Recap: Top Chef DC, Episode 11, Ballpark Challenge
This week on Top Chef, the top six tried to impress seafood-master Rick Moonen, and whipped up some high end concession food at the brand new Washington Nationals Stadium. Who struck out, who hit it out of the park, and what the heck is up with Angelo's mysterious Russian bride? It's all ahead in this week's recap!
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]
The episode opened as my nightmares so often do: with Ed running around the Top Chef house wearing Tiffany's bright yellow dress. Personally, I thought Ed made one hell of an ugly woman, but Kevin didn't seem to have any complaints whatsoever.
While getting dressed, Kelly pondered why the heck Amanda was still in the game. Angelo, on the other hand, revealed that when he was young, he used to spend all his free time in a creepy room filled with candles and cut-out photos of chefs. Gosh, what a fun kid! I bet he was the hit of every birthday party. Or, you know, NOT.
The guest judge this week was seafood master, Rick Moonen. He joined Padma in the Top Chef kitchen just in time to hear her drop every corny food idiom known to man. The challenge was to create a dish based on one of those corny idioms, and as an added bonus, the winner would get their meal included in Schwan's home delivery service. Ah, yes. Every chef's dream!
Ed picked "hot potato," Kelly chose "sour grapes," and Angelo chose "bigger fish to fry." I was shocked, because I really expected him to pick "hide the salami." Oh, wait, I forgot. He has that fiancée back in Russia. My bad.
After tasting all the food, Rick Moonen said he absolutely hated Amanda's mac, cheese, and pork chop dish. He hilariously referred to it as a "sledgehammer to the gut." Poor Amanda composed herself just enough to utter the following rebuttal:
Kevin and Ed had the top dishes of the night, but the win ultimately went to Ed. He made a hot potato herb & roasted garlic gnocchi with spring vegetables and mushroom fricassee that Rick loved—and, he did it in one hour. Way to go, Mr. Ed! Maybe as a reward, Tiffany will let you run around the house in her underwear next.
For this week's elimination challenge, the final six had to cook high-end concession stand food at the National's park during their pre-game. They once again worked as one unified team, and each person was responsible for one dish. They had 15 minutes to plan, and only three stressful hours to cook. So how did they spend that precious time? Amanda stupidly consulted Angelo for advice about her tuna tartar, and Ed ran around the kitchen like a maniac. Tiffany, on the other hand, wisely chose to take out her frustrations on an unsuspecting bowl of sausage.
Once they got to the stadium, things got even more tense. An argument broke out over who was going to take orders from the customers, and sadly, poor timing caused Amanda's tuna to start turning gray from oxidization. Angelo gloated to the cameras that he was "too busy" to help her fix the dish, but in reality, he was too busy "entertaining" the baseball players walking through their kitchen. Ohhhhhhh, wait. He has that fiancée in Russia. I forgot again.
Once service began, all you heard was Angelo barking orders to the cooks. "Crabs! More crabs! Four crabs all day," he screamed. I didn't know if he was asking Kelly for her food, or complaining about the nagging itch in his genitals like he did back in episode 5. Ewww.
Before judging, we were treated to what sounded like an 8th grade schoolyard conversation between Angelo and his infamous Russian
mailorder bride. He explained that they've "only seen each other a few times," and that he's eager to get some money to "work out all the issues with her Visa." What in the name of Tom Colicchio's bald head is going on here? Guys, something smells rotten in the land of Top Chef, and I know it's definitely not hippie John because he was eliminated in week one.
The crowd favorite of the evening was Tiffany's meatball sub with fennel, basil pesto, and fresh mozzarella. The judges liked it as well, and said it had great flavors and was just fun to eat. However, the win went to Ed for his shrimp and corn risotto fritters. Eric Ripert loved the spiciness of the sauce, and was impressed that the center stayed creamy. As a reward, Ed won a copy of Rick Moonen's book, and a sweet trip to Australia. The two were then dismissed back to that tiny cement broom closet to celebrate.
And now, for the awful dishes. Angelo's pork sandwich was a disaster—and as a guy who owns a sandwich shop, he should have known better. The bun was too big, and the bun-meat ratio was way off. Even worse, the bun was soggy and nasty from the pork juices. In the end, though, the judges simply could not look past that unappetizing gray tuna tartar. Only a complete loon would serve tuna tartar on a hot day at a baseball stadium (hello, foodborne illness much?) and as a result, Amanda was sent home. Buh-bye, Amanda. It was definitely your time to go.
What did you think of the episode, Serious Eaters? Was the right person sent home? Are you enjoying the show more now that it's getting down to the wire?