Top Chef: You Must Season Your Food!

Quickfire Challenge

This week's Quickfire challenge stars guest judge Ming Tsai, owner of Blue Ginger, a well established Asian restaurant in Boston.

The challenge is the always popular blindfold taste test challenge. However, this year's version is a bit different - the cheftestants have to choose the more high-end ingredient of two products while blindfolded.

Most chefs seem to know what they are looking for and did pretty well. The ingredients ranged from meat to butter, and from olive oil to sake. Sounds fun!

Stephanie did the worst, with 6 out of 15, and Antonia did the best, giving her immunity. She was the smart one, using different fingers while tasting and really cleaning out her mouth out with water after each taste. Her trick seemed to pay off. Elimination Challenge

This week's elimination challenge consisted of the chefs cooking for the Meals On Wheels Celebrity Chef Ball. The celebrity chefs will be cooking the main courses while our cheftestants will be cooking the first course inspired by one of nature's elements: earth, water, air and fire.

They draw knives as follows:

Team Water: Richard, Mark and Andrew.
Team Air: Ryan, Jen and Nikki
Team Earth: Spike, Zoi and Antonia
Team Fire: Dale, Stephanie and  Lisa

The teams only have 15 minutes to put together a menu and come up with some interesting ideas.

Team Water goes with fish (surprise, surprise) cooked in a controlled water bath. Guess who thought of that idea? (For those who haven't caught on by now, it was Richard.)

Team Fire has a hard time coming up with an idea. One wants to do Asian inspired food, one doesn't, while the other is just lost.

Team Earth hits the problem that always comes up. Antonia (who has immunity) is calling the shots, so if there is a problem, she won't get sent home. Its the Casey-Joey (remember last season?) problem all over again!

Team Air uses birds (get it?)... more specifically duck with a simple salad. Sounds a little too simple if you ask me.

Back in the kitchen Team Fire is having problems. Dale comments on Lisa's negative attitude while she is running around cursing. Ryan, from Team Air, is running around all frazzled about his pomegranate juice. Chef Colicchio comes in to check on the teams. He asks Team Water who poaches fish anymore. Is it rhetorical? Is it good? Is it bad!? What is he thinking!?!

The first team to serve is Team Water. They make a poached salmon with faux caviar and parsnip puree. Once the plates hit the judge table, bad things happen. The guest judge gets a fish with scales. Leaving scales on your fish is verrrrry bad. Anyone who watches Top Chef knows that!

Team Fire is up next with their grilled shrimp with pickled chili salad, deviled aioli and smoked bacon. I have only one word while looking at that dish: YUM. The judges seem to like it despite its spicy flavor. (The guest judge reminds Tom Colicchio that they are Team Fire, so the spiciness makes sense. Way to call out the head judge!)

Team Air serves a duck breast with citrus salad and a pomegranate shot.  Sounds basic, but Nikki swears by it. The judges don't seem to like the shot too much, but the dish goes over okay.

Team Earth serves a beef carpaccio with a quality mushroom salad. The judges complain about the blandness of the dish. Only moments before,  Spike mentioned to Zoi that the dish was not seasoned enough. And as we all know, seasoning is basic cooking. And basic cooks cannot be Top Chefs....Whoops.

Judge's Table

The first team called in is Team Fire, who we all know won the challenge. Chef Tsai is asked to pick the winner who gets a prize: a 5 day trip for two to Italy. Lisa comes away with the win and gets the prize. Dale was bitter. I'm jealous.

Team Earth and Water are sent back to judge's table as the losing teams. Team Water gets called out for the scales left on the fish. Richard takes full responsibility for the mushy poached salmon and left over scales.

Team Earth is immediately confronted about their under-seasoned beef. Zoi defends her decision for her light seasoning as to not overpower the flavor of the beef. When asked what their alternative choices were, Spike lets the judges know that his idea for a butternut squash soup was shot down. Chef Tsai responds by saying it would have been a really good idea to do soup for 80 people. Make that whoops number two.

It turns out that the diners agreed. Team Earth's dish was the worst and received the lowest score. The judges agreed it was Zoi's light seasoning hand that led to the dish's demise, and they send her packing.

After Zoi leaves, Spike speaks up and tells Antonia she should have taken the back seat because she has immunity. She starts yelling back, which causes Jen to start yelling (probably because she was pissed her girlfriend was leaving). Then when Dale gets involved, Lisa tells him to shut up. This of course only causes him to yell right back at her! It's a madhouse!

Phew! Take this week to cool off. Until next time, Happy eating!


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