|Andrea Curto-Randazzo stares down Michelle Bernstein and Padma Lakshmi. |
Prior to the airing of this episode of Top Chef, I saw that Michelle Bernstein (of Michy's and Sra. Martinez) would be one of the judges. I wondered if this would work for or against Talula chef Andrea Curto-Randazzo. The Miami connection, you know? Would the two local toques even disclose their relationship?
Um, yeah. The sparks began to fly almost immediately. Well, more so on the part of Andrea, who obviously harbors a grudge against Bernstein. And, boy, did it get personal toward the end.
When Bernstein was introduced as the judge, Andrea scrunched up her face in discontent. "I'm not really happy to see Michelle Bernstein," she commented. "Michelle and I are both chefs in Miami, and there's a bit of rivalry between us. I'm not so sure if you sat down at her restaurant and my restaurant that one would be that much better, so I'm probably not that comfortable with her judging me."
While it is true that both ladies are well-regarded chefs in Miami,
no one would confuse Michelle Bernstein's mini-restaurant empire (and
her James Beard Award) with Andrea's efforts at Talula and the Water
Club. Let's get real here.
Moving on: For the
Quickfire Challenge, the cheftestants were given exotic proteins such as emu eggs, ostrich, frog's legs, wild boar, crocodile, duck white kidneys
(actually duck testicles, perfect for Angelo), rattlesnake, and duck
tongue. They had 45 minutes to cook a meal with these odd ingredients.
horny Angelo said, "I just broke one of the testicles, and it's very
soft." Luckily, we didn't have to hear more of his sex-laden remarks after Padma came in with a Top Chef twist by making the cheftestants
switch proteins with the person to their left. Needless to say, there
was a lot of bleeping going on. Andrea, who had a relatively easy wild
boar, seemed flustered by Bernstein: "Mentally, I'm not comfortable with
the judging situation, and it's getting to me." Whine, whine, whine.
wild boar with risotto featuring dried cherries, almonds, and red wine was
not so well received by Bernstein, who pronounced that although the "flavors are beautiful, it's a little chewy." Cue Andrea for another
put-upon mug. Bernstein also had textural problems with Angelo's seared
On the bottom were Stephen, Alex, and Andrea. Andrea, who got more airtime than ever, said, "I'm
disappointed because I know what went wrong was in my head, and it sucks
because I'm being called out by Michelle on national TV." The top three
were Kelly, Tamesha, and Amanda, with dark horse Kelly winning for her
emu egg omelet.
For the Elimination Challenge,
Padma announced a "cold war" contest with the cheftestants divided up
into two groups to prepare cold dishes. The twist here: Their peers
would judge each other's work. The scheming and strategizing immediately began with a gratuitous scene on the USS Sequoia
replete with dramatic music and huddling.
Whole Foods, Angelo called the sockeye salmon sexy. Is everything sexy
to him? Alex admitted to not playing games: "As far as the judging, I'm
only going to think about the food, not who is cooking it." Alex, you'd
make a lousy politician.
Andrea was still
stuck on her nemesis. And this time, it got personal: "I'm still
thinking about the guest judge, Michelle Bernstein. Michelle and I were
rising at the same time, and then we took a different path. I got married
and I started having kids. She rose up. I was still a chef; I just
maybe wasn't in the limelight. I'm going for the win today." Note to
Andrea: Michelle got married too. And regardless if she started a
family or not (and that is a very sensitive topic for some women), whether you
can bang it out in the kitchen with or without toddlers at home is a
moot point. Many of the best male chefs in Miami have children.
continued his posturing and accurately pointed out, "When the
competitors see my dish, I hope they get that lump in their throat
knowing I'm a threat. I'm just worried they are going to put me in the
bottom because of it."
The best quotes came
from Tamesha, who clearly can't stand Amanda. (But who can?) "Amanda is
running around quite a bit," Tamesha observed. "Just take a chill pill,
please. Amanda and I have personality differences. I could probably
strangle her in a heartbeat." Now that would be good TV.
meanwhile, was getting into several chefs' heads, most noticeably
Tamesha's. "I'm here to play and win," he declared. Point taken.
A consisted of Kevin, Amanda, Alex, Kenny, and Ed. They were judged by
the chefs in Group B (Tiffany, Tamesha, Angelo, Andrea, and Stephen), which clearly didn't hold back.
Amanda's chicken galantine was
described as "salty" by Tamesha, while Andrea pointed out a piece of
cartilage. Gross. Kevin's tuna and veal was called "one-note" by
Stephen. Kenny's lamb duo was particularly derided for being "chewy" by
Tiffany and "slimy" by Angelo. Jealous much? Alex's sous vide veal was
picked apart for being heavy and lacking flavor. Finally, Ed's sockeye
salmon on pumpernickel bread was critiqued for being too dry and too
lemony. Ultimately, Kevin had the most successful dish, while Kenny's
was voted the least successful. I think Amanda's
cartilage chicken should have been sent back. Can we say politics?
probably the best commercial interlude in Top Chef history, it
was revealed that Ed and Angelo used to date the same girl in college.
When Ed said, "It's all right, I used to bang his girlfriend," I kept
wondering if he has been checked for STDs since then. After all, Angelo
did admit to having crabs.
For the second
service, Andrea's tartare trio needed more seasoning; Angelo's poached
sockeye salmon was too overpowering; Tiffany's peppercorn crusted ahi
tuna was well received; Tamesha's scallops were too spicy; and Stephen's
chilled beef with crispy rice was mediocre. The most successful of the
litter was Tiffany's dish, while Tamesha was sent to the loser's
In the stew room, the cheftestants
let each other know where they stood: Andrea revealed to Amanda there
was cartilage in her chicken, and Angelo balls-out told Kenny his
dish was their least favorite.
Kevin were called to the judges' table as the top two, with Kevin winning
six nights in Hawaii. Tamesha and Kenny were on the bottom, with Tamesha
going home for her overpowering and spicy dish. Who will Angelo
And was it just me, or was
Michelle Bernstein showing some major cleavage and attitude? On this
season, Andrea doesn't have to worry about Bernstein from now on. At
least until she gets back to Miami.