From Toothpicks to Power Lunches

This is about how excited Sense of Taste has been about this season of 'Top Chef'

Have you missed me? Well, let me put it to you plainly. I have been so uninspired by the past couple episodes of Top Chef (until this week) that I could not find it in my foodie-obsessed soul to think of anything to write about. If I did, trust me . . . you would have called bullshit and cried tears of boredom.

Luckily, I found myself completely absorbed in this week’s episode. It compelled me, it excited me, in fact, it even made me want to eat, something that, during past seasons, I would ALWAYS have to be doing, and have found myself not needing so far in the D.C. edition. (I even had a glass of wine with my salmon tartare, pan seared chicken, and a riff on Greek salad . . . oh boy!)

Let’s start with the Quickfire Challenge. Now I know White House chef Sam Kass was a guest a couple of episodes back, but he’s a CHEF. This episode we finally got some damn politicians in the house. “We’re filming in Washington D.C. during one (if not the) most important political time in our nation’s history. Maybe we should have some politicians on this show?” What a concept! I’m glad some genius in production realized this.

Finally, the chefs fed some politicians on Top Chef D-frickin'-C

But regardless of politicians, the challenge itself was interesting. Essentially, “I have to eat off a toothpick, so make me something that fits on a toothpick.” I think it’s challenging . . . and well, new. Enough of this cooking with cow balls & shrimp tongues (do shrimpies even have tongues?) For the first time in a long time, I think almost every contestant put out something relatively good. Might not have been the most complex food (tuna 2 ways, scallops) but it seemed tasty. Andrea’s fried chicken with a cheddar waffle? Yes, please. I’ll take that.

But in the end, Angelo won yet again. Hey it’s like Kevin says, “If they want to eat Chinese food all the time, then that’s up to them.” That little rollie pollie from New Jersey makes me chuckle.

Once again, the Elimination Challenge also featured politicians . . . lots of ‘em. And thank god for it. Who knows a power lunch better than a grimy politician? Except maybe a business man. This challenge was nothing outrageous or impossible like most challenges. (Make a Thanksgiving meal for the entire White House staff in 30 minutes). This challenge was fair. It was reasonable. It allowed everyone to take what they’ve got and lay it out on the table for all to see. Make a power lunch. It’s almost like saying “Cook whatever the hell you want, but make it delicious because your life is on the line.” Power lunches are deal breakers and deal makers.

We were starting to really pull for Andrea

Similar to the Quickfire Challenge, I think most of the contestants played a decent hand. As soon as I saw the first girl draw swordfish, my heart honestly broke for her. But look at that, Tiffany made it to the winners circle with her swordfish. Personally, I felt Kelly deserved the win. Baby pulled the mother of all power lunches- a big ass porterhouse and all she did was over salt. To me, overcooked fish (Tiffany’s swordfish) is far worse than over salted meat. But that could just be my sincere affection for salt and dreaded revulsion for anything overcooked. Don’t those judges (including that recent skinny marink, Art Smith) know the golden rule? “Over season, undercook.”

Sadly, Andrea went home. I really thought she was going to pull through. I felt nostalgic for the days of Casey, the adorable one who was so quiet at first, but then, suddenly, came out with guns blazing. I had high hopes for Andrea, but I guess you can’t argue with a politician. Pea puree anyone?

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