As the 15 remaining Top Chef
competitors who made the trip to Seattle basked in their glory, they learned their first challenge would be judged by three contestants from past seasons. Not winners, mind you, but contestants with axes to grind and marks to make: Josie from season 2, CJ from season 3 and Stefan from season 5, a notorious sore loser.
Quickfire, Quick Extinquish
The contestants broke down into teams of three and had 20 minutes to make a winning dish highlighting local shellfish. Despite having some of the world's best crabs and mussels at their disposal, two of the teams chose geoduck and one picked razor clams as their main ingredients. Bad choice for the bland loser, razor clam and corn chowder, concocted by Eliza, Danyele and Josh but good news for Sheldon, Kuniko and John who claimed victory with geoduck sashimi, ponzu, apple and cucumber. Yum.
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The chefs were hoping the losers from seasons past would pack their attitudes and leave after the Quickfire Challenge but their wishes were dashed with doom: the losers were joining the competition as their own bitter team. Cries of, "Not fair!" rang out but it was game on.
Elimination Challenge is Fishy
The contest moved to the Space Needle Sky City restaurant where the task was to prepare a meal using regional ingredients to cook one dish in 47 minutes, the amount of time it takes the Space Needle to make one rotation. The chefs only had 20 minutes to shop and - big surprise - 5 of the 6 teams chose fish, although the Blue Team of Sheldon, Kuniko and John spent most of their shopping time trying to figure out what kind of fish they were buying. God forbid they just ask someone. The rebel red team of former contenders chose quail.
Nothing really overwhelmed the judges. They nitpicked the entries about a few missing salt granules here and there and that darned lack of acidity everyone seems to crave these days but nothing gagged them--although the quail came close for a couple of judges. Despite not knowing what kind of fish they chose, the Blue Team came out a winner with chili oil poached cod with dashi and spot prawn shabu shabu. The tension in the back room thickened as the Red and Gray Teams were summoned next. They all stammered flimsy excuses as the judges trashed their dishes for overcooked quail, general lack of flavor and halibut Padma compared (in private) to a hockey puck. Jeff of the Gray Team was the puck cooker, got his walking papers and made the long descent down the Space Needle to common ground.
Stay tuned for the next episode of Top Chef
airing next Wednesday at 10pm, and don't forget to add Top Chef
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(Image courtesy of Bravo)