Hands down, Wednesday’s episode of Top Chef: DC was the best of the season, and perhaps the best in a few seasons. And it’s not just because of Nancy Pelosi (the secret crush of my friend IndianJones). The episode brought out all the big guns: the always crazy blindfold relay, restaurant wars, Pelosi, and even Frank Bruni. This was one heavy hitting episode, and we haven’t even talked about the drama.
OH the drama.
This whole episode centered around basically one person: Alex. Every season we have some inept chef who makes it inexplicably far, and this time around, we have Alex. He’s a mess. Shall we count the ways? On last night’s show, he essentially destroyed his relay team’s shot at Quickfire victory by salting the fish entirely too soon. Then, once the team was tasked with opening a “restaurant” for the Elimination Challenge, he allegedly butchered the butchering and was thus placed on fish prep. However, Alex couldn’t even do that properly, and the next day Tiffany had to spend her time deboning and removing scales from all the fillets that Alex should have already taken care of. Then, then, Alex went to the front of the house and totally cracked the whip excessively on his poor, frightened servers, and THEN when the restaurant opened, he wasn’t even at the door to greet the judges. When he did ultimately tend to the VIPs, Alex was so nervous that he inaccurately described a dish as pork when it was in fact lamb. Disaster.
However, without someone like Alex, the show would be no fun. I secretly enjoy Alex’s bumbling ways, and I think I may be giving him a little bit of a free ride since I’ve tasted some of his food at Ivan Kane’s Cafe Was, and it was quite, quite tasty. Nevertheless, from what we can tell, the guy is bad news in the Top Chef kitchen; although, it was unclear if he was also responsible for his team’s biggest folly of the night: naming their restaurant “Evoo.” Not only is the name idiotic (although, not as bad as last year’s REVOLT), but it’s entirely way too reminiscent of Rachel Ray giggling her way through a bottle of “EVOO.”
The good news for Alex was that despite his bumbling ways, he managed to avoid elimination because his team improbably won the War. This meant that Kenny’s group, despite being well-organized and cheery, had to face the axe. The group, which consisted of Kenny, Amanda, Kevin, and Kelly, was dumbfounded by this turn of events — so much so that they refused to accept their fate. They all threw Alex under the proverbial bus, informing the judges that Alex had not prepared or conceived of a single dish on his own (the truth to those accusations are murky). Rules, however, are rules. The team was sent back to the stew room where they not only stewed, they full on boiled over with rage. Kevin began yelling at Alex in an absurd and sad display of emotion. I felt bad for him, but their charges felt a bit too sour-grapey for me to get truly behind them.
Meanwhile, I had no idea who would go home. We knew Kevin was safe, thanks to a vibrant fish ‘n’ fennel dish. The rest were a toss-up. Kelly’s soup was apparently horrific, but her service at the front of the house quite nice. Kenny had over-thought a salad and totally bombed with an “awful” fried goat cheese dessert concoction, but on the other hand, he had taken a strong leadership role. And besides… he’s Kenny! Clearly he’s going to the top two. This meant that the axe had to fall on Amanda, whose woes with a wood-burning stove seemed to have killed her one and only dish. But wait! She had a lovely sauce! And besides, I like Amanda. I didn’t want her going home either. What was going to happen?
In the shock of the season, the judges killed Kenny. Yes, the seemingly unflappable chef suddenly had his run terminated, and no one was perhaps more shocked than he was. Of course, this was not unlike season three when Restaurant Wars felled Trey, who we simply ASSUMED would be facing down Hung in the finale. Guess things don’t always work out the way we want them. As long as Tiffany makes it to the finale / wins, I’ll be happy.
Alex: “Don’t worry guys. You’re in good hands with me. Now excuse me while I dredge the fish in salt.”
Nancy Pelosi: “My love for this dish is about as intense for my love for stocky Indian men.”
“Damn. We totally got Pelosied.”
Terlados: “Whoever wins Restaurant Wars gets this 3 liter bottle of Terlado wine. Impressive, yes? Almost as impressive as the tensile strength of Padma’s blazer button.”
“So Alex, what do you want to do on the team?”
“I dunno. I was thinking I could just mess things up in a general sort of way.”
“How are things going, Alex?”
“Great. We’ve named our restaurant EVOO.”
“Like Rachel Ray?”
“So what you’re telling me, Kelly, is that you won’t make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich right now.”
“Kenny, you really are a beast in the kitchen. Pack your knives and go.”
Kelly: “How is everything?”
Padma: “Just wonderful; although, I believe my dear friend Gail Simmons would like an Orange Julius, if that’s possible.”
Frank Bruni: “This soup is so exceedingly thin, you’d have to be in throes of extreme starvation to eat it. I just don’t know who would like it.”
Padma & Gail: “Gail.” “Padma.”
Padma: “Oh look at Gail, all excited for dessert. I really respect the way she just plunges head first into food without even worrying about the toll it will take on her body. I wish I could eat with such reckless abandon, but you know, being a model has its limitations. Bless her heart.”
“Look, if you send me home, that’s fine. I have a lucrative second career as a porn producer.”
“I’m sorry, Kenny, but the goat cheese was just disgusting. Not even my dear friend Gail Simmons could finish hers, and she finishes everything. Of course, I’m referring to her third helping. She was fine with the first two, bless her heart.”
Gail: “Last time I checked, Padma, you were the one pounding the table with your fists and screaming ‘Mama want meat!’ But I guess that’s what models do. How IS the plus-sized industry these days, anyhow?”
Padma: “So then she took the entire platter of cupcakes and just shoved them in her mouth as if they were the last thing she’d ever eat.”
Gail: “Wait, who are you talking about?”
“Oh, just you on your wedding day.”
“I didn’t have cupcakes at my wedding.”
“Oh, I must be mistaken. That’s right. They were porkchops. You were so cute, Gail. Bless your heart.”
What did you think about the show? Did the judges make the right decision? Were you shocked? Was Kenny overrated? And how hot would Nancy Pelosi and IndianJones be together?