Previously on Top Chef: The chefs competed in some complicated challenge which required them to work in teams of two. And, in a development no one could have seen coming, the two chefs who successfully tanked the first two parts of the challenge but delivered the best dish in the last part were given valuable cash and prizes (or prizes, anyway). And the chef who thought of himself as a cooking Prada bag and his partner, the severe prison matron chef, were sent packing.
Morning. Interior. Kenny ("Black Moses") is cooking breakfast and ruminating about the departure of (what no one will admit was what remained of) Team Rainbow. Kelly (Leslie Glass in Desperately Seeking Susan) outs herself as a member of Team Emphysema.
And, out on the lanai, Angelo (Chef Dick) is busy hitting on his protégé, Tamesha (Chef "Not Interested, Thank You Very Much"). He thinks she's hot because he's a raging narcissist ... and she reminds him of himself.
Ed (Chef Hunka-Hunka Cookin' Luv) and Tiffany (The Chef With The Volume Control Problem) are palling around, too.
And it's off to ...
The Chefs arrive at the Hinckley Suites where they're greeted in the kitchen by Padma, our creepy-eyed celebrity guest chef and bushels of live blue crabs. The crabs are desperately wriggling to get the hell out of there and away from the aforementioned creepy-eyed celebrity guest chef.
PETA is not amused.
Padma informs the gang that, for this challenge, they will have to prepare a dish with these crabs, a local specialty.
Padma: "You've got crabs!"
Me: "I wonder how long before someone ..."
Angelo: "Well, I've had crabs and it just brought back bad memories."
Me: "Less than one second. That must be a record. ... Also, why am I not surprised. And ... eeeeew."
For the next few minutes, we're subjected to live crabs being chopped in two, pulled apart and, in one case, actually wriggling while baking in the oven.
And the last remaining vegan Top Chef viewer checks out.
Alex (The Chef Most Likely To Be Seen Wandering Back Alleys In Nothing But A Trench Coat) notes how there's "crab shit everywhere." ... Classy as ever.
Elsewhere, Ed says he's going against type and making an Asian preparation for his crabs while Angelo, who normally goes the Asian route, is trying a more Western thing.
Andrea (Chef Locks-Of-Love) is really struggling, since, unlike her Miami-specialty stone crabs, these blue crabs don't have a lot of meat in them.
Some struggle with their crabs. But everyone seems to agree that Maryland native Tim (Chef "That Did Not Just Happen!") has the most experience with this and should do very well. As always, he's sure he has this in the bag.
Utensils down! Hands up!
After the tasting _ in which Tiffany talks about how her tastes are "schtrong," Tim expresses his usual overconfidence and the creepy celebrity guest judge gives everyone the heebie jeebies _ Padma and The Huzz deliver their verdict.
The worst are judged to be Andrea's generally weak offering, a messy crab geleé concoction from Amanda (Chef Marlboro Light) and a "confused" dish from Kevin (Chef Circling-The-Drain).
As for the winners, Celebrity Chef "Get Away From Me, Claude" singles out Ed's Asian Crab Experience (Tim makes a face), Kenny's look-what-I-can-do trio of crab (Tim makes another face) and Angelo's non-Asian crab offering.
Tim again dons his trademark "What just happened here?!" look.
And the winner is ... Ed! (Awww.)
Newly smiley, Ed tells us that, finally, he's "coming out of (his) shell."
The crabs, still wriggling, take offense at that. As does Bitter Tim, who is miffed that he didn't win and says sarcastically that maybe he should have put some "sooey sauce" in his dish.
Next, Padma explains that for the next challenge, the chefs will have "an abundance" of local ingredients "down on the farm." There are two catches here, though. For one, the chefs will not have any idea about what ingredients they'll have until they get there. And, the chefs will have to work in one huge team making family-style dishes for their diners, a collection of local chefs and farmers.
They'll have to prepare a minimum of six dishes and everyone will have to be responsible for something on the table. This, we are assured, will provide much drama for the viewers at home.
Back at Casa Cuisine, the gang commences providing said drama when they sit around and discuss their game plan.
