Top Chef Chicago Watch: Episode #9

This was one of my favorite episodes! Not only did the quickfire involve my favorite (and apparently Tom’s favorite) challenge: the relay race, but the elimination challenge was a wedding! How much more fun can you ask for?

But the chefs might have a different opinion. While they loved the relay race, I don’t think they had too much fun in the elimination challenge after staying up for 36 straight hours consisting of 14 hours of prep work before the actual wedding buffet service.

Warning: Spoilers after the jump!

First let’s talk about the relay race. Though Spike and Antonia came somewhat close with their task, we didn’t quite relive the onion chopping incident Casey pulled off last season (did she know it was a relay race?) Andrew whipped through his artichokes while Lisa nervously kicked ass at the oranges.

But in the end, it came down to a matter of seconds between Stephanie’s systematic mayonnaise approach and Nikki’s anxiety. Stephanie won that competition, and I think both Nikki and Stephanie built up some muscle with all that fast whipping.

The same teams were kept for the Wedding Wars. And lo and behold similar results ensued. What would become “the bride’s team” – a pairing of Stephanie, Richard, Andrew and Antonia pretty much felt like the dream team if you ask me. I’m not huge on Antonia, but Stephanie and Richard really brought their game. Designing their menu after the bride’s love of meat and potatoes, the team came up with:

Antonia put Andrew down for suggesting a crispy chicken. While she was right as the judges wound up hating the chicken, she should have stepped up and said something so it didn’t even wind up on the menu.

But speaking of not stepping up, one cheftestant had a bigger issue in that department. I’m talking about Nikki. In discussing the menu, her and the groom bonded over Italian flavors and tastes and her teammates almost assumed she’d take the leader role because of it. But, this was not the case. She had her opinions about what should be done but stepped back as far as she could from the leader position. She didn’t want any of the blame.

Their menu stayed mostly consistent with Italian flavors but the execution was where this team had its flaws. If no one is leading the term, you’re surely not headed toward victory. Nikki had as much of an opportunity she could have, but failed to take it which is why she was sent home.

Not to mention, the one thing she should be good at is making pasta. Many people didn’t like her tortellini dish, claiming it was too sweet. So, when it comes down to it, if you’re not strong enough to lead and not even making good dishes, why should you be here? I completely agreed with the judges.

Dale was also a part of that losing team. In the end you weren’t sure if Nikki was going home for not stepping up to the plate, or Dale for his terribly team playing and all around half-assed food. I think Dale’s a good chef overall but this episode he really seemed to have an attitude problem. Had he been working with Richard, he might have been a little bit more cooperative…Stop complaining about your teammates and do something about it. Step up to the leadership role if you have a problem, it was definitely up for grabs!

But anyway, on to bigger and better things, like the Bride’s team’s victory. Richard led this team, creating delicious meats and was all around a great executive chef. Therefore, he won! But in a gentlemanly turn of events, he tried to hand his winning off to Stephanie who created a cake he admitted he couldn’t have made.

Groom’s cake (left) and Bride’s cake (right).

And yea, Richard was right. Stephanie definitely whipped it out with that wedding cake. Honestly, I would have thought they brought that cake in, it looked so darn professional. Even Gale Gand, renowned pastry chef and guest judge said so! It was beauuuutiful! In the end, they thought Lisa’s groom’s cake tasted better but Stephanie’s was still raved about and definitely belonged in a wedding.

In the end, Stephanie and Richard split the prize. How polite.


Title: Wedding Wars

Challenges: Quickfire - Relay race! Elimination – Cater a wedding including appetizers, buffet and wedding cake.

Winner: Richard (who decided to share it with Stephanie) Eliminated: Nikki

Chefs Remaining: Richard, Stephanie, Antonia, Andrew, Spike, Lisa, and Dale.

Tune in for Episode 10 next week!

Also, don’t forget to enter the Chew on That contest!
Contest ends May 14.

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  • Third Coast Toast

    Hey Hillary, nice recap! As I’m sure you are, I’m loving all the Chicagoness this season! So fun. I actually know someone who was at this wedding (went to high school with the groom), and he was interestingly NOT impressed with the food… my recap is here if you’re interested!

    PS – Can you let me know how you get your screen shots? I’ve seen those on several blogs but can’t figure how to get them on my own…

  • Ann

    Good recap! I was really disgusted with Dale’s attitude this episode. Still, given the constraints they were under, they all pulled off a miracle.

  • Hillary

    Third Coast Toast – yay for another Chicago food blog! Nice recap as well. I’ve written you a note on your blog about screenshots.

    Ann – Thanks! I was definitely disgusted with Dale this episode too. I had a lot more respect for him before.

  • taste memory girl

    yeah it was crazy watching them pull an all nighter on this one!

    I enjoyed last night’s episode – loved the tension and crazy build up to it…look forward to your post on it!

  • Maggie

    I agree with you that Dale would have been better on a team where he already respects the chefs. He seems to be making inital judgements and deciding who he thinks can do a good job and who can’t. Then he won’t work with those he feels don’t cut it.

  • psychedelicvisions

    usually i don’t write comments in blogs but this time i had to. thank you for the usefull info you give!

  • Akkula

    Hey, it’s the first time I’m reading your blog and the articles are awesome :D Bookmarked it and will definately come back again.

    Akukla from

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