[Spoiler alert] Well, folks, the moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived. Everyone’s least favorite contestant has packed his knives and left DC.
Yes, that’s right. Alex was eliminated from the Top Chef competition after a poor showing in the CIA challenge. This week kicked off with a “mystery box” quickfire, in which the contestants were required to incorporate the ingredients contained in black boxes introduced (by a guy in a black suit and sunglasses) throughout the challenge. This sounds extremely hard, since they’d develop a concept and seconds later be forced to consider adding passionfruit or squid. Tiffany won, her second high-stakes quickfire this season.
The elimination challenge was to “disguise” a classic dish with a new presentation using old ingredients. For example, kung pao shrimp and french onion soup. The contestants headed to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. to cook for Leon Panetta and crew. As a sidenote, I loved this challenge because I am totally fascinated by all things spy-related. Panetta was mysteriously called away in the middle of the meal, which was almost certainly staged and definitely awkward.
The guest judge was Wylie Dufresne, chef at wd~50 in NYC who is known for crazy experimentation. In the top were Ed (chicken cordon bleu), Kelly (kung pao shrimp) and Tiffany (gyro–which everyone kept mispronouncing). I’ve been thinking over the past few episodes that Kelly and Tiffany are two of the strongest contestants, so I’m excited to see them at the top. Ed’s dish was criticized as slightly simple (he just inverted the chicken and ham), but Tiffany took the prize and a paid trip to Paris. I think Kelly also deserved the win, if for no other reason than she was creative in planning and executing her dish. Never tasted kung pao shrimp? No problem, I’ll find premade sauce and use that to determine what ingredients I need. Very smart.
At the bottom was Angelo (beef wellington), Amanda (french onion soup) and Alex (veal parmesan). Angelo really struggled the whole episode, really for the first time this season, while Amanda and Alex have lacked the technical skills all along to really compete. In the end, Alex’s tough meat and poor execution sent him packing, despite Angelo’s choice to use frozen puff pastry and Amanda’s complete lack of creativity.
Ed is really starting to get to me. I think he’s kinda sloppy, and it was irritating to listen to him criticize Alex’s concept and simplicity when he wasn’t all that creative himself. There seems to be a lot more negative energy among this group than there’s been in past seasons. On the other hand, Tiffany really stepped up, helping Kelly recook her rice and plate her dish as time wound down.
The thing I will say about Alex is that he does a decent job of avoiding the drama that goes on around him. It seems that no matter how much people hate him or try to make him miserable, he just cooks his food. Not to say he isn’t arrogant yet lacking in skill, but he can be more mature than the other contestants.
Until next week…