This week in Top Chef we picked up right where we left off: still disagreeing over the whole potato disaster…
Phillip was attempting to convince the other chefs that his decision was valid to cook the potatoes with a “gummy” texture. However, the other chefs were not so convinced. Kwame was the only voice of reason when he told the chefs this could go on and on and on.
“Can we stop talking? Cause this is gonna go in circles.”- Kwame
Anyway, getting away from the potato debacle, the chefs left Palm Springs and headed for a sunny San Diego. The chefs arrived at Tuna Harbor and were immediately greeted by San Diego’s own culinary mastermind, Javier Plascencia. Javier explained that for the Quickfire challenge the chefs had to make “decadent fish taco.” It sounded pretty simple until Javier added they only have 20 minutes to cook and oh yeah, it’s a Sudden Death Quickfire Challenge.
The last part of the challenge threw the chefs way off balance creating some havoc in the makeshift kitchen. Wesley even misplaced his lobster for a little bit, causing a minor moment of panic. Phillip was going through a small mental crisis figuring out if he should stick with his guns and cook for himself or cook strictly for what the judges would want.
“There are so many technical things that can go wrong; it’s not easy.” – Kwame
Chad, who calls San Diego home, walked away with the win for his grilled thresher-shark tacos. He was joined in the top by Karen’s Korean-fusion tacos and Kwame’s truffle and chipotle taco.
In the heat of the moment, Angelina forgot to put her food on the plate, platting on the cutting board, making the decision pretty easy for Padma and Javier. Angelina chose to cook against Wesley, who had made it to the next round by the skin of his teeth.
For the Sudden Death Challenge, Padma explained that Cesar salad was invented in the restaurant that Javier now owns. Safe to say we could see where this challenge was headed. Wesley and Angelina had 20 minutes to create a dish using the main ingredients of a Caesar salad.
Angelina went simple with a crostini topped with basically a plain Caesar salad. Wesley went in the other direction cooking a “composed egg dish.” In the end, Javier and Padma went with Wesley’s perfectly fried egg sending Angelina home.
The spirits for the chefs were quickly lifted when Tom and Emeril showed up with a case of color-coded beers. Tom explained that the chefs deserved a little celebratory toast for this being the “almost” halfway point in the show. However, the color-coded beers seemed a little too convenient for a little celebration.
“I have a feeling this is a little bit more than a celebratory drink,” – Karen
And boy was Karen right. The beers were handcrafted by the judges and each color represented a different flavor profile.
Padma’s ale had notes of jalapeño, ginger, and tamarind while Richard’s went in a different direction with beets, chocolate, and the North African spice blend ras el hanout. Tom picked a lemon, coriander, and banana wheat beer and Emeril went with coffee, cayenne, and tangerine.
Everyone seemed a little thrown off for what to make, especially those chefs who picked Tom’s beer with the bananas. The most outrageous purchase seemed to be Jason with his vision to make a meatball with squid and pork. Sounds delicious…
Back at the hotel where the chefs were trying to unwind, Emeril dropped by with some wine and advice. After a little venting session with Emeril, the chefs called it a night and prepped for the morning.
Once in the kitchen some of the chefs still seemed uneasy about the ingredients. Marjorie was playing around with a pressure cookers, Wesley thought his ingredients were setting him up for failure and Phillip was still undergoing his inner battle on who he should be cooking for. Isaac however was inventing new foods when he combined bananas and mayonnaise to create “banannaise”
“Am I high, or is this good?” – Issac
Time for the food! Highlights from the dishes included Amar’s sous-vide chicken breast, crispy chicken thigh, jalapeño poppers, and tamarind-ginger chutney, Karen’s duck breast with cocoa nib, beet purée, and ras el hanout–roasted carrots and Jeremy’s duck with chocolate granola.
Unfortunately not all the chefs ended up with completed plates. Wesley had dried out lambs, Marjorie was missing that real beer flavor, and Isaac got caught up in his banannaise and ended up with a swampy mess of crab.
Back at judges table the top three were no surprise. Amar and his chicken dish, Karen and her duck, and Kwame with his chicken mojo with a banana sofrito purée rounded out the top three. Karen took the win, ending Kwame’s winning streak.
The bottom unfortunately was just as predictable as the top three. Wesley, Isaac, and Jason ended up competing to stay in the completion. The judges ripped apart Jason and his squid meatball dish saying they were as weird as they sounded. However, Jason was able to get by from the skin of his teeth thanks to Wesley and his dried out lamb dish. Wesley packed his knives, but was still proud of his work during the competition.
“I didn’t dream of it being this hard,” he says. “But you know what? I’ve gotten this far. To me, I feel accomplished. Especially who the competition is? I feel proud of that.” – Wesley
Next week the chef’s head back to L.A. for the 10th Anniversary episode!