August 12th, 2010
12:45 PM ET
DEFCON 1 people! It was restaurant wars on “Top Chef" last night, also known as the best episode of the season.
But before we get to the cooking, the judging and the aforementioned cheftestant warring, let’s roll it back to the beginning.
After last week’s elimination, Amanda woke up glad to be with the "best of the best," and Kenny… well, you know Kenny. He's the “alpha male" and a “beast in the kitchen.”
But before anyone else could get a word in edgewise, Kenny and the rest of the chefs were back in the kitchen with Padma for the Quickfire challenge: A tag team cook-off.
On Team Red, we had Ed, Tiffany, Angelo and Alex, and on Team Blue, there was Kevin, Kenny, Amanda and Kelly.
All chefs were given ten minutes in this tag team event, so the first chefs gathered ingredients and made a game plan for the blindfolded chefs to follow. Tiffany and Kenny set the tone of the dishes, taking ingredients from the storage room and making well-laid plans.
Unfortunately for Tiffany, Alex was on her team. He decided to pre-season a fish that he had no intention of cooking. Fast-forward to judging, where we found out that wasn’t a very good idea.
Speaking of judging, self-proclaimed “foodie” and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, was this episode’s “Top Chef” judge.
Team Red pulled together roasted red snapper, wilted greens & maitake mushrooms while Team Blue whipped up sautéed shrimp, angel hair pasta, mustard sauce & crispy basil.
It was Team Blue for the win! But it wasn’t a shocker. As it turns out, too much salt or too much Alex ruined Team Red’s chance for a Quickfire win, plus a lovely prize of $2,500 dollars each.
But there were bigger fish to fry, and Padma announced to all the chefs that “Restaurant Wars” was about to begin.
The teams were the same as the Quickfire, with Ed, Tiffany, Angelo and Alex on one team – under the restaurant name “Evoo”– and Kevin, Kenny, Amanda and Kelly were on the second team, working under the restaurant name “2121,” also known as the sure thing.
Team Evoo put Alex in the front of the house to avoid cooking disasters, which made sense. Unfortunately, the chefs at 2121 put Kelly in the front of the house and out of the kitchen. I say unfortunately because although her attitude can grate your nerves, the girl can cook.
The judges arrived at Evoo first, and as we see, the front of the house is a big deal. Alex missed the judges’ arrival but tried to quickly recover by whisking himself over to their table.
The courses were slow to come from Evoo. Acting executive chef Angelo was flying around the kitchen with an iron fist, trying to correct errors from either the servers or the pre-work that Alex botched.
Here’s the lineup of dishes at Evoo:
Meanwhile, over at 2121, it was smooth sailing. As expected, Kelly had the front of the house under her complete control. In the back of the house, Kenny - who assumed the executive chef role - appeared to be cranking out the plates with Kevin and Amanda.
Here’s what they laid out at 2121:
One major thread of criticism for both teams was that the menus over-promised their restaurants’ food themes. Like one chef questioned, “I guess the fig makes this Mediterranean?” Also, it’s never good when the words “goat cheese monstrosity” come up during dinner service.
After the judges left, the top and bottom teams seemed really up in the air. The “sure-thing” team of Kevin, Kenny, Kelly and Amanda didn’t dominate like I thought it would.
And then, in walked Padma to drop the axe – excuse me, the butcher’s knife.
Team Evoo - Ed, Tiffany, Angelo and Alex – ended up on top, while the cheftestants behind 2121, Kevin, Kenny, Amanda and Kelly, were on the bottom.
Ed was handed the elimination win, along with the largest bottle of wine I’ve ever seen.
But in a weird turn of events at judges’ table, the losing team threw a member from the wining team under the bus. Their argument, in brief, was that Alex didn’t do any cooking for Team Evoo.
While that sounds true, I’m not sure their argument had a foundation. I don’t remember each player being required to cook a dish from start-to-finish in restaurant wars.
So, after a futile attempt to drag Alex under the bus, through the gutter and around the block, Team 2121 returned to the kitchen to await their fate with the winners, Team Evoo.
And then the war part of “restaurant wars” came into play...
Kenny, Kevin and Kelly immediately laid into Alex as soon as they walked into the waiting room. (Did Amanda just… go get coffee? I expected her to yell something inane too.)
About 30 F-bombs later, some most excellent finger pointing and more bleeps over Kenny and Kevin’s dialogue, it was commercial time.
Immediately, I wondered if the judges could can Alex. (At least my favorite chef, Tiffany, was safe from elimination.) Ultimately, the judges decided it was Kenny’s time to go. Alex lives another day!
Do you think Kenny should have gotten the boot? Who do you think is next? And is it finally Alex’s time to go?
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