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Top Chef S07E06: Ethics Or Something

We didn’t get to talk about last week’s episode, and maybe that’s for the best. WHAT WAS THAT? First there was the nonsense Quickfire Challenge twist when everyone had to trade off their “Crazy Proteins” halfway through, as if that has ANYTHING TO DO with cooking or talent. And then the Cold War challenge, because if there is one thing that has come out of decades of horrifying nuclear stand-off between two trigger-happy imperialist nations it is funny wordplay on garbage reality TV. Huh?! And on top of that, Team Angelo’s lock-step formation against Kenny was so blatant and tasteless. Also, this whole Angelo IS Megamind (in theaters November 5, 2010!) thing is starting to seem like over-the-line producer manipulation. I’m sure he’s an arrogant, overly-hair-producted jerk, but his schemes seem so perfectly calculated, as if he had spent his young adult life mastering SCHEMES instead of COOKING, it feels like someone is putting him up to it. This guy, perhaps? I was disappointed that the judges never said anything about what a hamball attempt at subterfuge that team was trying to pull off. “We just honestly think that Kenny is the worst chef we’ve ever encountered.” Ugh. Anyway, Kevin won and Tamesha was eliminated. Did Angelo sabotage Tamesha on his own team to get ahead?

Well let me answer that question with a question: at the beginning of this week’s episode, Angelo talks about how sad he is that Tamesha got eliminated, while shining his shoes extra hard. Would a saboteur shine his shoes this hard?

Probably. “Perhaps if the judges see that my shoes are shinier than Kenny’s, he will have to go home out of nowhere. Because leadership.”

The contestants show up for the Quickfire Challenge only to discover Congressman Babyface waiting for them. Padma explains that this week is all about ethics. WAIT, HUH, STOP, HUH? The Republican Representative of the Muppet Babies District explains that he’s on the House Ethics Committee, and a lot of their conversations are actually about food! No they’re not. Fuck you. It’s bad enough that you spend your life lying to the American people when it actually matters, don’t do it in a throwaway line on a reality TV show about how to make soup using only things you find in a toilet. Look, Top Chef, we know that cheap puns are stock-in-trade for this kind of programming. We are all adults here, and we recognize and accept the rules of the game. So just say, like, “this week it’s all about Checks and Balances, so you are going to have to make a salad using Chex Mix that doesn’t weigh more than three pounds.” And then we can all move on. You don’t have to have an ACTUAL elected member of the LEGISLATIVE BRANCH of the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT making up bullshit explanations for how your lazy puns are actually very thoughtful puns reflecting the real machinations of ethical conduct and federal law-making. If you want the chefs to make food on a toothpick, which you do, just make them make food on a toothpick. You know they’ll do it. They want to win that magazine picture!

“I think it makes sense that all the food has to fit on a toothpick because otherwise things could get really out of control with corruption and then you’re basically living in George Orwell’s 1984 or The Matrix Revolutions,” Stephen basically interviews. Also, how excited is Stephen for this challenge?

Too excited.

Everyone makes food on a toothpick, just like how George Washington ate all of his food off toothpicks. Did you know he had a set of dentures that were just toothpicks? True. You have 30 minutes to make dentures using everything in the Toyota Pantry. Anyway: the constants contest. “We were all just fighting for the protein” is what Angelo said. Ed, of course, has already come further than his father ever did, who never even got the opportunity to put food on a toothpick as a joke. Alex explains that he’s really good at party food, which sounds to me a lot like someone saying they’re really good at kissing after practicing all night on their pillow. “I promise, if someone would just invite me to their party, they would be so impressed.” Amanda flirts relentlessly with the Baby (R-Crib) despite having what looks like a giant Herpes sore on her lip. And the Congressman himself is a walking TWSS factory. “It was like fireworks in my mouth,” she says, and also: “Wow! There’s a lot of meat on that stick. I really liked that.” I bet she did!

The bottom three toothpick meals are Alex’s scallop with crispy bacon, strawberries, and basil essence, Ed’s duo of tuna with avocado and sweet & sour watermelon, and Kelly’s scallop with watermelon & watermelon vinaigrette. Good party food, Alex! The top three toothpick meals are Angelo’s cucumber cup with spiced shrimp and cashew, Kevin’s grilled pork and mushroom kabob with sherry vinegar, and Stephen’s scallop & beef with crispy potato and Bearnaise sauce. But Angelo wins the challenge AND $20,000. Poor Stephen.

