Last week, desserts took down another cheftestant. Jacqueline coulda been a contender! Instead she's just a sugar pimpin' bum. Also, Angelo proved himself to be a dick, who is willing to make America's children fat just so he can win the competition, or at least make Kenny lose. He was literally pumping trans fats directly into an 11-year-old girl's stomach in his attempt to get rid of Kenny.
Not forgetting that the last two competitors were sent home over their miserable desserts, and knowing that they need to sell the Just Desserts spin-off, the evil producers chuck a dessert challenge at the chefs. Adding insult to cooking injury, the quick fire challenge is run by a skinny Elvis impersonator who everyone swears is a hunka hunka burnin' pastry chef, and he and his bouffant and blue suede shoes get covered in sugar and crème at Jean Georges. The assignment? American Pie. The chefs start sweating beads of vanilla and chocolate and throwing whatever they find in the walk-in into a pie crust. Cooking, yelling at ovens, and trash talking ensues. There are several non-traditional pies (shut up, Curry Apple Date Saffron Glazed travesty) and the much more normal (yeah, that's my face asleep in the blueberry lemon). The winner? Kenny, with a bananas foster interpretation.
Padma announces the Challenge: Picnic! For 150 interns! Yes, the wheels of Congress will squeal to a halt as all the interns on Capitol Hill flee their coffee-fetching, phone answering, paper filing, and message running duties and head to Mt. Vernon for a Top Chef picnic. No climate change bill this year? BLAME TOP CHEF. While some chefs are overjoyed at the thought of a chance to grill, others are sneering at the thought of pedestrian meat broiling. Angelo, obviously, feels quite confident with his beef. I think we can all agree: DIE ANGELO DIE. Tom comes into the Top Chef kitchen for his biannual sniff n' sneer and gets to witness some fireworks over calling shotgun on an oven. Fireworks are patriotic, right?
The day of the challenge, the chefs arrive at Mt. Vernon -- which you history buffs will know is where Thomas Jefferson grew cocaine -- and start firing up their grills. Before you can learn to pronounce quinoa (KEEN-wa, motherfuckers!), the judges are standing in front of the contestants with plates out and mouths open. Jonathan Waxman is guest-judging for no apparent reason than he felt like bad-mouthing some up-and-coming chefs to build up his self-esteem after his Top Chef Masters loss. The judges don't seem to like anything, but the interns are all, "Free food and no handsy Congressmen? Win-Win!" The chefs all sample each other's wares, and even Angelo has to admit that Amanda's ribs are excellent, but he could be trying to make her feel good about herself in order to watch her fall, cry and start huffing gas again.
Judgment Time: Padma wants to see Ed, Amanda, Arnold and Angelo. Padma gleefully announces that Yogi Bear would steal their picnic baskets first! Hey, Boo Boo -- they're the Top Four! Arnold and his lamb are crowned the winner. It falls to him to haul Tim, Stephen, Tracy and Kevin in for their public shaming. At the end of the flogging, the chefs are returned to the group as a cautionary tale. The losers are keelhauled and returned to stand in front of the judges, and it is Tracy who is forced to walk the plank. She packs her sloppy sausage patty and heads home.
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Melissa Locker a.k.a. Lulu Bates would never deign to dine with interns. You can follow her on Twitter @woolyknickers.
As you may recall, last week the treacherous World of Desserts (which looks a lot like the land of Dairy Queen, but all the chocolate oceans have rip tides and the tumbling strawberries are boulders) took down Jacqueline. Her decision to use two pounds of sugar in a supposedly "healthy" dessert put Hostess Brands to shame and half the middle school in a diabetic coma. It also wiped the smile clean off White House Chef Dreamboat's face, because Jacqueline did not think about the children. Jacqueline's departure wasn't much of a surprise what with her dual residency in the Bottom Three and inability to NOT ADD TWO POUNDS OF SUGAR TO HEALTH FOOD. More intriguing was the revelation that Angelo is a total prig who has no qualms about using his immunity to KILL CHILDREN VIA PEANUT BUTTER. What about the children, Angelo? What about the children? Sure, Kenny could have made a vegetable, but Angelo wanted to make Ants on a Log for the kids, despite the fact that they were twelve and not six years old. Anyway. Angelo clearly has no experience around young children aside from glaring at them in restaurants and praying the subway doors shut before they can get in and disturb his zen-like ride back to his photo-ready mid-century modern studio apartment. Angelo also whispered in Tracy's ear (and his microphone) that he doesn't "like" Kenny, but you can't really blame him, because they were in a middle school after all. Anyhoo, Kenny survived the attack, totally ruining any chance (for now!) of a "He Killed Kenny!" joke. Rest assured, it will come. But now we know that Angelo hates children, Kenny, healthy eating, and open microphones.
