Top Chef: DC Restaurant Wars Has Unlikely Victim

Given my state of exhaustion last night, I barely made it through the episode with my eyes open–which means that my note taking was less than stellar. I have a few scribbles about the Bravo producers stretching out the pea puree drama for yet another week, but that’s about the extent of it.

Luckily for all of you, my memory is decent enough to recap the highlights–and all of the drama of the final elimination. Dun dun dun…

SPOILERS to follow:


The Quickfire Challenge last night was the blindfolded tag-team cook-off, which kind of sounds like a game we used to play at summer camp. Each team of four had to work together to produce a single ditch. The catch? A cyborg was the taste-tester! The real “catch” was that the chefs who weren’t cooking had to wear a blindfold, and had to rely on the earlier prep work to gauge the direction of the dish. And the real guest judge? None other than Nancy Pelosi, who proclaimed herself a “foodie” as she declared Kenny, Amanda, Kelly, and Kevin’s sautéed shrimp with angel hair pasta, mustard sauce, and crispy basil the winning dish.

The Elimination Challenge last night was the much-anticipated Restaurant Wars, where the teams each conceive of and run their own restaurants. The teams stayed the same, and we were left with Angelo, Ed, Tiffany, and Alex running EVOO (c/o Rachael Ray) and Kenny, Amanda, Kelly, and Kevin running 2121 (the address of the Top Chef house).

Team 2121 has the win from the Quickfire Challenge plus Kenny’s typical confidence/cockiness, and we’re left with the sense that they are on top of things and are a sure win. Meanwhile, Team EVOO combines Angelo’s plotting with their sub-par showing from the morning’s challenge–perfect recipe for an implosion.

As the challenge develops, we see exactly where the producers are taking us. Team 2121 is in control; Team EVOO is a hot mess, with Alex as the villain (per usual).

Come service time, Team EVOO, with Alex as the front of the house manager, isn’t hitting the marks at the judge’s table. Not only does Alex fail to greet the judges at the front, but he gives off an awkward/nervous vibe and forgets what kind of meat he is serving. The food got mixed reviews, with Tiffany’s black bass and yellowtail crudo falling on the lower end of the spectrum and Angelo’s confit of tomato soup with squash and olive croutons and Ed’s turbot with eggplant caviar and black olive jus both receiving praise.

Team 2121 on the other hand, succeeds in the service department but doesn’t hit the mark with the food. First, Kelly’s corn coup with crab is too thin, then Kenny’s beet salad is too busy with extra ingredients. Every dish except Kevin’s halibut and Kelly’s chocolate ganache cake gets some criticism from the judges’ table. While guest judge Frank Bruni (of NYT fame) calls Kevin’s dish “beautiful”, he calls Kenny’s goat cheese dessert “a horror show.”

How the tides have turned for Teams 2121 and EVOO…

In the end, Team EVOO shocks the crowds and comes out victorious, despite the chaos of their kitchen and Alex’s front of the house reign of terror. Ed wins the competition and is awarded a 3 liter bottle of wine from Terlato Vineyards and a trip out to Napa.

2121 is called and out is shocked to learn that they have lost. Kevin and Kenny express to the judges that despite the rule that each judge must prepare one dish, Alex had no role in the kitchen. Despite their protestations, someone from 2121 is going home.

Kevin and Kelly are both declared safe after the judges praise Kevin’s halibut and Kelly’s cheerful service. We’re left with Kenny’s overdone beet salad & “awful” goat cheese and Amanda’s over-cooked beef. The at-home audience was all pulling for Amanda to get the boot, but we find 2121 Executive Chef Kenny being told to pack his knives.

I, for one, think Kenny’s leadership should have kept him safe and that it was Amanda’s (or Alex) time to go. But I guess I’m no Padma, Tom, Gail or Frank.

We’ll miss you, Kenny. Good luck at the PGA National Resort & Spa!

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About Rachel

Life is an adventure. Live it.
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