Last week on the season premiere of “Top Chef Masters”, the chefs went skydiving, all but Douglas anyway, and had to cook a meal outdoors using the same ingredients their sous chefs used in the Sous Chef challenge. Odette Fada struck first blood with a win and Herb Burke, saddled with oysters by his sous chef, was sent home. This week, the chefs will cook at an Asian night market.
But first, as always, we head into the Top Chef kitchens where the sous chefs are in the middle of a mise en place competition for Battle of the Sous Chefs. The first sous chef to finish will give their chef a fully prepped cook station, while the rest of the chefs will have to finish the mise en place and then cook a dish in 30 minutes.
In the end, Sang’s sous chef Ted wins the Battle of the Sous Chefs and gives chef Sang immunity and also a head start on the other chefs in the Quickfire Challenge by having prep done. This Quickfire is a high stakes one as someone will be eliminated after. Now the chefs just have to figure out how to combine lamb, pomegranate, calimari, and celery root into one dish.
The last chef to finish the mise en place started by their sous chefs is Richard,who only has 10 minutes left to cook by the time he finishes up. He wisely decides to save a little time by doing a lamb tartare, thereby skipping the need to cook it. Odette, who was the next to the last to start cooking, is feeling vulnerable.
Gail Simmons is on hand to judge the dishes. Her favorite dishes were Sang’s baby stuffed squid, Sue’s seared lamb loin with pistacho salad, and Jen’s lamb tartare with fried calamari. Sue’s salad won the day out of the 3 and she pocketed $5,000 for the Gulf Restoration Network.
Gail’s least favorite dishes were Lynn’s rosemary kabob, Odette’s lamb chop with ratatouille, and Richard’s lamb tartare. In the end, Richard’s time deficit was too much to overcome and he is eliminated from competition. He’s sent home with $1000 for his charity C-Cap
For the elimination challenge, the chefs will travel to Los Angeles’ 626 Asian Night Market, where the chefs will have to put an Asian twist on a classic American dish. The chefs get 2 hours to prep and cook for 200 guests. Since it’s such a big task, they get their sous chefs to help out.
As they shop, the chefs’ reactions are very different. Sang has been cooking Asian food all his life but wonders about re-interpreting an American classic. Douglas has just spent time in Japan and is feeling inspired for this challenge, but losing his cart in the supermarket puts a damper on his enthusiasm. Poor Odette’s Italian style is no help to her here and she has to get help from Sang to even find ingredients.
At the Asian Night Market, the chefs each have a stand to prep and cook at with their sous chefs. Dishes run the gamut from a couple of Bahn Mi dishes to chicken and dumpling featuring chicken feet, and even spaghetti and meatballs. Today’s judges are James Osland, Francis Lam, and Gail Simmons, with special guest Kathy Lee Gifford polling the diners and attempting some of the most awkward flirting in television history with James Osland. If I never hear another shrimp head entendre out of Kathy Lee, it’ll be too soon.
Back at judge’s table, Bryan, Douglas, and Sang are brought in as the favorites of the night. Sang’s slaw with the fried shrimp head was praised for its umami. Douglas, the only person to do dessert with a riff on cookies and cream, bowled the critics over with his technique. Bryan’s pressure cooked broth tasted like a traditional slow cooked broth and Francis couldn’t believe he got that flavor in 2 hours. In the end, the winner was Sang, who didn’t even need his immunity today and takes home $10,000 for Worldwide Orphans Foundation.
On the bottom of the pile were Sue, Odette, and Jen Lewis. The judges praised Odette for trying to do spaghetti and meatballs and loved her noodles but felt her fish meatballs were too soft and the texture was unpleasant. Sue’s lobster roll didn’t have nearly enough Asian flavors to transform the classic and some of the judges got some shell. Sue didn’t want to cover up the natural flavors of the lobster but Gail countered that she’s had lots of great lobster in Asian restaurants that kept the integrity of the lobster but incorporated strong Asian flavors. Jenn’s bread on her Bahn Mi was too doughy and there was too much of it. If she’s toasted the bread or scooped out some of the center, she might not be here.
After the break, the chefs are brought back. Jenn is eliminated but Gail sweetens the blow by recommending she put the lamb tartare from the Quickfire on her menu. She walks away with a donation for City of Hope.
Next week, the chefs get dramatic by cooking for the cast of Days of Our Lives. Click Subscribe at the top of the page to have the recap delivered right to your inbox.