The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Top Chef Episode 13: Back Where it All Started

I don’t know jack about literature.    “50 Shades of Grey” was pushing my limits on reading comprehension and I only remembered it because it had sex.    Horrendously described sex, but sex nonetheless.

But I’m pretty damn good at remembering the opening lines of books.   Here’s one – “Call me Ishmael.” That’s the opener to “Moby Dick”.    I know, three words is pretty easy. But I can honestly type this classic first sentence from memory, no cut and paste –

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

-100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez


So what’s the whole point of this literary excursion?   Two reasons.   First, this episode of Top Chef reminded me of the classic opener to “A Tale of Two Cities”

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…


In a one hour time frame this episode went from one of the best of the year to one of the worst.

The second reason I bring up literature was that I came across this image when I was skipping through commercials.



It’s for the Silkn hair removal tool thingy. I don’t know why but seeing this gave me a good chuckle. But then I started thinking about how it would’ve been much better if the actress were taking care of her nether regions.   Which got me thinking that I can’t recall how Anastasia got her privates trimmed in “50 Shades” because it wasn’t at the BEGINNING OF THE BOOK.

But the opening line was – I scowl with frustration at myself in the mirror.

Wait, what’s this post about? Oh yeah, Top Chef.


Sudden Death Quickfire

The chefs were tasked with making “the ultimate artisanal toast”.   The winner gets a $16,000 Rational oven.

rational jesticeexpresscouk


The bottom two contestants would then compete head-to-head with the loser getting booted.

At first I thought that this was a ridiculous challenge – all that riding on a piece of toast. Then I saw the dishes…

Jeremy: Chicken liver mousse, pickled cherries, white raspberries, jalapeno & arugula on ciabatta

Marjorie: Sourdough baguette with a pancetta fennel marmalade & Dungeness crab salad

Amar: Foie gras, duck breast, fig marmalade, balsamic truffle glaze, prosciutto on raisin sourdough

Carl: Grilled sourdough with burrata, blistered cherry tomatoes & shrimp

Isaac: Butter-fried ciabatta with pecorino, prosciutto, & roasted pepper spread

Winner: Jeremy

Bottom Two: Carl and Amar have to duel it out to stay in the competition.


Tom then gave them the best type of challenge – in 30 minutes, make a dish that proves you deserve to stay in the competition. That’s it. No rules, no specific ingredients – just make the best dish.     I love that.

Amar: Pan-roasted sea bream, dashi glazed watermelon radish, plum yuzu brown butter & pickled mushrooms

Carl: Thai snapper crudo, corn, nectarines, chilis, yellow tomato & rice wine vinegar

Gone: Amar.


Elimination Challenge

The chefs were then introduced to Hubert Keller, whose legendary restaurant Fleur de Lys was the location of the first Quickfire Challenge.   The restaurant had just closed for good, but he re-opened it for a party of 40 people.  The challenge was to make a tribute dish to the restaurant.

Carl – Foie gras en gelee, with black pepper, strawberries, & fines herbes

Isaac: Duck ballotine, porcini, beluga lentils, broiled figs & aged balsamic cherry gastrique

Marjorie: Roasted lamb saddle with artichoke puree, artichoke barigoule, squash, tomatoes olives

Jeremy: Filet de loup de mer, truffle potato puree, pommes soufflés, & heirloom tomato


Winner: Jeremy. Not even close

Least Favorites – Carl, Isaac

Gone: Carl


Random Thoughts

– After a great Quickfire double-whammy, this elimination challenge seemed a little anti-climactic. A big part of it was how Carl’s decision to make a 3-hour torchon – something that usually takes days to get right – was used in promos for the show.   As soon as I saw that, I knew whoever did that would be gone.

– The other part I really didn’t like was how the dishes were supposed to be a Fleur de Lys- style meal. Jeremy’s dish turned out great, but the other three had serious faults.  It would have been good if they repeated that last challenge and just had them serve whatever they wanted.

– Heck, they should just do that for the rest of the season.

– I loved this exchange…

Isaac: It’s only the single most important dish you’ll ever cook

Marjorie: Shut up Isaac.

