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Top Chef: DC – Episode 6 Commentary – “Dude, Where’s My Pea Puree?”


This week had lots of fun stuff – teenage Members of Congress, shameless NBC cross promotion, some nice looking food across the board – but the show really came down to one thing.

Pea Puree.

Basically what happened was that Ed had a very hectic time during the first wave of preparation with his giant Flintstones’ size lobsters. He mentions to Tiffany later on that he was working on a pea puree. Meanwhile, in a very important kitchen discussion, Moby laments not knowing what to do with his dish. The transcript:

Moby – I have these English peas.
Andrea – The same ones Ed got?
Moby – I don’t know what Ed got.
Andrea – He said he got peas.
Kenny – Before he pureed it, it looked good.

Flash forward to the next day – Moby is whipping up some peas in the kitchen. Ed is frantically searching for his pea puree, just as Moby is adding it to his winning dish.

I am going to defer at first to Chef Tom who blogged this analysis of PeaGate. But first, a reminder – the judges know little or nothing about kitchen drama. They just know the dishes. None of them knew about PeaGate. The only way they would have known would have been if Ed or Tiffany spilled the beans. Or peas, if you will. Anyway, Tom’s thoughts:

“Think about it: There are three possibilities, right? 1) Alex may indeed knowingly have stolen Ed’s pea puree and used it; 2) Alex may have made his own pea puree and been wrongly maligned by his co-contestants; or, 3) Alex unwittingly may have mistaken Ed’s pea puree for his own and taken Ed’s, but truly believing that he was using his own. In two of the three possibilities, Alex did not intentionally commit any wrongdoing.”

I think Tom is absolutely correct. One of those things happened, and I am of the belief that Moby did not steal the puree. I know the producers like to keep the judges out of the loop for a more honest judging procedure, but I cannot imagine that stealing another chef’s food is in the rules. In fact, I would think it would be one of the first rules that if broken would get you kicked off the show. I also think that if Ed knew that Moby took the peas that he would have called him out at Judges Table. Ed must have held some doubts – even though the episode was edited to imply that the whole cast thought Moby stole the peas.

I think it was something else. Possibly they were all pissed because Moby stole the idea of the pea puree from Ed. Kevin commented after Tiffany relayed that the puree won the challenge for Moby that it was “BS, no way he had that amount of time.” That may kill my concept stealing theory, but what it does is maybe lend credence to Tom’s suggestion that Moby took Ed’s peas by mistake – remember they both bought peas – and truly thought he was doing nothing wrong.

Regardless, Moby’s last comment about how you “gotta always put your own food on the table” is just overflowing with irony.

Other than PeaGate, we had a lot of Inside Baseball fun for those of us living in DC and working in the federal government. We get Rep. Aaron Schock, who I joked is a teenager but is really 27 years old, as the judge in the Quickfire. Other than the concept of the challenge, not sure what makes Rep. Schock qualified for this one. There are tons of Members of Congress whose guts dictate that they would be more skilled to judge a food challenge than the Member with one of the few six-packs in the Chamber.

The concept was cool – as Rep. Schock explained, new members of Congress are immediately briefed about ethics. Sadly, I don’t have enough time or space to include links to the amount of Members who failed to remember this briefing over time. However, one aspect is food. If you hold an event where Members are attending you cannot serve anything unless it fits on a toothpick. This prevents lavish meals from being used to exert influence.

So, they use a DC connection, with arguably the best looking male member of Congress to essentially make the chefs cook hors d’oevers.
The DC connection for the Elimination Challenge was a great excuse to showcase NBC’s news staff. We get tons of their reporters and on-air personalities – “Morning Joe” on MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, NBC Capitol Hill correspondents Kelly O’Donnell and Luke Russert, and NBC White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie. Plus, Center for American Progress’ John Podesta and, for some unknown and random reason, Virginia Senator Mark Warner. They are joined by DC-based owner of Art and Soul, and former “Top Chef: Masters” finalist Art Smith.

The chefs get to cook at the famed Palm DC restaurant – home to many a power lunch, and adorned with drawings of famous faces (for some reason we only get shots of the Obamas and Larry King). The 10 chefs are each assigned one of five proteins – the competition is not head-to-head with the proteins, but essentially it is. If you are cooking porterhouse, you are serving side-by-side with the other porterhouse, you will be compared to the other one favorably or not.


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