A Double Dose of Top Chef (Episodes 3 and 4)

Top Chef is really getting tough for the contestants. In this week’s episode, chefs not only had to test their cooking skills, but their teaching and performing skills as well. The elimination challenge consisted of preparing a dish for a 2 minute and 30 second cooking demo audition for the Today Show. And how appropriate for a challenge on TV personality to be preceded with a Quickfire with none other than TV personality Rocco DiSpirito.

The quickfire challenge was to create a breakfast amuse bouche, in other words: a bite-sized breakfast teaser (or hey, in my case: a complete breakfast!) I couldn’t help but laugh when Leah would complain that her fellow contestants all made “two bite” dishes instead of one, but in the end her size strickness gave her immunity. Jamie was pissed because Leah beat by the skin of her teeth as Rocco enjoyed both of their dishes equally.

Jeff prepared sort of an amuse bouche trio and stumbled when Rocco accused him of it. And I’m noticing a pattern with him. He made 2 or 3 dishes for the Thanksgiving challenge when he would have been better off with one and then made 2 or 3 amuse bouche bites when he was only instructed to make one. He needs to edit himself a bit more. I also couldn’t decide if Rocco and Padma put Fabio in the bottom 3 for the quickfire simply because his amuse bouche actually didn’t taste good or because it didn’t match with Rocco’s savory breakfast preference. His brioche and espresso cream shot looked good to me!

On to the elimination challenge. Is it me or were the judges really close to the contestants during their cooking demo auditions? I mean, the circumstances are already hard as it is, give the chefs some space! Jamie faultered with an uncooked egg white (that was she conscious of but ran out of time). Had she gone home, she would have been even more royally pissed for not winning the quickfire.

In the end, Ariane, Fabio and Jeff had the top 3 spots. It seems the judges based their decision on both food and TV personality but in the end, a taste test by the women of the Today Show decided the winner. I really liked the idea of Ariane’s salad and Fabio’s tuna steak, but Jeff’s Malfouf Roll was a bit over my head. I’m not sure it was the best option, but maybe I just didn’t get to learn what it was because of the editing.

Today Show judges chose Ariane’s beefsteak tomato salad with feta and watermelon as the winner, despite one of the women not liking watermelon. I thought it looked excellent, but I thought Fabio’s tuna looked even better, frankly.

EPISODE 4 RECAP:

Official Episode Title: Today Show

Challenges: Quickfire - Breakfast Amuse Bouche for Rocco Dispirito (who likes bacon)
Elimination – Create a dish for a 2:30 cooking demo. The top 3 finalists’ food appeared on the Today Show (Jeff, Fabio and Ariane)

Winner: Ariane Eliminated: Alex

Chefs Remaining: Ariane, Carla, Danny, Fabio, Gene, Hosea, Jamie, Jeff, Leah, Melissa, Radhika, Stefan

Next up: Gail Simmon has a bridal shower (yay?)


A few brief comments on Episode 3 (Foo Fighters’ Thanksgiving)…This post is delayed because of Thanksgiving weekend.

Leah wins the Quickfire challenge of recreating a Top Chef dish and then turning it into a soup (cheftestants were told about the soup factor halfway through). Leah’s tuna tartare turned white asparagus soup impressed Grant Achatz who claimed “white asparagus is hard to work with.” Coming from Achatz, molecular gastronomist and head chef of Alinea, one of the best restaurants in Chicago (no wait, the coutnry), that’s a hugggge compliment.

On to the Thanksgiving dinner for the Foo Fighters. The band members provide some helpful hints about what they like: bacon, frozen chocolate bananas, you know, subtle hints. Richard translates the chocolate banana into a banana s’mores that well, backfires. It sounded like a good idea to me but I think execution-wise, it didn’t happen. I was surprised because his teammate Jeff made multiple bad dishes (re: pumpkin ‘barfaits’) whereas Richard only made one. Sucks for Richard.

EPISODE 3 RECAP:

Official Episode Title: Foo Fighters Thanksgiving

Challenges: Quickfire - Recreate a dish from the Top Chef cookbook and then turn it into a soup! Elimination – In teams, prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for the Foo Fighters and their crew.

Winner: Team “Sexy Pants’ Eliminated: Richard

Chefs Remaining: Alex, Ariane, Carla, Danny, Fabio, Gene, Hosea, Jamie, Jeff, Leah, Melissa, Radhika, Stefan

[Photos courtesy of BravoTv and YouTube.com]

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