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Top Chef: DC, Ep. 3 – An Insult To Italians, and No, Not Jersey Shore


Episode Three unfolds with a bunch of DC staples – including random, disposable Hill interns! Before you read any further, you must go here so you can get a sense of the badminton-playing audience the chefs got to cook for this week. They also got to cook at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.  My personal
story – we took my little boy to the historic grounds in February this year. Unexpectedly, it seemed a cold snap rushed in and it was FRIGGIN FREEZING.  But we went anyway, adding to the list of things I am sure he will have to discuss with a high-paid therapist someday.

Two of my favorite things were on display in the kitchen and on the grill – pies and BBQ.  Once again, presented with making dessert turned the chefs into blathering idiots.  I will say it again – if you are going on to Top Chef, learn to make a few desserts.  I remember Season 2 Sam (who I am still sure my wife
would run off with if asked) saying during the Finale that in the time between the end of the show and the Finale he studied desserts.  He lost, but still, really smart idea.

Instead we get Tracey throwing everything in her way into a pie crust, and topping it off with enough butter to clog the Lincoln Tunnel. We get Arnold comparing desserts to mystical beasts living in the clouds.  We get Hot Amanda telling us she doesn’t even like pie.  How can you possibly not like pie?  I could eat pie every day for the rest of my life and consider it to be a wonderful fate.  Add ice cream and would call it heaven.

Before getting into the challenges and dishes, a few more things. There are still several chefs still in the running for the Survivor: Samoa Brett Award for Least Dialogue in a Reality Show.  Seriously, when Andrea came on the screen I had to question if she’s been there the whole time.  And can you tell
me one thing – just one thing – about Tamesha or Tiffany?  All I have is that Tiffany told us she’s not here to make friends,and Tamesha has a cool name.


I thought that Hot Amanda was going to win this challenge this week, solely based on the theme of redemption the show was setting up.  We get her dealing with the not-so-thinly-veiled derision for Angelo and Stephen (that’s right, bottom tier Stephen!) out on the porch regarding her rib preparation.  Better to mock – her awkward style of smoking a cigarette.  Later we hear that she was an addict in her 20s and got cleaned up.  Impressive.  I wonder if that’s why she continually cooks with alcohol.  But she didn’t, although I love how she multi-tasks by brushing her teeth while taking a ride on an exercise ball.

Meanwhile, we did lose one of the bottom-feeders in Tracey.  She had a really, really bad episode.  In addition to the “pie” that she made, she elected to make her own sausage for the grilling challenge.  So far so good, I actually commended her for making her sausage rather than buying it.  But after the grinder failed her, she pivoted into turning the sausage meat into a type of slider.  Again, not a bad idea.  Italian sausage as a burger sounds delicious.  The problem is – she actually needed to both shape into a burger patty that looked like it was made by humans and not trained monkeys, and she needed to actually, you know, cook it.  Raw and sloppy is not a way to professionally
cook, just as drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.

Quickfire ChallengeMake the pie higher.
The challenge is judged by Padma, along with Gail and Johnny Iuzzini, the head pastry chef at Jean Georges.  Johnny has so much grease in his hair it looks like he took a dip in the Gulf of Mexico.  What, too soon?  Ok, Johnny looks like he just lost out in the latest Nicolas-Cage-Pretending-To-Be-Elvis Competition.  Hey Johnny, the Fonz called and wanted 1955 back.

Ok, I’m done.  Elvis and Gail are going to be the Tom and Padma of the new Top Chef: Just Desserts show, so I have plenty of time to make fun of his hair.  Which is good, because I actually sort of, kind of liked him based on his critiques.  He points out that making desserts is vastly different from cooking
other items because you need to be precise, organized and it is hard to improvise your way out of things.

Kenny – Bananas Foster Pie with Currants and Chinese Five-Spice.  Wow.  That not only looks great, but very, very creative.  Elvis is impressed.

Hot Amanda – Apple Pie with Rosemary and Bourbon, Hazelnut Crust. Hers looks good, and seems to taste good.  She self-deprecates a bit too much by stating it wasn’t bad for a non-pastry chef.  Elvis calls her out, “My grandma is not a
pastry chef either, but she can make a pie.”  HA!

Stephen – Curried Apple-Date Pie with Saffron.  Gail tastes something sour, but it turns out not to be a problem.

Kelly – Spiced Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart.  This looks the BEST of all the pies, and the simplest.  Elvis loves her emulsion.  Kelly tells us she had to learn to make everything because her restaurant is small and essentially a two-person operation.  Despite the show wanting me to dislike her due to Arnold’s one-sided rivalry with her, I kind of dig Kelly a bit.

Arnold – Kala Mansi and Key Lime Pie Parfait with Korean Soju.  Ugh.  Looks gross and sounds like it wasn’t actually made with food.  Padma wonders about the green spice, which is mint.  Of course.  I am sure it was spelled Myint.


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