Top Chef: Time for Improv and Dessert!

Quickfire Challenge

As the chefs walk into the kitchen this week they are greeted by tables covered with pastries, chocolate cakes, and everything else that is yummy and sweet. They are then introduced to this week's guest chef, James Beard Award-winning Executive Pastry Chef of Jean-Georges, Johnny Iuzzini. Wonder what this quickfire will be all about.

Padma begins to point out that usually in Top Chef, the one killer is the dessert. So, to test this theory, the quickfire challenge this week is for the chefs to make their best dessert. The winner will get their recipe in the new Top Chef cook book.

Johnny was not a fan of Antonia's lemon cake and Spike's rum-cake souffle, despite his effort. Dale's traditional dessert won over our guest judge, while Richard's faux scallops (banana) over a dessert guacamole won big points for creativity. So big in fact, Richard won the challenge and immunity for this week.

Elimination Challenge

After the quickfire, the chefs learn they get to go to Second City, the birth place of improvisational comedy in America.  But as we all know  when the chefs are sent to enjoy themselves, well, they are never just sent to enjoy themselves. At one point in the show, the Second City cast starts to have the audience yell out a color, an emotion and a food used in cooking. Guess what those suggestions turned out to be? The chefs soon learn that they will be cooking a five course meal based on the suggestions yelled out by the audience. This should be good.
Back at the house the chefs decide to put numbers in a hat and pull out the courses and which suggestions they will be using. They break down as follows:

Andrew and Spike - First Course, Yellow, Love, Vanilla
Lisa and Antonia - Second Course, Magenta, Drunk, Polish Sausage
Stephanie and Jen - Third Course, Orange, Turned-on Asparagus
Mark and Nikki - Fourth Course, Purple, Depressed, Bacon
Dale and Richard - Fifth Course, Green, Perplexed, Tofu

Back in the kitchen Spike decides to make a soup since last week he almost lost the challenge when his team didn't pick his soup idea. But, to throw a monkey wrench in the process, it turns out all of the electrical equipment was taken out of the equipment room. Looks like this soup is going to be hand pureed.

Then, if that's not enough, Chef Colicchio walks in and tells the chefs that they are actually serving everything at the Top Chef house and they have twenty minutes to pack everything up and ship it out to finish cooking there. Talk about improv!

Spike and Andrew are the first to go with their squash soup with vanilla creme fraiche. The soup goes over very well, as simple as it is.

Stephanie and Jen go next with their Menage a Trois (turned-on, get it?) of orange, goat cheese and asparagus. They show everyone at the table how to eat their phallic asparagus. It was kind of funny to see Chef Colicchio blush.

Richard and Dale then serve their tofu steak marinated in beef fat with green curry. In my opinion the only way to make some tofu taste good is by marinating it in some beef fat.

Antonia and Lisa serve dish number four - their take on drunk sausage. The dish was a sea bass with purple potato puree, chorizo (yum!) and Tequila sauce. The judges comment that the food was good, but not carried out well enough.

Mark and Nikki present last with their pork loin with sweet potatoes, grape sauce and Brussels sprouts.  I hate Brussels sprouts but the judges seem to be okay with it.

Judges Table

Dale, Spike, Andrew and Richard get called in first and are told their dishes were the judges' favorites. Richard and Dale win the challenge and are rewarded with $2500 worth of Calphalon cookware. Real nice.

Antonia, Lisa, Stephanie and Jen are then sent in with the judges' least favorite meals. Antonia and Lisa are immediately called out for not using Polish sausage even though it was one of their improv words. Stephanie and Jen are told their cheese choice was the star of the meal (instead of the asparagus), and that the bread crouton took away from the dish.

In the end Stephanie and Jen lose the challenge for their funny, but not very good dish. Jen is told to pack her knives and join her girlfriend back home. Now, as Richard put it, there is no room for error.

Until next time, Happy Eating!


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