Let the culinary road trip commence! This week on Top Chef the cheftestants found themselves in the middle of the Palm Springs dessert. Jason was particularly excited to be in Palm Springs, or as he refers to it: the gay mecca. According to Jason, Palm Springs is the place to come sip white wine spritzers and relax. However, this being Top Chef there is little time for any relaxation.
The chefs were dropped off pretty much in the middle of nowhere on the San Andreas fault line.
“We’re about to shake things up.” – Padma, Host and pun enthusiast
The Quickfire challenge embraced the natural elements around them, specifically the heat. José Andrés joined the chefs and introduced his new fangled solar-powered kitchen equipment. The equipment included a solar stove and a solar oven. The chefs drew knives to see what they would be cooking with.
Landing on the top with the hottest dishes were Jeremy’s seared halibut with pickled mushrooms and habanero tomato vinaigrette, Isaac’s pepper and manchego cheese cornbread, and Wesley with a shrimp coconut broth with lemongrass, mushrooms, and pickled red onions. Wesley walked away with the top prize, reassuring his confidence after a particularly messy moment last week.
The dishes that could have used some more heat included Giselle’s couscous concoction with asparagus and bacon, Phillip’s Italian sausage with raw oyster severed on ACTUAL rocks, and Grayson’s (shocker) dry skirt stake with a tomato salsa and goat cheese.
“Snot on a rock,” Padma describing Phillip’s oyster dish
After a small celebration, José gave instructions for the Elimination Challenge. The judges would be teeing off at PGA West and the chefs would be in charge of the refreshments. The chefs would be spilt into two teams based on which piece of equipment they used during the Quickfire challenge. Each team had to serve a four course progressive menu. The catch, (as if it was SO simple already!) the chefs would only be able to cook and serve out of a refreshment cart.
The first course pitted Jeremy and Karen up against Chad and Kwame. Both teams went the same route with a ceviche, thinking the flavors would be refreshing and light. Jeremy and Karen served a citrus halibut with kumquats, passion fruit caviar and an avocado mousse. Chad and Kwame however went with a marinated tuna with a sweet potato emulsion. Jeremy and Karen walked away as the winning team thanks to Jeremy’s genius idea to serve the ceviche in a bowl on top of another bowl full of ice.
The second course had Jason and Marjorie putting up a grilled shrimp and summer squash, eggplant purée, and a tomato celery salad. Grayson and Angelina went with shrimp as well, with a chorizo, avocado, and corn. Grayson and Angelina did not fair so well with their take on the shrimp dish. Failing to be on the same page about the dish weighed them down, giving Jason and Marjoie the win.
For the third course, it was Wesley and Carl vs. Giselle and Amar. Wesley and Carl cooked a roasted pork loin with yogurt, chili, apples, and grapes. Gieselle and Amar went with a spiced-rubbed New York strip with a bacon asparagus potato salad and salsa verde. This round seemed to have the most buzz, leaving the judges split down the middle on which team had the better dish.
For the fourth and final course, the chefs were challenge with a making a the oh-so-dreaded Top Chef dessert. Phillip put out a coconut pudding with strawberries, basil, and rum lime air, while Isaac went with a different citrus and created a grapefruit sabayon with tequila whipped cream and lemon shortbread almond crumble. Phillip struggled with plating his dish leaving a little confusion for the judges and giving Isaac just enough room to sweep in and win the judges affection.
Time for judges table!
The winning team of the night was the Blue Team. Karen and Jeremy had the top dish of the night proving that Jeremy’s double ice bowl really left a big impression. Although it was a team challenge, Jeremy walked away with the win.
The judges least favorite dish came from Angelina and Grayson. Their shrimp dish just did not sit well on the judges tongues. Of course, Grayson had what to say about it. She seemed completely blindsided by being in the bottom again, but honestly the dish seemed to be all over the place from the beginning, so could she really be that surprised?! The dish needed more acid, the shrimp were overcooked, and the corn could not find its own place in the dish. The judges had a tough decision. Should they go with Angelina who was responsible for the undercooked shrimp or pick Grayson to go home for her misplaced corn?
In the end, the corn bit Grayson in the ass. She took the news just as you would expect. She was bitter about the whole situation and probably now has her eye on winning Last Chance Kitchen. Hey, third times a charm right!?