This season of Top Chef hasn’t been chock full of personalities. Last week the one chef who had developed an identity, Jason the Philly narcissist, was voted off. Even though it is only the third episode of the season the producers have a long way to go to make this season as interesting as previous installments.
The show ramped up the anxiety early by having a quickfire elimination challenge built around cliche food trends. Dana Cowin, editor of “Food and Wine Magazing”, joined Emmeril and Padme to decide which chef’s take on a popular food trend would win immunity and who would be going home. Some of the trends the chefs had to deal with was eggs on top, kale, bacon and smoked.
With one of the chefs going home there was serious angst in the kitchen. The judges loved Nina’s scotch egg, Shirley’s egg laden soup, and Stephanie’s bacon stuffed dish. The winner of the quickfire and immunity for the next elimination was Shirley. The bottom three ended up being Bret with a Kale salad, Aaron with an overdressed salty dish, and Louis with his non smokey trout. In the end the judges decided that Aaron’s dish was too salty and he was asked to pack his knives and leave.
After the quickfire elimination Padme revealed that this week’s elimination challenge will take place at the world famous restaurant Commander’s Palace. The Palace is the center of the culinary world in New Orleans. Before the challenge the chefs got a chance to sit down and have a meal at the Palace. Of course the meal’s peace and quiet didn’t last long. The head chef of Commander’s Palace challenged the chefs to replicate a classic Palace dish in both taste and presentation.
Each of the dishes available comes with its own challenges. The big twist for the chefs is that Paul Prudhomme and Emmeril, two chefs who created the dishes they are trying to copy, will be judging their creations. The chefs have four dishes to present. There is blackened trout, a complicated shrimp dish, veal chop by Emmeril, and a strawberry dessert done three ways. The chefs were broken into teams of four with each team assigned to a specific dish.
It made me sad to see Chef Paul Prudhomme on the show this week because he looked like he’d been popped with a needle. Prudhomme was the king of blackened New Orleans seasoning, and his girth at one time matched only Santa Claus. Now he’s a balloon with the air left out. After the judges were treated to the chefs take on the dishes they headed back to judges table to render a decision.
The chef’s with the top dishes this week were Stephanie, Justin, and Nina. In the end the winner of the challenge was Justin because his food highlighted all of the important notes in the Commander’s Palace dish. The bottom chefs for the challenge were announced as Louis, Bret, (both were also almost eliminated in the quickfire), and Carlos. Everyone’s dish were incredibly under seasoned. Louis was hit for his poor blackening spice which didn’t have enough flavor. Bret blamed his inability to get on the grill for his poor performance. Bret was also dinged for having a sloppy plate. Carlos ended up having fish that was overcooked, and ended up with tough fish.
In the end the eliminated chef ended up being Bret. He was sent home due to poorly cooked protein, and didn’t use time management properly. Next week the chef’s go shrimping and take a crash course on Vietnamese cooking. Who will survive the boat trip, and continue on for the title of Top Chef? Tune in next week and find out.