As the day breaks, Jacqueline's fellow Bottom Three contestants are still reeling from their near defeats. Amanda is the first to have this whole experience get "really real" and the gravity of the competition is hitting home. Luckily she has brought some comforts from home with her to help ease the transition, namely: her body ball. Don't leave home without a 48-inch diameter ball! While Kenny has a supportive letter from someone named Juicy, Amanda has a supportive ergonomic body ball. She perches on her dear old pilates buddy whilst toothbrushing. I'm sure her dentist would be proud of both her good posture and her below-the-gumline ultrasonic tooth cleaning. Meanwhile, Kenny is still reeling from his sense of failure for, well, failing to win anything yet. Luckily he has Juicy's letter to make him laugh. While I don't know for sure, I am pretty sure that Juicy is a wad of chewing gum he left tucked behind his ear Violet Beauregard style so as not to ruin his palate during the competition. They are both pining for the day when that glob of fruit-flavored mastiche can be returned to his mandibles. Yes, the wad of gum stays up late penning meaningful notes chock full of "juicy" bits of wisdom. Meanwhile, Angelo is sitting in the shrubbery in a desperate attempt to commune with nature and escape the seething glares of all the losers trying to harsh his mellow (which is not very mellow). He knows that Kenny is gunning for him and he just needs to remain focused on his Asian flavors. He is reciting a mantra of "ginger, lemongrass, fish sauce, mint" over and over again while hiding out next to the decorative kale. Inside, Arnold reminds us that this is a competition and last night really reminded them of that. As opposed to living together and competing against each other on a daily basis.
The chefs file into the kitchen of the Hilton where Ronald Reagan was shot, which is conveniently located across the street from the Royal Palace strip club for all their after-competition needs. Padma greets the judges, but as per usual all eyes are on the guest chef as if the chef's very existence could offer a clue to the future quickfire challenge giving the contestants a much-needed two-minute edge to think of a dish. Today's guest judge is Johnny Iuzzini, Jean-Georges' resident pastry chef and judging by his hair and adorable motorcycle chain wallet, a rockabilly fan. He has Elvis' hair and the smirk of a James Beard Award winner who is regularly introduced as a "pastry god" (like Hephaestus but with more butter). He is also wearing a bright pink shirt so there is no risk of blending in with the cooks in their chef whites. Padma explains that Johnny and Gail over there are the new judges for Top Chef spin off: Top Chef: Just Desserts -- SQUEEE!! Or not, I don't care, it's JUST desserts. Padma then introduces today's Quickfire Challenge and mutters a three-letter word: PIE. As the word trips off her pillowy lips, the chefs' eyes widen, jaws drop, sweat beads their foreheads and they start to tremble. Two contestants flat out die right then and there. The last two Top Chef Losers were taken down by dessert and now they all have to reinvent American Pie for a pastry god who shellacs his hair with mint-infused simple syrup? OH THE HORROR.
Arnold and Kelly immediately start with The Words and the Battling Over Spatulas and Arnold reminds us that Kelly bugs him. Kelly reminds us that she does not remember that Arnold exists and has baked a lot of desserts at the restaurant she owns with her husband over there in one of those cold states that the food world usually tries to ignore before they force feed them tree bark or trans fats or something. Angelo explains that he has never made a pie in his life, but through the Power of His Mind he convinces himself that he is not making pie, but curry. Specifically, a sweet potato curry pie. Then we get a bunch of shots of the chefs complaining about the burdens of pastry or, in the case of Lynne, gloating about her mad skillz and the dessert wisdom that comes with age. Well, age and twenty years as a cooking instructor. Arnold reminds the viewing audience that pastry cooking is very different from savory cooking and requires, like, measurement and reading and weighing and hard stuff. He no likey. Also in the no likey category? Alex, who is bugging his tablemate Ed with his sloppy technique and overly-thick almond crust. I mean, how dare he, right? Ed, however, is no fount of wisdom. After last week's challenge where Angelo combined peanut butter and celery, while the judges saw baby poop on a celery stick, Ed saw INSPIRATION. So he is making a banana cream pie with celery, which sounds pretty revolting, but I am not a Chef, merely a person with a tongue and taste buds and common freaking sense. Angelo calls his BFF Tracy over to the oven because her pie was about to be the Tragedy du Jour and *shudder * over-brown. Obviously Tracy is not happy with the results of her almond-blueberry pie and has to start over. I'm on the edge of my seat. Oh phew, she made it. Judgment Time!
Kenny is first pie. He asks Padma how she is and she coldly glares at him and barks, "I'm hungry" in a voice that clearly will be begging for ZUUL next. Not wishing to get between the demonically possessed and their pie, Kenny steps back as Padma plunges her fork into the depths of his bananas foster pie with currants and Chinese five spice (not to be confused with the other five spice commonly known as the Spice Girls). Johnny Iuzzini, who has managed to sneak his fork around Padma's body block, points out that five spice is not a typical pie spice and Kenny stares at him blankly because, WASN'T THAT THE WHOLE POINT OF THE QUICK FIRE? Moving right along, Amanda has made a rosemary apple pie that she meekly proffers with a quiet, "I'm not a pastry chef" aside, which is seriously annoying because NO ONE among the competitors is a pastry chef. Luckily, Johnny calls her out on her fake humility and points out that his grandma isn't a pastry chef either but she puts out tasty and delicious pies whenever he wants one because he is her favorite grandchild and cousin Jimmy can suck it. Stephen gives a curried apple pie and Johnny refrains from remarking that curry is unusual in a pie, because it was a stupid thing to say during a pie reinvention contest in the first place. Gail thinks there is something sour in there, but it is hard to tell from