Angelo explains that he doesn’t even have time to be happy about winning $20,000 because he is already focusing on the next challenge, such is his dedication to win. Sure. Although a) he has immunity in the next challenge, and b) if he has time to style his hair within an inch of its life, he has time to be a human being about winning $20,000. Shut up, Angelo.

The Elimination Challenge is about power lunches or whatever. They’re going to be taking over the Palm Restaurant, whatever that is. People explain that no one has EVER taken over the Palm Restaurant before. Well, maybe that’s just because they don’t know what it is. (By the looks of it, later, it is a mom and pop version of a Bennigan’s.) I’m sure that is a very well known Washington restaurant frequented almost exclusively by beltway insiders, but don’t pretend like all of America has been waiting for the day when the Palms Restaurant would FINALLY let someone take over its kitchen for a reality show challenge. And also: don’t pretend like the people filling the restaurant on the day of the challenge were actual powerbrokers. “Do you have secret meetings in private backrooms in which the fate of millions is decided? Are you free from 1-7PM next Tuesday for a television taping?” Hah.

Everyone will be cooking some kind of massive piece of meat or fish, for power. Yelling fuel. Everyone cooks. To be honest, the part where everyone cooks is the part where I start checking my email. All the drama of this show is in the Quickfire Challenge and the Elimination Ceremony. “What, you don’t find Ed complaining about how much time it is taking to break down his lobsters to be exciting and entertaining?” Who said that? “I’m a ghost!” Anyway. I guess there is SOME drama this week when Alex might have stolen Ed’s pea puree. That is lame. It would be like Alex to do that. “I told you you should have invited me to your party.” Also, Kelly and Amanda get into a fight because Kelly only brought enough salt for herself, or some shit. “It’s a competition,” Kelly explains. “If you didn’t bring salt, I’m not going to help you.” Haha. It’s salt! We’re not talking about a key protein or secret ingredient. It’s fucking salt, you cunt. Anyway, this week’s guest judges, or at least guest diners, include a bunch of people from, like, ABC News or something. Snore. Although they also include Joe Scarborough. Perfect.

At one point during the meal, he explains that he much preferred a dish that everyone else thought was away over-salted. Of course you did, you walking heart-attack. I do love the challenges when Tom has to eat alone in the kitchen.

And so, we get to Judges Table. The winning dishes were Ed’s poached lobster ballotine, eggplant caviar & English pea-asparagus fricassee, Tiffany’s swordfish with olive-raisin tapenade, broccolini and bacon, Alex’s applewood smoked salmon with black forbidden rice and illegal thievery pea puree. Alex wins, due in large part to the pea puree which everyone at this point pretty much agrees he stole from Ed. The guest judge, Art Smith, explains that he could have eaten another dish of just the pea puree. After he wins, Alex explains what a compliment it is when a celebrity chef says that he could eat a second dish of your “food.” I’m sure it is a compliment, but that’s not what he said you LIAR.

The bottom dishes are Kelly’s porterhouse with crispy potato-arugula salad and roasted shallot demi-glace, which was over-salted because apparently she only brought too much salt for herself. Also bottom: Andrea’s pan-seared swordfish with “risotto-style” couscous, asparagus, and beurre blanc, and Kevin’s double-cut lamb chops with olive and goat cheese rissole, mache, and tomato concasse (maybe the judges are taking points off for using too many words that make no sense?). Back in the stew room, Kelly breaks down in tears because she has been “playing the game.” Ugh. I hate Kelly so much. She also says that she hasn’t been cooking “her food” (Top Chef Klassic Kwuote), which is “delicate” because she fears the judges will think it’s too bland. Well then maybe it’s not delicate. Maybe it’s bland. Kelly stinks.

But it is Andrea who goes home.

Oh well. Bye Andrea! She explains that she doesn’t need four people behind a table to tell her she can cook, because she knows she can. Which is good, because that’s not at all what the four people behind that table told you. Anyway, good luck in your on-going feud with that other chef whoever she was I don’t remember and don’t feel like looking up her name. And don’t worry: Alex, Amanda, Kevin, Stephen, and Kelly are all just waiting their turn to join you.