Top Chef Recap: 7/18

After last week’s largely unsuccessful group efforts, this week the chefs were in for a treat (no pun intended). Now that there’s only 11 cheftestants remaining, the stakes are high and the ovens are getting hot.

For this week’s quickfire challenge, which, according to Lakshmi, was “all about time,” the cheftestants were instructed to create the most ambitious, creative dish for guest judge Maria Frumkin (a very experienced pastry chef). The catch: they had to use one of the “most widely used, time saving, culinary innovations of the 20th century:” the frozen pie crust. As bizarre as this may sound, many of the dishes turned out scrumptiously tasty.

Lakshmi loaded on the pressure, informing the chefs that she really expected a miracle, especially after last episode's dessert debacle.

Sara M.’s creation came out delicious, while Hung’s mousse was simply not what the judges’ considered acceptable. Hung is clearly wonderfully talented, but his presumptuous attitude may end up leading to his elimination. However, he deserves some credit after admitting that he tries his hardest every time, as if it’s his last day in the competition.

Though Sara M.’s dish was creative and boldly appetizing, Joey’s tarts were above and beyond, winning him immunity for the next round.

Ironically, Joey had revealed earlier that he considers himself the grey horse right now; it’s just that nobody sees him coming. Turns out he was right.

The elimination challenge was interesting yet undoubtedly challenging. The cheftestants had to cater a lunch for the casting crew of the Telemundo novella "Dame Chocolate."

With only one a half hours to complete the elimination challenge (due to Dame Chocolate’s decision to push the lunch up by a half an hour), the cheftestants definitely could not afford to waste a single minute.

“Now that we have less time, there’s more stress. The kitchen- it’s dangerous. People are running around, they’re carrying hot pans and it’s not a good situation especially with so many people in one area. People are losing all sense of what is right and wrong,” Casey complained about Dame Chocolate’s decision to move up the lunch.

Howie’s dish turned out winner, it was right on target, and he won a very nice bottle of wine, directly from Argentina. However, Lia, who was last week’s winner, did not pull through with her polenta and trout dish and was asked to pack her knives and go home.

From frozen pie crust to exotic seafood, Top Chef definitely has some interesting creations in store for us in the episodes to come. Each chef, like Hung said, must work his or her hardest with each challenge. With Lia as a perfect example, one mistake could lead to a disastrous goodbye.

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