Top Chef Chicago Watch: Episode #2

Top Chef always finds the best of the best. Highlighting Chicago with some of its finest offerings this episode, we got to peer into the likes of Chicago’s own Green City Market, and the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Wylie Dufresne, owner of WD-50 and a highly renowned molecular gastronomist, guest judged both the quickfire and elimination challenges.

For the quickfire, chefs were brought to Green City market, a highly sustainable farmer’s market in downtown Chicago. They were asked to make an entree out of five ingredients total that they could either find at the market or in the Top Chef pantry (salt, pepper, oil and sugar omitted).

Warning: Spoilers below!

Mark had a bit of a mishap at the market when he left an ingredient behind but all was well when he still won the quickfire and earned immunity for the elimination challenge.

Chefs drew knives as usual but this time they were labeled with animals instead of numbers. “Vulture…Bear…Lion…Gorilla…Penguin”, these would be the names of the teams the chefs would be a part of. But no, they did not have to cook these animals! Rather they had to cook and cater a 200 person party at Lincoln Park Zoo using the components of these animal’s diets for their menus.

Wow, great challenge Bravo! I love how you think these things up. And yay, Lincoln Park Zoo!

But despite all of the great Chicago recognition, we lost one of our own this episode. We said goodbye to Valerie Bolon, one of the two cheftestants that currently live in Chicago. We lost her to a sad blini, but I think circumstance may have had something to do with it. Yes, her dish was supposedly bad, with rare rutabaga and too dry of a blini, but among her were two other faulty dishes whose attribution was a little less clear.

A team of Dale, Nikki and Spike had an issue with their mushroom dish. Nikki created the dish but Dale found it to be unappealing visually so he added cheese. The problem was, no one tasted it before it went out and the results were not savored.

The other problem was Stephanie’s watercress salad. Her chips were soggy and the salad was too salty because she seasoned it too early. Her dish was redeemed though because she happened to make another that was enjoyed quite thoroughly: banana bread.

I do think the judges made the right choice but it’s just unfortunate. I’m not saying I thought Valerie was going to go that far in this competition but I didn’t think she’d be out quite this soon. Now we just have to cheer on Stephanie! And I think we have a good chance with her, despite her mess up this week.

The winner this week was somewhat of a surprise. With Wylie as the judge, we all thought the likes of Richard Blais, a fellow gastronomist would impress, but instead Andrew came through with a homemade “glacier” made from a thickening agent he brought along with him. Part of team Penguin, Andrew’s bright and tasty idea was good enough to win over Wylie Dufresne.

As obnoxious as Andrew can be, I think he needed that boost.


Title: Zoo food

Challenges: Quickfire – 5 Ingredient Entree, Elimination – Cater Party at Lincoln Park Zoo using ingredients from assigned animal’s diet

Winner: Andrew Eliminated: Valerie

Tune in next Thursday when we rehash Episode 3!

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  • Addie

    I have yet to missd a season of Top Chef. This year there are no home-made chefs. They all are professionals. So when they create an error in their cooking, they should be sent packing with their knives. As a professional, you need to know how well food will travel and you definitely need to taste everything you cook. That should never be an issue in this competition. Taste! Taste! Taste! These are professional chefs. Or so they claim.

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