Top Chef

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The Theft of the Pea Purée

The next morning, the cheftestants arrive at the Palm DC. Kelly is excited by how classic it is, and it really is a throwback, with lots of wood panels and caricatures of politicians and gladhanders all over the walls. As they inspect the equipment, Bruce Bozzi, the owner of the Palm Group, arrives. He explains that this is the first time, in over 80 years of operation, they have handed over the kitchen to anyone else, and that Colicchio will be visiting them in the kitchen to keep an eye on things. He adds that the winner will get their dish on the Palms DC menu, and also get their face as a caricature on the wall. Man, the restaurant business must be down. I can see that being a draw for tourists, but not many others. Then again, there are a lot of faces on that wall. They could always put it in some corner somewhere. Or the bathroom.

Right off the bat, Kelly and Amanda start butting heads. Amanda stacks her coolers in a way that makes it difficult to get by in the narrow walkway, and then she starts cooking really far from her prep station so she has to do a lot of running back and forth. Kelly gets annoyed and snaps at her a few times. Then Amanda didn't bring any salt with her and Kelly really doesn't want to share what she brought, claiming that she only brought enough for herself. Steaks do require a lot of salt, so I see Kelly's point. Plus, I hate Amanda.

Alex unpacks his cooler and says that he's going to make a pea puree, first thing, and if it works he will use it, and if not, he will have enough time to go in a different direction, hopefully. We see him walking and stirring a pea puree in a saucepan. Colicchio arrives to watch, and it makes everyone nervous. Amanda is seriously sprinting around the kitchen, which has got to be a safety hazard. Tiffany has found a little niche for herself away from the others. Colicchio asks the cheftestants to try to clean as they go, because they're making messes left and right.

Okay, then there's a shot of whole peas sitting in a pan of water, although we don't see who that pan belongs to. Then there's a shot of Angelo cutting his finger. Cut to Ed, searching his coolers for his pea puree, and he can't find it. He asks a few people if they've seen it, and no one has. Meanwhile, Alex is walking around with a pan of pea puree, finished. But he tells Ed that he didn't use any peas? Curious. And suddenly, Alex is plating his dish, the dish that he hadn't even conceptualized until that morning. Ed is freaking out, and Tiffany tells him to calm down and tries to get him to focus on what he's going to serve, since he doesn't have time to seek out his pea puree. Ed finally catches his snap and does what Tiffany suggested.

The diners start arriving and final preparations are underway. Kevin explains that he cooked his lamb sous vide and now he needs to reheat it, which seems like a recipe for overcooking to me. Kelly and Amanda are up first, and Padma introduces the various diners. Does it really matter? It's a bunch of wonks and television personalities and there are a lot of them. The important ones are Gail, Padma, and Art Smith. Colicchio will be eating in the kitchen, where he belongs.

Kelly is up first. She serves Porterhouse with crispy potato-arugula salad and a roasted shallot demi-glace. Some of the diners find it overly salty, but Joe Scarborough likes it and God knows he will probably bully the other people at his table into liking it.

Amanda: New York steak and filet mignon, red wine with pommes Parisienne and arugula. The judges find it well-seasoned and seared, and Gail specifically mentions salt. The owner of the restaurant likes the plating, and how the meat was draped over the sides. No one mentions the fact that she took it off the bone.

Tiffany and Andrea are up next. If they didn't want the people with the same proteins judged against one another, why are they serving at the same time? It's like, "Don't compare these two similar things that you are eating at the same time." Wouldn't it make more sense to pair people up who have different proteins then? Weird. Anyway, Andrea is worried that her swordfish might not be cooked properly, but is confident about her other components. Cut to Colicchio standing behind her plates, looking confused.

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