Recap: 'Top Chef: Seattle,' Episode 7



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As Top Chef: Seattle begins to separate the wheat from the chaff, the competition continues to get more interesting and is really bringing out the fighter in each chef.

Season four winner Stephanie Izard showed up to introduce this episode's Quickfire Challenge, in which the chefs could cook whatever they wanted, with one caveat: all the ingredients were wrapped in aluminum foil, and once unwrapped they had to be used. With 30 minutes on the clock, the chefs just needed to hope for the best.

Kristen’s sponge cake was the winner, because making a sponge cake with only aluminum foil sounds pretty tough. She won immunity.

Now, onto the main event. The chefs were told that they need to cook with berries, in head-to-head battles. Because Kristen had immunity, she would be cooking alone. Sheldon challenged Micah, Danyele chose Josh, Stefan chose John, Josie took on Lizzie, and Brooke got paired with Bart. They had three hours to cook for 150 guests at an outdoor event at Remlinger Farms, and the winner would receive $10,000. Each duo was assigned a different berry, and got to work (in a space that was clearly way too tiny for so many chefs).

Here were the final dishes (with the judges’ comments):

Danyele: Chicken pine nut terrine with blueberry mostarda
Josh: Savory goat cheese mousse with blueberry compote, Thai basil, and serrano ham cracker crust

Judges: Danyele’s terrine was "rubbery" and didn't have a lot of flavor, according to Tom. Stephanie found it "crunchy." Josh "did a nice job with it," Tom said, and Gayle agreed that it was "balanced and delicate."

Josie: Rock ‘n’ Raspberry Roll: sockeye salmon, Dungeness crab, and raspberry aioli
Lizzie: Raspberry steamed cabbage roll with Heritage pork and bacon stuffing

Judges: Padma loved Lizzie’s pork, and Stephanie called the combo "a good direction to go in." Tom thought it "would have been a great dish if it had been seasoned just a bit more." Gail didn’t get much raspberry flavor in Josie’s dish, and Tom was confused by her decision to weigh it down with mayonnaise.

Sheldon: Ahi summer roll: ahi poke, strawberries, and sweet chile sauce
Micah: Strawberry-marinated fried chicken with strawberry and pepper bacon buttermilk biscuit with sour cream and fresh chive

Judges: Tom found Michah’s biscuit to be "a little dense," and Gail liked the fried chicken, "considering." Sheldon’s sauce had "an odd consistency," according to Stephanie, but Gail thought he "did a great job with the strawberries."

John: White gazpacho with Spanish chorizo, gooseberries, and sweet grapes
Stefan: Cali crudo with raspberries, gooseberries, and spiced vinaigrette

Judges: Gail thought Stefan "did a beautiful job" but didn’t capture the gooseberry flavor. Tom agreed. Stephanie thought that John’s chorizo overpowered the dish, and Padma thought that he "had two flavors going on in the same cup." One guest called it "cheeseburger soup." Yikes.

Brooke: Spicy smoked chocolate pudding with blackberry tapioca with salty graham cracker crumble and Earl Grey marshmallow
Bart: Blackberry soup with salmon and rhubarb yogurt sauce

Judges: Tom liked Bart’s blackberry and rhubarb, but thought his salmon was "as bad as it gets." Brooke’s dessert got an overall nod of approval, and reminded the judges of s’mores.

Kristen: Matcha sage-infused goat milk custard with olive-oil macerated tayberries

Judges: Tom loved it, and Gail dubbed the tayberries her "favorite thing of the day."

On the bottom were Sheldon, Josie, Bart, Danyele, and John, for reasons mentioned above. The rest "did the best job working with the product," according to Tom, and Kristen’s dish, according to Izard, was "flawless" and won her the day. It looks like we have a dark horse on our hands.

At the end of the day, Danyele’s dish sent her home. The mostarda didn’t work, the crostino was hard, her terrine reminded the judges of lunch meat, and the dish just didn’t come together.


The Top Chef Recap: A Kitchen Full of Hurt

Having fortified myself, this time, with a double espresso, I slumped down for an episode of Top Chef that had a good deal more dramatic suspense than previous ones, with nail-biting angst, backbiting snarkiness, self-reproach, and sheer ineptitude.

On the basis of this and other episodes where this team of professionals have had to cook for more than six people at a sitting, there seems little doubt that these final twelve, even with a day to prep, haven't a clue how to put out food that will be enjoyed by the 16 judges &mdash which this week include Tim Love of Lonesome Dove in Fort Worth Bryan Caswell of Reef in Houston Anita Lo of Annisa in New York John Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal in Los Angeles and John Currance of City Grocery in Oxford, Mississippi, along with the usual gang of Padma, Tom Colicchio, and Hugh Acheson.

First, the contestants have to cook a dish with tequila, which, aside from the Don Julio product placement, is silly, because, unless you're using an aged añejo (which a couple of them do), there is no residual flavor to the liquor after it's subjected to heat. Chris Crary wins for what is basically an oyster shooter with tequila and something he calls "salt air."

For this segment, Padma is dressed as a Mexican mamacita, switching later to an American Indian pink sheath &mdash if they ever make a movie about Sacagawea, Padma's your girl. The big challenge of the evening is for the cooks to pair up (not by their own choice) in order to cook game &mdash quail, duck, elk, venison &mdash and most rise or sink to the occasion with communal chutzpah. Heather (a sort of young version of the old Shelley Winters), whom by now everyone loathes almost as much as she loathes everyone else, trashes mealy-mouthed Beverly, who, we learn, once went through an abusive relationship and vows never to be bullied again. Apparently she's never met anyone quite like the Medusa Heather, who skewers Beverly every chance she gets, screaming, "I'm not doing Asian!"

