Top Chef Recap: School’s Out

By
Photo: David Giesbrecht/Bravo

Last night's Top Chef started off with household high jinks (Ed shaved by his bed; Jacqueline ate a lot of butter) that we assume were there to make the Quickfire's pun seem less terrible. Bi-partisandwich? Really? We're huge fans of puns, and sandwiches are our favorite food (yes, that is a legitimate favorite food), but even for us this took things a tad too far.

The chefs had to make sandwiches while attached at the apron, and thus could only use one hand each. Guest judge and assistant White House chef Sam Kass (no Ripert this week) told the cheftestants to leave their egos at the door. Has he met Angelo? Speaking of Angelo, he claimed he would shut down Xie Xie if he lost this challenge. Luckily, he and Tracey (who has a crush on him even though she is raising her girlfriend's kid) won with their flounder with spicy Sriracha. Kenny and Ed's Korean chile-ahi-tuna sandwich also made the judges' favorites, reinforcing our suspicions that this season will be a giant showdown between Kenny and Angelo. Angelo confirmed this with an evil cackle and picked Kenny and Ed for his Elimination Challenge team, since he and Tracey had won immunity.

The Elimination Challenge asked the chefs to take part in Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign to fight childhood obesity by making a school lunch for 50 using a public-school budget of just $2.60 per kid, or $130 total. Naturally, the cheftestants struggled to get enough food for four courses (a main, a side, a vegetable, and a dessert with fruit) under budget. And obviously, it had to be stuff kids like. Amanda made it clear that she would not take one for the team and make a dessert, as people who make desserts get eliminated. (Someone's been watching the past six seasons.) Instead, she braised chicken with sherry. Because, you know, kids love (budget-friendly) sherry. Wait, what? Tom likened her dish to a turd, so it didn't exactly please adults either. A few other chefs also struggled to appeal to kids, including Ed, whose sweet-potato purée was far too spicy, and Stephen, whose rice pilaf with assorted vegetables was described by one student as "just rice and all that nasty stuff."

Team Angelo/Kenny/Ed/Tracey and Team Amanda/Stephen/Tamesha/Jacqueline ended up in the bottom (announced before the top teams to mix things up), and the school kid in everyone came out. Stephen threw Kenny under the bus for not speaking up about a lack of veggies. Kenny pointed out that Jacqueline used two pounds of sugar in her banana pudding. Amanda called Angelo out for using processed peanut butter, which she claimed was the worst thing in the world, and Ed replied by bringing up Amanda's use of sherry. In not so many words, Tom asked Angelo if he sabotaged his non-immunized team members by counting celery with peanut butter as a vegetable, and Angelo refused to answer. The battle between Angelo and Kenny just got dirty, folks. But in the end, Jacqueline went home for her grainy, oversugared pudding dessert. Amanda's no fool.

Of course, not everyone struggled. The judges loved how Team Alex/Kevin/Tim/Andrea hid yogurt in a coleslaw and a whipped-cream presentation, but the highest praise went to Team Kelly/Lynn/Tiffany/Arnold, whose meal included tacos, a salad, and vegetables hidden in the dessert. Kelly grabbed the win for her pork-carnita tacos with pickled onions. Did you know that Kelly made tacos? Were you clear on that? Because she only announced her credit for them at least six times (yes, we counted). Wait, which part of this episode was supposed to feature children?

Next week: We're going on a picnic! Complete with fights over ovens, Amanda whining, and everyone giving each other dirty looks while smoking cigarettes. Ah, health.