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Top Chef: DC – Episode 6 Commentary – Did I Thank You For the Duck Nuts?


This episode will hopefully be the last time Top Chef allows contestants to decide which of their own is up for elimination. I can describe with one simple sentence why this was ridiculous – Hot Amanda served a dish with pieces of cartilage in it, and Kenny got sent to Judges Table because he was a threat to Angelo (Spenny).

Pieces of friggin cartilage! Kenny’s was a bit complicated. I mean, Spenny’s team was so biased and so incredibly critical of Kenny’s team, Tom was fighting back laughter. Terrible, awful, challenge and shameless behavior from half the remaining chefs. Unless the show edited the footage to make it look like Spenny’s team was being petty and small, then we have to be led to believe that the whole team was mediocre to bad. How often in the show’s history has an entire team of five chefs made mediocre to bad food? Has it ever happened?

Just to explain, the challenge divided 10 of the 11 chefs (Quickfire winner would be exempt) into two teams. Those teams would then cook five cold dishes and would be judged by the other team. One chef from each team would be selected as a potential winner, and the other a potential elimination. Tom, Padma, Gail and guest judge Michelle Bernstein would then pick the winner and the loser.

It was clear from the start that the team led by Spenny was really not going to vote for the best or the worst dishes. They were going to feed grudges. Spenny was going to try and take out Kenny. Tamesha wanted to get rid of Hot Amanda. This was before any dish was cooked. Meanwhile, Spenny continued his attempts at Jedi Mind Tricks with the weaker chefs. His hold on Tamesha was so strong that despite her instincts and her vendetta against Hot Amanda she still voted for Kenny.

I think this was a crappy challenge. The best dishes may not have won, and the worst ones may not have been in the bottom. Perhaps if it was blind – separate the teams let them cook in different kitchens, and have them judge the dishes and not the chefs. Then you would get honesty. Here, you got posturing and, I think, lies.

It got so bad that not only was Tom holding back laughter, but he even questioned their honesty out loud. When criticizing Sbarro’s dish for the acidity amount – a dish they would actually vote as the best – Tom asked them if their plates had tomato or lemon since his did. Shameless.

Meanwhile, to me the coolest part of the episode – albeit a rather pointless part – was the Voyage of the USS Sequoia. The chefs got to plan their menu while riding on essentially Maritime Air Force One. This was part of a really bad Cold War-themed challenge for elimination involving cold dishes. The ship was home for President Kennedy’s Cuban Missile Crisis musings and President Nixon’s treaty negotiations. Now, it was home for Kenny vs. Spenny and the battle of cold meat dishes. That’s about right.

My favorite part of the boat trip – without a doubt when Sbarro sat down on the bed. The bed with The PRESIDENTIAL SEAL ON IT!!!! Kennedy slept there. Clinton slept there. Reagan slept there (keeping it bipartisan). How cool is that? One would assume the sheets were washed – for many, many reasons. Of course, besides the fact that they were riding on the President’s boat, I kept hoping to see Ed or Moby or someone turn to us and shout, “I’m on a boat!”


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