No one comes off great, no one's dish is proclaimed a triumph, and then the cooks are put in a room to criticize one another in an effort to keep their place in the competition. Most of the assessments are mild, especially by comparison to Heather's barrage of venom towards Beverly, who breaks into tears yet again.

As a matter of fact, there are lots of tears this week, which, believe me, is not much in evidence in professional kitchens, even Gordon Ramsay's. You get burned, you keep frying. You cut your finger off, you keep slicing. Not on Top Chef: Here, you get a bad comment from Colicchio or one of the other contestants, and the kitchen is soaked in emotional outbursts.

Anyway, in the end, they kick off Dakota, who served venison literally raw, and her partner Nyesha, who didn't screw up anything at all. But fear not! They, like everyone else booted off the show, get a chance at a comeback. So we are now down to, what, ten competitors, plus the rest of those who got the boot? Something like that.


Recap: 'Top Chef: Seattle,' Episode 7 - Recipes

Welcome to another snooze-worthy edition of Top Chef! I've always felt DC and politics were rather boring, and Top Chef 7 is fitting right into my negative view. Even the manufactured tension and fake romances aren't adding the punch in the 'nads this season really needs.

Before I fall asleep, let me get started here.

The chefs, as always, start the day with the usual titillating, edge-of-your-seat thrill of tooth-brushing, moisturizing, and contemplating elements of the previous challenge.

It's that very exciting beige bathrobe. Grr! So sexxxay!

The cheftestants find Padma in the kitchen with a suit. He's definitely not a chef.

Today's guest judge is page Congressman Aaron Schock. He was born about two months after Reagan was shot, which makes me feel ancient since I was in high school at the time.

He tells the cheftestants that the first day of a new member of Congress is spent on ethics.

And then they never think about them again, right?

Padma goes over to the mostly-empty table next to her and lifts the cloche off of the single plate, revealing a tiny square of cheese stuck with a flag toothpick.

Recently, our government adopted the "Toothpick Rule." Lawmakers and Congressional Aides can no longer accept meals from lobbyists however, they can eat hors d'oeuvres, or food that will fit on the end of a toothpick. Not sure if there are limitations to the size of the toothpick.

So, for the Quickfire, the cheftestants must create an hors d'oeuvre that not only fits on the end of a toothpick, but also packs the punch of a full dish. This is a High Stakes QF, with the winner receiving immunity AND a 20K bonus, most likely provided by the American Toothpick Lobby.

Three of the chefs decide to do something with scallops. Ok everyone, repeat after Fabio:

After thirty minutes are up, Padma and Aaron make the rounds. The Little Congressman is very generous with his compliments, while Padma displays her usual stonefacedness.

It's hard to tell what Schock doesn't like. He makes yummy noises for just about everyone, particularly Kevin's pork kabob and Ed's tuna duo. But no! He doesn't really like Ed's dish, and selects him for the bottom along with Alex the Pervert and Kelly. On top are Kevin, Inigo, and surprise surprise - regular bottom-feeder Stephen, who actually managed to fit surf and turf, potato, and sauce on his pick. He's already spending the 20K in his mind, but of course Inigo is given the win.

Seriously, Kevin? Chinese? Did you mean to spout that bit of bigotry? Are you that unfamiliar with ethnic cuisines? While Inigo likes to incorporate Asian flavors in his dishes, I don't think a single one could be pinned down as "Chinese."

The cheftestants are then immediately presented with the Elimination Challenge: to create a fabulous Power Lunch for movers and shakers who dine at The Palm, using the restaurant's own gargantuan proteins. The chefs draw knives to determine who cooks with what.

Kevin and Alpha both get lamb Kelly and Amanda get Porterhouse steak Alex the Pervert and Stephen get salmon Ed and Inigo get lobster and Andrea and Tiffany get swordfish. The cheftestants go to Whole Foods to shop for ingredients and then have two hours for prep.

Back in the Top Chef Your Name Here Kitchen, the chefs scramble to work on their dishes. Ed is completely flabbergasted by the size of the 4lb lobsters he must use. He and Inigo spend much of their time steaming and breaking down the beasts, but Ed does manage to make a pea purée accompaniment.

Amanda is breaking her steaks down into fillets and strip steaks because she thinks they are too big as is. Kelly is tsk tsking because the steaks are no longer Porterhouse, and that's the cut they are supposed to prepare.

Alex the Pervert has no idea at all what he is going to do.

After time is called, the Cheftestants head back home. Ed and Tiffany are buddies and they have a chat in one of the bedrooms. He's starting to doubt himself after coming in on the bottom in the Quickfire, and Tiffany is quick to build him up and make him feel good. But she is also quick to tell us that she has a man at home and is not flirting with Ed. Riiiight.

The next afternoon, at The Palm, the cheftestants receive a kitchen visit from Bruce Bozzi, owner of the restaurant. He says his grandfather founded the restaurant in 1926 and in all of these years they have never handed the kitchen over to anyone else. In other words - don't fuck things up and clean up after yourselves.

Speaking of fucking up, Kelly thinks Amanda needs to go home. She's too young and inexperienced and of course she cut that gorgeous steak up into pieces! And she doesn't remember to pack the necessary condiments for her dish. While Amanda begs for salt, Kelly decides instead to hoard and/or use all of her stash.

Tom wanders into the kitchen to make sure the cheftestants don't make a total mess of The Palm's kitchen. Plus you know he loves making them uncomfortable and insecure while they're cooking.

Meanwhile, Ed can't find his pea purée. He looks everywhere and Tiffany helps, but it's nowhere to be found. Then we see Alex the Pervert come up with the idea of using pea purée under his salmon.

One of those things that make you go, "hmmmm," isn't it?

Time for service! Kelly and Amanda go first with their steak dishes. Padma and Gail are in the dining room at two separate tables. Has Cleavage Wars come to a head?

