Top Chef: Of 'Mother-Specific' Stuffing and Yuzu Gelée
Much happened on last night's episode of Top Chef, but we're still struggling to get past this shot of Angelo, taken while Padma explained the Quickfire Challenge. For some reason, the camera lingered on him for a really long time as he stroked his upper lip while making the face that people make when they want you to think they're thinking some deep thought when really they're just trying to remember if they applied deodorant that morning. It was a transfixing sight, one that told us both so much about Angelo and the show editors' opinion of him.
The Quickfire Challenge, which Padma announced with Spiaggia's Tony Mantuano, was to make stuffing, even though it has already been a month since Thanksgiving. But the challenge was sponsored by Swanson, and shilling for processed foods is always in season. To add to the fun, the chefs couldn't use any knives or kitchen tools. The winner would get immunity and $20,000 furnished by, yes, Swanson.
While Tiffani all but screamed that "stuffing is mother-specific!" and Tre confided that he could really use the cash because raising daughters is "expensive," Fabio nearly popped a blood vessel: Asking him to cook without tools, you see, "is like to ask a surgeon to do open-heart surgery with only his finger!" But he bravely persevered, even taking the time to congratulate his "genius" in using a kitchen rack as a cheese grater. Aim high, children!
After tasting everything, Tony declared that his least favorites were Carla's "un-dente" black quinoa, Tiffani's overly sweet soy maple mush, and Casey's definitively non-stuffing-like mushrooms with crispy chicken liver and miso cake. At the other end of the spectrum were Marcel's whole squab with raisin brioche, cherries, currants, and ras el hanout gravy, and Tre's "Southwestern-inspired" bread pudding with bacon, cheddar, and bell peppers. Tre won, and let loose that borderline certified-lunatic laugh that we've come to fear.
The Elimination Challenge involved something about cooking healthy food for rhetorical tennis players in the non-rhetorical U.S. Open. The chefs would split into teams and make dishes that would compete against each other using the point system used by tennis players, something that immediately got the chefs rambling away about their own athletic prowess. But the very best line of the night, and possibly Top Chef's entire history to date, came from Antonia, who shrugged and said: "I never played sports in high school. I smoked a lot of pot and didn't do anything else." For that, we would like to declare this season finished, with Antonia as its de facto champion.