TOP CHEF DC RECAP: Hotel Baby Rwanda

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This is a Recap of Top Chef D.C. (Season 7), Episode 4, entitled “Room Service”, originally airing July 7th, 2010. It contains many spoilers about the episode, as well as pureed versions of those spoilers to spoil the episode for babies.

We’re into Week 4, and we have a pretty good idea of who doesn’t have a chance, but Timothy’s got the right attitude, declaring “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” True! Although the person who won the first challenge ended up winning the title like nine seasons in a row, but keep tellin’ yourself whatever cliches help you Top Chef at night! How about “Keep your chef eye on the food ball.” Look out, Angelo!

For this week’s Quickfire, **NON JOKE ALERT** the chefs must prepare a dish for new parents Padma and Tom, as well as a pureed version of that dish for their babies. I added the Non Joke Alert because I often interlace real things with jokes in these recaps, and that Quickfire really, really sounds like a dumb joke I’d write at 3 a.m. then forget to take it out before publishing the post even though it’s too fake-sounding to even be a plausible joke, but no, this was the actual challenge. Disclaimer: Babies do not taste / care about things. Oop! Too late! Challenge still happened.

The Quickfire won’t provide immunity, but it is a High Stakes Under the Table Porkbelly D.C. Campaign Money Challenge, and two chefs will receive $10,000. The chefs quickly get to work talking about how they have kids at home so that gives them an advantage, whereas the poor unfortunate kidless contestants have never cooked fancy meals then pureed them for their newborns under intense scrutiny (just part of bein’ a dad! Changin’ diapers and pureeing lamb confit and having a professional chef eat it and judge it!)

Kevin’s got a baby at home, so he knows to make roast duck, the Teletubbies of baby dishes. Angelo manages to out-nerd him, saying “I love educating my son, especially with flavors.” Teaching him the alphabet and how to walk is important, but what’s really important is getting him to eat poached tuna with fenugreek broth, which all babies can definitely taste and comprehend. Why are you beating up my kid on the playground as I’m telling you this, cameraman?

After the jump, the conclusion of Baby Quickfire and the start of Adulty Elimination Challenge:

Padma tells Angelo “Your baby food looked very elegant, very special.” If there’s one thing babies care about, it’s elegant presentation. If there are two things babies care about, it’s elegant presentation and putting Legos in their mouths because they don’t know what anything is.

Kelly finishes in the bottom, because Padma found a lemon seed in her baby food. First rule of cheffing – when you puree your chef dishes into baby form, you gotta take out those lemon seeds. You can’t be a great chef without knowing how to properly take seeds out of the baby forms of your dishes – just ask Dr. Babyseeds, the world’s #1 chef.

Padma picks Kenny as her winner, and Tom picks Tamesha, whose nose was really stuffed up in all her testimonials. Kenny and Tamesha celebrate by dousing each other with Swanson broth, which is frickin’ everywhere.

The Elimination Challenge is a tournament-style three-meal cookoff, where the chefs will be paired up to cook breakfast, then the two winning teams will be safe and everyone else will cook lunch, then two more teams will be safe and the remaining three teams will cook dinner and the bottom team will be eliminated. The chefs will be separated onto teams by being like “hey, we’re a team.” That’s fair. What happened to drawing bald eagles?

Chefs must create easy-to-prepare, easy-to-travel dishes for Hilton hotels. But can the chefs actually improve upon the classic $17 minibar Toblerone? Seems doubtful.

The judges panel consists of the Usual Suspects (Kevin Pollack, etc.) as well as chefs from previous seasons, including Hatty McSquashsoup himself, Spike, and Mike Isabella, who won like one challenge last season when Michael Voltaggio partnered with him, cooked everything, then inhabited Mike’s body like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost to make sure he didn’t proceed to pee on what Michael had just made.

Ed & Alex end up together and attempt a pancakes dish, but Ed forgets to put a breakfast cake on one of the plates and Alex fails to get his hollandaise on in time, so the pair really seems to be on the same page. They don’t earn immunity, but they do earn swearing a lot. Clearly, these two are destined for elimination. OR ARE THEY?????????????? Top Chef cliffhanger! GE Monogram explodes.

Stephen & Andrea end up together, forming a Reverse Dream Team – they’re later joined by Negative Michael Jordan. The duo shocks the world, though, earning safety in the breakfast challenge, and the pair reacts accordingly. Tiffany & Timothy win Breakfast Immunity too, leaving most of the favorites still around for Lunch Warz.

The Lunch Round begins, and Angelo compares it to like “trying to get out of the pool but the piranhas are biting you.” You know, the piranha pool. But on Top Chef, you can’t choose to just not go in the piranha pool, like you can in real life. So it’s rough.

Alex is cooking scallops — seriously? The #1 most frequently ripped-on-by-judges dish (unless you count souffles)? But Lo and behold, Alex and Ed actually win with their scallops dish — Mike Isabella “likes the flavor profile – I can say chef things! Amuse-bouche!” — and avoid the Dinner Round. Angelo and Tamesha are safe too after their beef carpaccio earns high praise from the judges: “Not a lot of texture.” “There are a lot of onions.” “It is portable.” Throw those glowing quotes on a marquee ASAP!

Tom gets very personally offended again when someone uses canned beans — the NERVE! No chefs use prepared food, unless it’s Swanson broth, Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice, Dr. Pepper, or Toyota Pathfinder Sauce. Get a deal with Top Chef quick, Bush’s, or Tom’s gonna keep laying into your product every week.

The three remaining pairs have to cook dinner, and faux pas! Two of them make shortribs, and Tom really bitchily rolls his eyes when the second one is presented:

Just before you can lift a hand to wave goodbye to Kelly and Andrea, the Hilton lady announces “The winning team for me was the team wiz ze most wonderful flavors” (I thought the winning team was whoever makes the best celebrity couple combo-name?), and Kelly & Andrea take it. They win respective 6-day trips to Venice and Barcelona because they managed to lose two straight challenges then beat two other teams that also lost two straight challenges. Huh?

Kenny is shocked that he’s in the final two pairs, because he’s been apparently nailing the crap out of the flavors and techniques and synergy; move over Angelo, there’s a new reality-show arrogant sound bytes sheriff in Top Chef Towne! Kenny and Kevin escape, because Kenny can’t get eliminated yet, and Lynne & Arnold become the unfortunate victims of Murder-Suicide Elimination Week.

What went wrong for Lynne & Arnold? According to the judges, “It was a delicious dish, the only problem was that the pasta was a little undercooked.” Terrible! Get off the show, you pasta was a little undercooked rapists! Lynne leaves with one final parting shot, saying “Letting a younger chef take the lead, that’s my mistake.” Actually, not cooking the pasta, which was your only contribution to the dish and also its only mistake, was your mistake. Sorry to go all Mistake Police on you.

The balance of power seems to be on Angelo’s side, but the other Finale spots are still hazy, with Kenny, Kelly, Tamesha, and Timothy all seemingly in the running. We’ll start settling things next week, when the cast stars in a production of Twelve Angry Men and argues in a room for 60 minutes. Henry Fonda’s a Glad Bag.

Episode Thoughts? Favorite / Least Favorite Parts? Predictions? Leave ‘em all in the comments.