Recap of Top Chef Episode 7.2: "Outside the Lunch Box"

It’s never fun seeing someone go home from a party, especially when it’s the person with the most visually interesting hair. But John’s departure last week means there is one less person to keep track of now, and since this is kind of like babysitting seventeen kids in a ball pit, we’re cool with the numbers dwindling. Speaking of kids, there are some on the show tonight!

The QuickFire Challenge: White House assistant chef Sam Kass is the guest judge tonight, and from the looks of things, he looks very good. Padma tells the chefs they will be making…bi-partisandwiches. Ok, at least it can’t get sillier! Oh, wait. Sam and Padma drape themselves in a giant patriotic apron to show the chefs that they will be paired off and tied together, with one person operating as the right hand and the other as the left. The reactions to this are priceless, as though they’ve been told an amazing joke the rest of us didn’t hear. Because from where we’re sitting, this has less to do with leaving your ego at the door and more to do with leaving your brain there, so as to prevent pesky thoughts like, “This is stupid.”  While it’s true that chefs run the risk of finger loss because of things like cleavers, this really seems to be increasing the odds of disaster, like putting scuba divers in strait jackets and hoping no one drowns. Predictably, things are chaotic. Tracey and Angelo win with an Asian-style fish sandwich, securing them immunity and a place in history books as one of the all-time great pairings.

The Elimination Challenge: The chefs (in teams of four) are sent to the Alice Deal Middle School to cook healthy lunches for kids. Since everyone knows children only like blue drinks and chicken fingers shaped like Dora the Explorer, this is challenging. The even bigger challenge is the budget. Each team gets only $130 for fifty kids, which is what Arnold typically spends on himself grocery shopping.

Team Breakdown:  Team (Possible) Saboteur: Angelo, Tracey, Kenny and Ed. Team Bicker: Arnold, Kelly, Tiffany and Lynne. Team Mellow: Andrea, Kevin, Tim and Alex. Team Boozy: Amanda, Tamesha, Jacqueline and Stephen.  (Team names ours).

What ‘s Cookin’: Kelly is responsible for the pork carnitas! She wants everyone to know it! Tracey’s chicken burgers, Andrea’s BBQ chicken, and Kevin’s fruit skewers with yogurt foam all make a lot of sense. Angelo makes (suspiciously) simple celery with peanut butter mousse. Amanda’s sherry braised chicken thighs are sort of doomed in name alone. Yes, the alcohol burns off, but we probably wouldn’t make tequila-lime wings for the cafeteria, delicious as they are.

Person Who Just Beamed: Kelly, for the pork carnitas! We don’t know if you know, but it was her idea! Nobody helped her, Tom! Nobody!

Person Who Just Threw Something At A Wall: Jacqueline, for the strawberry-banana pudding with about 18 lbs of sugar in it.

Guest Judge Rating: Oh, Sam Kass, a man of few words. Quick impressions? He is quiet, enjoys the word “tasty,” and cares quite a bit about nutrition. No super memorable moments, except when he gently pointed out that tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable. Guy didn’t get to the White House just for being cute.

Deep Thought of the Night: Ok, here is a new reality competition rule: If someone you’re competing against is missing something vital – a peanut butter foam valve, a yard of lilac tulle, basic common sense – and you have some to spare, hand it over, even if the person is not your fav. You want the beat the best at their best! It’s like saying you struck out A-Rod when he forgot his bat at home. That’s wonderful and all, but he didn’t have what he needed to hit the ball. Unless, of course, the person “forgot the bat” on purpose to mess with other members of his team. We’re not saying that you did this, Angelo. We’re just saying it complicates things.


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