Last night’s Top Chef continued to bring out the big (judging) guns, as Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin (who happens to be Facebook friends with Ed) arrived to judge the Quickfire. She came with wines in tow and asked the chefs to choose a wine and create a dish to pair with it. Ed and Tiffany headed for the Wagyu ribeye, while Kevin, originally convinced he could braise big hunks of pork belly in less than an hour, had to settle for quail. In the end, Padma, wearing a weird suit, gave the win — and a trip to London — to Angelo for his sautéed foie gras with black-salt-and-fennel salad.
Over a commercial break, Padma then drew out the announcement that the chefs would go to Singapore for the finale, which we already knew. Shocking no one, Angelo couldn’t contain his excitement to go to Asia. But first, the elimination challenge, which sent the chefs to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/the set they used for Apollo 13. A NASA scientist with very shiny braces and some astronauts via satellite from the international space station instructed the chefs to, sigh, create a dish that was “out of this world.” The winner’s dish would get freeze dried and sent into space, so the cheftestants had to follow some space guidelines, including use of spices, cutting things into smaller pieces, and cutting back on the sugar.
Ed decided to go Moroccan, Angelo decided to sketch his dish out and crash his shopping cart into a random lady, and Tiffany decided to moonwalk. Back in the kitchen, we finally got to see Tom take some time to chat with the chefs and reflect on their work so far (and also make fun of Kelly for being a space-loving nerd). Tiffany shared an awesome picture of her teenage self working at IHOP, but this happy memory was short-lived once she discovered her mussels had accidentally frozen and died, and that she would have to change her dish. “We have a problem,” she said, forgetting to address this remark to Houston.
The judges found pluses and minuses with every dish. Kelly nailed the artichokes she served with her pan-roasted halibut, but didn’t take risks. Ripert found Ed’s yogurt-marinated rack of lamb with eggplant purée and a couscous croquette too complicated, but Bourdain thought he hit the Moroccan flavors perfectly. Tiffany’s pan-seared halibut with coconut curry and pea shoots didn’t connect, and Kevin’s grilled New York–strip steak with bacon-jalapeño marmalade and onion rings was well-cooked but safe, so the win went to Angelo for his ginger-lacquered short ribs with horseradish crème fraîche and pea purée. It turns out that “making love” to your food can give you a challenge win (as well as a copy of Bourdain’s book, a trip to Cape Canaveral, and a Toyota Avalon). So, so sadly, Padma sent Tiffany home, who graciously accepted defeat. We wanted to cry with her. We guess we’ll root for Ed now, even though we know he’s not really from Queens.
Next week: We’re going to Singapore! Cooking on the street! Padma yells at Kevin! Tom yells at everyone!