The diners at Padma's table are: Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough from "Morning Joe" John Podesta, President of the Center for American Progress Executive VP of the Palm restaurant, Bruce Bozzi, Jr. and Virginia Senator Mark Warner.

At Gail's table are: NBC correspondents Kelly O'Donnell, Luke Russert, and Savannah Guthrie and once fat Chef Art Smith.

Amanda's duo of New York steak and filet mignon wins praise from the judges for its seasoning and doneness. Meanwhile, Kelly's is way oversalted. Andrea and Tiffany present their swordfish next. While Tiffany's fish is slightly overcooked, the judges appreciate her olive-raisin tapenade. Andrea's vanilla mustard sauce isn't such a big hit, although Padma says she doesn't mind the overdose of vanilla.

Alex the Pervert and Stephen then present their salmon. The judges rave over the lovely pea purée under Alex's fish and how well it goes with the salmon.

Survey says: YES! A whopping 90% of Bravo viewers who participated in this week's poll voted yes to the question, "Did Alex the Pervert steal Ed's peas?"

But. shall we go on? Stephen's salmon dish doesn't fare nearly as well and is called "a mess." Inigo and Ed are up next with their mutant lobsters. Inigo's is chewy and the non-foodie judges feel that his use of foam is strange. They just think it's foam. Ed's lobster is nicely done and the eggplant accompaniment that replaced his missing peas is also complimented.

Finally, Kevin and Alpha bring out their lamb dishes. Alpha's sauce is a bit too sweet for most palates and his dish "calls out for something green." (Here, Kermit, Kermit, Kermit!) Kevin's doesn't seem to please at all and garners complaints of too-strong flavors and overcooked meat.

After lunch, the Chefs go back to the Hinckley Hilton and sit in the Not Particularly Glad and Where's the Booze? Stew Room to be entertained by Stephen who is offering a seminar on Being on the Bottom.

I'm giving you permission to use your imagination in any way you wish.

Padma comes in after the nap the judges had to take after eating all of that heavy food and morosely asks to see Alex the Pervert, Ed, and Tiffany. Tiffany is sure that she's on the bottom because she knows her swordfish was overcooked, but to her surprise, the three of them are told that they had made the best dishes. While her fish was overcooked, it was still juicy and the rest of her dish made up for it.

Art Smith praised Alex the Pervert's pea purée to the heavens, saying he wanted a whole bowl of it. And that's good enough to get Alex the Pervert the win. His dish, possibly thanks to Ed, goes on the menu at The Palm DC and a caricature of him, with a hooker and an eight-ball, will go up on the wall in the restaurant.

The three cheftestants go back to the Stew Room and call Kelly, Andrea, and Kevin out to face the judges. Kevin's tomato concassée was too hot and spicy for everyone although he thought it was fine. He also got cut down for not cleaning the bones on his lamb chops well enough, which made Art Smith wonder about the care he did or didn't take with the dish.

Andrea's sauce was too vanilla-y, and her cous cous risotto was too "gloopy." (Is that a technical term?) And Kelly's food was too salty, which she knew. And which she cries about back in the Casa de Stew.

After the final deliberation, Andrea is asked to pack her knives and go. She's a really good sport about it and has a minor hug-fest with Kevin and Kelly right there in front of the judges. This causes a cranky Padma to bark out, "that will be all, thank you."


Top Chef Portland Episode One Recap: Shota Gets the Bird

Shota Nakajima melds minds (and ingredients) with fellow chefs Roscoe Hall and Chris Viaud on the season's very first quickfire.

Oh hey there, Top Chef. We meet again…six years later. And this time, it’s personal. By which I mean the latest season is filmed in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. And, of course, Seattle’s own Shota Nakajima of Taku and, previously, Adana is one of the contestants vying for fame, fortune, and a lifetime supply of San Pellegrino.

Establishing shots! Of Portland! So many bridges! Did you guys know they have food carts?! This new crop of chef contestants reflect on what a shitty, trying year this has been. They file into the Top Chef kitchen, which looks more and more like an abandoned Whole Foods with each passing year.

Padma notes that this crew contains nary a sous chef. “So all of you are used to being the boss, I guess.” Truly though, nearly two decades in, it’s a testament to Top Chef that the participants get more impressive rather than thirstier. This assemblage includes alums of Chez Panisse and Eleven Madison Park, some James Beard honorees and, my god, Houston chef Dawn Burrell has a Beard nom and a past career as an Olympic long jumper. We're like two seasons away from chef astronauts.

Padma explains all the Covid-related precautions the show is taking. “We are getting tested very regularly,” she purrs. Leave it to Padma to make recurring nasal swabs sound like a sex thing.

Our man Shota gets a little introductory screen time. He recalls the agony of pandemic layoffs back in March. “I let go of 30 of my favorite humans in my life,” he says. Being back in the kitchen “is mentally healthy for me.”

Quickfire, ahoy. Before chefs arrived, the show asked them to specify a single ingredient they can’t live without. You can probably guess what’s coming: a knife draw groups everyone into trios each team must create a single dish that unites fun combos like fish sauce, masa, and smoked trout roe. Or gruyere, caul fat, and Mexican chocolate.

Shota brought kombu. He’s partnered up with Roscoe Hall (rice vinegar) and Chris Viaud, whose choice of butter feels a little uninspired, like saying your favorite pastime is breathing. Nonetheless, the three whip up a lovely sounding combo of scallops with kombu butter, parsnip puree, and some rice vinegar pickles.

Padma is similarly unimpressed with Shota’s co-chefs’ ingredients. “Have you guys ever watched Top Chef? We have all of those things.” Shota and his team land on the bottom of this very first challenge thanks to a lack of acid and inadequate butter flavor (but ample amounts of irony).

