June 24th, 2010
10:24 AM ET
Treachery was afoot in the “Top Chef” kitchen for episode two, but since the cheftestants are in Washington, D.C., I suppose it's only natural given their surroundings.
Yes, if you haven't heard, “Top Chef” is in D.C. this season, home to big buildings, fat cats and overweight kids. But we'll get to the healthy eating elimination challenge later. First up, a "bipartisanwich" quickfire challenge! (Groan.)
Let me just take one second here for an aside. “Top Chef” has been in several places now - New York, L.A., Chicago, Las Vegas, to name a few - and I have been a good sport. I've kept my mouth shut in past seasons as Padma arrived on a beach in fur boots or showed up with a Vegas dance troupe, but a "bipartisanwich"... come on.
But these are the realities of “Top Chef D.C.” At least they haven't made the contestants stand around in red and blue aprons. Oh wait…they did.
So that's where we pick up. The quickfire challenge required the cheftestants to make a sandwich that would impress assistant White House chef Sam Kass. But since it's a "bipartisanwich" they had to work in teams, which meant there was two people, four arms, one awkward and restricting apron and 30 minutes to create one sandwich.
If you've ever tried to open a freezer bag with one arm, you can pretty much figure out how this challenge went. The chefs were forced to improvise with one-handed knife work, clutching bags with their chins and underarms and ripping open packages with their teeth.
After tasting, the top teams were Angelo/Tracey and Kenny/Ed. (Remember that Angelo and Kenny were the ones to watch right out of the gate in the first episode after a narrow quickfire battle where Angelo took the prize.) The two were exchanging smiles... or as I figured, they were showing their teeth.
Ultimately though, sandwich shop owner Angelo and his partner Tracey took the win and the prize of immunity from elimination... which is where it got interesting.
Fast-forward to the elimination challenge, and it's all about healthy eating and First Lady Michelle Obama's 'Let's Move' campaign to end childhood obesity. The chefs were tasked with making 50 school lunches on a $130 budget.
This was a group effort, so quickfire winners Angelo and Tracey divided up the teams. Team Angelo chose Ed and Kenny, who correctly noted it was a strategic move. But we all figure this is “Top Chef,” not “Survivor,” so everyone should carry his or her own weight. At least, that's what I thought...
There were pretty much only two interesting teams this episode: Team Kenny versus Angelo and Team Kelly. I say Team Kelly because as she repeated all night long: "I'm ultimately responsible for the carnitas." (Yes Kelly, you made a dish. You also made an enemy, and his name is Arnold. He hates you. Discuss.)
But in the interest of fairness I should note that there were, in fact, other teams. Amanda and Jacqueline's team decided that braised chicken with a sherry jus and banana pudding with fresh strawberries and loads of sugar seemed like a good idea for a healthy kids lunch, but nothing could beat Angelo's celery and peanut butter.
Yes, that was his dish. I believe I made a version of that when I was six. But since Angelo had immunity, I hoped he was employing strategy and not stupidity.
After serving their meals to a horde of hungry kids in the cafeteria, it was off to the judges table.
The chefs on the bottom included Team Tracey, Angelo, Kenny and Ed plus Team Tamesha, Steve, Amanda and Jacqueline. And let me tell you: it was hilarious.
Kenny called out Angelo for being lazy and making a weak dish, but guest judge Sam Kass called out Kenny for incorrectly calling a tomato a vegetable (which it is not). Jacqueline got pounded for her use of two pounds of sugar in her pudding, and Amanda was laughed at for using expensive cooking sherry to braise her chicken with.
In then end, the judges couldn't overlook Jacqueline's too sweet banana pudding, and she was sent packing.
On the flip side, Team Kelly took the win with her “I'm ultimately responsible for the carnitas” carnitas.
And that's the rule on “Top Chef” - no matter how crazy you may be, if you can produce great food within the limits given, you can win.
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