Top Chef: "There's a Fine Line Between Homage and Parody"
How do you follow Jen's shocking, out-in-a-blaze-of-lunatic-glory elimination? By getting rid of two more chefs in one episode. Last night's Top Chef got down to its dirty business quickly, as everybody stampeded into the kitchen to see Padma standing there with David Chang, introduced by Padma as "one of New York's brightest culinary stars," and by Marcel as "basically the man."
Chang was there to preside over the Quickfire Challenge, which broke the contestants into teams of four to compete in that old chestnut, the mise-en-place speed challenge. This time, there was a twist: After prepping their way through towering heaps of garlic, artichokes, and racks of lamb, the first team to finish would get to hit a big red button that would signal the start of the 15 minutes everyone had to make a dish out of their prepped ingredients.
Although the green team -- Angelo, Tiffany, Mike, and Fabio -- finished first, their lamb with garlic tandoori yogurt was one of Chang's least favorite dishes, along with the lamb carpaccio with capers, garlic, and Reggiano made by the red team's Dale L., Antonia, Casey, and Jamie -- or, in Padma's shorthand, "the ladies ... and Dale!"
Chang had warmer, cuddlier feelings toward the lamb carpaccio with artichoke chips and salad made by the white team (Carla, Tiffani, Marcel, and Dale T.), but reserved his true affections for the crispy lamb chop with artichokes three ways made by the blues (Richard, Stephen, Tre, and Spike). Each team member won $5,000 for their troubles, but no one got immunity.
The elimination challenge also had a Changian element, since each team would dine at "New York's finest restaurants" and then be dispatched to the kitchens to create food that the establishments wouldn't be utterly embarrassed to put on their menus. Each team drew knives to determine where they'd be eating. Angelo picked Má Pêche and swooned mightily over its "eclectic Asian," "straight-up yummy" food, while everyone else exhibited varying amounts of excitement and/or trepidation at the idea of having to replicate food from Marea, David Burke Townhouse, and wd~50. As well they should have, because Padma announced, with barely concealed satisfaction, that two contestants would be packing their knives by the end of the evening.