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Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having interest in Top Chef Season 7 DC, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the season is now screening. God save the long awaited exile!

As day broke over the Top Chef compound on the morning of the tenth episode, the slanting sun and bright lights of a skeleton camera crew caught Season 7's contestants in their morning routines. Kevin's eyebrows performed calisthenics, three supersets of twelve wiggles and twelve raises. Then he put his Converse-clad foot on the bed, three sets of why do that, it's gross. Alex did a burst of push ups and scrubbed off the drawing of a cock someone had scrawled on his face while he was asleep. Then the two of them communed in ill-natured silence in the kitchen. Amanda made coffee. Amanda then spilled coffee. Amanda doesn't do coffee. Angelo ate his yogurt like an asshole. Tiffany, Ed, and Kelly—like most of us—probably do nothing of interest in the morning except dread the oncoming day and were thus unpictured. But by the time the sun set, one of these contestants would be banished. Unstructured prayers rose from the homes of America like steam from the sidewalk after a summer rain: God let it be Alex or Amanda!

At the Top Chef kitchen, contestants were greeted by Colonel Padma Lakshmi of the 1st Hussars and Wylie Dufresne of the Longhair Muttonchop Brigade. In front of each contestant was a mystery box. Contestants had to make a dish with the disparate ingredients therein which included a rock fish and a can of hominy, a type of dried maize kernel. No one would let Alex use their can opener. Sucks to your ass-mar! Then a man whose entire professional career consisted in toto of appearing in a fake kitchen dressed as Neo from the Matrix carrying a box of ramps walked in carrying a box of ramps. Tiffany had never used ramps. But she was not handicapped and won the challenge.

After a fitting interval, Colonel Lakshmi announced the elimination challenge: chefs would be disguising classic dishes as other dishes and serving these dishes to CIA spooks at Langley. This is dish espionage, culinary subterfuge, kitchen capers! Kevin's eyebrows—sensing this was their moment—went haywire. Amanda from Idiot Valley stated, "I could seduce a KGB agent," not sensing that not only could she definitely not do that due to her being an idiot and having a birthmark that looks irritatingly similar to a cold sore but that the KGB disbanded with the fall of the Soviet Union and anyone claiming to be a KGB agent is probably a delusional old kook with pee puree in his underwear. OK, I revise my opinion, Amanda could definitely seduce a KGB agent. Knives were drawn.

Angelo, dark duck-like prince of sleaze, drew Beef Wellington. Amanda, dimpled dolt-like doll secretion, drew French Onion Soup. Tiffany—who will win this competition—drew Gyro and pronounced it a la maniere grec much to the delight of all. Eddie Eyebrows—eyebrows sad for having been knocked from the brow of public consciousness by Kevin's more athletic eyebrows—got Chicken Cordon Bleu. Alex, silver-spooned Bad For The Jews Creep, made Veal Parmesan. Other people got other stuff.

"War is," as Chris Hedges wrote, "a force that gives us meaning." Rivalries work the same way. Think Hagler v. Hearns or Jefferson v. Adams. Or, think Kenny v. Angelo. Without a beast against which to compete, Angelo fell apart. Perhaps his mind was on his Russian mail-order bride but more likely without Kenny breathing hot air down his neck and goosing him with the spatula of his talent, Angelo has no balance. He's a knife with no counter; Either all blade or all handle but anyhow useless. First, he pulls a John and buys puff pastry. He pulls a Stephen and presents a poopy poop poop looking plate. He even resembles Amanda, running around the kitchen, a blur of panic and ineptitude. Thankfully last night Angelo could be bad and still not go home. For beneath him were the Worsts; Alex Idiot and Amanda Idiot, the potent antidotes to the premise of America's Got Talent. which now we can all be sure to watch before Top Chef. Yay! I fucking hate Nick Cannon (though I did love Drumline).

All in all, the room of CIA spooks, who like most spooks go by one name only, were unimpressed. Notably two men scowled the entire time. They had reason to. This was spycraft at its crappiest. Amanda, as Tom duly notes, disguised her soup as soup. "You took a soup," he said, "and made a soup." Also, it was bad soup. Amanda, that's no way to seduce an old kook like Leon Panetta who, admirably, pulled the classic spy move of having a waiter deliver a mysterious note as an exit strategy. "Hey Leon, This is just to say I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox….love Sylvia." "Goddammit, I was saving those for breakfast!" Why don't we use that in Iraq? "Hey Dave, Can you come back to the States for a sec? Oh, and bring your armies with you! Thanks, Barry." Looking for an exit strategy of his own—before he was further ostracized—Alex overcooked his veal, suicide by sous-vide.

In final judgment stood Amanda, Alex and Angelo. Statistically this was going to end well as there was a 66% chance someone who was the worst person on the show would go home. And yet strangely, Alex when was told to pack his spoon and fuck off, fucked off with a sleazy sheepish smile that while not endearing left me wishing that it was moon-faced Amanda who bit the dust instead. In the stew room, she—alone among the contestants—hugged the sad tall hated Russian, and their embrace, it occurred to me, would make the perfect monument to the triumph of blitheness over intelligence and of the appearance of ideas to ideas themselves.