Top Chef took cues from a nation of homeschooling parents and set up a pod of all-star alums to rotate in as judges: Kwame Onwuachi, Dale Talde, Melissa King, Amar Santana, Richard Blais, and Richard Blais’s resplendent cockscomb hair.

Elimination challenge time! “From the Oregon ducks to birdwatching, Portland is obsessed with birds,” says Padma, the awkwardness of this line deflating her normal velvet drawl. Even a stale “put a bird on it” joke would have been 98 percent less cringey.

Each chef cracks open an egg to learn which bird they will be cooking. Shota gets duck, a relatively versatile option compared with the poor folks tackling squab and chukar. (Little did I know my dumb cockscomb joke was avian foreshadowing.) Meanwhile, Padma gets in on the mockery of Richard Blais’s hair.

Judge Richard Blais has hair as lofty as his culinary ideals.

Oh lord, chefs must order Whole Foods groceries via tablet for curbside pickup, a fresh sort of hell for people who like to interrogate the quality of their ingredients IRL. Also, the classic “marching into Whole Foods” montage lacks the same gravitas when chefs just pull into a parking spot for a curbside grocery handoff.

The next day, cooking at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Shota explains his dish, “kind of a teriyaki-style duck, but braised in sauce rather than grilled.” He learned this highly involved nitsume technique from his culinary mentor, Michelin-starred Osaka chef Yasuhiko Sakamoto. “I’m paying homage to my chef because he’s the guy who taught me how to cook duck this way.” That’s a lovely and humble statement, especially among a crew of exec chefs and owners. Shota explains he moved to Japan when he was 18. We are treated to some proof in the form of a teenage photo. This is how Shota might have looked were he part of an early-aughts boy band: big hair, floppy suit.

As the chefs awkwardly exposition-chat about their dishes, Sasha Grumman tells Shota, “your laugh’s my favorite.” Others chime in to agree. I’ve never noticed before it is a pretty distinct chortle.

Chefs are supposed to use their assigned bird to cook something personal, that helps the judges get to know them. Thus Padma, Tom, Gail, and crew will sample each dish blind. This process leads to a lot of tableside psychoanalysis: One elegant roasted squab dish reveals a chef conversant in fine dining. Tom writes off some duck adobo (a baffling submission by pitmaster Roscoe) as “a bowl full of fear.”

After being in the bottom for the quickfire, Shota lands in the top group for his tender soy-braised duck breast with pumpkin and white miso puree. Which means he lives to see another round of cookery and Portland bridge B-roll. Whew!

The winner: Sara Hauman, a Portland chef with one hell of a resume and, apparently, one hell of a glazed quail. Let’s hope this “OMG I totally don’t think I’m very good” schtick is just a single-ep arc.

The loser: Ugh, the impressive Roscoe Hall gets bounced for that very off-brand adobo, aka the bowl of fear.

Next, on Top Chef: The Tillamook cheese factory! Portland restaurant Akadi! José Andrés on Zoom! Shota doesn’t show up much in the season’s preview montage. Though that could be just because he’s more into honoring time-tested Japanese cooking techniques than talking shit and swiping other people’s pea puree.


The Tie-Breaker Challenge

For the tie-breaking challenge, Graham Elliot instructed the chefs to prepare a dish picking up the ingredients from the earth elements as none of the chefs were of earth signs. The three chefs had three minutes to come together and decide upon a common dish they would prepare and they agreed upon steak tartare.

Emily Hahn served the steak tartare with egg and over-seasoned handmade potato chips. Senat’s under-seasoned tataki-style version with beet juice was better than Smith’s steak with the least plating. Unfortunately, Smith had to leave.


‘Top Chef’ recap: 7 All-Stars head to the great outdoors and catch ‘Cabin Fever’

In last week’s episode of &ldquoTop Chef,&rdquo Kevin Gillespie had to wave the white flag after losing Restaurant Wars to Gregory Gourdet. But he won redemption after facing off against Nini Nguyen in the post-show &ldquoLast Chance Kitchen&rdquo with his trout dish. Host Tom Colicchio told Kevin that he has &ldquoone more battle before finals begin.&rdquo What happened this week as the remaining chefs headed into the mountains to serve brunch for 200 moms? Read on for our minute-by-minute takes on the ninth episode of Season 17.

10:02 p.m. Chefs Karen Akunowicz and Melissa King are bummed after their team leader Kevin failed at achieving his dream restaurant. Bryan Voltaggio says, &ldquoHe&rsquos a friend of mine and it&rsquos tough to see him go.&rdquo He says in a confessional that, for him personally, &ldquoIt was a big loss to see Kevin go home. I&rsquove known Kevin for a really long time and he&rsquos a very intelligent chef and one of the strongest competitors.&rdquo He was looking forward to working alongside Kevin to the end. He summed it all up by telling the other chefs, &ldquoThat one stung.&rdquo

10:03 p.m. It is 5 a.m. at the chefs&rsquo abode and pitch dark outside. Brian Malarkey observes, &ldquoThere is certainly a different dynamic in the house. Coffee is not a thing.&rdquo Stephanie Cmar says, &ldquoIt&rsquos certainly hard to celebrate when everyone is so depressed on the other team.” On the other hand, “I got that &lsquoW&rsquo and I&rsquom $10,000 richer.”

10:04 p.m. Bryan announces, &ldquoWe have a letter.&rdquo He reads it out loud: &ldquoChefs, pack your bags. You&rsquore going to summer camp.&rdquo But that news is greeted with groans. &ldquoMeet me at Pali Mountain Retreat Center. Drive safe and I&rsquoll see you there..&rdquo Stephanie says, &ldquoLike the woods?&rdquo Brian adds, &ldquoI want to cook in the city, please.&rdquo Lee Anne Wong demands, &ldquoDefine summer camp.&rdquo She tells her cohorts she’s “having PTSD right now.&rdquo She remembers, &ldquoLast time I went camping on &lsquoTop Chef&rsquo was 8,000 feet in a blizzard. Do I want another camping challenge? F*ck NO!&rdquo Her reluctance is understandable. She had to withdraw from the competition due to altitude sickness on that last camping trip.

