Top Chef: Jennifer’s Homestyle Victory
Top Chef took a homespun — but no less gourmet — turn this week as the 10 remaining cheftestants got to work in the kitchen of the Top Chef house, cooking up a family style dinner party for a spate of celebrity chefs. Again, the chefs were paired up — prompting some heat between several pairs.
Quickfire: Guest judge Tyler Florence presided over the Quickfire challenge. The chefs were randomly assigned three words to describe the “mood, taste and texture” of a dish they would have to cook. In a flashy Vegas twist, the adjectives were furnished via a slot machine — and ranged from the specific (“spicy”) to the abstract (“romantic”) to the possibly new-to-some-viewers (“umami,” one of the five basic tastes which vaguely corresponds to “earthy or meaty”). Among the lowlights: Eli, whose umami mushroom dish was drowning in citrus; Jennifer‘s scallop and caviar combo; and Robin, whose curry dish wasn’t Middle Eastern and seemed to Florence to be “elementary.” Better, Mike I., Michael V. and Kevin, who won the high stakes challenge and had the tough decision between immunity or $15,000. (He took the money!)
Elimination: Split into pairs, the chefs were handed a grocery bag with ingredients selected by chefs Tom Douglas, Tyler Florence, Govind Armstrong, Takashi Yagihashi and Nancy Silverton. They were also randomly paired together and sent home, where they would have to cook family style portions in a less than spacious kitchen. For the most part, the chefs got along harmoniously — but there’s always an exception or two.
The Robin Factor: We’re obviously talking about Robin. Love her or hate her, the spiky haired chef has nabbed primo screen time this season — and not because of her cooking skills. She’s talkative and divisive — and some of her fellow contestants can’t stand her. Luckily (for drama lovers) this week she was paired with the equally fiery Mike Isabella. “She’s probably to me one of the weakest competitors here,” he said of Robin, then wearily noted, “And that was my partner, great.” As a coping strategy, Mike delegated various tasks but admitted he was throwing out most of Robin’s work. All she wanted was to “be a part” of the action, Robin said, so she didn’t seem too stressed.
Winners: Ultimately, Mike’s sweated it out over nothing. The chefs like their seared tuna dish — and the combative team passed through to the next round. Also praised: Bryan V. and Laurine, who paired halibut with polenta and a vinegrette. But, at the top, Kevin and Jennifer’s Kobe ribs and tomato broth earned her some redemption for her Quickfire challenge — and her first big win.
Losers: Less fortunate, Michael V. and Ash, who suffered electrical problems that short circuited their burners and caused their halibut to cook unevenly. Also panned: Ashley and Eli, who made spot prawns and gnocchi. The chefs felt like the gnocchi were too salty and dense and, worse, that the delicate spot prawns were flavorless. Eli oversalted the gnocchi, but Ashley was (unofficial) team leader — and she didn’t speak up for herself. So, her silence — and those prawns — sent her home in the end.
Tell us: Did the right chef go home? Were you you happy for Jennifer? Who could go all the way?Bravo