TOP CHEF RECAP: Under The Cover Cuisine And Dreaming


This is a Recap of Top Chef D.C. (Season 7), Episode 10, entitled “Cover Cuisine”, originally airing August 18, 2010. I could tell you about this episode, but then I’d have to kill you, but not really I mean in terms of food. See how little sense that makes? Now let’s discuss the episode.

This week’s Quickfire judge is Wylie Dufresne. You know what that means – time to cook some random ingredients and have other random ingredients show up in question mark boxes and throw them into your dishes on the fly. These Matrix agents are relentless (topical alert):

By the end, the chefs have to incorporate fish, fava beans, hominy, squid, black garlic, ramps, passion fruit, and jicama. This results in Wylie commenting “Some of the flavor combinations were bizarre.” YOU SUCK, CHEFS! You should have made it less bizarre.

There’s no more immunity in the Quickfires, but the chefs all want a piece of that sweet Dial Nutriskin coin; Angelo wants the money for his fiancee, who is a female supermodel over in Europe right now, and Kevin wants the money because he has a baby on the way and is moving soon, and he wants to pay the baby to help him move.

In the end, Tiffany pulls the win for her dish, “Bowl Of All That Stuff,” even though she “doesn’t like surprises.” You probably shouldn’t have come on any reality show then, because those dudes loooove surprises. Tiffany is looking stronger every week, and this win counts even if Chopped calls and demands their show back (or for Bravo to at least add 25 commercial breaks).

After the jump, one of our strained-theme jokes comes to life as a CIA-themed Elimination Challenge:

We’re on to the Elimination Challenge, but first, a sepia-toned flashback of John from Week One:

Everyone got their groaning caps on? Good. For this week’s Elimination Challenge, Padma declares with a straight face (after 20 discarded takes of her stopping and saying “really? I’m saying this?”) that the CIA is full of secret agents, and for a secret agent, taking a new identity is a matter of life or death, so this week you’ll be taking over a classic dish and “disguising” it. Will it also be a matter of life or death? Yes it will. The loser gets strangled with piano wire. “Get strangled with your piano wires and go,” is what Padma will say.

The chefs will be cooking for Leon Panetta, the head of the CIA. WOW, LEON PANETTA!!! We all definitely knew that guy’s name before this episode. “I walk in and I see Leon Panetta standing there, and I’m like, whoa! Everyone knows you really gotta bring your A-Game when you’re cooking for Leon Panetta.”

Walking Dead Alex is full of clueless witticisms this week, first saying “Of course, Quickfire plus Alex equals bottom,” a mathematical way of saying “I lose at everything except the time I stole peas.” He then claims that only having six years of experience should work to his advantage in the Elimination Challenge, shortly before going to buy juice or something:

Kelly continues to do well despite her increasingly strange claims that she’s never had Ethiopian food and this week’s claim that she’s never had Kung Pao anything. I guess that’s not surprising – that stuff’s pretty rare at every single Chinese place in every city in the US, appearing about as infrequently as wanton soup or cockroach rice. On the plus side, Kelly does land an endorsement deal this week:

The chefs continue ripping on Alex, who seems headed towards certain elimination, though Amanda says she “actually likes Alex,” presumably because he’s the only chef worse than her who’s still around. Amanda also can’t hold coffee:

After a couple other amusing quotes — Ed saying “My favorite spy was always Get Smart,” and Tiffany saying “I love spasta!” — we head to the CIA dining room, which is lit more shadily that it ever actually is, because Bravo wants us to know it’s the CIA.

Also joining the CIA operatives this week is Eric “Smiley Raptor” Ripert:

The CIA people take turns identifying peoples’ “undercover” dishes, and the Judges realize they have absolutely no standards for whether they want the dishes to be more undercover or less undercover or just goodvercover or whatever, but Tiffany’s gyro and Kelly’s kung pao shrimp both receive significant praise, even after Kelly’s rice got overcooked by the NOT G.E. MONOGRAM WE SWEAR rice cooker.

Leon Panetta then receives a note and has to leave:

This pisses off everyone at the table, and Smiley Raptor is no longer smiling:

Sure enough, Alex’s veal Parmesan receives the worst reviews, with Tom calling it “as tough as pulling a post in Yemen,” to the delight of everyone around the table. Tom tailored his material for the room! He’s available for corporate retreats.

THE TOP THREE: Tiffany, Kelly, Ed

Ed’s chicken cordon bleu wasn’t particularly imaginative — “I’ll switch the cordon and the bleu!” — but it’s tasty enough to get him into the top three. But for the second time this season, Tiffany pulls the Quickfire-Elimination doublewin, winning a trip to France for her dish that had Eric Ripert saying “It reminded me of vagyro”, the slutty Transformer.

THE BOTTOM THREE: Alex, Amanda, Angelo

Angelo was destined for a reaming-out when he bought a premade puff pastry for his Beef Wellington, forgetting that real chefs make everything from scratch unless it’s a Swanson broth or Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice or Kikkoman sauces or Dial skincare products or Toyota Mobile Pantrys.

Angelo obviously wasn’t gonna get eliminated in this Triple-A sea of badness, and Alex’s bullet-dodging finally comes to an end when Wylie admits “It turns out your disguise was just poor execution.” He’ll get elminated right after a word from our demonic fish:

Ahh! I hope that’s viral marketing for Piranha 3-D and not something Bravo wants me to learn how to make. Also, that URL really looks like “Top Che Funiversity,” the FUN way to learn about Che!

Even though the judges stick it to Amanda at Judges’ Table, Alex is asked to pack his knives and go and try not to have sex with the door on the way out. Amanda’s clearly gone in the next week or so, but right now, Angelo, Tiffany, and Kelly are all performing comparably, with Ed and Kevin each having equal shots at the fourth Finale spot. If I’m a betting man, I’m thinking Tiffany is gonna take this season.

What do you think, Adorable Old Waiter Looking At The Camera?

Undercover Bears Top Chef Episode thoughts? Favorite/least favorite parts? Happy to see Alex go? Updated predictions? Leave em all in the comments.

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