The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Top Chef California Episode 12: Wok This Way

There are six contestants left, and now it’s really getting exciting.   It’s the time where the difference between a winning dish and a losing one is the breadth of a microgreen’s stem. It’s the time where one small error or lapse in judgment can send someone home.  It’s the time when nerves are crazy and tempers are short.   And since there are fewer people we get to spend more time with each of them.   Which, unfortunately, means it’s the time where we see all those clips of the chefs getting ready in the morning.

morning amar morning kwame morning marj


Please make it stop.


Quickfire Challenge

The chefs are introduced to legendary chef/television personality Martin Yan at his restaurant.   He explains that the term “chop suey” is a generic term for food made of ingredients that are cut up into small pieces.   The chefs were tasked with making chop suey.   There’s no immunity, but the winner does get a competitive advantage in the Elimination Challenge.

Jeremy: Dungeness crab with bok choy, red Thai chili, long beans and onions over rice

Marjorie: Lobster with ginger, Thai chili, orange

Carl: Szechuan-style with snow peas, ginger, chilies, & scallops

Amar: Pork with vegetables, & Szechuan peppercorns

Isaac: General Tso’s chicken with crackling, sambal, orange juice & broccoli

Kwame: Crispy beef, eggplant, long beans, carrots, cabbage

Least Favorites: Carl, Kwame, Isaac

Favorites: Jeremy, Marjorie, Amar

Winner: Marjorie.


Elimation Challenge

The chefs were paired with a previously eliminated contestants who will serve as sous chef.   As winner of the Quickfire Challenge, Marjorie got to assign the partners. So it means that she got first choice and the chance to screw over the others.

The challenge was to pitch their idea for a new fast casual restaurant concept. They had to show the whole menu, but only make one of the dishes for 150 people.


Carl w/Chad: Savory Med,  Southern Mediterranean with Chipotle-style menu. Lamb & piquillo pepper stew with couscous, yogurt, feta & fresh herbs

Isaac w/Wesley: Gumbo For Y’all, Gumbos and stews.  Gumbo YaYa with chicken and sausage

Kwame w/Phillip: Waffle Me, Chicken & waffles with different types of waffles and sauces.  Whole wheat waffle opped with fried chicken, maple jus, mustard seeds, red onion, & scallions

Marjorie w/Angelina:  Pasta Mama, house-made pastas.  Spaghetti with olive oil-poached tuna, chili, garlic, lemon bread crumb

Jeremy w/Jason: Taco Dudes, eclectic tacos – “Bro ham” crispy pork belly taco with caramel glaze, saoy cabbage slaw, lime aioli & pickled habaneros

Amar w/Karen: Pio Pio,  Rotisserie chicken.   Chicken with Spanish yellow rice, four bean salad and choice of sauce

Top 2: Marjorie, Carl

Winner: Carl

Bottom 2: Jeremy, Kwame

Gone: Kwame


Random Thoughts

– I saw the  result coming weeks ago when the previews mentioned someone using pre-made waffles.   Apparently Kwame hasn’t watched the show and learned that you NEVER buy pre-made stuff. Tortillas, chips, sauces – whatever – that are bought pre-made are noticeable and does nothing but piss off Tom.   Just earlier this season, Frances got booted for using canned garbanzos.   Philllip even tried to warn him about it.   When Tom gave him the side-eye when he heard about the frozen waffles, I’m pretty sure the regret sank in.

– Jeremy’s concept of eclectic tacos is pretty worn out, but I don’t think Marjorie’s pasta or Amar’s rotisserie chicken were particularly innovative either.   I mean, isn’t that Noodles & Company and Boston Market?   Carl’s sounded REALLY intriguing.

– Kwame’s general concept of chicken and waffles was good, but how it was brought to life was problematic. The thought was to have small waffle topped with chicken, which was awkward to eat. I think it would’ve been much better if they were chicken sandwiches with waffles as the bread.

– Quick, does someone want to fund me?

– Yan has been in North America for 50 of his 67 years on this planet but his accent is still super thick.   Fake?

– Really great gamesmanship by Marjorie. She knew Jeremy and Jason wouldn’t work well together and has witnessed how poorly Phillip and Kwame worked together twice before. Wondering if those were the two she was most concerned with.

– I guess there aren’t many alternatives, but Jeremy and Marjorie just yanked the tails off live lobsters. I suppose lopping them off with a knife isn’t that much better. Nor is throwing them in boiling water.   It was kinda brutal to hear the cracking like that.



– Not that it’s going to dissuade me from eating lobster in the future.

– At Last Chance Kitchen, Kwame and Jason had to make Tom a breakfast dish. Since it’s getting near the end of the season, the talent level is higher and the competiion just gets better. Both dishes sounded incredible, but Jason edged out Kwame for the win.



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.

4 comments on “Top Chef California Episode 12: Wok This Way

  1. Next Stop: TBD
    February 29, 2016

    1. YES – they were all about the pasta shop but I kept being like, they already have that – Noodles & Co! 2. Agreed that chicken and waffles should be sandwiches. 3. I did some serious research in AA about opening a chicken and biscuit food cart….not cheap. 😦

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      February 29, 2016

      I was between jobs and had the idea of a crepe stand at the farmers market. The county regs were crazy, which really drove up the costs.

  2. anotherfoodieblogger
    February 29, 2016

    My Random Thoughts:

    Quickfire: Kwame acted too confident. Obvious Marjorie would win from Yan’s comments. Funny to watch Amar not “get” the wok. Advantage: Marjorie smart to pair Kwame with Philip, but what do I know since I didn’t even know most of the other chefs.

    First Thoughts on Elimination Round: Carl seem so subdued and unsure I wasn’t sure how he would do. Amar’s rotisserie chicken is universal and liked the make your own spice concept. Tacos are so yesterday and I’m getting tired of Taco Tuesdays, sorry Jeremy. Kwame, frozen waffles??? PUHLEEEAZE! Totally bad idea from the get go. I loved the idea of Isaac’s gumbo, but wasn’t sure how you could mix it up for a varied menu. I didn’t write any notes on Marjorie’s pasta so was obviously unimpressed.

    Final Thoughts: Isaac’s comments on the gumbo being a family take-away were a good idea. Tacos out – I knew it! Apparently Marjorie is a favorite. Kwame’s losing did not surprise me one bit. Frozen waffles? Again, give me a break! Carl’s win also did not surprise me. What is Last Chance Kitchen? It wasn’t shown in the online version.

  3. thefoodandwinehedonist
    February 29, 2016

    Yeah, Marjorie’s the one to beat. They will try to make interesting through editing, but you can tell she can’t do wrong in the judges eyes. I’m sure she’s a good cook, but doesn’t make for good tv.

    The ones who get booted compete in a side competition called last chance kitchen. It’s wildly entertaining. They let their hair down and the banter is hilarious. The food is often much better because they’re only making 1-2 portions, instead of 150. It’s on the Website. Worth going back and watching prev ones.

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 February 29, 2016 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: