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Chefs prove no strangers to food or politics

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Restaurant and Foodservice

SmartBrief’s Doris Nhan wrote this blog post.

After six weeks of cooking so close to Capitol Hill, the contestants from “Top Chef” finally had the chance to get officially political. The driving force behind this week’s episode was about power — fighting for power in the kitchen and cooking powerful food.

For the Quickfire Challenge, Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois visited the “Top Chef” kitchen and challenged the chefs to create hors d’oeuvres on a toothpick — the way that food is actually served to elected officials on Capitol Hill. Some favorites were Angelo Sos of Xie Xie with Cucumber Cup with Spiced Shrimp and Cashew and Kevin Sbraga of Rat’s Restaurant who served Grilled Pork Kabob on Mushroom with Sherry Vinegar.

Things heated up in the Elimination Challenge, where chefs prepared a power lunch, a political tradition, to be hosted at The Palm D.C. and tasted by a medley of politicians and news reporters. They randomly chose from five proteins served at the historic restaurant — and cooked there, too. Art Smith of Art and Soul served as the guest judge on panel.

Chefs sought to reinvent the proteins using creative pairings, such as English pea puree and black forbidden rice, and lobster froth with a jicama arugula salad. Those who struggled lost sight of the basics or simply lacked focus on their plate. The best were chosen for their ability to present something new while maintaining an intelligent balance of salty, sweet and savory.

While the episode hinted at some kitchen politics on the side, the overall message remained: Regardless of how the game is played, the best dish on the table is still the dish that wins.

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