We felt right at home watching last night's episode of Top Chef. First, they highlighted a website we've mentioned several times before. Then, they highlighted our favorite subject matter of all: home cooking. But it wasn't exactly our style of dinner party...
Note: We reveal the winner and loser below.
The Quickfire Challenge was all about Cookstr, a relatively new site that brings chef and cookbook recipes to the masses. Contestants mimicked a search engine by pulling a slot machine lever. Each person got three words (things like "stressed," "umami," and "middle eastern") and had to create a dish to match.
In the Elimination Challenge, chefs worked in pairs to create a family-style dish to serve at a dinner party in the back yard.
Here's what we took away....
1. Want umami? Go for mushrooms. It seemed like a lot of the chefs pulled umami as one of their Quickfire words, and almost all of them went straight for mushrooms. We know it's a hard taste to define and create, but we know from this post that there are other ways to achieve it.
2. If we had to throw that dinner party, we'd skip town. We loved the fact that the chefs were charged with cooking a meal at home (surprise, surprise). But there was the requisite "in these economic times..." language to go along with it, as if they needed an excuse to play up home cooking. And then, how realistic was it? There were a dozen people in the kitchen, woks plugged in in the dining room... If we weren't enthusiastic home cooks, and we watched this episode, we'd never attempt a dinner party.
3. Because, really, how different was it than other episodes? The chefs made the same, restaurant-quality food that they'd make no matter what the challenge. We did appreciate that they worked without industrial-sized ovens or other restaurant equipment, which was encouraging. And we spotted Ash shaving fennel on a mandoline that looks a lot like ours.
4. Seafood, seafood, seafood. We've seen more scallops, prawns, and halibut than ever in this season. For some reason, it seems like there's seafood overload (at least no ceviche this time). Where's the pork? Or, gasp, chicken for an at-home dinner party challenge?
5. Ashley was just hitting her stride! We were so sad to see her eliminated. It feels like certain people tend to slip by when there are team challenges, carried by their partners, and then someone really good gets booted. Wasn't the over-salting of the gnocchi more Eli's fault? Ashley seemed really talented and had been in the top of the past few challenges, so it felt unfair. We'd rather see Mike Isabella go home for his arrogant attitude.
Jennifer won, again, for the Kobe beef with Tomato-Cardamom Broth she made with Kevin.
What did you think of the episode?