'Top Chef' recap: This kitchen ain't big enough for the both of you
We’re back at the Top Chef headquarters where, after last week’s doozy of a grilling challenge (seriously, why did so many of the chef’testants not know how to grill?), Arnold was positively bursting with joy having managed to grill well enough to win and not clog his pores. Meanwhile, Andrea lamented Tracey’s elimination, telling us that they became buds. Did they share a bond of being really forgettable?
But all of the emotions came to a halt when they saw baby toys in the TC kitchen. Alphabet blocks and really, really adorable rubber duckies cluttered the counter. But, as usual, the show managed to turn something beloved into something so sinister with a fairly tough challenge in which the chef’testants had to create an adult dish that could be pureed for a baby as well. You see, Tom and Padma are new parents and, apparently, Gerber just ain’t cuttin’ it in the households Colicchio and Lakshmi.
From this quickfire, however, we learned some pretty moving information: Kenny has raised his teenage daughter on his own since his wife died, Kevin has a baby on the way, and Tamesha regularly cooks for her 7-year-old brother.
Lynne, meanwhile, shared that her kids have four legs. At first, I thought, “WTF??” Then I chuckled and realized she was making a little joke. Also trying to make a joke — and a bad one at that — was Alex, who said: “I don’t make baby food. I practice making baby, but not baby food.” He also said that if he won this high-stakes prize of $10,000, he’d buy a hooker and a ______. Did anyone decipher what that second thing was? Coming from him, I imagine it was either gross or not funny.
Kelly wanted to prove that you don’t need kids to win this challenge. But the thing is, you do. Her roast pork loin was one of Tom and Padma’s least favorites, while Kenny, father to a 16- and 3-year-old, won for his curried chicken and Tamesha for her vegetable chowder. And even though Lynne didn’t win, the judges did like her chicken dish. Animal children are more helpful than no children at all, I guess.
That was $10,000 for each of them, but they had to get over themselves quickly because they were about to go tournament-style for the elimination challenge. I was so hoping those conjoined aprons would make a comeback, but sadly, no. Instead, they worked in teams of two to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the busy hotel guest.
If their breakfast was a success, they were saved from elimination. (Ditto for lunch.) Three teams would compete in the dinner portion and one whole team would be eliminated. That’s right — two people were going home. The chef’testants emoted in one of a three ways: scrunched-up lips (Stephen and Tamesha), furrowed brow followed by forehead massage (Kenny), and bloodthirsty determination to crush Kenny (Angelo).
As for picking teams, has the kitchen run out of knives? What’s with all the pick-your-own-teammate business? Regardless, Kenny was unfazed by the challenge. He became the chef of a five-star hotel at the age of 23 and none of the other contestants has worked at a five-star spot. So there!
Things were absolutely bonkers in the kitchen. The most disturbing sight? Angelo flirting with Tamesha. But she says “it’s not going to happen” with Angelo. And she makes a mean vegetable chowder. Give this girl the grand prize and all the Dial soap she could ever want.
Elsewhere, no one wanted to work with Stephen or Amanda probably because he’s so boring and she pairs everything with alcohol, so they were stuck with each other.
Ed was still inexplicably infuriated by Alex, but in the end it was Ed who forgot to give one of the judges — Hilton’s VP of restaurant concepts, Beth Scott — a breakfast patty. Methinks Ed and Kenny belong in the foot-in-the-mouth club. To make matters worse, they didn’t have time to pour the hollandaise on their dish. And we all know an egg dish without hollandaise is grounds for immediate elimination — at least in my book.
Arnold was happy to work with Lynne because they meshed together so well (hm I wonder how that will turn out?), but really, he was all about proving to everyone that he’s “more than a Louis Vuitton bag.” Speaking of accessories, that Arnold is the best TC accessorizer since last season’s Mattin and his red scarf.
Judging this elimination was Padma, Tom, Eric, Beth and TC alumni Spike (season 4), Bryan Voltaggio (season 6) and Mike Isabella (season 6). What, no females available? Though I do appreciate that they threw Bryan in there to decrease the annoyance level.
Both Tiffany/Tim and Amanda/Stephen won the breakfast round, proving to the rest of the clearly more proficient chef’testants that they were really sucking. Tamesha thought she could’ve won because she cooked the eggs exactly the way Bryan cooks them at his restaurant. Except she didn’t and Bryan thought they were too runny.
Moving on, Alex/Ed made up for their patty-less debacle with a perfect sea scallop that saved them during the lunch round. Lovebirds Angelo/Tamesha were also safe, thanks to their beef salad.
Kelly and Andrea dared to use canned beans, which among other TC no-nos (i.e. using white bread), ranks high on Tom’s list. Aside: Do you think everyone will start cooking fish less now that seafood master Eric is a semi-regular judge? Is fish the new dessert (a.k.a. death wish)? Discuss.
Now it was down to Lynne/Arnold, Kelly/Andrea, and Kenny/Kevin for dinner. Lynne and Arnold’s squid ink pasta was a little too weird, not mention undercooked, for the judges, which is funny because Lynne was FREAKING OUT about her pasta getting overcooked. Editing hit us over the head with that one, but it was delicious to watch the demise of that pasta nonetheless.
At the same time, Kenny and Kevin’s short ribs lacked sufficient glaze, or what Andrea called “the business.”
In the end, Kelly/Andrea ended up with the win, which included not just their dish making the menu at the Hilton but a European getaway for each. I guess not having kids does pay off in the end.
So in deciding which two contestants to send home, the judges obviously wanted Kenny to stay for all the Angelo tension thought Arnold and Lynne’s pasta was a deal-breaker, no matter how quotable Arnold is.
So, I bid you adieu, Arnold and Lynne. Arnold, may you go on to your own jazzy spin-off and Lynne, may you resume to your crotchety old ways.
Next week, tensions run high during what looks like a group challenge. More importantly, someone spills someone else’s elimination dish in the grass. By accident? Is there a five-second rule in place? We’ll have to wait to find out.
Photo: David Giesbrecht/Bravo