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'Top Chef' - 'Power Lunch' Recap

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 29th 2010 12:30AM
top_chef_tom_collichio_padma_lakshmi(S07E07) Pea puree. Say that five times fast. Sounds pretty funny after awhile, don't you think? The pea puree was a really big deal on tonight's episode of 'Top Chef.' In fact, this might be the first sign that there's something interesting about this group of cheftestants. Up till now, they've been a rather bland bunch.

Before the pea puree became an issue, we had Kenny believing that the others were out to eliminate him because he was such a beast in the kitchen.

The other hot topic was Tiffany's suspicion that Angelo had been sabotaging others -- like Tamesha, who was sent home last week.

The Quickfire Challenge was simple enough. The chefs had to create gourmet dishes that fit on a single toothpick. Since it was a high stakes challenge, the winner would collect $20,000 plus immunity.

The least appealing were Alex's scallop with bacon, along with Kelly's scallop with watermelon, and Ed's tuna two ways. The top choices were Kevin's pork kabob, Angelo's cucumber and shrimp, and Stephen's beef stick. Stephen was practically spending the money, but the winner was Angelo.

Kevin was ticked off. He said that Angelo was constantly making Chinese food. Can you say sour grapes?

The Elimination Challenge was to create a power lunch. The group was taken to a world famous steakhouse, The Palm, where they pulled knives to determine which of five proteins they'd get to cook with -- salmon, lamb chops, Porterhouse steak, swordfish or lobster.

When they got to the restaurant, the biggest problem was the size of the product. These were healthy portions. Of all the chefs, Amanda continued to be an irritant. She claimed that she had never cooked a Porterhouse. Amazingly, she really had no respect for the cut and took her steaks apart, in essence making them un-Porterhouses.

'Top Chef' turned into a mystery during the prep. Alex had no idea what he was going to make with his salmon. He claimed to have too many ideas. At home, the subject of the English peas came up. Kenny told Alex that Ed had pureed peas and they looked good.

At the same time, Ed was with Tiffany, talking about the pea puree he'd already made. Hmm ... the next day back at The Palm, Ed's pea puree was missing, never to be found. Alex, meanwhile, centered his entire salmon dish on a pea puree.

Among the 24 diners for the power lunch were the "Morning Joe" folks from MSNBC, along with a bunch of NBC news people, some politicians and guest judge Art Smith

Kelly and Amanda presented their Porterhouse steaks. If you believe that karma is a bitch, Kelly got it good because she had refused to let the other chefs use the salt she'd brought to the kitchen. Her attitude was, "hey, this is a competition." Well, as luck would have it, she had oversalted the meat. Amanda, who dissected her Porterhouses, got props for how she presented the meat off the bone. Go figure.

Tiffany and Andrea presented swordfish, and Tiff's Sicilian style was liked much more than Andrea's, which was smothered in a sweet butter and vanilla mustard glop. Andrea's didn't get good notices. Art Smith liked Tiffany's, even allowing for the fact that it was a little overcooked.

Stephen and Alex presented the salmon, and -- wouldn't you know it -- Alex's pea puree was a big hit. Stephen's salmon was too heavy.

Angelo and Ed presented their lobster dishes. Angelo's was overcooked and his included a foam that was a turn off to some. Ed's presentation -- although he'd been rushed -- was appreciated, as were his flavors.

Kenny and Kevin had dueling lamb chops. Kenny's sauce was complicated and sweet. Kevin's lamb was too tough and his tomato concasse too hot.

At Judge's Table, Alex, Tiffany and Ed were the first group to face the music. They had the best dishes. Tiffany was crying with joy because she had feared her fish was overdone. Art complimented Ed for handling the "Volkswagen sized" lobsters so creatively. Art brought up the pea puree, and if you could have read Tiffany and Ed's thoughts, they were screaming that Alex stole it from Ed's cooler.

Art was given the honor of choosing the winner and he was in love with Alex's salmon. Especially the peas. Ouch.

The bottom three were Kelly, Andrea and Kevin. Kevin was criticized for too much heat in the tomato garnish, but Tom was especially ticked that Kevin had sous vide the lamb; it was a cooking method that was bound to make the lamb overcooked.

Andrea claimed that she didn't care for swordfish and hadn't prepared it very often. Art thought that was a lame excuse. Tom told her that she had too much vanilla in the sauce and it killed the dish.

Kelly thought she honored the steak house tradition, but she also knew without them telling her that she over-seasoned her meat. Gail called it a "fatal flaw."

Back in the holding room, Kelly kicked herself for not sticking to her style, which she described as "delicate." That was code for easy on the salt.

When the three were called back, Andrea was told to pack her knives. The vanilla had done her in. "I don't feel like I really got a chance to show myself," she said in voice-over. Andrea wasn't too down on herself. She felt like her mistakes were more mental than culinary and she would take this experience and learn from it.

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Brett Alan

This episode left me ticked off. The whole show basically centered on the pea puree issue...but there was no resolution whatsoever. What do the tapes show? What, indeed, is the show's policy on this? Not addressing those issues was a total cop-out. It, frankly, makes me much less eager to watch the show; why should I watch a program that won't tell me how its story turns out? Why should I watch a game that doesn't explain its rules? Feh.

August 13 2010 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

OK, as a chef, who finds an ingredient, sealed, in the refrigerator, and uses it as your own, and claims credit for it? Alex, that's who. There was only one pea puree, made the day before, it disappears and reappears. Then, Alex wins? Oh no you didn't. He loses any integrity or credibility as a chef. He needs to GO.FAST.

July 30 2010 at 10:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LA Dave

Every other season of Top Chef has the camera pan to the "missing" ingredients to the cheftestants dishes.

So it's interesting that if Ed did forget it, that they would not show it to the audience.

IMHO, it's that if they did show Alex steal the puree on the show, he would most likely get fired from his real job. They decided to let viewers speculate on Puree-gate.

July 29 2010 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

At the very least, the editing makes it appear that Alex took Ed's idea when he could not think of anything to do with the Salmon. But in past episodes they have always shown the item that was left behind as the Chef struggles to find it. And here they had footage of Ed cooking the puree, but neither the other contestants or the camera seemed to remember Alex fixing the same thing. Hmmmm. The show is becoming more like Survivor every week.

July 29 2010 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They tape all of the cooking time, you know there is film of Alex either stealing or cooking the puree. If he had stolen it I think we would have seen the footage.

July 29 2010 at 10:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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