenny furious.
Other groups were Arnold, Kelly (who?), and others, who decided to make carnitas tacos. This worked well in principle, however Kelly kept reminding the others that the pork carnitas was her dish and that she was responsible for it and that Arnold could keep his sneaky fingers off her pork. Arnold considered this extremely unfair, probably because he had only made a salsa (he was confused by poor people food). At the last minute he changed the name of his dish to a salad and called it a day.
Jacqueline’s team made chicken. I shit you not. Chicken is her life-water, her raison d'être. Chicken completes her. I suspect she is a plant from the League of Associated Chicken Distributors. But actually Amanda made the physical chicken, broiling it with sherry wine and then removing the skin to reveal a shiny, slimy, piece of gray meat. Jacqueline beams! Meanwhile she hurriedly dumps two pounds of sugar into her banana pudding and runs back to stare lovingly at the chicken.
Angelo and Kenny’s team decide to make chicken burgers, bread puddings and yam puree. In a transparent play to throw the challenge a bit and get Kenny kicked off, Angelo concocts a severe, imposing sculpture using celery and peanut butter mousse which kids will be confused by and is actually unhealthy as pointed out by Amanda in a fit of fiery anger.
K-Sbrags and Timmy Dean plus Tan Russian Alex make BBQ chicken with melon on a stick. Best of all, K-Sbrags gets kids to eat yogurt by pumping air into it and making it fluffy like whipped cream. FOOLS.
So what happened?! Kelly won for her pork carnitas. Anthony Mynt pouted. Kelly has the extremely obnoxious air of a girl who is really a tough bitch but sees herself as a sweet Pollyanna-Audrey Hepburn.
But what happened to the losers?? There were clearly two losing dishes: Jacqueline’s propagandist chicken project which was soaked in alcohol and served to children, and Angelo’s team’s failure to include proper vegetables in their meal. Under the pressure of the bright lights, a random white guy on Jacqueline’s team cracked and started screaming hysterically about Kenny’s lack of initiative in putting vegetables on the plate, pointing fingers and waving madly about. As he fell, foaming at the mouth and rolling on the floor, Kenny calmly stepped over his body and coolly explained that he had put tomato on the burger. To which Sam Kass was all “Oh Bitch PLEASE, tomatoes are a fruit”. To which Kenny SHOULD have replied, “Actually Smug-Ass-Kass, the Supreme Court has declared tomatoes a vegetable for taxing and tariff purposes and if its good enough for the judicial branch of this great government it should be good enough for you. SOCIALIST.”
However, in the end, it was the chicken that lost out. Tom, ever the sophisticate, deemed it a turd. Jacqueline was sent home for her chicken. WAIT, actually it was for the 900-calorie banana pudding, but from the proud glint in her eye as she slowly marched down the hall and out the door, it was clear that she would have gone home for her chicken ten times over.