TOP CHEF RECAP: That’s The Power Of Lunch

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This is a Recap of Top Chef D.C. (Season 7), Episode 7, entitled “Power Lunch”, originally airing July 28, 2010. It is full of Spoilers Galore, by which I mean the James Bond Villain who spoils things by having sex with them a lot.

Before we get into this week’s episode, let’s take a moment of B-Roll to honor the brave men and women who gave their lives defending our right to have cable reality cooking competitions:

Thanks dudes! Now let’s criticize the sh*t out of themed foods!

For this week’s Quickfire, 19-year-old congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois explains that when lobbyists buy food for D.C. politicians, the food must fit on a toothpick, so the challenge this week is to prepare an extravagant meal that fits entirely on a toothpick. That…makes complete sense, actually. That is an actual element of D.C. politics, and it is seamlessly represented in a Top Chef challenge. Wh…whaaa? How’saa…. wh… w…. IT MAKES TOO MUCH SENSEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Headless Dan here now – my body is typing with decapitated aftershock, like a headless chicken blogger for Eggs.com (actually a parked search engine site). This week’s challenge is also a “Mount Rushmore Oops That’s Not Here” High Stakes Quickfire, where the winning chef gets immunity and $20,000 of shady Dial soap charity write-off money. And what the hell, Aaron Schock will judge the winner, because he’s eaten things off toothpicks before.

Schocker picks Kevin, Stephen and Angelo as his Top 3, but “Only one contestant’s food tasted like fireworks going off inside my mouth.” And it wasn’t Stephen, who literally tried to cram fireworks into his mouth.

WHO WAS IT? Find out after the HIGH STAKES Jump:

Angelo wins! Sorry about your failing restaurant and kids, Andrea, but Angelo needs to invest in his Getting People Eliminated Advice Clinic. Looks like Schocker is as good at recognizing chef talent as he is at playing with Pattern Blocks, which he does. Too bad Kenny was still recovering from his stroke this week:

For the Elimination Challenge, it’s POWER LUNCH time. Time to CLOSE THE DEAL and GET ME THE HENDERSON ACCOUNT and GREED IS GOOD 2: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS. The Chefs will be taking over the famous Palm, owned and operated by James Woods as Michael Buffer:

The Palm provides the chefs with 5 random proteins: swordfish, salmon, lamb chops, porterhouse, and ‘roidy-lobsters. Andrea doesn’t cook with swordfish often, and she doesn’t know what she’s doing, but she’s gonna wing it (Always Works Thing #1!) and throw some vanilla in there (Always Works Thing #2!) and she sounds like she taped her testimonials after she lost (Always Works Thing #3). Unfazed, she declares, “There’s no crying in the kitchen!” Especially if you’re playing baseball in the kitchen. Cause you should be paying attention to where the baseballs are going and stuff.

Tiffany says “I know my fish recipe off the back of my hand.” You mean “like” the back of your hand? Otherwise doesn’t that mean you don’t really know it, if you wrote it on the back of your hand? She seems to be in trouble too, but we’ll wait and see. She then cheers up her non-boyfriend Ed, who’s starting to doubt himself because he now talks like Nicolas Cage. But he’ll fine as long as no one totally steals a large component of his dish.

Uhoh, the power lunchers are arriving:

Alex better decide on a salmon preparation quick, or he’s effed. How about an English pea puree? What a great idea that no one told him about the night before in front of Bravo cameras and won’t require the stealing of any fellow chef’s pea puree. In an unrelated event, Ed has lost his pea puree, and asks Stephen if he grabbed it by mistake because they often think they’re the other one. Nope! Must’ve just disappeared.

Bravo pollsters know what happened to it:

At the featured power lunching table, Padma and Gail are joined by Schocker, Art Smith from the restaurant “Art and Soul” (who named that, me?), and 35 tv correspondents. Tom, meanwhile, is eating all by his lonesome:

The judges convene and appear generally unenthused by this week’s offerings, though Art Smith claims that he did sense that a lot of love and care and other abstract things (body thetans?) went into some of the dishes. This leads to one of the funniest obviously-intentional Bravo cuts of the season:

The judges call for Tiffany, Alex, and Ed. Uhoh – surely this is the bottom, because Tiffany’s fish was overcooked and the producers want Alex and Ed to dramatically blame each other over the pea puree. Nope! Top 3. And Alex wins, because Art Smith loved his pea puree so much. Huh? I mean, surely that’s not legal, right? Or did he honestly just make a pea puree and Ed happened to lose his pea puree? Aren’t there seventy-five cameras on everything at all times, and still no one saw what really happened? Did they all accidentally zoom into the Monogram logo at the same time?

Man, this season just keeps getting less and less fair, but the show is called Top Chef and not Top Fair. That’d be stupid because you’d be like “I am not getting enough information from this show’s title.”

After a Stephen “being on the bottom” seminar, we come to…

The Bottom 3: Kelly, Andrea, and Kevin

Future Finalist Kelly makes a rare bottom appearance, and pulls a Jen from last season and breaks down crying even though she’s not gonna get eliminated and she’s still really good. Her steak was too salty, but she escapes by saying that she’s better off when she cooks “her food.” Ahh, the warm, familiar smell of “I need to cook my food.” It’s like coming home from school in the dead of winter to a nice hot bowl of mom’s chicken noodle soup, which you find to be oversalted and your mom’s like “I need to get back to cooking my soup.” So comforting.

Kevin finds himself on the bad end of one of Tom’s “I’m gonna criticize your technique super specifically this week to remind everyone I know what I’m talking about, dammit!” tirades, but he ends up safe too.

Andrea pulls the old “I never cook this dish” excuse, setting up Gail for a snappy “If we want to taste the food that you cook every day we’d just go to your restaurant.” Ouch! Pack your ZINGs and go!

Tom concludes the Elimination with the painful line, “For this challenge, you had to make us a power lunch, but unfortunately, a lot of your dishes left us wanting to take a power nap. NEXT! That was my scripted rejection line from Next. Wait, what show is this? Ohhh right, Chef Men. You are eliminated from Chef Men.”

Andrea gets choked up, and in a rare turn, so does Tom, probably because he remembers how lonely he was when he tasted her food:

Andrea packs her knives, and on her way out explains “It’s a game. And this week, I just didn’t play the game very well.” Wow – most accurate parting speech ever. Let’s bring her back in! Anyone have one of those golden tickets from Singled Out?

Next week on Top Chef: The Fall of Alex -

LULZ! Successful next-episode teaser, Bravo! I am very watching.

Power Lunch episode thoughts? Favorite / least favorite parts? Funny/stupid stuff I didn’t mention? Elimination reactions? Predictions for next week? Leave ‘em all in the Power Comments.