The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Top Chef Charleston – Episodes 4 & 5

Happy 2017!

I decided to hold off on posting these recaps until after the holidays, because I know it was a stressful balancing act for you –  read about a bunch of chefs trying to win money or spend time with family and friends.


Episode 4 Feast of the Seven Trash Fishes

The big challenge in this episode was to feature “trash” fish – unwanted species that are caught in the same nets as the desirable ones. I really love the concept of this because Im all for finding ways to introduce new flavors to menus.  From a sustainability standpoint, I think we need to start eating more fish not named tuna, salmon,  and sea bass.

I can also see this having great benefit in the fight against the Asian carp problem plaguing rivers throughout the midwest.   It’s unsure how they got into waterways, but they have wreaked havoc on the native ecosystems and are threatening the great lakes.   They can grow huge and jump several feet out of the water when they year boats.   So several people have been injured while boating on rivers.


If they can somehow make a market for these fish, then maybe people will start trying to take them out of the rivers.  The first place to start would be “rebranding” into something a little more palatable like how the Patagonian Toothfish became “Chilean Sea Bass.”


Quickfire  Challenge

They each had a gift box in front of them and they had to create a dish using everything in there.   The boxes contained a pressure cooker, Patron tequila, a pomegranate, chocolate pretzels,  cloves, wasabi, squab, and a melon baller.

Least Favorite  – Shirley, Emily, BJ

Favorites – Brooke, Casey, John

Winner – Casey, who made a soup, got immunity


Elimination Challenge

This challenge was a take on the Feast of Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian Christmas Eve Dinner, but instead had to use trash fishes.  Working in teams of two, they had to create a dish using one of the fishes.   Since Casey had elimination, she worked by herself.

Best ones – Sheldon/Shirley (mullet), Jamie/Sylva (tunny), John/Katsuji (trigger)

Favorite – John/Katsuji

Winner – Katsuji  because of the sauce

Worst – Casey’s amberjack, but she had immunity

Least Favorites – Jim/Amanda (tilefish), Emily/Brooke (blackberry rose), BJ/Silvia (barrelfish)

Gone – BJ. The fish ended up like rubbery chicken.


Randoms  Thoughts

– Of course BJ was going to go.  He’s been on bottom the whole time.

– I took this picture at one of the Asian markets here in Ann Arbor.  For all the talk of China taking over the world economically, they don’t know shit about branding.

mud carp.jpg


– Emily didn’t know how to use a pressure cooker?   This happened in Texas a few years ago.  Exactly how the fuck can you be a chef and not know how to use a pressure cooker?

– In Last Chance Kitchen, BJ and Sam had to make a dish featuring leftovers.   Sam wiped him up and down the place.  it was like Muhammad Ali fighting a Kmart shoe department stockboy.


Episode 5 – Smoke Em if You Got Em

I’m surprised it took them this long to get around to BBQ.

I used to go to Columbia, South Carolina a few times a year on business and would have lunch at Little Pigs, a BBQ place right outside of Fort Jackson.   I remember the first time we went there.   I was going to take my client but when his staff heard we were going to Little Pigs,  they all invited themselves to join us.  I was freaking out because now I had to pay for 10 people and already was in some hot water for a different, slightly expensive dinner on the expense account – I know, shocking.   It turned out not to be a problem.




Little Pigs is only open during weekdays for lunch and is basically a couple double-wide mobile homes connected to form a dining room.   It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring just about any animal you can smoke, roast, grill,  or fry along with incredible side dishes.  All for $8 a person.  With a business model like that, you wonder how they stay in business.  It’s probably because they’re considered one of the best barbecue places in South Carolina.

Quickfire Challenge

They all got to a dark kitchen – no one there, no instructions.  It turns out Padma and the producers were watching them from another room.   A door opened to reveal all the ingredients for biscuits and they figured out that they had to make a biscuit dish.

Least Favorite – Shirley, Sheldon, Jim

Favorites – Brooke, Katsuji, Jamie

Winner – Brooke, gets immunity


Elimination Challenge

Working in teams, they had to cook a whole hog overnight with sauce, and make three side dishes for 100 people.

Winning Team – John, Brooke, Emily, Sheldon

Winner – John’s smoked mac and cheese

Losing team – Katsuji, Sylva, Silvia, Amanda.  All of them fucked up in some way or another.

Gone – Silvia, whose potato salad was all kinds of nasty.

Random Thoughts

– I barely took notes this episode as I was completely enraptured by all that pork.

– Silvia has been fun to watch and she’s a terrific chef.  But that potato salad sounded pretty bad in planning and turned out worse.

– Sheldon had to get medical treatment for a herniated disc that got re-aggravated.   My wife had to have two surgeries on a herniated disc so I know firsthand how badly it sucks.  Like really, really bad.   Sheldon was able to get a pain shot which usually works for 3-4 weeks.  My wife was only eligible to get them every four weeks and sometimes they don’t last that long, which makes for a really miserable fourth week.  So it’ll be interesting to see if this problem becomes an issue.

– Brooke and Sheldon are my faves to take this, although John’s stepped up his game.

– Emily got lucky.  If she wasn’t paired with Brooke last episode and the others on the winning team this week, she’d be long gone.

– South Carolina is known for its mustard-based sauce and North Carolina uses vinegar-based.   It was no surprise to me that the contestants all made vinegar-based.  Because the mustard-based sauces suck.

– In Last Chance Kitchen, Silvia beat Sam in a challenge to make a dish using seven ingredients considered lucky in various cultures.   Although Sam’s chicken-fried steak sounded better executed, it wasn’t as special as Silvia’s seared branzino.  Neither did Tom – Silvia won.


Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episodes 4&5

Episode 6

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.

7 comments on “Top Chef Charleston – Episodes 4 & 5

  1. Jenn H.
    January 3, 2017

    It amazes me how many times I have heard on Top Chef that someone doesn’t know how to use a pressure cooker. Antonia also seemed to make a note of that on the All Stars season when she used it to cook the beef tongue for Jimmy Fallon. It’s like the chefs on Hell’s Kitchen…if you do not know the regular staples of Gordon Ramsay’s competition food (scallops, beef wellington) then why are you there?

    I’m glad I found your blog – you have a great perspective and way of writing your blogs that I enjoy!

  2. Pingback: Top Chef Charleston Episode 3: Choke Holds and Clammy Hands | The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on January 3, 2017 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , .
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