Top Chef

Top Chef Recap: Around the World in 60 Minutes

Everyone was still talking about last week’s pea-purée fiasco on last night’s Top Chef, but thankfully Ed dropped the pea talk in time for the Quickfire, which required the chefs to make a dish inspired by the international cuisine that dominates in D.C.: Ethiopian food. Guest judge Marcus Samuelsson explained some Ethiopian basics, including berbere spice and injera, a spongy bread often used as a utensil.

Except for Ed, Kenny, and Angelo, none of the chefs claimed to be familiar with the cuisine. We’re thinking they got some additional priming that we didn’t see, because everyone made a spiced meat with some sort of yogurt sauce. Kevin, Stephen, and Alex found themselves in the bottom, while Amanda (stewed goat on grilled injera), Angelo (berbere-spiced doro wat chicken with egg, mango yogurt, and mint), and Tiffany (beef goulash with poached egg, currants, peppers, and yogurt) nabbed the top spots. Tiffany took the win, which was completely unsurprising considering the producers spent a good minute showing footage of her remarking that she was ready to win. Oh Bravo, it’s not foreshadowing if you do it every time.

For the elimination challenge, Padma and Marcus rolled out a chalkboard with nine countries on it, explaining that each chef would make a dish inspired by the country they chose. The breakdown: Tiffany: Mexico; Kelly: Italy; Amanda: France; Kenny: Thailand; Alex: Spain; Angelo: Japan (shocking); Kevin: India; Ed: China, Stephen: Brazil. Kenny offhandedly mentioned that he’s fought cancer and had four surgeries, so he wants to win. Wait, what? Shouldn’t we spend a little more time on that? Nope! The producers instead decided to cut to a shot of Stephen, who doesn’t know about Brazilian food, buying Brazil nuts. Oy. Meanwhile, Alex was sure he’d be fine because he’s been to Spain and loved it, and Tiffany was excited to cook Mexican because she’s from Texas.

This week’s episode actually featured quite a number of silly moments. At the kitchen, Alex falling and almost hitting his head on an oven. At the house, Kenny in his boxers, Kelly receiving a care package of stuffed animals, candy, and booze, and, of course, Angelo wrapping the toilet seat in plastic wrap.

The next day in Serious Chef Land, the chefs had to serve their dishes to 100 ambassadors, dignitaries, and diplomats, with just chafing dishes available on site. While we appreciate that the producers actually rounded up some foreign dignitaries, why were they only able to match dignitaries from Italy and China? A Swedish person remarked on the Brazilian food, while an Austrian diplomat talked about the Japanese cuisine. Surely someone, anyone, from Japan was available?

The top three included Tiffany’s deconstructed chicken tamales with queso fresco and tomatillo sauce, Kevin’s stewed chicken in his own curry with leek and parsnip purée and crispy lentils, and Kelly’s beef carpaccio with spring-vegetable salad and parmigiano reggiano. Tiffany took her second win of the episode, with other guest judge Jose Andres remarking that her food really looked and tasted like Mexico. (Being from Texas probably helped her.) She also snagged $10,000 both for herself and for charity. (Sidenote: Anyone else think she’s this season’s less-kooky Carla? She’s another genuinely nice chef who’s happy to be there and who starts pulling ahead halfway into the season.)

Alex, Stephen, and Ed (despite being familiar with China, having had Chinese girlfriends) landed in the bottom three for braised veal cheeks with jamón torta and olive-and-tomato salad; flank steak in chimichurri sauce with black beans and rice; and tea-smoked duck breast with pot stickers in Szechuan jus, respectively. Alex tried to describe his dish as tapas, but Jose said it was like a little nightmare. Ed could have cooked his duck better and underdelivered, but in the end the judges couldn’t get over the fact that Stephen overcooked his rice, and sent him home. “I’m disappointed of my fatal errors,” he exit interviewed. We’re disappointed with your terrible grammar, Stephen.

Next week: restaurant wars! Finally! Angelo doesn’t allow talking in the kitchen! Kevin goes off on someone! Kelly’s front-of-house outfit is an oversize sweatshirt!

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Foreign Affairs