Top Chef Recap
By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower
July 15, 2010

Why did it have to be turnips?

Previously, on Top Chef, Lynne and Arnold were told to pack their knives and go. We're pretty sure they took a moment during the packing of said knives to stab them into each other's back.

The show begins with love in the Top Chef house. Kenny thinks everyone is somber. What he doesn't realize is that while he's off being sad about the loss of Lynne and Arnold, everyone else is trying to hook up. Angelo continues his creepy tutoring of Tamesha, which we're not sure she realizes has a strongly sexual component. She views him as a role model, presumably because Mel Gibson wasn't available. Meanwhile, he states that he is attracted to Tamesha, which she should have gotten from his suggestive comments when they teamed up in the last challenge, not to mention the fact that he's always trying to sit beside her and touch her.

Cut to the bedroom, where Ed is proving that his favorite movie of 2010 is She's Out of My League. He's been hanging out with Tiffany, and thinks that "she's really funny and she's got such a great laugh. She's always smiling and she's very upbeat, and you know, you can tell this girl really cooks from the heart." Isn't that a Bryan Adams song? Anyway, it's clear that he's smitten, while she comments that he's the only person she trusts amongst the group. Ed, the 2005 movie that is more appropriate for you is Just Friends...and no, we don't mean the ending.

When the chefs arrive at the kitchen for the Quickfire, the challenge immediately reveals itself. Live crabs are everywhere. Angelo takes this opportunity to reveal that he's had crabs in the past (we're not making this up, we swear). Seriously, Tamesha, you could do a lot better. What do you think of Ed?

Today's guest judge is Patrick O'Connell, who we totally knew is the chef/owner of The Inn at Little Washington. We can tell you he's a five star, five diamond chef. He is also what Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones would look like if he ever smiled. Also, Kevin comments that he cooked for the judge when O'Connell was a contestant in the Bocuse d'or. This give us newfound respect for Kevin, as we learned last season that this event is like the Olympics of cooking.

The Quickfire asks the chefs to cook up some Maryland Blue Crabs, which brings about a bunch of carnage as we watch people murdering some (mostly) helpless sea creatures. Timothy is from Maryland, and is a machine when it comes to cleaning the crabs. He says he is just going to present them with very little embellishment, to emphasize their magnificent flavor. He specifically comments that one competitors (Ed) is doing an Asian influenced dish, and Timothy can't can't get behind that.

Patrick says that his favorite dishes are Andrea's crab salad, due to the weight of the potatoes overwhelming the delicacy of the crab. He also picks out Amanda's dish for being out of balance, and says that Kevin's plate indicated some confusion. Kevin is despondent at this, not only because he has cooked for Patrick, but also because he has been on the bottom of the heap four times now and he is starting to question his worthiness as a competitor.

For the best dishes, Patrick loves Ed's Thai inspired meal, which brought out all the natural components of the crab. This makes Timothy frown. Next up, Patrick compliments Kenny's crab three ways (this makes Angelo frown), as well as Angelo's delicate dish, which showed off the crab nicely. The winner of the Quickfire is Ed, which means he has immunity, and also means that Timothy has to eat his earlier words about an Asian crab dish being a bad idea.

The chefs will travel to Ayrshire Farm for the Elimination Challenge. This is Virginia's first certified organic and humane farm, and they will work with all natural ingredients. Padma announces that the entire group will work as a team to create six dishes, family style. Each person will be responsible for some element of the meal, and they will not know what ingredients or equipment they will have to work with until they get to the location.

Back at the house, Kenny and Angelo are each trying to assert their dominance. Both of them have their own ideas about how the plan should proceed. Kenny wants to pull names and a course, but Angelo just does not agree. Kenny wants to be the alpha male, which he sees as a leadership position. Angelo wants a throne, because he sees himself as the very best. Needless to say, all of the other chefs are exhausted by all of this posturing.

Eventually, they decide that they will all work with the same person that they had teamed up with in the previous challenge. Everyone seems fine with this, except Ed, who really wants to take this opportunity to get closer to Tiffany. Also, that Alex dude is weird. On the plus side, Ed has immunity, so it doesn't really matter if Ed acts like a freaky nutjob.

For her part, Tiffany isn't that happy to be back with Timothy, either. She felt as though she carried much of the weight during the last challenge and is worried that Tim will drag her down some. She and Ed take a moment to sort of flirt while they lament their lot.

The chefs arrive at the farm, and have three hours to cook. A lot of compromise is required, because they all have to really work together to decide who will get which ingredients and where the various dishes will be cooked. An interesting dynamic is created wherein they do have to gel as an entire team, yet the competition is truly fierce.

Kenny notes that Kevin's confidence is down, so he's going to take control of today's challenge for them. They decide to work with vegetables, with Kenny making a hot and sour eggplant and Kevin making a cauliflower couscous. Another notable dish is Timothy's, as he is working with a lot of produce. Kelly swaps him some turnips for some beets for her dish, and Tim is not happy about it. The other contestants feel that he is hoarding, and Tiffany says she is happy to be doing her own thing even though they're technically teammates.

Angelo is making duck, and he tells us that he basically "made love to it". Ew. We can't decide if this comment is worse, or the one about the crabs. Also, we've never heard such unappetizing comments in a cooking show.

In a moment, there is bad news for Kevin, when Tamesha accidentally knocks his cauliflower onto the ground. (It's also possible the wind blew it over.) Angelo wants to scoop it up from the ground and serve it, but Kevin realizes that's an instant trip home. (Sidenote: we resolve never to eat at Angelo's restaurant, which we think may be called "Five Second Rule".) Instead, Kevin adapts and grabs some zucchini squash and some broccoli. Although he's never made such a dish with broccoli, he's determined to go big or go home.

