Chef Tell: Lobbying the Palm

Bring out the politicians! Well, I wish they hadn't, actually, but they did. And man, do those people smile and nod, smile and nod. It's really sort of infuriating. 

In the beginning -- during the requisite mourning time of the last man lost -- everyone was talking about Tamesha leaving and Angelo having played her ass. Angelo was acting like he cared that she left and I'm sure he did...in a "I care so hard that I successfully got her out while she still liked me" sorta way.

The chefs walked in for the Quickfire and there stood Padma and Smiley McSmilerton (otherwise known as Representative Aaron Schock (R), Illinois, 18th District), the youngest congressman in the House. He was wearing one of those colored button-ups with the white collar that I find offensive. Padma explained that to prevent the corruption between paid lobbyists and elected officials, lobbyists are only ever allowed to treat officials to food that can be served on a toothpick. In other words, no surf and turf for a law.

The cheftestants had to load a toothpick with the flavor of a full dish. The challenge was also a high-stakes one, so the winner won $20,000 and immunity for the Elimination challenge.

Our Tiffany Derry created a crispy pork roulade with prosciutto, cheese and almond. It looked like a good bit of bite. Amanda who doesn't like hors d'oeuvres because she thinks they're boring -- and I'm not making that up -- didn't appear to know what she was doing. Kelly just kept adding a lot of salt to her watermelon. I mean, I've had salt on watermelon, but that looked like a shit load of salt.

None of this matters really. Schock tasted everyone's dish, of course, and did a damn fine job of making everyone think he loved their dish. "I do like Asia without the long plane flight, though!" and "Truth be told, lamb is one of my favorites!" where just a couple of his diplomatic deliveries.

Quick question: Why does Amanda wear her headbands so low on her crown? It's strange. I have headbands. I wear them where they can actually hold hair back. Hers just sit on the front of her head. It's distracting.

Anyway. After telling Kevin that after his -- the first dish tasted -- was the one Schock kept thinking about all the way around the room, he gave Angelo the win. And everyone died a little inside.

The Elimination Challenge was sorta weird. For the first time ever, the Palm Restaurant DC was opening its kitchen to outsiders. The chefs drew knives for proteins and would present them via a power lunch for a panel of the judges, politicians (including Senator Mark Warner (D) of Virginia), Morning Joe hosts, John Podesta of the Center of American Progress, NBC political correspondents Kelly O'Donnell, Luke Russert and Savannah Guthrie, and Art Smith of Oprah fame.

While each protein was drawn by two chefs it was not a head-to-head challenge. Everyone was meant to be judged separately. Except that they weren't going to be served separately so it would be fairly impossible to not compare and contrast two porterhouse dishes or two lobster dishes, and so on. 

To be honest, the entirety of the prep time was so fucking boring. My cat slept through the entire thing and normally he's at least interested in the chopping sounds or the shine off Alex's bald head. The one thing that did catch my attention was when Andrea said she was serving her swordfish (the same protein T-Derr got. Go fish!) with a vanilla bean-mustard seed beurre blanc. Ummmm, yeah. K. 

Then it was back to the house where (in my better version) Ed confessed to Tiffy that he was scared inside and didn't know if he could make a pea puree that would please a woman as fine as she. And she said, "Stop doubting yourself" but he heard, "I will love you no matter what that puree tastes like because it will be made by you." And his heart soared and he slept more soundly than he'd ever slept before. 

She told cameras that she didn't think Ed was flirting with her and she already has a man...because Ed has absolutely no game and TD either thinks he's just a really nice friend to have, or she suspects he might have a crush, finds it a bit flattering but is smart enough to leave it be. 

Sidenote: I want to know what Tiffany uses on her skin to keep it that fantastic.

At the Palm the next day, Bruce Bozzi, Jr. told the chefs that the winner would win their dish on the Palm menu but also their face on the wall amongst all the famous caricatures. Because that makes sense to have a Bravo reality contestant on a wall of recognizable faces. But, you know, that's cool.

Tom came in to remind everyone to stop acting like assholes and clean up after themselves and that's when PeaGate took place. See, Ed prepped a pea puree the day before. Alex had peas but hadn't conceptualized his dish yet. We saw Alex with whole peas in the Palm kitchen and then later with a pea puree. It seemed like he made one. But then Ed couldn't find his pea puree. It was no where to be found. 

The chefs were totally chaotic in the kitchen. Kelly was salting the crap out of her steak and people were running and piling stuff and Amanda didn't bring her own salt or pepper (always a good rule). Tiffany was the only one who kept her cool having staked out a private little corner for herself.

The tasting segment was so weird. Gail Simmons was so overly enthusiastic ("Let's try Kelly's!!!!!!!") it was irritating, but maybe she was trying to liven up the room of stiff shirts. Poor Tom just had to stand at a metal table back in the kitchen and eat alone with only his facial expressions to keep him company.

Tiffany and Andrea presented their swordfish together. T-Derry's featured an olive and raisin tapenade with broccolini and bacon on the side. Andrea's was pan seared with that heinous sounding vanilla-mustard sauce and couscous.

They tried Andrea's first and were overwhelmed by the sweetness. Some commented on the vanilla. Tiffany's got positive reactions including an "I've never had anything like it!" comment.

No one received brilliant comments in terms of reaction. Alex's looked fabulous with that controversial pea puree livening up the plate. Angelo's lobster foam creeped a lot of people out.

In the Stew Room segment, Stephen presented a "seminar" about being in the Bottom Three in which he instructed his listeners -- specifically Tiffany, who expected to land there -- to focus on these words, which appeared to be, "Fuck it. Really?!"

Tiffany, Ed and Alex ended up on top, though, so the seminar, while funny, wasn't necessary. With no discussion of the origin of his pea puree, Art Smith praised said puree and then awarded Alex the win. Interestingly, as of the show's airing 90 percent of viewers felt he had, in fact, stolen the green stuff from Ed.

Kevin, SaltyKellySalt and VanillaMustardrea ended up on the bottom. Andrea said she doesn't particularly like swordfish but defended her dish saying she'd executed her sauce successfully before. And at that point Gail delivered a smackdown: "If we wanted to taste the food that you cook every day, that you're used to, we'd just come to your restaurant."

And Andrea packed her knives, mustard, vanilla beans and hair highlighting kit, and went.

Just so you know, this was safely the most outlandishly boring challenge so far. Even PeaGate couldn't add drama to what was essentially a "serve large portions of protein to not necessarily food-wise DC peeps" challenge. Please let next week be better. Please? Even Kelly crying in the Stew Room was irritating and not interesting. I'm not giving two shits about anyone. Tiffany is great, but I want at least one other person I can look forward to seeing on camera... And, yes, I mean aside from Eric Ripert. Speaking of whom, where the hell has he been? Is he a judge or not? Art Smith is not the silver haired temptation I'm looking for, thanks.

Next week: Serving foreign ambassadors, Alex falls down, Tiffany's stressed, tiny flags. I'm hoping there's more.

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