Though it was a bit of struggle getting here we finally have our four chefs heading into next week's first part of the two-part finale. Going by most of the recent comments, the top three were a given with a toss up for the fourth position. So with such high stakes lets get to the meat of the matter.
The Quickfire Challenge sent the chefs over to a meat purveyor and dress like a HazMat team in order to cut individual chops of long bone ribeye dry-aged USDA Prime Rib racks. The style is known as a "Frenched" cut and is served in finer restaurants. Some of the racks looked unwieldy and even larger than Stephanie, which didn't help her get the "lollipop" effect she should have had. This was a more technical skill that is essential for cost-effectiveness when running a kitchen.
Once the meat was butchered, it was to be cooked medium rare at the request of guest judge
Rick Tramonto. (He is the owner of Chicago's Tramonto's Steak & Seafood, as well as Tru, whose pastry chef Gale Gand we met a few weeks back.) The chops were thick and with only 30 minutes to grill or roast them, were not easy to gage doneness. Richard was right to point out that it had more to do with temperature than flavor but both he and Stephanie dished out undercooked servings. Spike again won the advantage from the QFC and again floundered with an unwise choice in the Elimination Challenge.
Taking over Chef Rick's steak house on a busy night, the chefs were each responsible for an appetizer and entrée based on what was found in the kitchen. Chef
Tom Colicchio was the expeditor. Joining Chef Rick,
Padma Lakshmi and
Gail Simmons for dinner were the winners of the first three seasons with advice for the chefs that perfectly reflected their personalities.
Harold: Cook your style and be true to yourself.
Hung: You're here to win, not to be Fan Favorite.
Ilan: Don't shave anyone's head.
At the Judges' Table, Richard didn't impress anyone with his deconstructed entrée but wowed everyone with his tuna-like Hamachi with Crispy Sweatbreads, Apples, Radish, Avocado and Yuzu, considered the single best dish of the night. Though Antonia's Warm Mushroom and Artichoke Salad with Poached Egg appetizer was soggy the egg was poached perfectly. (Isn't that her thing?) But it was her Bone-in Ribeye with Shallot and Potato Gratin that scored her a place in the finals.
The big winner was Stephanie, winning Chef Rick's new cookbook and the GE Monogram kitchen appliances. What I thought was even more important than Stephanie serving the two "most well-rounded" dishes was Chef Tom saying she keeps a calm demeanor when working under pressure. If you're someone who flies off the handle, you're going to make mistakes.
And that leads me to Lisa and Spike who have been on the bottom five and seven time respectively. Lisa (again with her droopy-eyed glance) was criticized for the Grilled and Chilled Prawns but got an edge for her Grilled NY Strip in Apple Caramel Sauce with Peanut Mashed Potatoes. I really love the moments when Chef Tom shows up and gives a questioning look as he did when hearing of the addition of peanut butter to the potatoes. (Much better than peanut butter in tomato sauce!) It sounded original and I'm going to have to try it.
I've waited a dozen episodes for Hat Guy Spike to leave and it finally happened. With only a few shining moments (butternut squash soup anyone?), he regularly squeaked by but his lashing out at the judges was snotty and disrespectful. He again used his QFC advantage to disarm his competitors and the karma again backfired. Ultimately Spike should never have used the frozen scallops but then throwing it back to blame the guest judge was uncalled for and not what I'd expect from someone I'd be honored to call Top Chef.
Sunny Puerto Rico is the setting for next week's finale, part one. See you then.
" The subject of this Text Poll question was discussed more than any other on the blog this season: Who was chopped too soon? 53% of the votes went to Dale, 18% to Andrew, and 29% went to the chef that I would like to have seen perform a few more tricks, Jennifer.
" Was it just me or did it seem that Padma did not have the same pained looked she usually has when sending a chef packing?
" Did Ilan think they were doing lunch or did he just forget to pack a nice shirt and jacket?
" Two will be eliminated next week. If the odds are that Lisa is one of them, who will be the other?
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Though it was a bit of struggle getting here we finally have our four chefs heading into next weeks first part of the two-part finale Going by most of the recent comments the top three were a given with a toss up for the fourth position So with such high stakes lets get to the meat of the matterThe Quickfire Challenge sent the chefs over to a meat purveyor and dress like a HazMat team in order to cut individual chops of long bone ribeye dry-aged USDA Prime Rib racks The style is known as a Frenched cut and is served in finer restaurants Some of the racks looked unwieldy and even larger than Stephanie which didnt help her get the lollipop effect she should have had This was a more technical skill that is essential for cost-effectiveness when running a kitchenOnce the meat was butchered it was to be cooked medium rare at the request of guest judge Rick Tramonto He is the owner of Chicagos Tramontos Steak Seafood as well as Tru whose pastry chef Gale Ga