10:06 p.m. Malarkey thinks it might be a nice resort, noting, &ldquoI&rsquove got my swim gear, I&rsquove got my tennis racket.&rdquo Karen says she went to cheerleading camp, so &ldquoif the chefs want to get into a pyramid, I&rsquom totally game for it.&rdquo They take off in two vehicles. Lee Anne says she grew up in Upstate New York where summer camp popular. But she’s hoping they won&rsquot have a quickfire. And just like that, they arrive at Pali Mountain.

10:08 p.m. Padma Lakshmi greets them, saying, &rdquoWelcome to summer camp.&rdquo She is standing next to the reigning &ldquoTop Chef: Kentucky” winner Kelsey Barnard Clark. Padma says that &ldquoBeing up here in nature gets me excited for grilling season” — sorry, Lee Anne, there is a quickfire challenge.

THE QUICKFIRE CHALLENGE

10:09 p.m. There are a whole lot of canned beans covering a picnic table. Padma says, &ldquoIn honor of summer, we want you to utilize these grills and make us a dish featuring Bush&rsquos Beans.&rdquo Bryan says, &ldquoI&rsquom down with beans&rdquo and that Bush&rsquos Beans is &ldquosomething we keep in our pantry at home. No beans about it, I want to win&rdquo (he apologizes immediately for that pun). There is a variety of taste options. Kelsey states, &ldquoWe don&rsquot want you all just to put it on the side of a dish and call it done. Get creative, have fun, make this a delicious meal.&rdquo The winner of the quickfire will win $10,000. Gregory suddenly sports a big grin on his face.

10:10 p.m. They have 30 minutes on the clock, and off they go. Stephanie doesn&rsquot know if it is the elevation or she is just brain dead, but she can&rsquot come up with a plan: &ldquoIt&rsquos like crickets,&rdquo she says. Gregory grabs the baked beans and says, &ldquoI remember eating these as a kid.&rdquo He is roasting pineapple, lettuce and chilies. He adds, &ldquoIt is hard to get different textures out of beans.&rdquo He is frying them and making them crisp while making a vinaigrette out of white beans.

10:12 p.m. Malarkey asks Karen what she is making. &ldquoJust some white beans and kale,&rdquo is her reply. He then announces, &ldquoI, too, have white beans and kale.&rdquo &ldquoA classic combination, my friend,&rdquo she says. She’s making a Tuscan white bean soup, but then realizes there is no stock in the pantry. So she decides to use smoked ham hock to build enough flavor in a half-hour for this to be a great soup.&rdquo

10:13 p.m. Melissa asks Bryan what kind of beans he got. He says, &ldquoSouthern style white beans.&rdquo She got the Southern style white beans too and will make a bean fried dough with a bean puree and bacon. Stephanie, however, is struggling as she admits, &ldquoIt seems when I am taken out of the Top Chef kitchen and put into a different environment, I freeze a bit.&rdquo Karen asks about her choice of beans and she says, &ldquoA little fiesta, a little Cuban.&rdquo She thinks she can put together a bean burger.

10:14 p.m. Lee Anne is using the Cuban style black beans. Gregory approves of her choice.&rdquoHot ham pies are like the jam,&rdquo she says. But she hasn&rsquot won a quickfire since Season 1. Lee Anne then shares that she will be a bride in the next couple months, which means some cash would come in handy. Meanwhile, Bryan is thinking a little outside of the box, using the bean cooking liquid to marinate the meat.

10:15 p.m. Malarkey notes that the challenge requires that the beans are the star of the dish, so he is making a char-roasted carrot with a white bean puree. He runs over to get some pine needles to smoke, saying, &rdquoI&rsquom just one with nature.&rdquo The clock is clicking down when Padma walks in and announces, &ldquoFive minutes!&rdquo Bryan&rsquos dish is, as usual, fine-dining-worthy but the beans are nowhere to be seen. Beep, beep! Time is up.

10:16 p.m. Malarkey is first up with his cannellini beans with bacon and char-roasted carrots. Karen serves her Tuscan bean soup. Stephanie says, &ldquoI used beans in a lot of different ways,&rdquo as she presents her black bean burger with sweet potatoes and bean salsa. Bryan serves his bean-marinated skirt steak with white bean puree and Brussels sprouts. Melissa serves a white bean and bacon with fried dough and mango salsa. Padma asks, &ldquoDo you use beans a lot?&rdquo Not too often, apparently.

10:17 p.m. Lee Anne serves Cuban black bean empanada, purple hull pea slaw and a mango salsa fresca. Visually, at least, it looks yummy. She gets a smile and a compliment from guest judge Kelsey who calls her dish delicious. Gregory&rsquos dish is a crispy hickory-smoked bean salad with grilled veggies and a white bean vinaigrette. &ldquoNice touch with your pour,&rdquo she says as Gregory ladles on the dressing. She is also impressed with his crunchy beans.

10:18 p.m. Kelsey tells them they all did such an amazing job. She appreciated that they reflected where they were in the outdoors and made food that was weather-appropriate. Stephanie, who was in trouble from the get-go, didn&rsquot quite get there with her black bean burger. &ldquoIt just didn&rsquot hold together,&rdquo says Kelsey. And, yes, Bryan failed to make the prime ingredient in the challenge a lead player. His dish was too steak-forward. Melissa&rsquos dried dough did her in as her beans leaked out of her filling.

