“Top Chef” Quickfire Challenge: Tag Team Cook-off. The one where one person starts a dish, then another continues it, until all four have participated and the dish is (hopefully) finished. The teams are Kevin, Kenny, Kelly and Amanda (Blue Team) versus Ed, Tiffany, Angelo and Alex (Red Team). The judge is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Kevin’s team seems to connect well, and produces a great prawn dish. Ed’s team gets pissed because Alex seasons the red snapper in the second step, when everyone would expect the person who cooks the fish to do the seasoning. So Kevin’s team wins because the other dish is too salty.
Elimination Challenge: Restaurant Wars. They keep the same teams from the Elimination Challenge. Ed’s team (led by Angelo) looks for any way to keep Alex out of the kitchen as much as possible. Meanwhile, Kevin’s team (led by Kenny) finishes prep with time to spare and are cool customers. The guest judge is Frank Bruni, former reviewer for The New York Times and a notoriously tough critic. Alex and Angelo are rude to the servers and Alex screws up the judges’ seating and the timing of their courses as well. He also fails to say goodbye and thank them when they leave.
Red Team Menu:
Angelo: Confit of tomato soup, squash and olive crouton, which the judges say is interesting in a good way.
Tiffany: Crudo of black bass and yellowtail snapper with Meyer lemon-caper relish, which Gail thinks missed the mark beause it was salty and overdressed.
Tiffany: Striped bass, stewed spinach, chorizo and clams, which Gail thinks was slightly overcooked, but the flavors are great.
Ed: Slow-baked turbot, eggplant caviar and black olive jus, which Frank really likes.
Alex: Pan-seared lamb chop, English pea puree, smoked bacon and Parmesan foam, which Frank wishes had more texture.
Angelo and Ed: Seared rib eye steak, crushed walnut potatoes, and balsamic fig reduction, which Tom doesn’t love, although he likes the walnut with the potatoes. Frank doesn’t think it fits the restaurant’s Mediterranean theme, except for the figs.
Blue Team Menu:
Kelly: Chilled sweet corn soup with Maryland blue crab salad, which the judges found flavorless and thin.
Kenny: Beet salad with warm chorizo-citrus vinaigrette, which the judges find a little busy.
Amanda: Oakwood grilled strip steak with roasted sunchoke and Maitake mushrooms, which the judges find too thin to form a crust.
Kevin: Pan-roasted halibut, fennel marmalade and tomato-fennel emulsion, which Frank thinks is really pretty, and the judges find incredibly flavorful.
Kenny: Crisped aged goat cheese on strawberry-rhubarb relish, which the judges call “a horror show.”
Kelly: dark chocolate ganache tart with blackberry chocolate chunk ice cream. The judges like the ganache, but not the ice cream.