There, Angelo and Kenny have their usual dick-measuring contest over who gets to do what. Eventually, things get sorted out and folks go along with the idea of working in the same pairs as they did for the last challenge. This, of course, is just grand for some folks. But Ed (who was saddled with gross-out king Alex) and Tiffany (who was tied to bottom dweller Tim) both feel they're getting the short end of this deal.
And providing the pathos, Stephen (Hometown: Delusion County, OH) offers his turd-in-the-punchbowl idea for dessert, suggesting a lovely fruit platter which "represents all of us."
"No," they all say, virtually all at once.
Well, he did manage to finally get everyone to agree on one thing.
The newly rejoined pairs break off to discuss their game plans. This only serves to showcase a few facts. One, Tiffany is planning on doing her own thing, sure that Tim will sink her ship if she makes something with him. Ed doesn't much care, since he has immunity and is stuck with Alex.
The next morning, the chefs get ready and head off to Virginia in their Sponsormobiles for their challenge.
They arrive at their outdoor farm setup and begin their mad dash for ingredients and grill space. In the chaos, we gather that Andrea and Kelly are miffed that they're the only ones who have been forced to compromise. Also, Miami girl Andrea is freezing cold.
Meanwhile, Amanda gives us the lowdown on her master plan, which is to make a "pedestrian" minestrone soup. And her "teammate" Stephen again reveals his brilliance suggesting that his grand plan is to cram as many ingredients into one salad will surely get him the win.
"I don't want to be a forgotten side dish. I want to be the forefront runner."
He's also really good at mixed metaphors.
Later, Kelly asserts herself with Tim, negotiating him out some of his vegetables for her dish. And, by his side, Tiffany sees this and is quite happy to let him hang himself, since he doesn't seem to have an idea what he's doing anyway.
Over in the land of bestial references, Angelo tells us how strongly he feels about the duck he's preparing. "I basically made love to that duck, to be honest witchu," he adds.
Oh Lord, fuck a duck.
Then, while Tamesha sets something down we see that she (or someone else) accidentally has dumped all of Kevin's cauliflower couscous down on the grass. Trying mightily to ensure that no one ever eats in his restaurant again, Angelo suggests scooping the food up off the ground and serving it anyway.
To his credit, Kevin opts to 86 the dish and make something else instead.
And the health department heaves a sigh of relief.
We get a faux drama about Andrea's pork loin potentially not being cooked all the way through. Kelly heads off to go the extra mile by making a dessert (a strawberry rhubarb crisp, only my all-time favorite food in the universe!).
And Tim does I-don't-know-what with his vegetables. He says it's a Mussolini, but I don't see the resemblance between a plate of chopped veggies and Il Duce.
Amanda crows about how fabulous her soup is. And, finally, the judges and diners take their sears at the longest table in the Western Hemisphere.
Kenny is da man. Kenny's big pimpin' in his big ole' robe. People have nicknames for Kenny. Big Daddy. Black Lightning. Black Magic. Black Angus. And ... Sunshine.
But no one says Black Moses. Which upsets me.
Fakeout scene over!
Service. The dishes come out. But the single group concept doesn't make for an easy-to-follow dining experience.
Kevin and Kenny and Andrea and Kelly get called up for having made the best contributions to the meal. Kevin gets praise (for once) for the broccoli dish he made after his couscous took a tumble. Andrea is lauded for her finely cooked pork. Kelly is praised for her vegetable side dish and her luscious dessert.
But the winner is Kenny for making his spicy, curried eggplant.
As for the losers ...
Amanda is raked over the coals for not knowing what a minestrone is and for cutting her carrots too big so as they did not cook at the same rate as her vegetables. Stephen The Delusional is lambasted for serving 101 salad ingredients in a bowl. But in the end, it's Tim who gets the axe for his unfocused, uninteresting turnips and potatoes ode to a 1940s Italian dictator.
And he still doesn't see how he didn't win. And he thinks he's going on vacation.
"Salt and pepa. Peace."
Whattaman, whattaman, whattamighty good man.
Next time on Top Chef: Worry. Something's not right. Stephen is something. Someone has a game plan. The chefs critique each other's dishes. And sabotage!