10:19 p.m. Good news next. Kelsey admired how Karen made her soup broth and how flavorful it was with just 30 minutes of cooking time. Next, Lee Anne impressed by making a dough in 30 minutes. Also good: &ldquoIt was packed with beans and the flavor was just spot on.&rdquo They also were fond of Gregory&rsquos crispy beans. Kelsey said, &ldquoIt ate hardy but it was really clean.&rdquo And the winner is &hellip Lee Anne ! Good for her. She just got a $10,000 wedding gift.

THE ELIMINATION CHALLENGE

10:20 p.m. Padma says, &ldquoYou may have noticed this, but you aren&rsquot alone at this camp.&rdquo What, is Jason from &ldquoFriday the 13th&rdquo lurking about? Nope, just a whole lot of moms who have gathered for a weekend getaway from all over the country. The task at hand for the chefs? To put together a spectacular brunch buffet for 200 mothers staying there at Pali. Joining Kelsey in judgeship is another &ldquoTop Chef&rdquo winner and mother, Brooke Williamson. Kelsey explains, &ldquoThere are a lot of us moms here who have been living off of stale Cheerios, so make sure you create an impressive buffet. Seven items is not going to cut it. &rdquo Each chef has to make two dishes. They get four hours to prep and cook at the lodge but must use the limited ingredients in the camp&rsquos kitchen. Also, Padma says, &ldquoService begins at 9 a.m.&rdquo

10:23 p.m. Before they get to work, however, the chefs get to play. The staff at the camp show them rope rungs used to climb up trees and jump off onto a trellis. Gregory is more of a glamper than a camper, but he is the first to go. Stephanie isn&rsquot so confident about propelling herself off of a large tree but she does fine. Malarkey, a big kid if ever there was one, uses a zip line and slides high in the air across a ravine. They then throw axes into wood targets and dangle while bungee jumping. Finally they get to kick back and drink wine around a campfire and cook steak, veggie hotdogs, and salads with fresh vegetables.

10:25 p.m. Fun is over as the chefs get their 4 a.m. wake-up call. Lee Anne couldn&rsquot sleep with the moms getting their karaoke on all night. And when they finally take a look at what ingredients are available, it&rsquos a shock. Karen says, &ldquoNot only isn&rsquot there any diversity in the ingredients. There&rsquos not a lot of ingredients.” Gregory describes their situation as &ldquosketchy at best.&rdquo Brian says he will make shakshuka with poached eggs in a tomato and pepper sauce. Lee Anne is planning on coffee and doughnuts as well as a fruity clafoutis. Melissa calls the challenge &ldquostraight-up ‘Hunger Games.’&rdquo She is happy taking what is left over after the other chefs choose their ingredients and decides to do a leafy salad.

10:28 p.m. Besides his shakshuka with baked egg, Brian is doing steak and eggs. Karen is a bit in the weeds while trying to &ldquoMacGyver my pork chops into a ragu with grits.&rdquo She doesn&rsquot quite know what to do for her second dish. Bryan is attempting potato and shallot cakes with ham gravy and roasted carrot salad with ricotta. He knows they have to make an impression on the moms, making sure that their food matches their expectations. Melissa is also doing a ham congee to go with her romaine salad.

10:32 p.m. There is three hours left. Karen comes up with the idea of corn cakes for dish number-two. Brian realizes there isn&rsquot enough tomato sauce for what he wants to do. So he tosses his egg idea away and starts cleaning shrimp to make a soup also featuring chorizo. Gregory is doing fruit salad and mushroom ragu with tomatoes and eggs. A ticked-off Malarkey realizes that everyone marked their serving area in the buffet line and didn&rsquot leave a spot for him.

10:35 p.m. A clever Malarkey decides he will improvise his own station. Meanwhile, Gregory realizes his eggs won&rsquot be ready so he substitutes spinach in his mushroom ragu. Two minutes and twenty seconds are left and the moms are clamoring outside the doors. Lee Anne pulls out her clafoutis and notices with dismay it has been steamed and not baked. She hopes her doughnuts save her.

FOOD SERVICE

10:36 p.m. Head judge Tom Colicchio takes his seat among the throng of ladies. Or as Gail says, &ldquoTom and the moms.&rdquo He notes, &ldquoThis is my fan base right here&rdquo as he earns an ovation. The judges applaud Gregory&rsquos substitute of wilted spinach for the eggs he originally intended for his ragu. And they also like the heat in his fruit salad. Padma says Stephanie&rsquos &ldquohash thing&rdquo looks like the most unappetizing thing in the world but adds, &ldquoI&rsquom actually enjoying it.&rdquo Kelsey also notes her biscuit &ldquois seriously perfect.&rdquo

10:40 p.m. Melissa&rsquos salad does not spark joy with the judges. But her congee is making Brooke happy. All of a sudden, some moms start shrieking over Lee Anne&rsquos presence, as one says, &ldquoI&rsquom so excited to see you!&rdquo She serves the judges her nutmeg doughnuts and her clafoutis, which she has to scoop off the top to try to salvage her steaming disaster before dishing it out. Brian ladles his shrimp soup with chorizo and goat cheese and then cuts up his fennel-crusted steak. But Gail says his stew has very little flavor. Kelsey says, &ldquoIt&rsquos a little one note.&rdquo But Padma says she likes his steak and potatoes. Tom observes Lee Anne had too much fruit in the clafoutis: &ldquoIt should be eggy.&rdquo And he does a Fauci-style face palm after trying her dense doughnuts.

10:43 p.m. Karen&rsquos corn cakes with feta cheese along with her white corn grits with braised pork are next. Bryan offers coriander-roasted carrots with salsa verde and a potato shallot cake with a gruyere fondue. One patron calls his dish &ldquoheaven in a bowl.&rdquo Kelsey says his potato should have been crispier. But Gail describes the plate as feeling &ldquosuper homey, super brunchy, but it looks so totally elevated.&rdquo Tom also sings the praises of his carrots. Then two moms stop by and tell Bryan that he and his brother Kevin are their favorites from &ldquoTop Chef.&rdquo Tom finds Karen&rsquos &ldquolittle stew&rdquo to be very interesting. Both Brooke and Kelsey liked her corn cakes, too.

