Thursday, September 02, 2010

Top Chef: NASA

The episode of Top Chef: DC last night was probably one of the better ones of the season. We seem to be down to five, now four, really good contestants who all made really good food in the elimination challenge. I was thinking, this is what the show should have been all season.

Quick fire challenge: Dana Cowin, publisher of Food & Wine magazine, judges a wine pairing challenge. Pretty straight forward, no off the wall challenge. I like it. Angelo comes out of his funk and wins with a sautéed foie gras with black salt and fennel salad. By winning the challenge he earns a trip to London.

Elimination challenge: create a dish that can be freeze dried and sent into space on a NASA mission. So, a little bit goofy but hey, it's not a baby food challenge, right? The only real criteria is not to make anything too sweet or too compact. The astronauts also mentioned they liked spicy foods and foods from home or comfort food (I never heard this last part but the contestants were talking about it throughout the episode). This week's guest judge, Anthony Bourdain, one of my favorites. Buzz Aldrin is also one of the guest tasters which would be a really cool American icon to meet. Once again Angelo wins with ribs with pea puree and pickled mushrooms, earning a new Toyota, Bourdain's latest book, and a spot to see one of the last two space shuttle launches. Unfortunately Tiffany is sent home for her pan-seared Alaskan halibut with coconut curry.

Thoughts on this week:

I'm a little bummed out by the elimination of Tiffany. She was one of the better (nicer) personalities on the show and she seemed to be cooking really good food of late. I wonder if her mussels hadn't frozen if it would have made a difference. Probably not but I would hate to think she was eliminated due to a refrigeration problem.

Are the prizes out of control this year or what? Money, trips to various destinations around the world, and cars. I think they've definitely topped last season in this regard.

Bourdain was really reserved on the show, not seeming to have too much of a problem with anything the contestants made in the elimination challenge. I liked his rapport with judge Eric Ripert, scolding him for being too snobby on some of the food, in an obviously friendly way.

The Bravo editing monkeys tricked me well this week. I had no clue who was going to go home but I thought for sure that Angelo wouldn't win since there seemed to be a lot of time spent on discussing how sweet his dish was.

Does Angelo pray to the chef gods or to Jeebus? Or does he just thank Jeebus after a win. Well at least he's still not Muslim (I know, I'm wearing that phrase out). Speaking of Angelo, I hope he didn't get crabs from making love to his elimination dish.

The final four is Ed, Angelo, Kelly, and Kevin. Not too bad of a final four, though I would happily trade Kelly or Kevin to keep Tiffany in the mix. I managed to pick two of the top four after the first episode (Angelo and Kevin). I have no clue who is going to win this year! Last year I was certain it would be Kevin but we all saw how wrong that was. I'll make a prediction after we're down to three contestants.

Next on Top Chef: international finale! Was someone snarling at Padma? God I hope so.

My "Bye Felicia" award this week goes to no one! It seems as though Tiffany being sent home was by the narrowest of margins; that makes for great competition television.

Fan favorite? I'm picking Arnold because he moisturizes.

Next chef out: Kevin.

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