Recap: Top Chef DC Finale, Part 1

This week on Top Chef, the final four headed to Singapore to compete in part one of the finale. They cooked street food and experienced the local scene before catering an event hosted by Food & Wine. The competition was incredibly intense, and the judges found themselves splitting hairs during the elimination. Who moved on? Who went home? And how much does Angelo love black cockles? It's all ahead in this week's recap!

[Warning: Spoilers ahead!]

The episode opened with the finalists exploring the marketplace with Tom Colicchio and Seetoh, the king of Singapore street food. Seetoh introduced them to a noodle master, and said the guy had been "frying that same dish of noodles for the last 40 years." Wow. 40 years ago. That's about when this season of Top Chef started. AMIRIGHT?

Once again, Angelo took every opportunity to talk about how "passionate" he was about Asia, and how he was "destined" to win because the finale was in Singapore. Somewhere in the middle of all that "passion," Angelo casually turned to Ed and whispered, "Do you like black cockles?" Without missing a beat, Ed replied: "Not as much as you do!" It was a priceless moment, folks.

The Quickfire

Just when the show was starting to feel like a low-rent version of No Reservations, Padma arrived on the scene and outlined the rules for the quickfire. This week, the finalists had to use a wok to create their own versions of the Singapore street food they had just spent the day pigging out on. Everyone really struggled because they were tired and jet lagged, and judging by how much they were sweating, it was also about 900 degrees outside. And just when they thought it couldn't get any worse, they found out that all of the ingredients were labeled in Cantonese. Ah yes, Top Chef. It's all fun and games until someone accidentally feeds Padma a bowl full of deer testicles.

While tasting the dishes, Padma casually asked Kevin if he had ever used a wok. When he said no, Padma's entire demeanor changed. You could almost feel the daggers flying out of her eyes, and at one point, I was half expecting her neck to snap off her head like in The Exorcist. "What's wrong with you," she snidely asked. "You're in Singapore for a chance to win $125k. Didn't anyone tell you that!?" Um, I think you just did, Padma. Hop into a crock pot and simmer down now. You're scaring the children.

Much to Angelo's chagrin, Ed was named the winner of the challenge. Seetoh loved his stir fry noodles, and felt he infused the Singaporean flavors into the noodles perfectly. With that, Ed earned immunity for the next challenge and secured a spot in next week's finale.

Elimination Challenge

For this week's elimination challenge, the finalists were tasked with creating a menu for an event hosted by Dana Cowin of Food & Wine. The menu was supposed to celebrate Singapore's multicultural cuisine, and the final four had to work together as a team to create one cohesive meal.


Kelly had the hardest time with this challenge, or at least it was edited to look that way. She actually asked a shop owner which spices she should use for her fish head soup, and later, resorted to opening a can of tomato sauce with a giant knife because she couldn't get the can opener to work. Then she cut her finger, and the Bravo editors thought it was necessary to show us close-up shots of the blood splatter she left all over the floor. Dexter Morgan might have been amused, but for all of us non-serial killer folk, it was just plain gross.


Once they finished their prep work, the gang took a break and decided to go prawn fishing. Kevin caught one, but no one else had any luck. One can only assume Angelo's glittery, studded shirt scared them all away.

The next day at the beach club, they had 90 minutes to prepare their menus for 80 of Dana Cowin's most uptight friends. Ed took the lead and explained the dishes to the servers, while Kevin just stood around and complained that his cockles wouldn't open up. It's totally cool, Kevin. It happens to lots of guys. I think Pfizer even makes a pill for it.


While putting the final touches on his spicy shrimp broth, Angelo flashed what can only be described as his incredibly disturbing "O-Face." Somewhere in Russia, his saucy Soviet "fiancée" got a little bit exited. Everyone in America just threw up in their mouths a little bit.

During service, there was a lot of confusion with the servers. They wrote a lot of their tickets in Chinese, and despite Angelo's "passion" for the culture, he was unable to translate them. He just resorted to patronizing the servers and talking to them like they were morons, which was both frustrating and infuriating to watch.


The tasting, done by Dana Cowin, Padma, Tom, Seetoh, and Gail, was equally as frustrating to watch. It was literally 25 rushed minutes of Dana Cowin making funny faces, while the judges spewed repetitive comments about menu items we had previously heard little or no mention of. So much fun!

Judges' Table

Tom Colicchio kicked off the judging by telling the finalists that "everything was really good" and it was the "best food all season." Kevin's 60 degree farm eggs were cooked perfectly and Kelly's yogurt soup was nicely balanced. Ed's banana fritters were the favorite dish of the evening, and Colicchio referred to them as the "perfect stoner food." They must have been good, because upon tasting them, they caused Padma to make a face I had previously only seen on Cinemax After Dark:


Even though he had immunity, Ed still brought his A-game and delivered two spectacular dishes. He was named the winner of the challenge, and will be one of the three competing in next week's finale episode.

After a tough deliberation, the judges decided to send Kelly home. They loved her chilled cucumber melon soup, but said her fish was very grainy. She also didn't incorporate enough heat into her seared prawns.

Angelo cried like a baby—not because he was sad to see Kelly go, but because he was so relieved he wasn't the one eliminated. Does he have what it takes to win? And what do you think, Serious Eaters? Was it Kelly's time to go?