With this season of
Top Chef taking place in Chicago it was only a matter of time before we heard the name Oprah. Her personal chef
Art Smith was on hand as the guest judge for both challenges. I don't know if I could prepare an entrée in 15 minutes as the chef-testants had to do in the Quickfire Challenge but I wouldn't have considered using Uncle Ben's 90-second microwaveable rice an option.
Though she's had uneven showings, I was projecting Stephanie to be a frontrunner but after losing both challenges tonight, along with Mark and Lisa, I'm starting to have doubts. Chef Art initially called her Brown Rice Pancakes with Scallops clever but then later said the pancakes were too heavy and the scallops unnecessary. Would he have preferred maple syrup with them?
Lisa was told her Rice, Corn, Black Beans and Peppers with Avocado Crème and Grilled Shrimp was unoriginal and Mark's Miso Glazed Turkey Breast was tough, dry and needed sauce.
On the upside, Richard is spotlighted again with his "well-balanced" Tuna Steak and Tomatoes with Yuzu Vinaigrette. And Dale's Pineapple Fried Rice with Grilled Scallops and Chinese Long Beans is the dish I wanted to taste tonight. But Antonia won immunity with her appealing hot and cold Rice Salad with Skirt Steak and Arugula. She could have slacked off for the Elimination Challenge but scored big again by creating a simple and delicious dinner for four with a budget of $10.
One nice thing that
Top Chef does is occasionally associate its challenges with worthy organizations. This season we shopped for locally grown foods at Green City Market, went to a Meals on Wheels charity event and alerted families how to get closer with suggestions at mealstogether.com. Tonight
Common Threads is the organization highlighted that connects children of many cultures and teaches them understanding and acceptance of others by way of cooking and sharing nutritious meals.
Some of those children, the "little" extra help as
Padma called them, were cute but added lightness to the episode and served to soften some chefs' edges. (This might have also been the call of the producers asking editors to remove any bleepable words and present an episode suitable for the children to watch with their families.)
Antonia gained good karma after a phone conversation with her daughter. (I guess the knock-knock joke with the punch line "smell mop" helped.) She also brought her experience as a single mother to whip up a winning Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry over Whole Wheat Noodles.
Andrew's three words of wisdom: simple, old and new. Keep it simple, take something old and make it new was the philosophy he learned from his mother. Serving Chicken Paillard Andrew was told he expanded the little chefs' culinary language by accompanying it with fennel and apples. Nikki threw chicken and mixed vegetables together and was praised for her "one pot wonder."
I'm glad Stephanie is still around but I had to agree with the wrinkled nose and scrunched-up face that
Tom Colicchio gave her for the Peanut Butter and Tomato Sauce over Chicken with Eggplant and Zucchini Couscous. As Zoi said about Richard's white chocolate-wasabi sauce, I promise you that doesn't taste good. Even without undercooked edamame, Lisa used a lot of ingredients and still created a bland Roasted Chicken with Black Beans and Lime. There were no tomatoes used with the peanut butter on her apple French toast.
I waited all week to hear Mark say at the Judges' Table: "I think Tom doesn't like mehow do I make this guy happy?" Mark would still be around and would have made Chef Tom very happy if he had added some protein to the Vegetable Curry, used more vegetables than sweet potatoes and the odd choice of cucumber, cut back on the sweetness, spent his budget more wisely and had a neat presentation.
" If it was mentioned before I didn't remember that Andrew weighed over 200 pounds in high school. Looking good, dude. Way to go!
" Chef Tom was playful asking Richard and his assistant if they made the onions sweat by putting them on the treadmill.
Gail Simmons got a dig in when telling Stephanie her mushy couscous was the telltale sign of a restaurant chef that doesn't cook at home. Do you think that's true?
" Text poll: What was the toughest challenge? The $10 budget came in first with 57% (and shopping at Whole Foods doesn't make it easier), that was followed by the 15-minute time limit at 34% (I would have been frazzled) and all but 9% would have wanted to work with a Kid Sous Chef.
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With this season of Top Chef taking place in Chicago it was only a matter of time before we heard the name Oprah Her personal chef Art Smith was on hand as the guest judge for both challenges I dont know if I could prepare an entre in 15 minutes as the chef-testants had to do in the Quickfire Challenge but I wouldnt have considered using Uncle Bens 90-second microwaveable rice an optionThough shes had uneven showings I was projecting Stephanie to be a frontrunner but after losing both challenges tonight along with Mark and Lisa Im starting to have doubts Chef Art initially called her Brown Rice Pancakes with Scallops clever but then later said the pancakes were too heavy and the scallops unnecessary Would he have preferred maple syrup with themLisa was told her Rice Corn Black Beans and Peppers with Avocado Cr232me and Grilled Shrimp was unoriginal and Marks Miso Glazed Turkey Breast was tough dry and needed sauceOn the upside Richard is spotlighted agai