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Top Chef Recap: Episode 13—The One Where I’d Actually Eat the Food
Tom Colicchio saunters over to the table of Not Tiffanies and brings with him Singaporean street food expert Seetoh. They sample food from some of the cooking stalls: noodles, chicken and rice, chili crab, and cuttlefish. As day turns to night, they make their way down one last row of food stalls and, surprise! It's Padma! She tells the final four cheftestants that the last street food to be tasted will be their own. They get a wok, a table of local ingredients, 30 minutes to cook, and a nice bonus: the winner of the Quickfire will receive immunity and go straight to the finals.
Prepping by nose and by tongue—the ingredients are labeled with no English translations—the chefs start working on their dishes. They sweat and swear, and Angelo swaps out crab for frog legs at the last minute. Padma rips Kevin a new one for never having used a wok before. "You mean you knew you were coming to Singapore for the chance to win $125,000 and you didn't even practice using a wok??!!" His reply? "I don't have one of those big burners to use one." Dude. I have a broke-ass stove from Sears and a wok from Sur La Table, and even I know how to use a wok. Give me the $125,000. Gah.
Seetoh thinks the pineapple in Angelo's chili frog legs with rambutan salsa is a "good trick" and likes how Kelly captures the "essence of the ocean" in her Chinese noodles with lobster, cockles, and Chinese broccoli. He doesn't say anything good or bad about Kevin's seafood stew of lobster, cuttlefish, and crispy ginger, but says that Ed's stir-fry noodles with black pepper sauce and lobster "lifted up the entire street food sensation."
Tonight's Quickfire winner is Ed, who now has immunity and automatically secures a place in the final three. Angelo sweats even more. And the extra kick? The Elimination Challenge is a team challenge, which we all know puts Angelo at a disadvantage because the others don't exactly love him.
They will be cooking a dinner for Food and Wine editor Dana Cowin and a group of 80 people, and the menu must focus on Singapore's multicultural cuisine and be cooked a la minute. They get a budget of $200 for spices and dry goods, and head back to the hotel suite to plan their menus. They each decide to do just one dish, though I can hear the wheels in Kelly's head turning, and I'm willing to bet she will whip up something else at the last minute as an amuse bouche or accompaniment—like a salad or a chilled soup—just to try and gain the edge.
The next morning, the cheftestants head to the market for a spice run. I've been to that market before and wish we all had Smell-o-Vision here at home, because that place is magical. Kelly buys spices for a fish-head curry, and Ed secretly plans a second dish for the menu.
After shopping, they get to work in the kitchen, where Ed yells about pork, Kelly says she's confident, and Angelo starts talking to himself. Or to Jesus. Or the Lord. It's hard to tell—it all kind of runs together in a speaking-in-tongues kind of way. Tom comes in and says something to the effect of: Uh, dudes? It's a party for freakin' Food and Wine magazine and you only have four measly dishes on the menu?? What's wrong with you people?!! Ed can't resist breaking into a huge grin and says, "I've been planning to do two all along" and the rest of the chefs crap themselves. Given her history of being able to whip up something really, really good with just a moment's notice and a few ingredients, I am certain Kelly will pull it off. Angelo seems off his game for a few seconds, while Kevin just looks flummoxed. Angelo fires up the wok for a quick soup, and Kelly cuts the heck out of her hand and drips blood all over the floor.
After prep is over and the sun has set, the four cheftestants go to a prawn-fishing amusement park-type attraction, and Kevin A) refuses to bait his own hook, and B) won't take his caught prawn off the hook, making Kelly do both. Man up, Not Tiffany. And buy a freakin' wok while you're at it, lest I dub you the Sandra Lee of Top Chef.
The next day, the competitors head to the Tanjong Beach Club where they ha..WHOOOP!!! WHOOOP!! NON-HILTON PROPERTY USE ALERT WHOOOP!! WHOOOP!! VIOLATION!!! WHOOOP!! WHOOOP!! ahem, where they have 90 minutes to finish their food for Dana Cowin's dinner for her 80 Singaporean BFFs. In the kitchen, Ed gives Angelo sarcastic what-fors before he takes the lead to train the servers. Kevin freaks out when his cockles won't open, and the servers start to bring in the tickets for the diners' meals.
Tonight's judges are Padma, Tom, Gail, and Seetoh, and they are joined at the head table by Dana. They place their orders, and the waitstaff seems confused about how to deliver a plate to a table.
The judges seem to like Kelly's chilled cucumber/yogurt soup with bitter-melon salad, though Dana notes it has a lot of acid. Dana's facial expression belies her eventual compliment of Kevin's clam chowder with Southeast Asian flavors. She thinks Angelo's spicy shrimp broth with ginger-and-prawn dumplings is too complex, but the others seem to like the dish’s refinement and everyone loves his lamb tartare with rambutan ceviche. The judges go ga-ga for Ed's sweet-and-sour pork, and Kevin's 63-degree egg with pearl tapioca and radish is well-received. Gail calls Kelly's prawns with spicy red coconut curry and apple/guava salad "complex and delicious." Padma's eyes widen with deep, deep affection for Ed's banana fritters with red-chili paste. Tom, Gail, and Dana can't hide their glee about the fritters, either, and Seetoh sucks every last bit of sauce off his fingers and dreams of eating the fritters with coconut ice cream.
At Judges' Table, where Angelo says the team worked so well together in the kitchen that he "forgot we were competing; it was like working with my brigade in the kitchen." Tom tells the group it's the best food the judges have had all season. If only this level of cooking was present from week one, we'd all have hated this show far less.
Still, Padma and Tom find fault with Angelo’s soup, saying it "had too much body" and was "too salty." Gail wishes Kelly had packed a little more heat and spice into her prawn dish. Tom tells Ed his fritters are perfect stoner food, and the camera cuts to Padma grinning, swaying, and laughing. Emmy-worthy editing, indeed. Seetoh wanted more heat in Kevin's clam chowder, and Tom pats Kevin on the back for cooking his egg dish properly. Which, I gotta say: he did the eggs sous vide. That's not difficult. If he'd done 63-degree eggs in a stockpot of water and had to maintain the temperature himself? Then, I'd be impressed.
The judges deliberate and announce the winner, and it's Immunity Boy. Yay, Ed!! The Not Tiffany I dislike the least!
So, who's going home? It's Kelly. And Angelo bursts into tears about it. Way to make it about you, Angelo.
The cast list for next season's Top Chef All-Stars (the show for non-winners to compete against non-winners from other seasons) has already been leaked, and we know both Tiffany and Angelo are on the show. So, that means next week's finale is really about Kevin and Ed. And let me say this, if Ed doesn't win it, I'mma be one unhappy camper.
Up next week? It's the final episode and we get glimpses of past winners Hung, Ilan, and Michael Voltaggio, who look like they'll be the finalists’ sous chefs. Angelo catches the flu and a doctor gives him a shot in the ass. Does he not cook in the finale and gets an automatic pass into the All-Stars? I'd say "watch what happens," but Hilton isn't sponsoring these recaps, so … oh wait. Crap.
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