Vive la France or at least its style of cooking. The glitz and glamour (i.e. gambling and neon) of Las Vegas were left behind for the chicness of French cuisine for this week’s episode of Top Chef. Our chef’s were surprised by the quick fire challenge,which had them creating dishes showcasing escargot,or for you non-foodies SNAIL! To top off this difficult challenge,Daniel Boulud,renowned French chef and restauranteur,was announced as the guest judge. And to freak out the judges even more,the loser of this challenge would be going home. YIKES! Jen,one of my favorite chefs this go around,informed the viewers at home that escargot is an incredibly difficult protein to work with and can be easily screwed up. So no pressure guys with you have to cook a French delicacy for a famous French chef and the fear of getting kicked off looming over you the whole time.
And thanks to the perfect reality TV tool of foretelling interview sequences,we know right away that the bottom bunch for the quickfire will be a handful of women (Thanks Robin). On the other hand,Kevin wowed the judges with his snail fricassee and with his win,he secured immunity as well as a seat at the elimination challenge table. Anyway back to the losers:Ashley,Jesse and Robin all ended up at the bottom of the snail heap and were asked to create an amuse bouche in like two minutes to see who should get the boot. Jesse’s did not make the cut and she was asked to pack her knives and get the F out the kitchen,which obviously didn’t make her happy. See?
So for the elimination challenge,the chefs,sans Kevin,picked knives which held proteins that would split them into teams. They then found out that they would be creating dishes for French masters like Hubert Keller,Laurent Tourondel,and Joël Robuchon. I can’t even imagine what must have been going through Kevin’s head,not only does he get to sit out on this challenge,but he gets to discuss food with French culinary masters,as well as learning what his opponents in the kitchen can really bring to a challenge first hand. This really is the best prize so far. Some of the teams,while picked at random,were practically guaranteed a win,like Jen and Michael V. and Bryan and Mike I. These two teams were focused,their talents complimented each other and their communication was the core ingredient to a winning dish. And the other teams,like Robin and Ron,Ash and Hector,Laurine and Eli and finally Mattin and Ashley,seemed stressed,uncomfortable and it could be seen in their dishes. Mattin,who is French and well versed with the cuisine,took control over his team with some lackluster results. Robin and Ron kept it simple and under the radar as always and Laurine and Eli were safe with their lobster dish. But Hector and Ash seemed to have the biggest issues with their dish,with their meat not cooked correctly and no sauce to add to it. When the masters were eating,they seemed to truly love Jen and Michael’s rabbit chasseur and felt that Brian and Mike I.’s trout dish was superb. The trout was cooked perfectly and the deconstructed béarnaise sauce drove the judges crazy. Now Kevin was incredibly smart and tactful after the dinner,avoiding confirmation of anything he had heard at the dinner table,which allows him to be as impartial as Switzerland.
When the winners were called in,Mike I showcased why he is a perfect team mate,he knows where credit is due. While I definitely have a few problems with this dude,his understanding of what it takes to be successful in the kitchen is impressive. And the adorable chemistry between Jen and Michael V. made me hope there could be a love connection down the line,but thats the reality romantic in me. Michael I. won the challenge with his interesting take on trout and won the opportunity to work in Joel Robuchon’s restaurant for a week,an incredible honor for any chef. And for the bottom four,Ash,Hector,Mattin and Ashley,the judges were beyond not pleased with what they were given. But overall,Mattin’s lackluster meal fared better than Hector’s poorly cooked beef dish. Since this was the second time Hector was on the chopping block for his methods of cooking beef,the judges had to have him go. I think its actually the only that save Mattin and his red neckerchief. Overall,this challenge was able to showcase the level of talent that is participating this season. I cant image any other group of chefs from the show’s history being so calm and able to perform the feat of preparing French cuisine for the masters of the technique. I just hope that these ladies start coming to forefront and killing it.