10:45 p.m. The judges ask a table of moms what items were their favorites. Both Bryan&rsquos carrots and Karen&rsquos corn cakes get a thumbs up. But not so much Melissa&rsquos grapefruit salad. Another mom pipes up and says Lee Anne’s &ldquodoughnut was so dry.&rdquo

JUDGES&rsquo TABLE

10:46 p.m. Before the judges chime in, Malarkey reams his fellow chefs for not making room for a station for him. Always with the complaints and excuses with this guy. Stephanie points out, &ldquoI don&rsquot know if it was ideal for anyone.&rdquo Lee Anne says, &ldquoSorry, Malarkey.&rdquo Then he pouts for a second, but makes a joke: “You guys weren&rsquot being nice to me!&rdquo Tom admits to the contestants that this was a hard challenge: &ldquoYou&rsquove got two dishes, you have to make 200 portions, the ingredients weren&rsquot the best. For some of you, you made the best you could out of a really difficult situation.&rdquo Brooke says she was shocked that nobody did eggs except for the breakfast salad — wasn’t for a lack of trying, though.

10:48 p.m. Padma puts forth, &ldquoThere were three chefs who did a little bit better than the others: Karen, Bryan Voltaggio and Gregory. Karen suddenly gets teary-eyed because she already got cut from the competition but came back. &ldquoYou just really feel you have to prove to everyone that you belong here.&rdquo Gail says her corn cake was the perfect dish for a buffet. Multiple moms told us they were able to eat one in line and one to go.&rdquo Padma tells Bryan, “In spite of how much time you took, you were cooking your food. And it paid off for you.&rdquo Gail adds that he made the moms feel like they were eating a really elevated restaurant-quality dish.&rdquo Brooke tells Gregory if she hadn&rsquot known there was supposed to be an egg on his ragu, &ldquoI wouldn&rsquot have missed anything.&rdquo Tom, says he managed to pull off his fruit salad and left it at that for that simple dish.

10:50 p.m. And the winner of the elimination challenge is &hellip Bryan Voltaggio! Hurray, he finally used his considerable skill set and nailed what the judges wanted from him. He says that losing Restaurant Wars lit a fire in him. Now the bad news: Padma asks Lee Anne, Malarkey and Melissa to come forward. Lee Anne was asked what her biggest challenge was for her in making her food. She admits she flubbed her clafoutis because she didn&rsquot notice the oven setting. She looks pained when Padma says the doughnut was actually wet with oil too. Tom notes that these are mental mistakes, not cooking ones.

10:52 p.m. Tom tells Melissa her ham congee with ham steak, rice and a hot sauce was a smart decision. But Brooke then shreds her romaine salad with grapefruit. As for Malarkey, Brooke tells him, “The shrimp was the biggest issue for me. It was just overcooked.&rdquo Padma damns his soup as bland despite him cooking it for hours. But Brooke does note she was impressed with the cookery of his steak. But Tom was disappointed in his horseradish sauce. The bottom three await their fate.

10:54 p.m. Tom observes that the chefs in trouble basically made mental mistakes. Lee Anne&rsquos dishes were perfect for a brunch buffet in theory. Gail says, &ldquoIt was very ambitious but it doesn&rsquot excuse the technique.&rdquo But at least Lee Anne gave them cooking. Melissa&rsquos salad was a total miss. Tom then digs into Malarkey&rsquos shrimp that were frozen and that he made the mistake of cooking it in the sauce instead of separately.

10:56 p.m. The chefs return, and it is hard to say who will be on the chopping block. Melissa has done incredibly well until salad-gate. But the chef who is leaving us &hellip is Lee Anne. Can&rsquot wait to see her take on Kevin in &ldquoLast Chance Kitchen.&rdquo Before she goes, she reminds Tom she crushed it last time, lasting five rounds.

Next week: The guest judges will be esteemed chefs Niki and Carol Nakayama. The remaining six All-Stars will be cooking a six-course Japanese meal for Olympic athletes who would be going to Tokyo this summer if not for the ongoing pandemic.

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they&rsquore faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Thursday on Bravo. You&rsquoll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.


‘Top Chef’ Boston Recap Episode 7: ‘Restaurant Wars’

Here’s the recipe. Start with eight chefs, divide in half. From each of your two groups of four, select two unlucky chefs to have responsibilities. Drop one into the chaotic, hot oil of a deep fryer: this is your executive chef. Place the other under the unrelenting fire of the broiler: this is your front-of-the-house chef. Set the remaining chefs aside at room temperature, as they will do basically nothing. Serve.

As usual, Restaurant Wars comes down to the power positions: front-of-the-house, the person who coordinates the servers and is in charge of the experience, and executive chef, the person who runs the kitchen.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Our eight remaining chefs draw knives and we wind up with our teams. The grey team: Adam, Doug, Melissa, Mei. The orange team: Katie, Keriann, Katsuji, Gregory. Now, it would seem like the teams are pretty comparable—the orange team might have the edge here on talent here. Gregory emerged early as the guy to beat and as of late Katsuji has been on top.

And yet, almost immediately, the orange team starts to crash and burn. And that key to Restaurant Wars—the idea that the only thing that matters is the executive chef and the front-of-house manager—is what turns what should be a close contest into an utter blow-out. Keriann is picked to handle front-of-the-house. Katie is picked to be executive chef.

What happens when you take arguably the weakest chefs of the show and put them in charge of one team? That team loses.

