Top Chef Recap: We’re Going on a Picnic!

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Photo: David Giesbrecht/Bravo

Last night's episode opened with another act in the Battle of Kenny and Angelo: Kenny worried that the "Angelo Show" was taking over while Angelo sat by himself in a corner, brooding over Kenny's words at the previous Judges' Table. Could their war actually be a budding bromance in disguise?

The Quickfire asked the chefs to participate in the most American of traditions product placement shilling for a new show baking a pie. Turns out guest judge Johnny Iuzzini will be a head judge on Top Chef: Just Desserts with Gail. (The second mention of this spinoff in three episodes, mind you.). Johnny took this episode to prove himself worthy of snappy quips during Judges' Tables: "I think it's kind of a cop out to say you're not a pastry chef," he scolded Angela. "My grandmother's not a pastry chef either and she can make a pie." Angelo and Tamesha admitted they had never before made a pie, to which we can only say how is that possible? (We were trained as journalists, not cooks, but we can make lattice crust with the best of them.)

The pies ranged from curried apple to chocolate ganache to mango, but Kenny grabbed the win for his bananas foster with currants and Chinese five spice. The other chefs got upset they didn't win, but no one so much as in-the-bottom Tracey, who remarked, "I feel like I was called out for something embarrassing, like living in a trailer park." Because that's the same as messing up a pie crust.

Continuing the Americana theme, the Elimination Challenge required the chefs to prepare a picnic of one main and two sides for Capitol Hill interns. Sadly, the only scandal involved not interns but ovens, when Alex took Amanda's oven and she got revenge by removing his dish from it. When Tom asked what was going on, Amanda explained that the cheftestants abide by prison rules. Tom, having never been to prison, had no idea what this meant, and neither did we. Back at the house, all the other chefs smoked while critiquing Amanda's techniques, and everyone just looked so mean and ugly that we realized this would be a great anti-smoking commercial.

The picnic began by showing us those other great American traditions of croquet and badminton (what?), perhaps as a ruse to distract us from the fact that the editors forgot to show us a single second of footage of what the chefs were preparing as sides. They did include yet another tradition, sexism, with Tim arguing that only the men were happy to be grilling. Alex was definitely pleased to be outside cooking pork butt, remarking that he wanted to "eat the ass out of this pig all day." Guest judge and Top Chef Master Jonathan Waxman (of Barbuto) helped the judges pick Arnold, Ed, Amanda, and Angelo for the top four. Jonathan was in love with Amanda's grilled asparagus and baby-back ribs, and Tom loved how picnic-friendly Ed's spiced tuna loin was, but the win went to Arnold's sesame-lamb meatballs with tabouli salad and gazpacho.

Timothy, Stephen, Tracey, and Kevin ended up in the bottom four. Timothy got scolded for his lack of seasoning, leading us to assume that he's never watched the show before, since that is always what Tom harps on (to be fair, Tim did get pooped on by terrorist birds while cooking). Padma called Kevin's grilled flank steak with rice and beans "the safest Puerto Rican food [she'd] ever eaten," and Gail told him to start cooking like a professional. However, the loss ultimately belonged to (clairvoyant) Tracey's Italian sausage and fennel sliders, which Tom found to be "insulting to Italians." We wonder if her psychic abilities helped her see that one coming.


Next week: Double elimination! Cooking in teams! Yelling about hollandaise! Plus, Eric Ripert returns, but even his dreamboat-y looks can't save the judges from the horror of canned beans!