leave your inhibitions at the door
This has been a pretty good season of Top Chef. For the most part they’ve kept the non-cooking drama to a minimum – no weepy person wanting to go home to their small child, only the occasional throwing a fellow contestant under a bus, and no person with an overly-grating personality to match ZERO culinary skills, like Josie –
Sorry, I should’ve had a trigger warning before mentioning her.
But what I’ve really enjoyed is that I have absolutely no clue who’s going to be there at the end. Last year, it was pretty clear that it was coming down to Gregory and Mei, the year before that Nicholas and Nina. Back in Top Chef Texas, Paul Qui only had to don an apron to trounce whoever was up against him.
I hate to jinx them, but here are my top five favorites for winning the whole thing
Jeremy – he seems to always come through with a refined, well-executed dish
Kwame – strong creativity who’s lack of experience has actually been an asset as the contest is not too big for him.
Marjorie – nice dishes and outstanding desserts, which has traditionally been a weak spot for contestants
Jason – encyclopedic knowledge of cooking, though that often leads to trying too hard
Isaac – Flavorful dishes, but needs some more refinement. Of all the contestants, he is the most entertaining and I can see him getting his own show because of his personality.
I actually think Carl might be better than Isaac. But I really want Isaac to stick around to deliver more lines like this one from this week –
How do I get banana in a savory dish? I got it – I’ll freeze banana in nitrogen and stick it up my ass.
That may be the quote of the SEASON.
Speaking of best of the season, Padma finally reminds us that, yes, she’s a model.
Sudden Death Quickfire Challenge
The contestants went back south to San Diego, where they were met by Padma and local legend Javier Plascencia. The assignment was to make a decadent and delicious fish taco in 20 minutes. The winner gets immunity and the loser faces immediate elimination.
Favorites: Chad, Kwame, Karen
Least Favorites: Didn’t matter. Angelina completed her dish on her cutting board and forgot to actually put it on plates, thus she didn’t complete the challenge. She challenged Wesley to stay in the show. They had to make a dish that features the ingredients that Plascencia uses in his Caesar salad.
Wesley – fried egg w anchovy remoulade, grilled romaine, croutons & lime zest
Angelina – crostini w garlic, olive oil, Dijon vinaigrette, grilled romaine & anchovy
Wesley wins, Angelina is sent packing. Neither dish seemed that special, but a crostini is REALLY amateur.
Create a dish that captures the essence of the beers designed by judges in collaboration with Stone Brewing and Ballast Point Brewing
Padma’s Golden Ale with Jalapeno, ginger, tamarind
Chad: Carrot herb-roasted opah with ginger hominy jalapeno puree & tamarind glazed carrots
Amar: sous vide chicken breast, crispy chicken thigh, jalapeno popper & tamarind ginger chutney
Richard’s stout with beets, chocolate, ras el hanout
Wesley: lamb with roasted beet puree & ras el hanout roasted carrots
Jeremy: duck with chocolate granola, habanero ras el hanout, pickled beets & pickled blueberry hibiscus reduction
Karen: Roasted duck breast with cocoa nib beet puree & ras el hanout roasted carrots
Emeril’s Ale with coffee, cayenne, tangerine
Marjorie: roasted potato gnocchi with chicken ragu & roasted mushrooms
Phillip: roasted duck breast with rutabaga puree
Carl: Grilled short rib with ancho chile coffee & dried cherry salsa
Tom’s wheat beer with lemon, coriander, banana
Isaac – corn & crab veloute with crispy potato, king crab salad & sriracha banannaise (banana mayo)
Kwame – chicken mojo with banana sofrito puree, garlic puree, charred green onion
Jason – pork and squid meatball with grilled marinated squid, carrot wheat beer sauce, salsa povera
Top 3: Amar, Karen, Kwame
Bottom 3: Jason, Wesley, Isaac
– I really liked Wesley as he had some refined, Top Chef-worthy dishes. He admitted that he was a slob of a cook and I think that sloppiness led to problems whenever he tried to make a big splash with a dish. Basically, he loses control.
– His problem this week was that he messed up the lamb, which was the focal point of the dish. It must have been really bad because Jason’s pork and squid meatball sounded awful.
– I’m a fan of the two breweries and the Top Chef Judges, but the only one of those beers I might like is Tom’s, which is a familiar profile. I’d probably order Padma’s as well if she promises to look at me like this.
– It’s my blog dammit, I can post another Padma pic if I want.
– I just made fish tacos this weekend using The Sicilian’s take on a local restaurant’s iconic dish. Delicious.