TOP CHEF RECAP: To InFOODity And Beyond!

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This is a Recap of Top Chef D.C. (Season 7), Episode 12, entitled “Gastro-Nauts”, originally airing September 1, 2010. I was out of this world galaxy space moon asteroid quasar surprised by the outcome of this week’s episode.

It’s the last episode before the Finale, so it’s time to ditch the painful food puns and gimmicky challenges and get to some real cooking…

…Or maybe it’s time to the most do those things.

Before we get to the supergimmick, it’s Quickfire time, and this week the chefs welcome Dana Corwin of Food & Wine magazine by saying how much attention they pay to wine. Wine is one of Angelo’s biggest passions, obviously, because he’s kind of a D-bag. This is also the final high-stakes Quickfire, and the winner gets to go to London for 6 days courtesy of the London Hilton. Angelo wins the wine challenge, obviously, because he’s kind of a D-bag.

Padma then announces that the Finale will be in Singapore. Padma also implicitly announces that she hasn’t done laundry in a while:

After the jump, the Final Five becomes a Final Four. It still alliterates, but it’s one digit closer to not alliterating…

For the final pre-Finale Elimination Challenge, the chefs will go to NASA — the food capital of the galaxy — and cook for a bunch of astronauts, and whoever’s dish would make the best freeze-dried meal will be the winner and have their dish freeze-dried and sold in science center gift shops nationwide. Stupidly, none of the chefs decide to cook a plasma globe.

The chefs are introduced to Vicki Kloeris, NASA’s head fooAAHHHHHH!!!

Why is she lit like that?? Did Bravo cut her evil monologue where she explains her deathlaser?

No time for fear, cause the celebs just keep on coming. Behold, NASA’s very own TJ Creamer and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson:

“We walk in and Tracy Caldwell-Dyson is standing there, and I’m like, OH MY GOD. She does NOT mince words when it comes to seafood. This could be a big moment for my cooking career.”

The chefs shop and cook, Tiffany’s mussels freeze because GE’s appliance is just too damn good, and Kevin talks about not giving up and mentions “We recently took my mom of life support but she kept fighting” (OPINION: Top Chef is less of a big deal than that). The chefs then get a glimpse of their prize: A Toyota Avalon. They all hop in and Angelo gives them a ride to the kitchen while blasting an Asian-influenced miso emulsion on the radio.

This week’s guest judges? Anthony Bourdain — he travels places, like astronauts — and none other than the second man on the moon (and the first man on the Cameo Moon), Buzz Aldrin:

Tom asks Buzz what it was like to walk on the moon. Buzz says “Magnificent.” Tom then asks Paul McCartney what it was like to be in The Beatles. He says “Great.”

The chefs’ dishes are all turning out well, but Angelo — knowing what astronauts love — has a secret ingredient up his sleeve:

Not only has Angelo braised his shortrib with pot, he also tells the judges he “Made love to them.” Sure enough, Angelo ends up being this week’s Quickfire-Elimination double-winner, and judging by the way he caresses the Toyota keys, those shortribs aren’t the only object Angelo made love to that night…

The other four chefs’ dishes are all roundly complimented by the judges, including Bourdain; when Ed unveiled his “Trip to Morocco” dish, I joked in a Bourdain voice “I’ve been to Morocco, so I know this is garbage,” and literally one second later, Bourdain exclaimed “I’ve been to Morocco, and I think Ed nailed it.” Whaa? The chefs are all really, really good all the sudden. Weren’t Ed and Kevin both just totally average, wait-to-be-eliminated dudes in the first few weeks? Well, now they’re apparently awesome, and this field is wide open.

Still, surely they have to come up with some excuse to eliminate Kevin or Ed, right? Not right! Tiffany is eliminated in one of the harshest rounds in Top Chef history — like winning 88 games in the AL East and still finishing 4th (anyone?) — thus totally puncturing my uber-confident Finale prediction. I would’ve bet everything I had on Tiffany from about three weeks ago on, but fortunately, Vegas would’ve been like “Stop trying to bet on this but we appreciate your commitment to Tiffany.” Now, she’s gone. She and I feel about the same way:

So there you have it – your “Out Of This World,” “Reach For The Stars,” “Remember When The Show Was Like Congress And Stuff” Final Four will be Angelo, Kelly, Ed, and in a surprising twist, Kevin:

If I had to pick, I’d probably predict Kelly at this point, unless Angelo can buck the trend of the “suspiciously good from the get-go” guys losing in the finale, but for the second straight season, the Top Chef Finals are looking wide open. My only confident prediction: I’ll make a bunch of lame caning jokes next week.

Tiffany Elimination thoughts? Finale Predictions? Reactions to some actual Top Chef unpredictability? Leave ‘em all in the TITLE OF THIS POST! No, the comments. Was just trying to be unpredictable.