TOP CHEF RECAP: Take Me Out To The BallFOOD

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This is a Recap of Top Chef D.C. (Season 7), Episode 11, entitled “Making Concessions”, originally airing August 25, 2010. Prepare to concede that this Quickfire theme was painful.

We’re down to the Stupendous Six, and with the pressure mounting, Ed walks around in a dress, the whimsical clothing equivalent of calling your mid-chemotherapy wife to score “staying on the show” points:

This week’s guest judge is Rick Moonen, and as we know from every sound byte ever uttered on Top Chef Masters, this em effer loves his fish:

The Quickfire is obviously something fish-related, right? That’s cool, they haven’t really had a seafood challenge in a while, and they’ve got one of the premiere seafood chefs in the country there to judge, so…wait, why is Padma saying a bunch of clichés? They’re not going to have to cook clichés, are they? Oh good, that’s exactly what they have to do.

“Pick a food idiom and cook it?” What does this have to do with Washington, cooking, or Earth? Since we’re talking idioms, I’ll add that Top Chef really screwed the pooch on the Quickfire this week. Or was it fingerbanged the dolphin? Both.

After the jump, let’s take a look at the food idioms, and another idiom gets sent home in a baseball-themed Elimination Challenge. “Who you calling an idiom?” – probably some Schoolhouse Rock episode.

Some of the idioms to choose from make more sense than others:

The chefs end up selecting “bring home the bacon,” “big cheese,” “sour grapes,” “hot potato,” “spill the beans,” and “bigger fish to fry.” “Hide the salami” and “go nuts” go unpicked — clearly Alex was sitting at home watching this episode going crazy that he wasn’t around to pick “hide the salami” so he could talk about how he loves doing that.

Kelly’s dish “didn’t sing” and Amanda’s “was a sledgehammer to the gut,” so they end up on the bottom, because who wants to eat a nonsinging sledgehammer? Peter Gabriel doesn’t, is who.

Kevin is the runner up, and Ed wins for his Herb Roasted Garlic Gnocchi, Spring Vegetables & Mushroom Fricassee, and earns the distinct honor of having a frozen bastardized version of his food sold by Schwan’s. Basically, the prize this week was to earn a mandatory selling-out like that chef from Ratatouille after he died. Time to wear the yellow dress of pride!

For the Elimination Challenge this week, the chefs will take over a concession stand at Nationals Park and cook really fancy food with no theme restrictions (they don’t have to incorporate, like, triples or something). They’ll have to work as one big team — cut to flashback of the last one-team challenge, with explosions and babies burning — and Kelly has the nerve to start saying some things about what they should do. This gives every other competitor license to get randomly angry at Kelly in their testimonials. Why is everyone so mad? Is this Curb?

They decide that everyone will just make their own dish and serve them individually, so it’s barely a team thing at all — have we learned nothing from baseball, people? You have to play as a team to turn the food double plays! They actually never relate anything to baseball the entire episode, other than three Nationals players testing the food and making Kelly weak in the knees with their…hotness?

[Sportz Sidenote: I used to call Matt Capps "Fat Crapps" whenever he blew a save when he was with the Pirates, because he's pretty fat and I am hilarious.]

Amanda decides to make tuna tartare, which sounds like a big ol’ bucket of Insta-Lose, and this prediction is essentially confirmed when she purees the tuna the day before in a meat tenderizer, a technique which she’s never tried before and relies on Angelo’s advice to accomplish (there’s like nine kisses of death in that sentence.)

Angelo attempts to rebound from last week’s uncharacteristically flustered showing, and gears up by sharing an extremely romantic phone call with his Russian girlfriend:

Kevin tries to throw Angelo under the bus for having the gall to volunteer to take orders from customers, and Angelo snaps back at Kevin “you’re the bad boy on the show” in a rare display of fourth-wall breaking. The tension resolves quickly but that’s two weeks in a row that Angelo’s been flustered — he needs to take an Asian-influenced chill pill. (Related: If Angelo was Chinese, we’d be calling him out for cooking Asian food 90% of the time, like how everyone ripped on Radhika in Season 5 for only cooking Indian food. Just a thought.)

The chefs present their food to giant lines at the baseball stadium, and after heaps of B-ball B-roll (ouch, Dan), Tiffany’s “Italian sausage” meatball sandwich and Kelly’s crab BLT appear to be the biggest hits. Bravo then shows clips of different fans describing which dishes were their favorites, which doesn’t make any sense because everyone only got to order one or two things, so unless they somehow tried everything in a big group their opinion doesn’t really reflect anything.

Amanda’s tuna tartare is “oxidizing,” a technical food term for “getting more eliminated-ey,” and it’s the only food that the judges roundly criticize (though Tom likes the vegetables). In general, the chefs mostly dodge serious criticisms, and their food even helps Adam Dunn hit a home run that night with his risotto-inflated biceps.

Let’s head to UMPIRES Table…

The Top 2: Ed and Tiffany

Tiffany continues closing in on winning the season, but Ed takes the title this week for his Shrimp and Corn Risotto Fritters with Jalapeno Aioli, earning an impressive Quickfire-Elimination Doublewin and pushing him closer to a finale spot. He also wins a copy of Rick Moonen’s book that has the word FISH on it really big, and also a trip to Australia, baseball capital of the world.

So who’s gonna get sent packing? Tensions are high in the BASEBALL waiting room:

Also, now that Glad isn’t a sponsor of the show anymore, Bravo is really going out of their way to spite them:

The Not Top 2: Angelo, Kevin, Amanda, Kelly

Kelly’s BLT was popular but also too salty, and Angelo’s bread was soggy and poorly proportioned, but both of them are obviously safe. Kevin takes some random flak for his chicken kabob even though the judges didn’t really complain much while they were eating it, but we assume this is a ruse to build some suspense before Amanda is sent packing.

We’ll get to the Elimination right after this word from chefs who lost ten weeks ago:

Indeed, Amanda is sent home, leaving Kelly, Angelo, Kevin, Tiffany, and Ed to battle it out for the 4 finale spots. Kevin is the likely odd man out, and Tiffany is easily the favorite to win it at this point, especially with Angelo falling apart and confirming as we suspected from Episode One that he’s this season’s Stefan / Richard B. / Redhead Kevin “Guy who’s good from the get-go but you can just tell he’s not going to win.”

Picking the finale spots will fall squarely on the shoulders of — who else? — Buzz Aldrin, who makes his one billionth tv cameo:

Do I smell a MOON PIES Quickfire? Boy do I ever.

Making Concessions episode thoughts? Favorite / least favorite parts? Updated predictions for the Final Four and the winner? Leave ‘em all in the comments.