Recap Top Chef 5 Episode 5

December 19, 2008 at 7:39 am

Originally Posted at by Arthur Perkins.

Last night the gathering for the Quickfire Challenge revealed no Guest Judge. Since that is quite unusual, it evoked comment from the cheftestants. Padma did not leave them in suspense. She told them this would be a tasting challenge where they would be the judge. Knives were drawn for the initial pairings. The dish was shrimp lobster bouillabaisse. The challenge was to win each pair of competition by being able to name the most ingredients, with each member of the pairing bidding for the highest number they could handle. Jamie said during it that they were told there were 30 ingredients in the first dish. Results were:
Hosea vs. Daniel – Hosea said onions, shrimp, lemon, carrots(he won)
Jeff vs. Ariane – Jeff said fennel, salt, crab (which was wrong and meant he lost)
Stefan vs. Jaime  – Stefan says salt, lemon, pepper, lobster, olive oil and Jamie is out
Leah vs. Eugene –  Eugene misses on his first nomination (I could not discern precisely what he said)
Fabio vs. Radhika – it was disappointing that neither could request  for more than 3. Radhika said salt, celery, lobster for an easy victory
Carla vs. Melissa – Carla says cream, sale, lobster, fennel to move forward
The second round was based on Thai green curry. Results were:
Hosea vs. Ariane – He claimed 7 and named coconut milk, sugar, Thai basil, ginger, salt, pepper, Thai chili
Stefan vs. Leah – He claimed 8 and named onions, turmeric, lemongrass, coconut milk, salt, ginger, vegetable oil, sugar,
Carla vs. Radhika – Radhika claimed 7 and named coconut milk, lemongrass, salt, chili powder. She lost because the last one was wrong.
The final round was Mexican mole sauce, renowned for having many ingredients, and was round robin. Carla went out immediately with the nomination of peanut butter. Stefan nominated chocolate, Hosea nominated sesame, Stefan pepper, Hosea raisins, Stefan coriander, Hosea garlic, Stefan tomato paste(which was wrong). Hosea went for vegetable oil and won.
Elimination Challenge
Padma stated that the cheftestants would do a bridal shower for about 40 guests. The bride is Gail Simmons! Gail came in to tell them that these were her best friends, all female,  many colleagues at Food and Wine magazine. This will clearly be a tough assignment. Knives were drawn to determine which people were on teams of 3. They are summarized below.
The dishes were:
Jeff- Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio w Tomato Sorbet
Hosea – Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho w/ mint, cucumbers and watermelon
Stefan – Heirloom Tomato, Eggplant and Basil Terrine
NEW (Daniel, Eugene, Carla) – tempura shrimp and beef, frisee salad on wonton(plus mushrooms Daniel added without the other two aware), Peach Miso BBQ sauce, yuzu sorbet
Radhika – wilted leek  cucumber raita and sauce for lamb
Ariane – Indian spiced lamb marinated in yoghurt
Jamie – carrot puree, sorbet
Melissa – sorbet
Leah – Swiss chard and corn puree
Fabio – blue corn encrusted Chilean sea bass
There were a number of interesting comments that arose during the cooking process. The editors elected to place in there a clarification of the relationship between Hosea and Leah, both on whom are in relationships back home, as platonic. Eugene decided to modify his sushi concept into “roll your own”; there is a lot of risk there. Fabio stated that the target audience is 43 people who are well educated and have good palates. Multiple people comment that being on a team with Stefan is a liability for you personally since there is no “I” in team and Stefan is only about “I”. There were very positive comments from Gail and Dana about Ariane’s lamb. In the kitchen with 14 minutes left it was undercooked, but the decision to leave it in the oven for 7 more minutes and take the plating risk was correct. All teams provided help on plating to get it done on time.
So for Judges Table I was not surprised to see Team Borrowed there for the determination of the winner. In my mind, there wasn’t much doubt about who
would win, as she has proven equally adept at roasting turkey and lamb. Ariane won her 3rd straight Elimination Challenge. Look at how far she has come from the first 2 weeks when she was on the bottom. Team Old earned an OK and was not involved in any judging.
Losers group was Team New and Team Blue. I could tell that Team Blue was really there for contrast. Leah was told by Dana that her flavors were very good, but her texture was lacking. Fabio was told it was easy to cook forgiving Chilean sea bass. Melissa was not addressed at all. However, this was a brief interlude and Team Blue was dismissed after Tom warned them that a repeat performance of lackluster dishes like that would see them gone very fast. This left Team New as the real culprits in bad performance. Tom made the strong statement that if he could he would fire all of them. Carla got off the best because her frisee salad was OK except for the mushrooms on the bottom. Tom stated that the mushrooms were terrible and asked Daniel (who had volunteered that he had put them under the salad) whether he tasted them. Daniel did and stood by them. Carla was asked the same question and had to say that he had not. Tom said that the major problems were both concept (Eugene’s) and execution (all 3 of them). Eugene’s use of bad rice was commented on; the judge said he should have ditched it and started over(but obviously very quickly). There was no doubt in my mind who was leaving. Although Eugene made huge mistakes, Daniel’s were equal plus he demonstrated that his palate is way off in tasting his own food and rating it way too positively. Daniel was eliminated.
Next week is Martha Stewart as Guest Judge for a holiday party. it must have been interesting to film that in the early fall when the holiday spirit would not have been that strong.


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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."



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