Because she has extra time, Kelly decides she'll take a few moments to make a dessert. Given what we know about past contestants who have done this (we miss you, Tre), this is a very risky move to make and takes a lot of guts. Clearly, Kelly is feeling very confident. She makes a strawberry rhubarb crisp so that the meal has a sweet finish to it.

There's a quick clip from house during the commercial break wherein Timothy refers to Kenny as Isaac Hayes, the Shaft of the chefs. The girls all take a moment to drool over him as he wears a fluffy gold robe. The man really does make the clothes, not vice versa.

The diners arrive for the meal, and they begin with Amanda's country vegetable minestrone smoked tomato broth. Patrick says the rusticity is shocking, while Eric Ripert dislikes the carrots (too hard) and Tom Colicchio comments that the veggies are not cooked evenly. The soup is difficult to eat.

Padma says that Stephen's farm salad with balsamic onion, egg, apple, cabernet vinaigrette and garlic dressing left her cold. Patrick criticizes the way the dish was served, saying that the bowl was inappropriate. Tom points out the ugly, bruised lettuce.

On the other hand, they find Kenny's couscous and curry is delicious. Kenny's element is the hot and sour curried eggplant with peppers and carrot tops. Kenny had really wanted to win with this dish since he would like to prove that he can win without creating the main course (like *ahem* Angelo). Kevin makes a broccoli couscous scented with lemon zest. The judges say that the two play off each other very nicely, with Kenny's curry being nice and hot, while Kevin's couscous provides a cooling element. Looks like Kevin's had a nice comeback after being on the bottom quite a bit and also having his original dish knocked to the ground.

Timothy offered up his roasted turnips and asparagus with honey, and the judges say the dish is very nondescript. Patrick says it barely registered with him, and Padma, Tom and Eric agree that it barely made an impression at all. Tiffany's collard greens with swiss chard, turnip and chanterelles in duck broth are undercooked, particularly considering that she is from the Deep South.

Eric deems Andrea's garlic and five spice-rubbed grilled pork loin with shallot-apple balsamic jus to be delicious, and Padma notes that Kelly's five spice-roasted apples and roasted beets compliment it perfectly.

Moving on to Angelo and Tamesha's partnership, the judges generally like Angelo's ginger grilled duck breast with oregano honey. There's not a lot of flavor in Tamesha's cherry compote, red wine balsamic vinaigrette and grilled asparagus salad, though.

Alex has served up provencal beef tenderloin with ratatouille (Remy!) and although Eric finds the quality of the meat to be exceptional, Eric doesn't like that they stuffed the meat with the ratatouille. Finally, Kelly's "extra credit" dessert of strawberry rhubarb crisp with basil scented whipped cream is terrific, and admire that she took a chance by even making the dish. The easiest way to tell that the crisp is yummy? Eric Ripert cleaned his entire plate.

At Judges Table, Padma asks to see Kenny, Kevin, Andrea and Kelly. They were the judges' favorite dishes of the evening. Tom asks Kevin if he was happy working with vegetables or if he would have rather worked with a protein, and Kevin says that he appreciated the challenge presented by working with vegetables exclusively. Padma compliments Kenny's curry, saying it had a nice spike. Tom points out that Padma's opinion on this topic is a huge, big deal because she's a bit of a connoisseur of curries.

Andrea and Kelly's pork tenderloin is called a rustic, pleasant surprise, and once again, the judges give kudos to Kelly for doing the dessert.

Patrick gets to announce the winner, and he says the dish that takes the prize is striking in its clarity and balanced with its accompanying dish. Kenny's eggplant is the winner, and Kenny takes this moment to a call himself "the Beast" (note: Beast in the Kitchen t-shirts now available for sale in the Bravo store). We enjoy watching Angelo's face way too much here.

How is it stacking up between these two frontrunners so far? Angelo has won one Quickfire on his own, won one with Tracy (so it was like winning one on his own), and one Elimination Challenge. Kenny has won one Quickfire Challenge on his own, was a co-winner along with Tamesha, and has won one Elimination Challenge. The only other person with multiple wins is Kelly, although she has been part of a team in both instances. The only remaining contestants to win something on their own are...well, Ed. The editing this season may have overplayed the Angelo/Kenny feud to date, but the performances almost justify it. It's the equivalent of the Boston Rob/Russell feud on Survivor, right down to having a hero and a villain (yes, we know that Rob was a "villain" too).

The bottom three candidates are Tim, Amanda and Stephen. Tim says he had wanted to do a mouseline with his turnips, but talked himself out of it. Eric tells TImothy that the turnips and asparagus were cut so tiny and it was hard to taste the turnips. Also, the seasoning was lacking. Patrick tells Stephen that a bowl is the worst way to serve a salad, and criticize the way that the apple croutons were cut too large. Amanda seems to not really know what a minestrone is. Eric asks her if she doesn't think that a minestrone should include pasta, and she replies that she's only ever made it with chili beans. Tom nails her for not cutting her veggies uniformly, which means they also did not cook uniformly. Padma says it was amateurish, while Patrick says, "it was grandmotherly, as a grandmother might have done it with her ax. It didn't quite have the polish that you would expect from a chef."

An honest evaluation is that any of these three deserve to go home. We're spoiled by last season, but the Washington, D.C. chefs are simply not a deep group of talent. All the people up for elimination tonight are subpar. We're inclined to think that the harshest criticism went to Amanda, but we think part of that is because she rubs people the wrong way.

Ulimately, Tim is selected to pack his knives and go, but he's a great sport about it. He does lament that he went out on turnips and potatoes rather than lamb or some other savory dish that requires more cooking skill. It's pretty clear that everyone likes him and he considers all his fellow chefs to be friends.

Editor's note: We do expect Jason to return next week, but there is a chance that you'll be stuck with us for the rest of July. Boom!