Top Chef Kenny Gilbert Goes Packing

Categories: The Critic
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That's all, folks. Top Chef and new Florida resident Kenny Gilbert was forced to "pack up [his] knives and go" on last night's episode of Top Chef D.C.

Gilbert was sent home following the show's Restaurant Wars episode, which pits two teams of four cheftestants against each other. The chefs took over the restaurant Redwood on Bethesda Row and transformed it into two separate eateries for the night -- EVOO, a Mediterranean-themed eatery helmed by Angelo Sosa, and 2121, a progressive American concept run by Gilbert.

Watch Kenny's exit video here

It was a crazy battle, with Gilbert helming the kitchen calmly and assertively as his team presented dishes to the Top Chef judges, plus special guest judge Frank Bruni (former critic for the New York Times). On the other side of the kitchen, Sosa struggled to whip his sous into shape and frequently lost his cool. But it was Gilbert's team that lost in the end -- though their kitchen demeanor was better, the pieces on the plate just didn't perform. Especially Gilbert's own dishes: a too-busy roasted beet salad with more listed ingredients than a Twinkie, and a fried goat cheese salad that Bruni himself called a "monstrosity." Ouch. Also underperforming was Kelly's crab soup and Amanda's grass-fed beef. But in the end, the judges chose Gilbert to ship home to South Florida.

The decision stings a little bit more if only because Gilbert looked so strong at the beginning of the show. He came right out of the gate and won challenges or got very close. He had a commanding presence in the kitchen and formed a pretty heated rivalry with the other obvious front-runner, Angelo Sosa. But as the weeks went on, Gilbert's dishes got more convoluted and less focused. His departure just proves that even the best chefs can have bad nights, and that's enough to send you packing.

The good news is if you want to see Chef Kenny now, all you have to do is head to PGA National Resort, where he was named executive chef last month. There was a lot of speculation after he took that gig whether or not that meant he did not win the competition (a winner wouldn't have taken a job at a resort, many speculated). Well, I guess this is everyone's answer.

Want more of Gilbert? Read our two part interview with the chef here.

Thanks for the good times, Kenny.

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