Pick your poison on 'Top Chef'
July 22nd, 2010
11:39 AM ET

Pick your poison on 'Top Chef'

Is this “Top Chef” or “Survivor”? It seems to be the latter, because strategy is the most talked about ingredient in any dish from the Washington, D.C. kitchen this year.

With an episode dubbed “The Cold War,” things went from bad to worse as the chefs turned into judges and voted to put two of their own on the chopping block.

But let’s back up and start with the Quickfire, which challenged the chefs to make a dish from unconventional ingredients. And guess what was back to help: the knife block!

So, the chefs drew knives and chose their ingredients. Of course, it wouldn't be “Top Chef” without a little kitchen chaos, so to help make that happen, the chefs’ protein selections were switched around, leaving the ingredient-chef mash-ups as follows:

Stephen: Frog legs
Andrea: Wild boar
Tiffany: Yak
Angelo: Cayman crocodile
Kevin: Duck white kidneys
Alex: Ostrich
Kenny: Diamondback rattlesnake
Amanda: Llama
Tamesha: Duck tongue
Kelly: Emu eggs

Let’s start with who ended up on the bottom. Alex’s ostrich barded in caul fat and basil put him in the bottom three, and Stephen, who made seared frog leg with a frog leg confit, tomato grits and blackened bourbon sauce, joined him there. Rounding out the bottom three was Andrea, who paired her wild boar with a dried cherry, almond, mushroom and red wine risotto.

The top three included Amanda, who made roast llama and sauce soubise with leek, date and bacon compote; Tamesha and her duck tongue in broth with mirepoix lime and sriracha; as well as Kelly, who made an Emu egg omelet with goat cheese and harissa vinaigrette.

The Quickfire win went to Kelly, who seems to be the breakout star of the “Top Chef” ladies this season. Albeit annoying, Kelly seems to be the only female chef this season with the confidence and skill to pull off a good dish. Though, did I mention she is annoying? Come on Andrea, step it up.

The knife block was brought out again for the elimination challenge to separate the chefs into two teams. Their task was to individually prepare a cold dish and serve those dishes to the first team of chefs. That's right, it was the cheftestants who had to eat, rate and send one chef from each team to the elimination table, leaving two in the bottom facing increased odds of going home.

The chefs headed out to U.S.S. Sequoya to ferry over to their cold food challenge. I was hoping they were going to cook on it, but apparently, the vessel was there in keeping with the Cold War theme. And it got really cold as talks of strategy, set ups and subterfuge began rolling around.

In transit, everyone was convinced Angelo was playing cheftestant mind games. He recommended dishes to nearly everyone - Tamesha in particular - and gave his point-of-view to everyone who would listen. Yes, he was chatting about dishes, but I'm not convinced he was doing it with completely bad intentions... I think he just likes to hear himself speak.

Strategy, strategy, strategy... a trip to the market... and then it was back to cooking.

Team one, which included Amanda, Kevin, Kenny, Alex and Ed, whipped up tuna and veal with romaine leaves and Mediterranean condiments, which was Kevin's dish; grilled lamb salad and lamb carpaccio with black-eyed pea hummus, from Kenny; and sockeye salmon on pumpernickel bread, which was Ed's dish.

But Team 2, which included Tiffany, Angelo, Amanda, Stephen and Tamesha, was not kind to Team one, who seemed to take the challenge to heart. Their comments seemed to be on target... or based in reality at least. Team 2 offered peppercorn crusted ahi tuna in gazpacho sauce, which was Tiffany's dish; chilled beef with crispy rice and jalapeno oil, which was Stephen's; and scallops with pickled rhubarb, cilantro, basil and long pepper in rhubarb jus from Tamesha.

After a table of their peers, it was time to get ripped up at judges table. Kevin and Tiffany were on top, and Kenny and Tamesha found themselves on the bottom.

While Tiffany's dish was "fresh," Kevin scooped up this challenge after this episode's guest judge, the chef and owner of Michi's restaurant in Miami, Michelle Bernstein, said his dish was "just delectable." And good for him, because he needed something to push him from the bottom... where he was resting.

Speaking of the bottom, Kenny and Tamesha were called to task for their multi-ingredient, heavy dishes. At one point, the judges read off the ingredients like a shopping list, which was shocking in its length for dishes that didn't seem very complex. Michelle Bernstein reamed Kenny saying, "If I could sit here and talk about each piece that was on the dish, it would take me through the end of the show."

But in the end, Tamesha was sent home, and Kenny lives to cook another day.

It's nearly the halfway point in the show. Is there anyone standing out? Who are your top three, and who do you think will be sent home next week?

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Filed under: television • Top Chef • TV recaps

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Jim

    I agree with Monier...and I think Kenny lucked out.. http://bit.ly/WatchTVShows

    July 23, 2010 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. Guest

    I have one question about last nights episode: Did anybody else think that Stephen was relying on Angelo and following him like a lost puppy? This is just my opinion, but Stephen was asking Angelo, 'Do you think I should make this?' or 'Should I use this seasoning?' These people don't belong on Top Chef if they can't make their own decisions on what they are cooking. This season is disappointing.

    July 22, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mandy

    shirley – you had to go there. why does everything have to be tunred into a race issue?? 'we just don't cook that kind of food,' i was unaware there was a 'white' kind of food. please elaborate!

    July 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. nora

    This season is weak. No one stands out as a top chef period. Last season had outstanding
    chefs playing the game with technical skill. This season it seems to be about strategy. At one
    point someone says something to the effect of getting rid of the top players to give the
    others a chance?! Crazy! This show is about outstanding cooking not survival of the
    mediocre chef. The seasons show is just so tired.

    July 22, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. shirley

    I just have one thing to say you know they will sent the black person home so don't ask that question i don't know why
    blacks go on these show , we just don't cook that kind of food and why all your judges are white!!! that my point why let
    black come on you know they are not gone to win not one dish your comments for black all seem to go on and on!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    like most of the white dish was so special please all i ask is to be fair.

    July 22, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Abner

    agreed with Monier. Angelo, Kelly and Kenny seem to be the top three but they aren't all that. And Angelo quite frankly gets on my nerves.

    July 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Monier

    This is season is not nearly as good as the past season. No clear front runners have emerged. The early favorites Angelo and Kenny are not delivering at the midway point. The casting/production crew messed this one up. Yes, there is more tension and personal interaction between the contestants, but apparently it is coming at the cost of skill. I understand that everyone likes an exiting show, but the tension between Kevin and the brothers (and between them) was mostly over skill and more entertaining. If I want drama in the kitchen I watch Hell's Kitchen, when I wanted to see some superior skill I used to be able to count on Top Chef. I miss the old days

    July 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • jo ann

      how do you know the food past chefs made was good.you can't taste it though the tv can you

      August 11, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |

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