The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Top Chef California Episode 14: Magic Hour

Every year the show moves to a different location for the final challenges and I still don’t get it.  What did Vancouver have to do with Texas?   I guess if I spent weeks in Texas like they did I’d want to get the hell as far as possible.

That said, I was really happy two years ago when they weren’t to Maui.    Not so much because of the culinary possibilities, but because of the gratuitous Padma in a bikini shot.

TC Nola Padma beach


Last year, they went to a town just outside of Mexico City, not the beaches on the coast. So, unfortunately, all we got were some sundresses.

This season, they relocated to Las Vegas.    Although there isn’t a distinct food culture there, it IS filled with great food since all of the major chefs have restaurants there.   Of course, none of that really matters as they didn’t feature the local food.    I was hoping that they’d parade out Padma in some kind of showgirl outfit –


Alas, we had to settle for a gorgeous red dress.

Padma red dress

I approve. And her makeup was spot on throughout the episode.


Marjorie, Jeremy, and Isaac were joined by the winner of Last Chance Kitchen – Amar.


Challenge 1

Padma explained that the four suits of a deck of cards represents a class of society – royalty (spades), clergy (hearts), merchants (diamonds), peasants (clubs).   They were dealt one card to assign their suit and each suit had a pantry filled with items that fit that societal class.   Whoever had spades had the finest ingredients and could pick from any of the lower pantries.   Hearts got to pick from theirs and and the ones below, and so on.   Whoever got the peasant class got whatever was left after the others picked through it.  (Much like real life)   They had three hours to cook for 150 people with the winner moving to the finals $25K richer.    They also got to choose from four past contestants for help.

Marjorie (w/Karen):  Royalty – Seared salmon with vadouvan beurre monte, shaved vegetable salad, & meyer lemon puree
Isaac (Carl): Clergy – seared black cod with caramelized fennel, eggplant & red wine vinegar
Jeremy (Kwame): Merchants – Butter poached chicken, zucchini puree, chicken crackling, with pickled sweet and hot grapes
Amar (Philip): Peasants – Chicken livers, onions, root vegetable mash, caramelized honey, & rosemary gastrique

Winner:   Jeremy.   The pickled sweet and hot grapes pushed his dish over the top.    NEED THAT RECIPE…


Challenge 2
They brought out David Copperfield, who’s seen better days.    They got to see his show for some inspiration “to create a culinary performance that leaves the judges spellbound.”

Marjorie: Roasted duck a l’orange with braised endive, caramelized romesco & fennel puree
Isaac: “chicken fried steak” – dry-aged rib eye with crispy hen skin, quadruple fennel puree & yuzu hollandaise
Amar: Squab, white chocolate truffle ganache, whipped balsamic, mole sauce & potato “onion” ring

Winner:   Amar.   While he had zero showmanship, his dish was packed with surprises.   This was a no-brainer.


Random Thoughts

– Where do food bloggers fit in the deck of guards? Trick question – we don’t fit in anywhere.
– In hindsight, I should’ve had a drinking game this season – any time Jeremy says “Bro” or high-fives someone, do a shot.
– I know the social classes theme was only used for the pantries but, if I were royalty, I’d be pretty pissed off at getting served salmon and a salad. Even though it had a “vadouvan beurre monte”, it was still just fish and salad.
– Isaac made a conscious decision to get away from his strengths to show diversity.   Marjorie also tried something new by using liquid nitrogen.   Trying something new rarely works in the finales and it didn’t here.
– Isaac’s a really good chef and very entertaining, but I really think he was in over his head against the other three.
– The show tried to throw us a red herring by hinting that Marjorie’s showmanship would go a long way.   In the end, it was the food that mattered.   She came up short and Amar, who lacked any entertainment value, served the better food.
– Marjorie should’ve lost simply because she kept on mispronouncing “duck a l’orange”.
– Padma and Gail have been working together for years. You’d think that Gail would’ve picked up some make-up pointers.



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 14: Magic Hour

  1. anotherfoodieblogger
    March 17, 2016

    I finally dredged up my notes on this one. First round: First off, I love chicken livers so even if Amar got “Peasant” that got my vote right off. Judges loved the grapes in Jeremy’s dish so no surprise on that win. No notes on the other so I must not have been impressed. Elimination round: Amar doesn’t know magic, but he was very excited about it. Marjorie and her liquid nitrogen…oops. Jeremy was yawn but judges did like the CFS. Amar, wasn’t very confident but he won! Wow! But sad that his dad died. 😦

    That’s a wrap!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      March 17, 2016

      I’m looking forward to the final – both chefs are really well rounded. Classic battle between flashy (Jeremy) versus consistent (Amar).

  2. Pingback: Top Chef California Finale | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on March 16, 2016 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , .
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