Isaac: Oh shit.


– Kind of a bummer that Amar wasn’t in the Elimination Challenge. He’s made some great French food so this would’ve suited him perfectly.

– That Rational oven seems pretty cool,  but at that price I’d prefer the la Cornue

la cornue


– There were two Last Chance Episodes this week. The first one had these two losing chefs go up against Jason, who had a five-week winning streak going.   They had to make something that featured Sourdough. It was close but the top two were Carl and Amar.

– The second episode, which was the LCK finale, had Carl and Amar making a cooked fish dish in 12 minutes. As expected, these were great dishes and the competition seemed really close. Could really be either of them making it back into the competition.



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.

8 comments on “Top Chef Episode 13: Back Where it All Started

  1. Vanessa-Jane Chapman
    March 8, 2016

    As I skimmed through my Reader, my attention was drawn by the photo of the lady with the hair remover thingy because I was in an infomercial for that same product (different brand) about three years ago! I just tried to find the YouTube link for it to show you, but couldn’t find it (admittedly, I didn’t try THAT hard!). It wasn’t nether regions though, I was doing my legs 🙂

    Cooking contest TV shows are pretty much my favourite things to watch. We don’t have Top Chef here in England (although I’m sure I could get the US one on some channel or other somewhere), I’m currently watching my way through My Kitchen Rules, have you seen that? I think it started in Australia, they’ve had about 3 seasons of it there, that’s what I’m watching at the mo, they’ve had at least one season in New Zealand, and one in the UK. They start off by having dinner parties for each other in their own homes that are judged, and then they go through to studio cooking, interspersed with various cooking challenges out and about in different venues, so it’s quite varied and interesting. The UK one was less varied, I think they were trialing it, maybe if they do another season they’ll ramp it up a bit like the Australia and New Zealand ones.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 8, 2016

      That’s awesome with the commercial! I thought UK had their own Top Chef, but maybe it was a different country…. or it got canceled. Top Chef’s Last Chance Kitchen is online-only and is a pretty entertaining 10 minutes. Cheers!

      • Vanessa-Jane Chapman
        March 8, 2016

        I just checked online and it doesn’t appear that there has been a Top Chef UK. MasterChef is our main chef contest here, they have one for amateurs and one for professionals, and a junior one too, oh and an occasional celebrity one.

  2. elizabeth
    March 8, 2016

    I don’t have cable so I can’t watch the most recent TC season until it goes to Hulu, so I skimmed through this not wanting to absorb any spoilers and kind of freaking out because the woman in that still looks just like Jen Carroll from S6 (Vegas) and for whatever reason I thought that she had come back and I got excited. SIGH. I loved her and I was bummed she didn’t do better in the All Stars season.

    Overall, what would you say your impression of this season has been? My BIL says it’s been kind of dull save for Restaurant Wars (which we did watch while visiting my in-laws), but I’d love your general take.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 8, 2016

      Generally ok. Food-wise, some flashes but nothing special. Usually there are one or two chefs that are stellar and I want to eat just about anything they make. The chef that looks like the one to beat doesn’t excite me. TV wise, somewhat vanilla. There were a few real hilarious oddballs – one of whom is Isaac who is surprisingly is in the finals. Not a whole lot of surprises – so yeah, your BIL is pretty spot on.

  3. anotherfoodieblogger
    March 9, 2016

    So I had to totally bypass this post earlier, because I freakin’ forgot to watch it online before you posted! So now I have. I don’t have a lot of thoughts on this one, as toast (why didn’t they call it crostiinis or something?) was a bit strange, and traditional French cooking is way out of my league unless you count when we hosted a French foreign exchange student two years ago and I totally bastardized Coq Au Vin for her and then she made us some crepes with strawberry jam. I only went on the judges comments on this one. It was obvious to me who would win in the end after the comments of the judges.Thank you for your review. 🙂 I bypassed your hair removal commercial, lol!

  4. fissionerror
    March 9, 2016

    I’m not watching top chef but THAT OVEN THOUGH. I applaud your taste.

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