Top Chef: Chicago
Serve and Protect
Here is a quick run down on the two challenges:
- Quickfire Challenge: Create a sexy salad
- Elimination Challenge: Create gourmet and healthy boxed lunches for police academy
All the chefs were extra testy in this episode. It is because they were up for over 40 hours in the episode before and only got a normal night’s worth of sleep after it or is it because they are getting exhausted with the constant challenges at this stage in the game? Either way, they are getting nasty with each other and even at the judges!
Sexy Sam, one of the finalists from Season 2, was the guest judge. Their challenge was to create a modern sexy salad. They had 45 min. to make one. Wow! That’s a lot of time for a salad.
Dale said that making a good salad is the same as making a good steak. It can be tough to do. Andrew was excited to make a salad since it can be difficult but he was up to the challenge. Spike wanted to make a salad so sexy that someone would want to have sex afterwards. Richard said a salad could be anything. Lisa was looking around and thinking people were being too simple in their salads. She said that some people don’t deserve to be there since they are not good chefs and their personalities are horrible. It sounded to me like she was talking about herself. Antonia was a bit worried when she saw the amount of high quality ingredients Lisa was using in her salad like lobster. Antonia was making a fatty salad with a poached egg since that is what she always craves in a salad.
“Thai Fruit Salad” with Mangoes, Strawberries, Raspberries & Sriracha Dressing
Sam said the sriracha gives it a good flavor.
“Sensual Beef Salad” with Pineapple, Radish, Cucumber & Skirt Steak
Sam liked the contrast of profiles.
“Sexy Banana Salad” with Squid, Lobster Tail, Bananas & Yuzu Vinaigrette
Sam said he didn’t taste any spice at all. Padma agreed and said all she tasted was banana.
“Fall Duet” with Pear Vinaigrette, Poached Pear & Artichokes
Stephanie did inform them that she didn’t have time to add her artichoke chip on top of the salad. No comment from Sam.
“Poached Egg & Wild Mushroom Salad” with Bacon Vinaigrette & Squash Blossoms
Sam said it had great flavor.
“Fresh & Clean Salad” with Ceviche of Fruits & Vegetables
“Poached Chicken Salad” with Nori Paste, Mirin, Sake & Rice Wine Vinegar
Sam said poached chicken can dry out, but Dale’s chicken was really moist.
- Richard – Not enough acidity for a ceviche
- Stephanie – The pear vinaigrette was lacking and the artichoke chip didn’t make it to the plate, but she had enough time.
- Lisa – Loved the idea of using the squid and lobster, but all he could taste was the banana. Seemed like a hodgepodge more than a compose salad.
- Spike – He had a very well balanced salad and the beef was made really well. The pineapple really brought the dish together.
- Antonia – Great salad. He said there was nothing sexier than breaking into a yolk.
- Dale – Really unique, especially with the nori paste.
Quickfire Challenge Winner: Spike
He doesn’t get immunity, but he would get an advantage during the elimination challenge.
The elimination challenge was to create gourmet and healthy boxed lunches for the police academy. They were used to eating a bunch of greasy food each day for lunch, so the chefs needed to offer them some healthy alternatives that would still fill them up during lunch. Each lunch needed to contain one whole grain, lean protein, fruit and vegetables.
Spike received an advantage of an extra 10 minutes of shopping and he can pick one item from each food group Padma listed and no one else will be able to have that item. Spike then wasted his time picking such boring items that he didn’t think that it would force the rest of the chefs to be creative. He picked bread, chicken, lettuce and tomato. He was going to make chicken salad. Wow. He couldn’t come up with something better than that?
Andrew wasn’t worried with what Spike picked since he’s too creative to be bothered by the dumbed down items taken away from him. Stephanie was planning on making something with chicken and smoked tomatoes so she had to come up with a new idea. Lisa was planning on soup and sandwich, but that was gone with the bread already picked by Spike. She went with a shrimp stir fry since shrimp is healthy. Richard was going to do a burrito, but he didn’t have chicken or lettuce, so he went with bok choy and tuna. Andrew is super cocky about what he was picking up to make. He talked about studying nutrition for two years and Spike’s choices didn’t affect him at all. He’s so cocky that I know at that point he was either going to win or lose.
