Film & TV

Top Chef Season 7: Houston, We Have a Problem, Episode 12

A lot of Top Chef fans complain the DC edition has been boring. Yeah, there have been some duds, but Las Vegas was much worse. The Voltaggio brothers were too good to be on Top Chef and blew out the competition week after week. Where's the fun in that? This season has been more unpredictable, but ultimately the five best chefs (yes, I was happy to see Kenny go home) remained.

The two best chefs are Angelo, who can obviously put out a good plate of food, and Tiffany, who keeps it simple. Even her back story is humble: she started out as a hostess at IHOP but wanted to work in the kitchen. They told her women didn't belong there, but her perseverance paid off. A few short years later she was cooking Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruities to order. And look at her now -- on Top Chef!

It would have been awesome to see a person like Tiffany take home the prize, because, honestly, Top Chef is about finding deserving talent that hasn't gotten recognition -- even if it doesn't always turn out that way. But alas, it wasn't meant to be as Tiffany's spaceship came crashing back to earth like the Challenger as soon as the episode was over. But before we get ahead of ourselves, lets look at the Quickfire Challenge.

The five remaining contestants reminded us that this was the last episode before they would jet off to Singapore. Really? If we are going to pick a far away location, why Singapore? Why not Paris or practically anywhere in Italy? And since when did Top Chef start to resemble more America's Next Top Model than a cooking competition?

The Quickfire Challenge involved the chefs making a dish that paired well with a wine. How fucking boring! With all the spirits out there they had to choose wine? Throw them a curve-ball and tell them to pair it with sake or brandy. Something other than the obvious.

Blah, blah, blah! Challenge was boring. Kevin whined about messing things up and having to change at the last minute -- I mean, who tries to cook pork belly in less than an hour? So it came down to Angelo and Tiffany for the win. Angelo won for his murderous foie gras, proving foodies, er, food people like anything that sounds fancy and is a bit morally wrong.

The Elimination Competition was definitely more unusual and challenging. The contestants had to prepare a delicious meal that could be freeze-dried and sent to outer space. But they didn't serve their food freeze dried. So they could only go by what dorky NASA scientist Vickie Kloeris had to say.

Which, if I may interject here, Kloeris has basically made this season for me. Her nerdy demeanor along with a slight lisp and braces (mind you, this woman is probably in her 40s) are what schoolyard bullies' dreams are made of. I thought at any moment Tom Colicchio was going to start punching her in the face.

Back to the challenge, there were a few rules they had to follow. Since the food has to be freeze dried, the meal couldn't have a high level of sugar, big chucks of food also are a no-go, while spicy food was highly encouraged.

Everyone for the most part followed the rules, except Angelo and his ginger-lacquered short ribs, which were deemed too sweet by some of the judges. You'd think that would be cause enough to send him home, right? Nope, we won the space mission. WTF!

The clear winner in my book was Ed and his Moroccan meal of yogurt-marinated lamb rack that even the king of all snobby food people Anthony Bourdain admitted was as good as anything he's eaten in northern Africa.

It was an odd challenge. Freeze drying could have really pushed it the extra mile. The judges couldn't really find anything wrong with anyone's dishes, so they started to be nit-picky.

Somebody had to go home, so who would be it be? Well, Tiffany's dish disintegrated upon re-entry. And there goes America's Sweetheart.

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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran