‘Top Chef D.C.’ Recap: Power Lunch


S7:E7: Last night’s episode opened with Angelo lolling about his quarters, lazily tossing baby canaries into the air and shooting them down with a jet of bacon mousse. The camera continued to follow him as he combed his best church toupee, polished his action shoes, and sailed out the door into the night, muttering plans for his next victim after the successful ousting of Tamesha, intermingled with bits of Robert Frost poems.

Kenny wakes up feeling fresh and dew-faced: he slides into his comfy slippers and opens his diary first thing – “Dear Diary, Eeeek! Today will be a better day than yesterday I just know it! I hope my new friends remember to call me ‘The Beast’ at breakfast today, but don’t worry, I will remind them. Anyway, talk to you later, love Kenny.”

Quick Fire

Quick fire this round was to be arbitrated by a Democracy Ken doll. Rep. Aaron Shock from Illinois (R) and the youngest member of Congress also has the shiniest hair and most thoroughly moisturized skin of any pol on the hill. Democracy Ken begins sputtering and frothing: “Greetings! In Washington D.C. we are happy and healthy and wise. I would like you to make me some food on a tooth pick!” Blank stares.

He was referring to the 2007 bundle of ethical guidelines outlining appropriate interaction between lobbyists and lawmakers which does not allow congressman to accept meals or delectable all-you-can-eat-buffets but does make an attempt at practicality by permitting forms of food at various meetings etc. which can be eaten standing up or with a toothpick such as bagels and muffins or cheese cubes.

The spirit of this law is of course ignored and circumvented, and instead of serving up delicious, gourmet, fifty-dollar meals lobbyists hand out delicious, gourmet, fifty-dollar meals made up of smaller bits. In this spirit, the challenge commands our chefs to create a delicious gourmet bit of 30-dollar steak to hypnotize poor young Democracy Ken doll into voting for them.

Andrea makes a waffle with fried chicken (so good), Steve (older white guy) made a surf and turf, and Amanda thought this challenge was boring (meaning she is not good at making small shit).

After making it clear to the chefs that Democracy Ken does not like scallops, as they are slimy and foreign, Angelo is chosen as the winner of the challenge for his cucumber cup (Angelo himself thinks these are tired and cliché and terribly eighties) with fishy bits and Asian flavors. This infuriates the other chefs as they are all raging xenophobes and cannot stand Asian food.

Elimination Challenge

The Elimination Challenge was designed around the host kitchen, the Palm restaurant in DC, and the proteins they were offering the chefs off their menu: porterhouse steak, swordfish, lobster, salmon, and lamb. The quest was to create a successful power-lunch dish – which means I guess that the food should be meaty and confusing and make you sleepy and pliable. Power-lunches are so 80s. The chefs were paired up with a meat and trouped off to Wholefoods etc.

People – Amanda has got to go, lets agree on this right now. I cannot listen to her complain about confusing ingredients or unfair cooking equipment one more second. Her chin quibbles, and I will not stand for it.

After the chefs finish cooking on day one, Alex starts to grumble that he does not know what to do with his salmon. He lurks around the Top Chef country estate, questioning here and there until he stumbles upon Angelo talking about Ed’s dish, and he feeds him the brilliant idea to add pea puree to his salmon dish! Next thing we know, Alex is happily stirring pea puree in the kitchen at the Palm and Ed is missing his own pea smoothie. Boy was he irate! Instead of confronting Alex directly and asking him if perhaps there was some sort of mix-up or maybe a terribly underhanded bold-faced attempt to cheat in front of 65 cameras and a national audience, he oozed around the kitchen sowing seeds of distrust and hatred against Alex the Russian: “See, see how the communist just takes what’s yours?! See how he appropriates your hard-earned goods and redistributes them!?  These damned red bastards? My pea puree! I mean, is nothing sacred??”

Ed is the sort who instead of engaging with people he dislikes will break them down when they are not present (as with Angelo and the distasteful “I banged his girlfriend” comment a few episodes ago). It is obvious that Ed is not positive that Alex stole his pea purée, but he is happy to spread the rumor and let it marinate in gossip until he is able to exact his revenge on Alex through social outcasting. I like Alex! Do not hate him! He is entertaining and Russian and creepy and weird. I didn’t even know Ed’s name until this episode. I referred to him as bland white guy number one.


Moving on, the judging for this round was a big DC spectacle with press people and one senator from Virginia. The breakdown goes like this: the steak twins Amanda and Kelly both seemed to do well (though later we find Kelly’s was too salty and Amanda cut her porterhouse off the bone), the swordfish round was similarly mismatched – Andrea made vanilla fish and Tiffany a delicious olive tapenade for her dish. The lobster boys, Angelo and Ed both did very well with butter poached sexiness. Alex’s salmon was perfectly cooked, Steven’s was not, and the lamb chop crew also came out with a clear winner and loser (Kenny/Kevin).


Judges Table

Ed was not willing to bring up the pea ultimatum in front of old Tom and Co., which was probably the right move since he did not really mention the issue to Alex beforehand.

So Alex won! Finally! And also, sadly, Andrea was sent home for her weirdly sweet swordfish. Vanilla swordfish? Andrea the bland could not have been sent home in a more poetic way. Contrapasso!