This week’s guest judge was Cat Cora, who was so fierce and strict that you would have thought she’s competing against other Top Chef guest judges. The quickfire challenge is a perfect showcase of “technical precision against the clock.”
The remaining six cheftestants are paired up — Ed with Paul, Grayson with Chris and Lindsay with Sara — and they have to go through a sort of culinary obstacle course to win the challenge.
They have forty minutes to de-vein and butterfly two pounds of shrimp, grind out a perfect pound of pasta and shuck some corn. After having accomplished all these tasks, whatever time is left on the clock is available to them to cook a meal with those three ingredients. In other words: madness.
Last Minute Win
Paul is weary of being teamed up with Ed as he was never lucky in the competition so far when he had to deal with him in the same team. Sara and Lindsay seem to have a sort of weird touch-and-go respect for each other without really ever warming up to each other, but they work well together.
(Doofus) Chris and Grayson have a total chaos relationship, an unorganized, stressful mess of a partnership, but they manage to win in the end, although they came this close to not finishing their dish in time.
Paul’s premonition that his forced alliance with Ed would result in nothing good comes true when he forgets to plate the shrimp, and Sara and Lindsay’s dish is shunned because Cat Cora doesn’t like saffron. Go figure.
Make It Healthy
The magical elves structured this episode rather well. For the elimination challenge, the contestants paired up together for the quick challenge now have to cook against each other. Or as Padma puts it quite poetically: “Your partner is now your opponent.”
The cheftestants have to cook for 200 people at a block party. They have two and a half hours to prepare the food and the opponents have to present different versions of the same dish. The winning quickfire team Grayson and doofus Chris are going with a chicken salad sandwich and watermelon salad, Ed and Paul are going with versions of Kalbi, a traditional Asian dish, and Sara and Lindsay decide on meatballs.
BUT! There is a twist. Because a certain sponsor of said block party wants to appear to care for the health of America, the cheftestants have to convert their dishes into supremely healthy fare. How do you do that with chicken salad and meatballs?
You buy white chicken meat instead of dark meat and use a tofu emulsification instead of mayo (Chris vs. Grayson); you use turkey instead of veal (Sara vs. Lindsay); and you use turkey ribs instead of normal short ribs (Paul vs. Ed).
Surprisingly though, except for Paul, all the people who opted for the healthy route ended up on the chopping block. Chris wasn’t aided by the fact that a swarm of bees seemed to invade his workplace X-Files style, and Ed didn’t really seem to take this challenge seriously.
Let’s Get Real
Paul, Lindsay and Grayson faced the judges, who were surprisingly skeptical of Grayson’s choice to go with chicken salad for a block party (it was never explained what a block party actually is) arguing that she was competing against other potentially more exciting dishes. “Like a meatball?” she rightfully asked, shutting up Tom who couldn’t really retort anything smart to that.
In the case of the bottom three, Ed, Sara and Chris, the magical elves couldn’t have let the doofus Chris meme go on any longer. More talented chefs had to bite the dust in the competition before him, and tonight he was clearly the most clueless of them all and had to go home. A little late for my taste, but the cast going into the next weeks is insanely strong, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next.
What did everybody else think? Happy/upset with Chris’s elimination? How about Cat Cora’s fairly arbitrary judging criteria? And isn’t the Ed and Paul bromance the cutest thing?
(Image courtesy of Bravo)