Original Air Date: Jan 2, 2013
Ryan O – Associate Staff Writer
The Elimination Challenge features memorable dishes from seasons past as inspiration but made more healthfully. Well, not memorable dishes, really, but, because this is still reality TV, dishes associated with memorable moments. Huge difference.
The show pulls a fast one and changes the format on us a little bit and does it effectively but I won’t spoil what happened by mentioning it here.
Padma is in the kitchen with master bladesmith Bob Kramer. There’s a cool title, “master bladesmith.” There are only 120 master bladesmiths in the country. His knives sell for $500 per inch. He demonstrates how sharp his knives are by just slicing through a piece and then two pieces of one-inch rope.
The Quickfire is three rounds and the chefs will compete in teams of three. First round, sharpen a dull knife with a traditional knife sharpener. First two teams to finish move on. Second round, tourne 50 potatoes (cut them so they are seven-sided). One team advances and then competes individually in the final round, where chefs will have to break down and French-cut two rabbits.
Winner gets immunity and a Bob Kramer knife.
Teams: Josh, Sheldon, and Micah; Stefan, Lizzie, and Brooke; John, Josie, and Kristen.
Round 1. John calls for a check of his teams’ knives, which annoys Kristen since she isn’t ready and it’s a waste of time. As it turns out, John’s is the only knife that isn’t sharp enough. A little while later, it’s sharp enough and they advance. Soon after that, Josh, Sheldon, and Micah advance.
Round 2. Josies cuts herself, which is a DQ. She’s out. Her team has to forge on without her. John works hard but they lose.
Round 3. Josh vs. Sheldon vs. Micah. Micah just speeds through this and wins by a lot. He wins immunity and the knife.
The challenge is to make a healthier version of a dish inspired by a Top Chef memorable moment. They’ll have two-and-a-half hours. The winner gets $15,000.
The dishes, of course, aren’t selected for being great but for the memorable drama associated with a dish.
The guest judges joining Padma and Tom are Wylie Dufresne, Jonathan Waxman, Wolfgang Puck, and Chris Cosentino.
Josie: Herb-roasted chicken parsnip puree and steamed root vegetables
Stefan: Roasted red pepper soup with bacon and grilled mimolette cheese sandwich
John: Umami risotto with chicken, salmon roe, burdock root, and carrot emulsion
Jonathan calls Josie’s chicken fine and something you’d get in a standard restaurant but it’s not exciting. Wylie says the skin could’ve been crispier. Wylie calls Stefan’s soup greasy. Wolfgang does say it has a nice kick. Padma doesn’t like John’s risotto. Wylie says the carrot was a nice touch but the rice isn’t cooked right. Wolfgang says some rice is overcooked and some is undercooked.
Lizzie is really worried about her scallops. They smelled bad when she took them out of the fridge. They’re releasing a lot of liquid as they’re cooking and she can’t sear them and she can’t use butter to help that along since it has to be a healthy version. I’m going to be very sad and disappointed if she has to pack her knives.
Sheldon: Beef carpaccio with poi aioli, mizuna and mushroom salad and silken tofu foam (tofu foam? really?)
Lizzie: Seared scallops with roasted fennel, garlic puree, orange and olive salad
Josh: Soy-glazed pork tenderloin with smoked cashew puree and heirloom peaches
Wolfgang really likes how Josh cooked the pork. Wylie thinks the pork and peaches are a nice combination. Chris says Sheldon’s meat isn’t visually appealing. Wylie thought Sheldon’s tofu had no flavor. Wolfgang says the quality of Lizzie’s scallops was dubious. Tom does say the dish is healthier since it has no cream but his scallop isn’t well-cooked at all.
Brooke: Smoked salmon, forbidden black rice with English pea and parsnip puree
Kristen: Poached chicken breast, carrot puree with garlic and tofu emulsion
Micah: Five-spiced duck breast with miso polenta and pickled cherries
Tom thought Micah’s duck breast was nicely cooked and the pickled cherries went well with the duck. Jonathan thought miso and polenta was a bad idea. Tom thought Kristen’s dish was light and flavorful. Jonathan thought it was a great version of pot pie. Brooke cooked everything really well according to Tom.
Josh, John, Kristen, Lizzie and Brooke are called before the judges. They had the best and worst dishes. Josh, Brooke, and Kristen had the best. Lizzie and John had the worst. I don’t have a good feeling about Lizzie’s prospects.
Josh, Brooke, and Kristen receive compliments but Kristen wins!
Wylie calls John’s rice a travesty. John says he’s not making excuses but offers up the excuse that there wasn’t a big enough, level pot for the amount of risotto he needed to cook. Wolfgang says the customer doesn’t care. John says it’s not a cop-out. Josh offers up that his pot was fine. John says asking Josh about the equipment is “jaded.” I don’t think that means what he thinks it means.
Padma asks if Lizzie tasted her scallops. She did. She realized they must’ve been old. Wolfgang says they looked gray and unappetizing. Tom says he was surprised since Lizzie has been so thoughtful to this point about everything she’s produced.
Time for the twist! Padma gives them the memorable moment from this season: CJ and Josh’s pork burger with spicy dill pickles. Lizzie and John have to have a one-on-one cook-off. They have 45 minutes to make a healthier version of that dish.
Right at the outset, John grabs the jar of pickles. Lizzie asks him for some and he gives her some. He tells us this is because he’s a great guy.
As they’re cooking, John takes all of the dill from Lizzie and uses all of it. He’s just being a raging jerk. He’s leaving the oven doors open.
John: Lamb burger with fried egg and spicy pickle, tomato, and pomegranate salad
Chris Cosentino wants to know why he put a fried egg on a dish that was supposed to be healthful. John says it was to give it a little bit more fat. Uhhhhh … ? Wolfgang’s lamb burger was dry and overcooked. Chris did like the salad.
Lizzie: Chicken burger with a goat cheese ricotta and dill pickle roasted red pepper salad
Lizzie tells Wolfgang she used white meat. He thinks the burger is moist and flavorful. Chris thinks the salad is refreshing and flavorful.
Tom calls it a tough decision.
Padma asks who should stay in. Chris says Lizzie. Wolfgang says Lizzie. Tom says it comes down to who made the better burger and picks Lizzie. Padma agrees.
John is out. YES! He says he’s not bitter but then gives a pretty bitter rant about all he had to do was cook five burgers and hold the jar of pickles under his arm. “I shared the pickles because that’s who I am.” Put your glasses on your nose where they belong, pack your knives, and go, you graceless turd.
Last Chance Kitchen
I’m not a CJ fan but I’m hoping he whips John.
They can cook whatever they want. The twist is they have to cook with pots and pans that were bought from local tag sales.
CJ made scallops with caviar and some other stuff. John made lobster with foie gras and corn pudding succotash.
Tom thought the corn was salty but thought there was lots of good flavor in both dishes.
CJ wins! Goodbye, John.
What did you find to be tasty in this episode? Did you think anything was overdone? Give us your Two Cents below!