When they get back to the kitchen, they had two hours to get their meals ready to be transported over to the police academy where they had to give the police instructions on how to heat up the meal.
Antonia does healthy cooking at home, so she thought the challenge was pretty easy for her. Stephanie say Andrew making sushi rolls and didn’t think that would be filling enough for the cops. Dale wanted to make lettuce cups, but used cabbage instead. Antonia couldn’t stand that Dale was making Asian food again. She thought that was the only thing he could make. I guess she missed when he made bratwurst during the kid’s challenge a few challenges back. Andrew pointed out to Lisa that shrimp is high in cholesterol. Lisa decided to ignore Andrew since the rules didn’t say anything about cholesterol, but said it shouldn’t be high in carbs, fat or sugar.
When working on food, Lisa found out that her rice was cooking on a burner set to high. She said someone was trying to sabotage her by burning her rice on the outside while the inside wasn’t cooked at all. It was only a few minutes before she had to pack up so she didn’t have any time to make new rice. Stephanie didn’t think anyone was sabotaging Lisa. It might have been turned up by accident by someone else (there were tons of things on adjacent burners) or she did it by accident herself. She thought it was lame for Lisa to try to blame it on everyone. Dale thought the same thing as Stephanie and said that stuff happens all the time when chefs are sharing a kitchen.
When they were at the police academy, Richard was asking everyone that came up to the table, “Do you like burritos?” It was driving Spike insane since he was right next to him. I found it funny that it was driving Spike insane. Spike was only setting out two meals on his table at a time and hiding the rest behind him to make it look like his stuff was popular. I didn’t understand his madness since he wasn’t going to win by having people take the most amount of food. It was whether people liked what they ate and what the judges thought.
Mushroom & Meatball Soup with Barley, Vegetable Puree & Yogurt
One cop said it was very good. Another one liked the way the flavors came together. Ted Allen said it was a very hearty soup. Tom said it was seasoned well. Tom is all about the seasoning this season!
Chicken Salad with Pita & Raw Vegetables
One cop was impressed that it tasted like it had mayo even though he made it without. He said it tasted really good. Padma thought it tasted pedestrian. Tom held up the bread, a piece of lettuce and tomato and said he couldn’t believe that’s what he chose that no one else could use and that’s how he used them in the dish. Ted said that if he had two hours to make chicken salad, he had enough time to do something with the tomato and bread besides what he did with them.
Lemongrass Bison Cabbage Wrap with Brown Rice & Herb Salad
Cops expected the bison to be tough, but found it tender. Sam thought the vinaigrette had a good flavor. Ted thought it could have used some heat, like chilies, but thought it had great color and a lot of texture. He said the bison was very flavorful.
Curry Beef with Jasmine Rice, Berries & Figs with Grape Syrup
Ted said the beef was nicely cooked. Padma thought the flavors were delicious and the meat was nice and tender. Sam agreed.
Salmon Roll with Parsnip-Pine Nut “Rice” & Pickled Ginger Wasabi
Padma said it was very strange. Ted said the flavor was not great. It was falling apart in Tom’s hands. Padma pointed out that Andrew didn’t use a whole grain.
Grilled Tuna Burrito with Lentils & Quinoa in a Rice Paper Tortilla
Ted said it tastes better than it looks. Tom said it tastes good.
Shrimp Stir-Fry with Brown Rice, Berries & Yogurt
Ted said it was spicy, but he liked the hotness. Padma caught on that the rice was undercooked.
Before the winners were called in, the chefs were talking and Andrew realized that he was supposed to use a grain, but he didn’t. Dork!
Dale and Stephanie were called in as the best dishes. Tom said with Dale’s bison, it was smart choice since it is less fat than beef, but it tastes like beef. It was something that the cops would have been used to tasting, but better for them. Stephanie said that she doesn’t use a lot of whole grains and hadn’t used barley before, but she was very satisfied with how it turned out. Ted let Stephanie know that her soup was very well seasoned.
Sam picked the overall winner. He said he picked the dish that was substantial and unique. He picked Dale. He won a 2002 Merlot from Rutherford Hill. Dale made a comment to the camera later that he has won five times. I knew he had won before, but didn’t realize it was that much.
Spike, Lisa and Andrew were called back.
Padma asked Andrew if he thought the dish was substantial enough for the police. He said he thought it did. He talked about studying nutrition (which was about the 10th time he mentioned it in the episode) and how what he put in there would make someone stronger and more energized. Then he talked about people are supposed to eat small meals every three hours. Tom responded that if they are hungry three hours later, they are going to end up reaching for a candy bar. Ted said one of the rules was that is was supposed to be satisfying. Andrew asked if that was in the rule sheet. He then admitted to losing the rule sheet. When Ted and Sam talked about make a bridge between what the cops normally eat and something that is like it, but healthier, Andrew said he took it too literally. He gave them something that was the healthiest thing they could eat. Tom said he would have liked something that tasted good. Oh snap! Andrew said that he had two people come back for more. Tom said they had to come back because it wasn’t enough food and they needed more.
Padma asked why he chose chicken salad. He said he liked it, it was hearty, the cops would recognize it and he could give a good portion. Sam said that the lettuce, tomato and bread were there just to be there because he picked them. They felt like an afterthought. Spike asked what was so wrong about the way he used his ingredients. Tom asked if he was using them to his own advantage or to the detriment of his competitors. Tom said he found the combination of olives and grapes in the chicken salad odd. Spike asked Tom what he didn’t understand about salty and sweet. Is that something you want to ask a judge that could kick you off the show? Tom said there was more than salt to an olive. There is a flavor to it and it doesn’t work well with grapes. Spike said they had educated palettes but to the average person, they thought his salad was great. Tom responded if he wanted to take their word over his own, then fine. Spike said, “It’s a lunch box male for Christ’s sake.” Tom looked confused at his outburst. I was confused by his horrible attitude! Tom said there were seven chefs, four dishes were better than his dish. Spike responded that was Tom’s opinion. Tom finished by saying that unfortunately for Spike, Tom’s opinion is what matters.
Padma asked Lisa why she thought she was called in. Lisa acted dumb and said for them to tell her. Tom said it wasn’t a stir-fry, even though she called it that. Tom said there were many things in the dish that weren’t cooked properly. The beans and shrimp were pretty raw and the brown rice was undercooked. Lisa said someone messed with her rice and told that whole story. Ted asked if she was sure someone else turned up the heat on her rice and she didn’t do it by mistake. She was sure it was not her. Tom said that the rice aside, the shrimp wasn’t cooked and that was the basic problem with the dish.
Padma asked if anyone had anything to add and Lisa brought up that Andrew didn’t use a whole grain. Tom said they were aware of it. Padma asked why he didn’t use a grain. He said he wanted to show them something different. Tom wanted him to clarify that he understood the challenge but did something different. Andrew said no, he didn’t realize he was supposed to use one.
They were all sent out. Tom said he was going to accept as an excuse that someone sabotaged Lisa’s rice. Ted said he could ignore the rice since there were so many other things wrong with the dish. Ted thought the shrimp was nasty. With Spike’s dish, Sam couldn’t believe that out of the four ingredients he chose that no one else could use, that’s how he chose to use them. Tom said it was a failure of imagination. He also thought he spent so much time on his chicken that wasn’t very good, he ran out of time and just threw the other stuff on the plate. Andrew didn’t use a whole grain. Ted said even if he had used a whole grain, his responses to their questions was really arrogant. He thought that Andrew was doing what he wanted to do and not thinking about the challenge. Tom said there was no way he would go back to that sushi.
They were called back in. Andrew hit the mark on nutrition, but he missed it on substance and being delicious. Spike was unimaginative with the veggie sticks that were like an afterthought along with the weird combination of olives and grapes. Lisa was told to watch her food if she thinks someone is sabotaging her. He said the shrimp was raw and it wasn’t really a stir fry. Padma asked Andrew to pack his knives and go.
I really thought Andrew was going to go home before the finals, but thought it would be a bit later. I am ready for the other two in the room to go home next. Lisa and Spike need to leave. They both aren’t as talented as they think.
- What was up with the attitudes of the chefs at the end of the episode?
- Did someone sabotage Lisa’s rice or was it a complete mistake?
- Who should be the next to leave?
Photo Source: Top Chef