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Top Chef D.C. Episode 5: Crabshoot

To thoroughly enjoy the glory that is Top Chef D.C., we welcome comedian Max Silvestri, who will be here every week to take us through season seven.

duck.jpgWelcome back to Top Chef! Let's forget last week's miserable assault on our patience ever happened. Ready? Go. I'll start over. Don't you guys hate how there was no new episode last week? And there was just text across the screen for an hour that read, "Sorry, Lynne and Arnold had to leave the show because they got sick from old shrimp. Move along."? That was a shame. But now we can focus on important things, like how there is no more oil leaking into the gulf. And how this week's episode is called "Farm Policy." (Very funny title, Top Chef.)

We open with a shot of a duck. I feel like we've already seen that duck fifteen times. With two contestants gone, a somber mood pervades the house. The extremely well-decorated and furnished house.


Angelo and Tamisha are trying to keep their spirits up but having a really intense talk over the very normal patio lemons. There is a lot of whispering and a lot of not mentioning Angelo's child or his thinning hair. Angelo says, "Her inner passion is something I want to extract from her." I think Angelo's vocal cords have a lot of passion and I'd like to extract them from him. Meanwhile, Ed and Tiffany are hanging out too!


So much hanging out. It's good to just hang. Who doesn't love having a bud that is just chill as fuck who you can talk about anything with? As long as "anything" is ingredients, menu ideas, and the other people in the house.


Patrick O'Connell, the Chef/Muppet/Owner of the Inn at Little Washington shows up to judge this week's Quickfire: Maryland Blue Crabs. Our witty host Padma lobs "You have crabs!" across the room like a pillow case full of hammers. Angelo says, "I had crabs." Shut up, Angelo. You are a machine built to say things that get on television but I wish someone would just pour a bucket of water on your machine parts so you start smoking and sparking and then we have to jettison you out of the back of our space ship to float in space for eternity and nobody misses you because people don't miss robots and our crew has bigger things to worry about.

Chef O'Connell grew up with blue crabs and they hold a special place in his heart. Before the chefs get cooking, he asks, "Do you want to play a game?"


The chefs start grabbing crabs. I will say that it's amazing, not that I have a problem with it, to see so much murder on television! There is no dipping these crabs in boiling water head first. There is just a whole lot of cleavering live sea creatures in half while they're still wriggling. It's great.


The way my dad makes lobsters is to hack them in half, still alive, on the cutting board and then while they are still fighting hold them under running water and wash out their guts until they are dead. What a way to die! That fact grossed out my girlfriend, but my point is: crabs are great. Let's all kill some.

The only guideline for this challenge seems to be to use the crabs. Oh, also, that if you are going to make soup, put it in a really stupid looking bowl.


Chef Jigsaw's least favorite dishes are Andrea's, Amanda's and Kevin's. Poor Kevin. He has been on the bottom four times in a row and is beginning to doubt himself. I am not just "beginning" to doubt Kevin, but I do feel bad for him. He always seems so sad! He needs a buddy to hang with, like Angelo and Ed have.

O'Connell likes the dishes of Angelo and Kenny. Those two are quite a team! A team that hates each other! But his favorite dish is Ed's Thai-inspired something or other. Ed sees this win as him coming out of his shell, but that is what any loser who finally wins says.


Tim, a Baltimore boy who tried to present his crabs simply, spits out the phrase "Asian influence" in response to Ed's win and regrets his decision in the kitchen. Don't worry, Tim. Many more decisions to regret yet.

In case you for a second can't recall the unforgettable title of this week's episode, "Farm Policy," this week's Elimination Challenge is all about local ingredients. (When is anything on this show not all about local ingredients?) The chefs will be headed to the first certified organic and humane farm in Virginia to prepare a meal for 40 farmers and local chefs, family-style. They must all work as one big team and prepare at least six dishes in total. One big team! No one likes that. Plus, they won't know what ingredients they are using until they get to the farm. Mysterious.

Oh, also, you are probably wondering how they are going to access items from a pantry at the farm. "But Max, there are no pantries outdoors, just grass and sticks." Don't worry. There is ample room in their Mobile Pantry in the back of a TOYOTA SIENNA. Cool car! If you were worried you would not hear the phrase "Mobile Pantry" enough last night, you worried for NOTHING.

Back at the house, the chefs attempt to come up with a game plan. It is a lot of yelling, sitting, or standing. Angelo and Kenny butt heads, because they are buttheads, and they both want to be the "alpha male." Kenny actually says the phrase, "alpha male," which is embarrassing. I am pretty sure being an alpha male is a lot like being classy in that it works a lot better if you don't say it out loud. Kenny could take some advice from this picture, which came up when I Google image searched "alpha male."


Everyone whines a lot. It's very irritating. They debate putting a dessert on the table, and Stephen tries to suggest putting together a big fruit platter to represent all of them. I must be psycho because I could hear every other chef screaming, "SHUT UP NO" in their brains. Poor Stephen.

We go to the farm. The first thing we see is a horse. Do they have to cook with horse meat? What a twist! Oh, no. Too bad. They all rush for and fight over their non-horse ingredients. It is cold out and they are cooking outdoors on grills and everything is kind of a mess. Not Stephen, though. He's making a salad and making sure there is just the right amount of eggs.


They cook for a while. They adapt. They borrow vegetables. Cauliflower falls on the ground, but everybody recovers. Finally it's time to serve a family-style meal to 40 freezing cold guests. The guests eat, and Eric Ripert cleans his plate. With a few exceptions, the judges seem very happy with this meal! After the nightmare that was last week, it is very refreshing. Patrick O'Connell continues to look nuts. Between him and Chef Nora, is there a thing about DC-area chefs having crazy faces? Maybe it's something in the water.

The judges call in Kevin, Kenny, Andrea and Kelly and declare their dishes the best this week. Kelly even did an extra dessert (strawberry rhubarb pie) and it for once didn't backfire. Nice work! Kenny's sweet and sour curried eggplant wins. Especially impressive considering how hard Padma usually is on curry.


Tim, Amanda and Stephen are on the bottom. Tim is very surprised. Tim is always so surprised when he does poorly. And he always does poorly. He certainly seems to understand once it's explained to him? This week he made a completely forgettable and motley dish of turnips and potatoes and asparagus. It looked gross and the judges tripped over themselves to say mean things about it.

It's enough to eliminate Tim, and he takes it on the chin like a champ. He's disappointed to go out on a vegetable dish, and not some poorly cooked lamb or something, and that's understandable. "Season your food, everybody." Good advice for LIFE.


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