The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Top Chef California Episode 7: Back in the Day

The contestants made their way back to Los Angeles for this week’s challenge, which involved delving into their personal histories.

Speaking of, I really need to make it back to LA.  We hopped off the immigrant boat in LA and lived there a couple years.  I was too young to remember living there, but went back several times throughout the years.

I have several friends that escaped the Midwest and I’d love to see them again.  Sure they can always come back for a visit, but let’s compare the options.  Visit Los Angeles and get magnificent views like this –

Manhattan Beach (

Manhattan Beach (


Or scenic Ann Arbor in the middle of winter, with its views of several-days-old snow.

a2 snow




Quickfire Challenge

Former contestant Antonia Lofaso was introduced for really no other reason the to fill up space.   All ten of the contestants chose one ingredient and were challenged to makes a dish using only (but not all) those ten ingredients.   Winner got immunity.

Bottom: Isaac (seared beef carpaccio with shaved jalapeno), Karen (grilled steak salad)

Top: Jeremy (shaved beef with mushroom crispy garlic vinaigrette), Amar (chicken breast with roasted tomato celery vinaigrette & mushroom a la Greque

Winner – Jeremy


Elimination Challenge

To celebrate the show’s ten years on the air, the contestants were asked to make a dish to reflect where they were ten years ago.


Marjorie – seared halibut seared roasted veggies with green curry

Chad – shrimp ceviche with tomato concasse, shrimp cracker, pickled Serrano, olives, and caper

Isaac – duck gumbo with jalapeno andouille, duck cracklings

Jason – poached trout, toasted beets, goat milk vinaigrette

Amar – butter-poached lobster sautéed bok choy, tapioca coconut curry, and tempura onion rings

Karen – orecchiette with pork ragu and broccoli rabe

Carl – fricassee of California vegetables, Burgundy snails, egg

Phillip – ceviche mixto

Kwame – Jerk broccoli with corn bread pudding, smokey blue cheese

Jeremy – lobster ravioli with king salmon

Top: Marjorie, Chad, Carl

Winner: Marjorie

Bottom: Kwame, Phillip, Jason

Gone – Jason, his fish was completely underseasoned.


Random Thoughts

– This was the first time that they’ve done the whole “cook your personal story” challenge this year. I’m glad they do these because this is when the best dishes come out as the chefs get emotionally attached to the food and it becomes very personal for them. Hopefully they won’t overdo it like in New Orleans where they tapped into this topic 3-4 times.

– I can’t ever recall the personal story dish actually backfiring on someone, but it did tonight. Kwame was not in a good space ten years ago and the dish brought up too many painful memories which really threw him off his game. The food wasn’t his best and the presentation was awfully amateur, due to a cut finger. Which was probably due to his being distracted by the memories. I’m really surprised he survived the cut here.

– Last week, I gave this assessment about Isaac – “Flavorful dishes, but needs some more refinement.” During the Quickfire, Marjorie had questioned whether the lack of refinement in Isaac’s dish would limit him.   Either I’m Nostradamus or she read my blog.

– Phillip said a couple times in front of Tom that he’s been trying to cook to what he thought the judges wanted, but Tom kept insisting it’s all about a good dish. While I agree that they need to put out something they believe in, let’s face it – Tom gets the final decision and they do need to please him.



About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

3 comments on “Top Chef California Episode 7: Back in the Day

  1. anotherfoodieblogger
    January 25, 2016

    Do you know how many more shows there are this season? I might just have to start watching this now.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 25, 2016

      Well, there are 9 contestants left, and the final 4 compete over 2 nights. So I’d say maybe 5 or 6? It’s actually a good point to join because they’ve weeded out a lot o the lesser chefs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on January 25, 2016 by in Ann Arbor, Television, Travel and tagged , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: