He's BAAAACKKK!!! Anthony Bourdain, that is. Color me HAPPY! :-)
And before going to the TC kitchen, the show starts off with Kevin saying he didn't think he'd make it this far - a foreshadowing?
They arrive at the TC kitchen for the QuickFire - a table is filled with wine bottles. The Quickfire is to choose one of the wines and create a dish to pair with it. It's the *final* high stakes QF - the winner will be going to London for 6 nights.
Wow - Kevin's braised pork belly dish doesn't get cooked fast enough in the pressure cooker - with about 10 minutes to go, he switches gears and goes with quail - with a red wine choice. Hmmm...
Tiffany chose a Shiraz - she went with a Waygu beef.
Kevin picked a Merlot and when the pork belly didn't work, made quail.
Angelo chose an Evolution white wine and paired it with foie gras.
Kelly went with a Zinfandel and made a beef dish with a blue cheese crust.
Ed had an Italian red, and went with a Waygu rib eye.
The worst pairings were Kevin's quail and Kelly's beef. For the two best dishes, Dana Cowin chose Angelo's foie gras and Tiffany's Waygu beef.
The winner is Angelo - perhaps he's back in a good cooking groove. He gets the trip to London. Then Padma tells the 5 of them that only 4 will make it to the finale - and that they're going to Singapore for the finale!
The remaining 5 chefs head to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and Tom meets them in the Control Room, and they get a message from the astronauts in space. They are asked to create "space food" - and the winning dish will be served in space! Buzz Aldrin is a special guest judge. A head scientist gives them some basic guidelines - food shouldn't be too large, shouldn't have a lot of sugars, as it doesn't freeze-dry well, and well-spiced foods are always very welcome in space!
Ed's going with lamb and Moroccan flavors (later noted to be yogurt-marinated lamb and a lamb kebab); Tiffany seems to be going with Asian-inspired flavors and fish (pan-seared halibut with a coconut curry). Kevin's going with beef and seemed to be picking out some hot peppers from the produce area (he's going with a NY strip steak with a bacon-jalapeno marmalade and a corn puree).
When they come back, they're in the TC kitchen beginning prep. Angelo is doing a ginger-lacquered short ribs with a horseradish sauce, and Kelly's doing a pan-roasted halibut.
Oh NO...Tiffany had put her mussels in the fridge, and they've all frozen solid - they're dead. NOT good! Back at the TC house, Ed and Tiffany are commiserating about the mussels. What will she do now?
The next morning...a note on the kitchen counter says their ride is outside, and the winner of the challenge gets to take it home - a Toyota Avalon all tricked out. :-) They pull up to the International Trade Center, and they have 1 hour to finish cooking. It's a *very* tight kitchen, and they're all on top of themselves. Ed and Angelo bring in a table to try and give them more work space.
So Tiffany's dealing without any mussels; Angelo's short ribs could be too sweet. Hmmm... The guests are seated, and in addition to Bourdain, it's Eric Ripert, Colicchio, Buzz Aldrin, the head food scientist from NASA, and two other astronauts from NASA.
Kelly's dish is out first...she sees Bourdain and said "he always says it like it is and I'm interested in hearing what he has to say!" The head scientist from NASA says "too much liquid".
Ed's Moroccan lamb dish comes out. One of the astronauts says "people forget about trash; usually you can take it outside and throw it away, but in space you can't!" She was referring to the bones from the rack of lamb.
Kevin's up next with his strip steak. He gets good reviews on flavors; the crispy onions would be a challenge to keep crispy, says the head scientist.
Next up is Tiffany with her halibut and coconut curry. Again, a lot of liquid? But Bourdain likes the fish sauce. Ripert doesn't like the combination of the sauce, rice and fish together.
Finally, Angelo comes out with his ginger-lacquered short rib. (God, that sounds **SO** good and that's going to be one recipe I pull off the Recipes page at Bravo's TC website!) Buzz Aldrin likes the flavors a lot...but Tom Colicchio didn't like the candied ginger - thought it too sweet, but said overall the flavoring was good. Bourdain LOVED it and didn't understand Tom's "dark, cynical side." :-) Come on - is THAT all we're going to get? Hopefully there will be more at Judges Table. :-)
They're all tasting each other foods in the "in-between" and it seems like the flavors were all good, according to Kevin. They *did* happen to all look very good - which one could be the worst? Tiffany? Kelly? I think the overall flavor on Tiffany's would be better received; Kelly's seemed to be rather plain - at least visually.
And they're all there at Judges Table. Tom Colicchio said the measure between the winners and losers was very small, so they all did VERY well. They're critiqued in front of the judges....Ed gets good overall reviews, although Ripert still said it was too complicated. Tiffany's dish gets criticized on the tomatoes in the dish - the skin should have been removed. Kelly's dish gets high compliments from Eric Ripert. Angelo's dish was (mostly) well received, although his comment about "making love to the short ribs" got an eyebrow raise. :-)
And finally, Kevin's dish was good - but Bourdain said he thought that perhaps Kevin played it safe. And after the cheftestants go back into the Stew Room, Bourdain was pretty adamant: "This is TOP CHEF - sirloin? Really?" He's got a point. But Tom seemed to favor the fact that Kevin made something that would remind them of home. But there's still the issue of the fried onion rings and how to accomplish that in the freeze-dried world of space.
OK, we're back - decision has been made. Bourdain gets to announce the winner - and it is? Angelo! Another double QF/EC win (his second)! So that makes two double winners who've won doubles twice - Angelo and Tiffany. He also gets Bourdain's latest book, "Medium Raw", the car, AND he gets to watch the next launch from NASA - AND his food is going in to space! Quite the haul for winning this challenge!
Who else is going to Singapore? Not Tiffany. DAMN. She's asked to PYKAG. :-( So it's Kevin, who doesn't deserve it, IMO, and Kelly and Ed.
Shoot - I was really rooting for her. Yeah, she's won a trip to Paris and $20K. But she should have been there in the finale!
And the previews for the finale in Singapore look CRAZY!