'Top Chef DC': Houston, We Have a Problem

Kim Conte

top chef dcThe problem is simply this: Season 7 of Top Chef suffers from being flat, boring, forced, disappointing, irritating, and -- after Episode 12 last night -- I will add "entirely unjust" to that list of negatives. Not even Anthony Bourdain, Buzz Aldrin, and Eric Ripert can do anything to improve the situation (although their banter was certainly entertaining).

You'd better be ready for some spoilers because I'm about to embark on a serious rant-fest.

The episode opens with a Quickfire wine challenge in which the contestants must choose a wine and prepare a dish to go along with it. When they introduce the guest judge, Food and Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin, sarcastic Ed delivers one of the funniest lines of the night, saying he's so excited to see her and that even though he's Facebook friends with her, she probably has no idea who he is.


Angelo and Tiffany are Cowin's two favorites, and in the end first prize (a trip to London) goes to Angelo, who seems to have recovered from his recent nervous slump.

Maybe this would be a good time to remind everyone that Tiffany has won two Quickfire challenges and two Elimination challenges, and has been in the top favorites seven times so far this season.

Moving along ...

The five chefs are then presented with their final elimination challenge in DC: They will cook a dish for NASA astronauts (including Aldrin), NASA food scientists, and judges that adheres to the guidelines of dining at zero gravity (i.e., it can be freeze-dried). One chef will be eliminated; the final four will advance to the finale in Singapore.

Overall, the judges seemed very pleased with all five of the dishes. In fact, the comment was made by Tom Colicchio that in trying to determine who should go home, "We're splitting hairs here."

Angelo and Kevin seemed the most likely to go home. Angelo's short ribs were really sweet (which violated one of the NASA guidelines, because high levels of sugar don't freeze well). And Kevin's steak dish was really simple. As Bourdain pointed out:

"It's Top Chef. Sirloin, for god's sake!"

But then. Out of nowhere. The judges delivered their decree: Tiffany was asked to please pack her knives and go home.


The only discussion about Tiffany's dish had been that her sauce needed some lemon juice to be brighter, and her fish maybe should have been steamed instead of pan-fried. All in all, pretty minor critiques that certainly didn't warrant elimination.

Maybe this would be a good time to remind everyone that this was Tiffany's first time in the bottom. And Kevin, Kelly, and Angelo have all been there before. And Angelo messed up meat-stuffed hot dog buns and Beef Wellington in previous episodes. Hot dog buns, for god's sake!

Compared to other seasons, it's difficult to understand just what the judges in Season 7 are looking to reward. Talent, yes. Creativity, sure. But consistency? If Tiffany is any example, then obviously not.

Do you think Tiffany should have gone home last night?


Image via BravoTV.com


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