Top Chef: ‘It Just Brought Back Bad Memories’


The fifth episode of what is already an unbearably long season opens with Angelo putting more creepy moves on Tamesha, explaining that she “has this inner passion, and that’s really something I’d like to extract from her.” Before he has the chance to describe how he’d also like to serve her liver with a nice glass of Chianti and some fava beans, we get a brief montage of Ed and Tiffany hanging out, with Ed saying moonily, “She has such a great laugh.”

The episode’s obligatory 30 seconds of character development completed, it’s on to tonight’s Quickfire Challenge, which will probably result in PETA firebombing the Bravo offices.

Joined by the Inn at Little Washington’s Patrick O’Connell, who resembles a slightly embalmed apricot, Padma tells the chefs that they’ll have to cook the hundreds of blue crabs arrayed around the kitchen that, as Patrick says, flashing his teeth, “are alive and waiting for you.”

What follows is nothing short of a blue crab massacre, as the chefs hack, smash, boil, and sautée the crustaceans while they’re still alive and wriggling. While it’s truly a horrifying spectacle, it’s somehow not much worse than Angelo’s completely serious disclosure that “I had crabs, so it just brought back bad memories.” Much as that announcement will bring back bad memories for millions of viewers. Lock your bedroom door at night, Tamesha.

Although Maryland boy Tim is confident that his crabs don’t need to be “dressed up with Asian influence,” the judges feel differently, awarding Ed for his jumbo lump crab with Thai basil, mango, and cucumber salad. Ed gets immunity, and we get the feeling that Tim may be going home at the end of the night.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs will be sent to cook at Virginia’s Ayrshire Farm. Padma says about 20 times that Ayrshire is the country’s first certified organic and humane farm, perhaps stressing the “humane” part to mitigate the crab genocide that occurred only seconds before. The contestants, Padma explains with a flip of her Barbarella hair, will compete as one team, with each of them responsible for one dish. Everything will be served to 40 local chefs and farmers.

Back in the Top Chef house, Angelo and Kenny argue over the best approach to the meal, as the rest of the chefs look bored at this display of manly man posturing. In the end, they decide to pair up with their partners from last week, and Ed sulks because he can’t team up with Tiffany and her great laugh.

Once they arrive at the farm, the chefs, who hadn’t been able to see which ingredients they’d be using, descend like vultures on a table full of meat and squabble about root vegetable distribution. Somebody knocks Kevin’s mashed cauliflower on the ground, and he makes the reasonable decision to make a new dish instead of serving the judges something that had spent more than 10 seconds in a cow pasture.

Angelo makes the unfortunate decision to rhapsodize over partner Tamesha’s “tart and luscious” cherry, ahem, cherry compote, and says of his own duck preparation, “I really made love to that duck, to be honest with you.” Please Angelo, less honesty. So much less honesty. The judges, who this week include Eric, are most impressed with Kenny’s hot and sour curried eggplant, Kevin’s couscous with broccoli, Andrea’s spice-rubbed pork, and Kelly’s five-spice roasted apples and beets and bonus strawberry-rhubarb crisp. Kenny, who we’ve learned also owns a gold bathrobe and is known as Big Daddy by his admiring female housemates, wins the challenge, and proclaims something along the lines of “the Beast is back!”

Not as lucky are Stephen, Amanda, and Tim. Eric is horrified that Amanda didn’t put pasta in her minestrone; Patrick is revolted by Stephen’s decision to serve his overdressed salad in a bowl; and everyone is underwhelmed by Tim’s under-seasoned roasted turnips and asparagus. Given that Eric seems to take Amanda’s awful minestrone as personally as Tom and Italians everywhere did Tracey’s sausage fennel sliders, one would assume — and perhaps even dare to dream — that her time is up.

But alas, Tim gets the ax instead. He takes the news well, saying, “I get to live another day and I get to cook another day.” And he urges his fellow contestants to use salt and pepper, which is probably the most useful advice ever dispensed on Top Chef.

Next week: more running around, more backstabbing, and, hopefully, no more venereal disease revelations from Angelo.

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