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'Top Chef: DC' 'Making Concessions' Recap

by Audrey Fine, posted Aug 26th 2010 10:30AM
top chef, rick moonen, padma lakshmi(Season 7, Episode 11)

Alex may be gone from the house, but that doesn't mean that he took all the crazy with him. Witness Angelo, who, to what must have been the delight of Bravo producers, shares this priceless nugget of info: "When I was young, I used to cut out pictures of all the famous four-star chefs. I'd light candles, and every single day I'd like kneel and go pray before them." You can't make this stuff up, folks.

And, that's only the tip of the iceberg. "He reads Anthony Robbins books," reveals Amanda, barely able to keep a straight face. "And, he says mantras like 'You're going to win,' she giggles, and then breaks in to a full-on guffaw.

Whether or not Angelo ever knelt before pictures of guest judge, and 'Top Chef Masters' contestant/seafood god, Rick Moonen, remains a mystery because, at the drop of a hat the "Food Idiom" Quickfire Challenge is upon them. Using eye roll-inducing phrases like "Hot Potato" and "Bring Home the Bacon" to inspire their dishes, the day's competition gets underway with Kelly admitting that she'd like to stay far away from "Hide the Salami."

An oddly bad decision as it turns out. The cold cut approach might have been better for Kelly, since Moonen didn't dig her "Sour Grapes" chicken dish in the slightest. He also crushed Amanda's "Big Cheese" mac and cheddar/gruyere/smoked mozzarella by saying it was like a "sledgehammer to the gut." Ouch. Not exactly the sort of excerpt you'd find in a Michelin guide.

But then, maybe that kind of harsh review has been a long time coming. "I'm not a big fan of Amanda, she's annoying, she's a slob, she has no technique," Quickfire winner Ed offers. "I think she's just been lucky the whole time she's been here." But naturally, Angelo disagrees: "She's the dark horse, she's very smart and she just sneaks by everyone." We'll see.

They're presented with the Elimination Challenge -- to make high-end concession food (which, apparently, is not an oxymoron) working as one team, preparing six dishes at Nationals Stadium. The usual bickering, in-fighting and "I wanna do this" whining ensues, with Kelly playing the role of "The Bossy One" this time 'round.

The race against the clock is in full swing as an open-necked, plaid-shirt wearing (!) Tom Colicchio and three giant pro baseball players enter the kitchen, mill about and survey the progress. And, things get really tense as throngs of people line up to try what the cheftestants have been working on -- but whether that's because the dishes sound enticing, or because they're free, is not readily apparent.

Once the hoi polloi have eaten their full of crab cake BLTs and tuna tartare (because nothing says America's pastime like raw fish), the players return to do some sampling, offering up Gail Simmons-quality reviews like, "The skewers are awesome" and "This [tastes like] I chewed a caterpillar and it exploded in my mouth." Now, there's a slogan.

Game time boys, bring on the real judges. (Note: If you think a baseball jersey-clad Padma Lakshmi would stick out at a ballpark, that's only because you haven't seen Eric Ripert trying to assimilate -- or eat a meatball sub without a knife and fork.)

Asserting the "There's No 'I' in Team" (groan) throwaway line that we were all hoping he wouldn't, Colicchio gets the judging underway and the six contenders are summoned to stand before the almighty judges' table. Ed's Shrimp and Corn Fritters and Tiffany's Meatball Sub getting big nods all around. "This is a tough call," Moonen says, before announcing the winner. "I would definitely line up for both of your dishes but as there can only be one ... Ed." And, with that, his second win of the day, Ed received a trip to Australia and (insert random plug here) a copy of Moonen's latest book.

Ultimately, Amanda's tuna tartare, which had oxidized and turned gray (eww), led to her downfall. Guess the "dark horse's" luck finally ran out.

"I'm really grateful that I did this," she says, adding, "Leaving 'Top Chef' is like the hardest thing I've ever done." Paging Tony Robbins.

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When I heard Colicchio throw out, "There's No 'I' in Team", I indeed groaned. Furthermore, the hackneyed cliched line didn't seem to be in context and the scene in which Colicchio uttered it seemed to have been filmed just so Colicchio could say it. Otherwise, this was a more interesting episode than last week's.

August 26 2010 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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