Top Chef: Surf vs. Turf

After sizing up the cooking scene in LA the chefs are headed to Santa Barbara. Everyone seemed pretty pumped about the road trip, excited to see whats in store when they head up north.

The chefs arrived in Santa Barbara and were quickly thrown into the culture and atmosphere of the lively seascape. After getting a quick look around the marina the Quickfire was announced! The chefs learned they would be cooking with sea urchin. Of course they won’t be cooking the urchin on its own. Padma took the chefs to meet Dana Cowin from Food & Wine at Sanford Winey to explain the rest of the challenge.

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For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs had 25 minutes to prep a killer sea urchin dish and pair it with the perfect wine. Sounds easy right? Think again!

Hellllloooo SUDDEN DEATH QUICKFIRE CHALLENGE!!!

The winner of the challenge would be granted immunity, while the loser had to battle it out in order to stay in the competition (This sounds a little more GoT than Top Chef to be honest).

After 25 minutes, Wesley, Carl, and Grayson landed on the top. Grayson kept the dish simple and fresh pairing a viognier with a crab salad packed with cucumber, grapefruit and uni. Dana and Padma thought the dish was simple and she really “let the uni sing!”

The bottom three did not get off that easy.

Angelina ended up with a salty uni butter in her pasta while Giselle ran out of time and served and an undercooked potato. Rounding out the bottom three was Karen, who fell short at making a hot-and-sour soup. In the end, Giselle was up for elimination. She choose to cook against Angelina for the Sudden Death Quickfire.

For the sudden death challenge the ladies had 25 minutes to cook up an ostrich egg. Giselle was super pumped since she blamed her loss on not having eggs for her Quickfire dish. Angelina on the other hand never worked with an ostrich egg so she seemed hesitate about the dish. In the end, they both cooked up their own version of scrambled eggs yet Angelina fell short failing to send Giselle home.

Now for the elimination challenge.

The cheftestants were told to partner up to make a surf and turf dish. The bigger challenge than just choosing a partner was choosing the protein the chefs would combine. Some of the combo’s ended up a little weird to say the least, but hey classic Top Chef right?

Just as the cooking was underway, Tom arrived with some news that would switch up the challenge to say the least. Instead of the chefs collaborating on one dish, the pairs would go head-to-head, one person cooking the surf and the other cooking the turf. Oh, and they have to cook splitting the items they just bought! HA, oh Top Chef you’ve done it again.

The chefs seemed a little too calm about the split and headed back to work. Most teams split their ingredients pretty easily, while others struggled to find a balance. Either way, it was go time!

The head to heads ended up being pretty intense. On the winners side we had Grayson, Jeremy, Giselle, Kwame, Carl, Karen, and Jason.

At judges table, the top three from the winners side were selected. Jermey, for his pan-roasted Santa Barbara spot prawns with gnocchi, Kwame’s rock crab salad with turmeric, asparagus, and radish, and Karen with her seared rock cod with a carrot-orange purée, blood orange vinaigrette, and roasted carrots. Karen wasn’t eligible for the win because of her missing fish debacle (c’mon with the timing people!) so it was between Jeremy and Kwame. Kwame walked away with the win, giving him a leg up in the competition!

Unfortunately, someone still had to go home. Landing in the bottom was Frances with her ginger-glazed black cod, Angelina and her mussels with quail, and Wesley’s attempt at a rib eye sous-vide. Wesley seemed the most disappointed in himself, especially because Richard Blais was sitting in at judge’s table and he recently became the new executive chef at Blais’s old restaurant. Fortunately, Wesley’s confidence was restored when Frances was sent packing. Frances’ over thought dish did not provide any cohesiveness and in the end wasn’t able to get her to the next round.

Although the chefs were sad to see Frances go, they quickly had their spirits restored when they heard they are headed back on the road.

Next stop, Palm Springs!!!

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