Chef Tell: Gettin' (Farm) Fresh

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Apparently, some of this Top Chef season's chefs have enough time on their hands they can give motivational talks. At least that's what super-confident Angelo likes to do with young Tamesha. Less-bitchy Kelly called him a Tony Robbins impersonator. I call him creepy.

And while the beginning of the show examined the in-house relationships, they focused on Ed and our own Tiffany Derry's budding friendship. At least, it seems like a friendship from her perspective. It might be different for him. Like, he could be playing "MASH" every night when he goes to bed and sounding out "Ed Derry" as he daydreams. 

He said she's funny and upbeat and has a great laugh and cooks from the heart and they can talk about stuff. She said Ed's the only person that she trusts, that he's silly and provides a different atmosphere than the others. Hmm.

T-Derr narrated the transition into the QuickFire with "Is that some CRABS?!" and we were shown blue crabs crawling all over the table. Padma was wearing a yellow bell pepper on one wrist and a red one on the other. [Update: Sources have just confirmed those were actually just bangles but that the confusion was understandable.] 

She introduced James Beard Outstanding Chef in America -- and extremely careful enunciator -- Patrick O'Connell as guest judge and announced that the Maryland blue crab would be, in simplest terms, the challenge.

It was then that Angelo said, quite sadly, "Well, I had crabs so it just brought back bad memories." I'm not sure in what sense he had crabs, and I don't want to be.

Top Chef then turned into Brutal Carnage Horror Fest 2010 as cheftestants began grabbing crabs, hacking them in half, boiling them, ripping them with their hands and baking them -- all while they (the crabs) were still alive. I hope no one had any notion that crabs died peacefully for it would've been shattered, like the blue-tinged shells on their little crab backs, last night. As common as it is, though, it was strangely shocking to see all that crunch and crack slam-packed into a graphic five-minute package.

But lo and behold we finally got to see something that Tiff prepared in the QF: hot and sour crab soup with arbol chiles and spaghetti leeks. O'Connell agreed with her that she offered a lot of crab on top of the dish. I think that's a good thing. He smiled. And, seriously, Padma's wrist accessories looked so garden-fresh you could just dip them in ranch.
But Tiffany didn't win the QuickFire. Her boy Ed did with his Thai crab dish, though, so that's sorta related. Not really, but I'm guessing she was happy for him. 

After Ed was excited -- and probably passed Tiffany a "check this box" note -- Padma explained the Elimination Challenge: The chefs would all work as one team at Ayrshire Farm, "Virginia's first certifiably organic and humane farm," cooking for 40 local chefs and farmers. The ingredients were to all come from the farm, but the chefs wouldn't know what they were until they arrived. The meal would be family style with a minimum of six dishes.

The drama, naturally, started when the crew tried to nail down a plan for the next day. Kenny and Angelo were fighting for the coveted title of "Alpha Male" and Tiffany was exasperated at the lack of progress. Stephen suggested a large fresh fruit platter, and I laughed out loud. Because that would be something you'd want to put your name on -- something you cut up real nice. The rest of the group blew him off and continued to argue about how to team up even though they were all on one team.

The decision was made to take the partners everyone had on the last episode. Fine, except that T-Derry didn't want to cook with Timothy again after she carried his ass last time. Oh, and Ed didn't want to work with Creepy Bald Dude [Whose Name I Can't Remember and Refuse to Look Up Probably Because He's So Creepy]. Who would, really? And Ed stared lovingly over at Tiffany who lounged on the settee creating her own plan away from silly Timmy. Ed sidled up to her on the loveseat at one point and assured her that he wanted to hear her ideas...and her proclamation of love for him. Kidding. About the last part at least.

Anyway, they headed to the farm and I was amazed that the raw proteins were just sitting outside all naked-like in the open air. But apparently, it was really cold so it was all perfectly safe, I'm sure. Everyone was fighting over veggies, meat, grill space, tiny propane no-discernable-heat space and chicken stock. Blah, blah, blah.

The whole dynamic between Angelo and Tamesha was just so...icky. He was all acting like her uber-male cheffy mentor and she was all letting him, even though she clearly made it on Top Chef on her own skills. Also, if Angelo says a dish is "sexy" one more time, I'm going to vom all over a non-laminated photo of him.

FYI: The big bowl drop that looked so dramatic on the teaser commercials? Not that bad of a deal, really. In fact, the improv required to remedy the situation proved a good thing for Kevin's couscous.

Meanwhile, Tim was unclear on the future of his root vegetable mousseline and Tiffany respectfully decided to let him fall on his own cleaver if he couldn't turn it out. He didn't turn it out, btw, but she was busy with her own stuff and in no mood to play savior.

Less-bitchy Kelly made a dessert as an extra offering, and I just knew it would be good. Fresh strawberry rhubarb crisp + basil scented cream = noms. Speaking of which, if you happen to have some...

The guests -- seated at the world's longest dinner table -- seemed to mow down the offerings, but we only heard from the usual panel, including Eric Ripert, who looked amazing in his probably cashmere scarf. 

They had issues with Vaguelly Hot Brunette's minestrone because the carrots were not diced to the same size as the other veg and well, it contained no pasta. Stephen's salad was served in a bowl -- which, FYI, was a terrible thing to have done. Another tip: Never stuff beef with ratatouille. Timothy's roots were forgettable. Tiffany's greens were undercooked but that didn't land her in the bottom. 

B3 went to Timothy, Stephen and VHB. None of them had good excuses. The whole panel was uneventful in terms of critique. They all knew what they'd done wrong, and it seemed they just had to go through the motions for the sake of the cameras. Timothy was sent packing and I wondered if, secretly, Tiff celebrated the end of their forced pairings.

Kelly, Andrea, Kevin and Kenny ended up on top with Kenny winning for sweet and sour curried eggplant. For the record, Angelo, who may or may not be a conniving asshole, did not clap for him.

Next week: peer judging. Angelo's helping Tamesha and Stephen; everyone thinks Angelo has a strategy with the whole helping thing; Tiffany is dismayed that the peer critiques are overly harsh, and I don't see Eric Ripert. Gail Simmons, yes. Eric Ripert, no. I'm hoping it was editing and they're both there. The way that man says tour-neeps...

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