If their first bad decision is the choice of executive chef and manager, their second bad choice is their “theme,” which is global food (note: that is not actually a theme). They make this decision immediately after being warned to keep it simple. This is a challenge about a restaurant concept. Cooking all different stuff is not a concept. It is not a theme. It is not keeping things simple. It doesn’t work, even if you try to make it work by calling your restaurant Magellan because, um, he got spices from all over?

Then it gets worse. Keriann’s managing is so bad that the judges are kept waiting for a table long enough that Tom Colicchio pretends to be the hostess. Service for the judges is OK, but for everyone else, yikes. People get the same dish three times, wait forever for other dishes, just a total cluster that neither Katie nor Keriann, the only two people who could fix it, are capable of fixing.

After all that, the OK food takes an ugly turn at dessert, with a dish from—you guess it—Keriann. She’s left Katsuji to execute her vanilla banana cherry crepe thing. Katsuji, who spends the entire episode squandering all the goofy goodwill he has earned by being extremely catty the entire episode, discovers that Keriann’s pre-made mousse is too thick to spread on her too dry pre-made crepe. So Katie, forced into finally making a decision and being in charge, makes a bad one, warming the dish, which doesn’t really make it a ton better. The judges hate the dessert. In fact, it makes them angry.

In a kitchen likely located in another universe light years away, there’s the gray team.

Despite an editing fakeout that makes you think Adam is going to have his dish ruined by missing clams, the gray team works together beautifully. Adam loses some clam shells for his baked clams, but it’s cool, Doug made sure they got extras, so he talks Adam down and they recover. They all work beautifully together, Adam hamming it up on the floor, Doug hamming it up with a super delicious pork dish (see what I did there, with the ham?). Our less brave chefs, Melissa and Mei, hang out in the background. Their dishes are fine, Melissa’s is too salty, but whatever. They’re safe because their executive chef and front of house made things work.

Of course, the gray team wins. Of course, the orange team is on the bottom.

Did they think it was unwise to have such a broad theme? Keriann: “It did occur to me but ultimately I wanted the chefs to be comfortable with the dishes they were making.” Katie, whose problem this really should be, is mostly quiet…like she was in the kitchen.

“Katie was in over her head tonight,” Gail Simmons, everyone’s favorite judge who is way better than the absent Richard Blais, says.

But even so, it’s Keriann who goes home, due to her “disorganized service” and food that was the “worst dish on the team.”

“I’m disappointed that I’m going out for front of the house, but it’s just not what I do,” she says. “I shouldn’t trust my dish with people who obviously didn’t respect my food.”

But never fear, Keriann. After a predictable ending to Restaurant Wars, Top Chef is trying to shake it up next week—sudden death eliminations! A chance to immediately rejoin the contest by cooking! A longer version of that process with Last Chance Kitchen! Let’s hope it won’t be as formulaic as Restaurant Wars.


'Just Show What You Know How to Do: Cook'

ERIC RIPERT: The reaction he had when they asked him if he would have sabotaged on purpose. [When] he said "I cannot answer that question," he looked guilty. Also the body language. So if it is the case, we have basically the reincarnation of Machiavelli over there.

ESQ: Do you think that'll help him or hurt him?

ER: If you are good, you don't need to be mean. You don't need to be condescending, you don't need to be calculating, you don't need to brag about yourself. Just show what you know how to do: cook. If he did [sabotage Kenny], it's really bad karma. And if he didn't, you know, good for him. But it looks very suspicious.

ESQ: What about Amanda using sherry in a school lunch? That's just a dumb idea.

ER: It doesn't make any sense, because children don't really appreciate the flavor of sherry the way an adult would. On top of that, by buying sherry, she basically shrunk the budget they had to create the food for the kids. It was not only a bad idea, but it was a very selfish idea. She should take responsibility for having someone kicked off.

ESQ: Could you cook for $2.60 a person?

ER: I think you can, definitely, I mean the winners, they did. And it was good.

ESQ: But not at Le Bernadin?

ER: No, but the kids don't come to Le Bernadin. Very few.

ESQ: How did you feel when you saw all of the contestants attack each other at Judges' Table?

ER: Well you know, I think the pressure is. Basically, I think now they are into the Top Chef mood, and they are definitely stressed and more pressured, and they're feeling maybe a bit more tired, more sensitive, and so on, and they start to follow their real personality. And because of the cameras being everywhere, they don't even realize the change in themselves, but suddenly they don't hide anything anymore.

ESQ: Would you have voted for Jacqueline?

ER: Well I think two pounds of sugar. it's not good.

ESQ: But she sounded like she was stuck with bad bananas.

ER: Well, cooking starts with shopping. If the ingredients are not good, you don't do it. Just change your mind and do something else. She's totally responsible for being eliminated. She should have been also more pushy in terms of getting a better budget for herself.

ESQ: This last question has nothing to do with cooking. I wondered if you were going to go get in line for the new iPhone today.

ER: No. I have one that doesn't really please me too much, so I'm not going for number four.


Top Chef CA Episode 7: 10th Anniversary - Spoilers!

This episode was all about looking back and celebrating 10 years of Top Chef.

The quickfire was judged by the lovely Antonia, and it was a weird one. Each of the 10 chefs had 20 seconds to pick one ingredient from the pantry and all the chefs could only use those 10 ingredients. Thankfully someone chose salt, and another chose olive oil, but for a bit it seemed like everyone was just looking to get their protein pick into the mix. I was actually rooting for that kind of screwup to see how they'd handle it. Jeremy took 1st place with beef carpaccio.

The elimination challenge: the chefs were supposed to look back 10 years and create a dish based on where they were at that time. For some it did not go well. Kwame was at sea and I hated seeing him struggle so. Marjorie (yay!) got the win with a green curry (sans lemongrass!) and Jason tanked it by under-seasoning his trout.


Watch the video: Top chef saison 11 épisode 08 2020


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