With all the brouhaha over Kenny getting killed (and if you don't think the judges were just waiting to make that joke, check out this extended judging video) we neglected one of my favorite challenges of Top Chef.
It's the one challenge they haven't manage to screw up with their tinkering (unlike the mise en place relay race). It's not only about skills and quickness, it's also about team work and trust.
And it's also about strategy. The first and the last chefs are the most important. The first chef sets up the team, starts any part of the dish that needs at least 30 minutes to cook. The two middle chefs need to interpret and execute. The last chef needs to correct any mistakes, if possible and bring the dish home.
Blue Team seems to trust each other....
...Red Team, not so much. Or should I say they don't trust Alex.
Kenny is the starter for the Blue Team, setting the dish for everyone else to follow. Tiffany starts for the Red Team. Everything seems to go well for the starters. Now it's time for the second chefs. Sherry can't stumble too hard after Kenny's excellent set up and makes all the right moves with the Blue Team's dish. The Red Team seems to be thinking....
...because Alex starts liberally salting the raw fish.
This annoys Tiffany to no end.
I believe it was at this very moment that Tiffany understood, Alex touching food equals disaster. Time is up, Ed and Kevin step in for their teams. Again, Kevin moves his team along while Ed apparently does not salt the fish although I can't really tell what else he does except make a big mess. Now it's time for the final chefs. Angelo for the Red Team is expecting a clean well organized work station and a dish he can just quickly finish. Unfortunately for him...
...that would be the Blue Team's station. The Red Team's Station is a little more...bohemian.
And what's the first thing he does to the fish?
Salt that fish. A lot. With Kosher salt, a big flake salt. Fatal mistake. Time runs out and the dishes are ready for the Guest Judge. Since we're in DC and since Joe Biden has been on Gaffe Lockdown, Top Chef went to the third in line for the Presidency, (god forbid, something happen to the President or Vice President) first woman Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
She's got a pretty easy job, taste two dishes and declare one a winner. By the looks of the photos, it was easy.
The Blue Team's shrimp looks delicious and well balanced while the Red Team's fish looks muddied and wilted. Not to mention salty. Points to Pelosi for being polite but by the look on her face I'm guessing she couldn't taste anything else but the salt.
Which mean the Blue Team wins and the Red Team plots how to deal with their problem chef.