Top Chef Recap: Fun Time at the Zoo

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We start this episode with Stephanie and Valerie working out, talking about the challenges. They mention how they used to work together at a restaurant. What is with all of these contestants knowing each other? Take Zoi and Jennifer dating. What's up with that??

Tonight's Quickfire takes place at the wonderful, yummy, fresh and fun farmers market. The cheftestants find out, however, that they can only use 5 ingredients (not including salt, pepper, sugar and oil). If anybody has been to a local farmers market you know just how hard that is. All of the fresh fruit, veggies, meat, cheese, pies and other assorted goodies are overwhelming. It's like a foodie heaven.

 While everyone is running around, Spike starts chilling at the farmers market listening to the guitar performance. I don't understand these people who go on these shows and take time to "chill." It's a competition!

Dale (AKA the new Hung) mentions how he wants the freshest food available. He doesn't know how long the meat has been frozen, so why would he take it? Smart man.

While everyone's getting ready to leave, Mark leaves a bag at the table. I always hate it when the chefs forget something. It's just a silly mistake.

AH! The guest judge for this episode is Wylie Dufresne, one of my favorite chefs. For those who don't know, this is one of the chefs who pioneered using scientific methods in cooking (e.g. liquid nitrogen!). Haven't have a chance to go to his restaurant in NYC wd-50, but take one look at the menu and you know his cooking is far from run of the mill.

Andrew kind of dropped the ball forgetting to count out his ingredients. Just a hint: balsamic vinegar is not an oil. This mistake disqualified him.

It turns out Mark forgetting a bag wasn't such a disaster. He ended up winning the Quickfire and gained immunity.

After the Quickfire the cheftestants picked knives from a block. Written on each knife was a type of animal: lion, bear, gorilla, penguin, and vulture. The challenge was not to cook parts of these weird exotic animals (question: how does one know it is illegal to cook gorilla?) but to cook for a cocktail party held at the local zoo using ingredients found in each team's animal's diet. Clever.

Here's a surprise - Richard brought an immersion circulator ( a device used to cook food using water kept at a precise temperature). Maybe he is the next Hung.

Interesting choice with Team Bear saving money for table decor. Think that was a good idea?

Team Penguin had a really good idea making a jello glacier. Very creative.

Andrew and Spike are both very....interesting characters. Does anybody else think they were separated at birth?

At the zoo certain dishes went well and others, not so much. Wylie really liked the squid ceviche (which made Andrew very happy). Valerie's belini was compared to dirt. Team Bear's blueberry stuffed mushrooms were forgettable according to chef Colicchio (not to mention they just sound gross).

In the end, Team Vulture and Team Penguin came out on top. The lamb meatball sounded amazing. The squid dish  helped Team Penguin pull out on top. And the glacier helped a lot. These creative dishes gave Andrew the win for this challenge.

Team Bear and Gorilla ended up on the bottom. Team Bear's blueberry stuffed mushroom came out terribly. They were way too cold (Colicchio agreed) and looked even worse. The cheese garnish used to make it look pretty made it taste terrible. Ask any of the chefs how it tasted, however, and none of them could give you an answer because none of them actually tasted it. If there is one lesson you learn on Top Chef it's taste your food before it enters the judges' mouths!

Team Gorilla's crab salad was way too watery and the belini tasted, well, like dirt. After the judges gave their opinions, chef Colicchio asked the cheftestant whose dish wasn't terrible who she would hire based on their dishes. She picked Stephanie with the crab salad, though she hadn't tasted Valerie's belini. Draammmaaa.

Ultimately Valerie was sent home with her bad belini. Looks like she won't be working with Stephanie anymore!

Join me next week for another recap. In the meantime, happy eating!


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