Right away, we knew this would be a big week for our Tiffany Derry. They started off the show with her smoothing toner all over her face and neck (so that's how she gets that awesome skin!) and talking about how she was planning her wedding before hopping on the Top Chef train. But it was also worrisome because, as we all know, a lot of face time can be fatal in reality TV. But should we have really been worried?
Then they walked into the Quickfire and there stood Padma in some strange one-sleeved shirt-thing that was all "I'm sexy!" on one side and all "I'm a linebacker!" on the other. Next to her in his meekest of stances was big time chef Marcus Samuelsson.
Together they explained that Ethiopian cuisine dominates Washington D.C., so the chefs were to make a dish inspired by it. Samuelsson gave them a crash course in berbere (spice), wat (a stew-like dish that is scooped up by hand with bread) and injera (said scoopy bread). It was a nice refresher for a few, a totally new thing for most, and a signal that this Quickfire was going to make me super hungry in spite of the triangles of grilled cheese I'd just made in my "fun cooker."
Three dudes were all about how they'd cooked Ethiopian food before. Angelo--of course--was one of them. Kenny and Ed had also cooked some form of the cuisine, but let's be honest, Angelo was the one who was most irritating when discussing his experience...as per usual.
Tiffany made mention that she'd never won a QC and man, would it be nice to win one with Elimination immunity on the line. Hmmm...She don't say.... She also discussed that there weren't so many Ethiopian restaurants in Dallas or Houston, and especially not Beaumont, so she was going to stick with making a hearty stew and layering in appropriate spices.
During the tasting, Samuelsson complimented Angelo by asking if he was sure he wasn't from Ethiopia. And viewers around the world groaned (with hunger and because it was fucking Angelo). Then Tiffany blew his socks right off with her beef goulash. He said that after tasting eight other dishes he was still standing there eating hers. It was clear he loved it by his expression, and, if I'm not mistaken, his stance became a little less meek.
And she won! Out of Amanda, Angelo and Tiffany, T-Derr won that shit! It was awesome. Angelo made a sore-loser face. That was awesomer. Ed--who, for those unfamiliar, loves Tiffany with all his big, dirt-kicking, check-this-box heart--was ecstatic that she beat the cocky devil. Win by association, I suppose.
But there was more worldly cooking to be done. Padma and Marcus wheeled in a big board upon which was a map o' the world and some highlighted countries. The countries would be chosen in the order determined by drawn knives. T-Derr drew first and pulled NUMBER ONE! Yay! Win-win.
The chefs were to prepare a dish inspired by their chosen country to serve for foreign ambassadors and people of that ilk at a reception in the Meridian International Center. Also, at the location, there would be no cooking--only Sterno and chaffers allowed. That meant better planning and some quality gaffes.
TD strolled up to the board and picked Mexico. Nice choice. I was excited to see the direction she'd go. Stephen picked last and had to go with Brazil. He had no idea what to do with Brazil. I predicted Stephen--who commenter Kelly called out last week
for his talking a big game--would have to pack his knives once he said that he and his fam went to a Brazilian steakhouse so that must be what Brazil is known for: Steak! Easy as pie!
Used to be, the prep footage was intense and a little anxiety-inducing. This season, it's as though my eyes just sorta glaze over until Tom strides in to take inventory of the situation. He infuses interest into mundane scenes of chefs running around, because, well, when he talks I don't cringe and I love that what he's thinking ends up written on his face. This week, the most interesting prep stuff was that Alex fell down, tripped and tried to beat people to supplies. See, we need more Tom, less Stooges.
Tiffany explained to Tom "the one thing about tamales that gets on [her] nerves is there's not enough meat" and I was sold. Mmm, tamales. Better yet, deconstructed tamales with more meat. It was clear Tom liked her plan.
Sidenote: The Bravo question of the week was if viewers would trust Alex in their kitchen. At the time the first tally was posted only 9% of voters chose "yay." The rest chose "no, he'd make a mess." Lame. I'd let him in my kitchen as long as the cats were locked in the other room and he promised not to run with a knife. Also, as long as he didn't steal my pea puree.
Back at home after prep, some of the guys asked Tiff if she was going to make their beds... Get it?! Because there was a woman in the room! So gross. Anyway...
The chefs got only 30 minutes to prepare at the center and Tiffany was running way behind. She had 3 minutes to go and hadn't cut her tamales yet. But it appeared she had her shit together by the time we saw her again.
Jose Andres, another super chef, joined Tom, Padma, Gail and Marcus for the tasting. No Eric Ripert. Top Chef judge my ass. This is bullshit. I want Eric Ripert next week or...or...I will remain pissed. I am so over his absence week after week. I need him.
Kelly and Kevin got rave reviews for beef carpaccio (Italy) and stewed chicken curry (India), respectively. But Tiffany got the best comments from judges and guests for her chicken tamales with queso fresco and tomatillo sauce.
Andres said her dish looked like Mexico and tasted like it, too. Tom liked being able to taste the husk the tamales were cooked in. Bahamian amabassador Quincy Parker loved her dish so much he beamed all over the screen (that sounds grosser than it was, honest).
The judges bid adieu to Marcus Samuelsson and his fedora and headed to the table.
Sidenote: In the chopped footage shown during commercial break, there was a gem, and for a moment I thought I might like Angelo. It was when he'd successfully stretched cling wrap to the toilet and Stephen fell for it, slapping his man-balls on Saran. Well played, Angelo, but I don't think I can like you yet.
Kelly, Kevin and Tiffany were the top three. And Tiffany said she played to win, even with immunity, because she wasn't there just to get by. The judges raved. AND SHE WON!!! Two birds, one show. And then she won a surprise bonus of $10,000!! She won two challenges and successfully paid off her wedding. (Hey, I'm planning a wedding, can Dial NutriSkin sponsor me?)
Tiffany had the high-squashing duty of calling back the B3, which included her crush master, Ed. But Ed made it through (telling the judges he knew what he'd done wrong helped, I'm sure), and commenter Kelly foreshadowed well: Stephen packed his knives and went. He did it with class, saying he absolutely appreciated the entire experience and while he knew he'd fallen short, it was a victory to be chosen for the show in the first place.
Next week: The highly anticipated Restaurant Wars!!!!!!!!!!! OMG! Angelo might lose his cool! Amanda makes excuses! Kelly cries. Also, no sign of Silver Fox Chef 0 but we hope. Oh, how we hope.