Gavin Kaysen, executive chef at Cafe Boulud and former contestant in the Bocuse d'Or, served as guest judge for the Quickfire. When it came time for the Elimination Challenge, he was joined by Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Alex Stratta, Timothy Hollingsworth, Traci Des Jardin and Jerome Bocuse, son of the founder of the Bocuse d'Or, Paul Bocuse. Here are our thoughts on the episode:
- Welcome back, Jennifer. For the Quickfire, Kaysen instructed the cheftestants to make a protein in a protein in a protein. Michael argued that he never used the word "ballotine" and was angry (surprise!) that his terrine-like dish was not a winner. Eli made an interesting bacon-dusted Scotch egg, but it was Jennifer's decision to get back to what she does best – seafood – that got the judge's attention, and scored her an extra 30 minutes for the Elimination Challenge.
- We're all best buddies, or not. Jennifer noted that the remaining chefs are all very close, but there was definitely some tension (however contrived) between the technique-heavy Voltaggio brothers and Kevin, whose food might be called homestyle or rustic, though certainly elevated. Bryan called Kevin "less complex" and Michael whined that Kevin's food is "the food that I cook on my day off." Kevin had a few words for them, as well, saying he and Eli "are maybe the ballsiest two people in this. We're doing homestyle food on Top Chef because we believe in the food that we grew up eating." You can probably guess whose corner we're in on this topic.
- Bring on the giant, shiny platters. We don't know much about the Bocuse d'Or, but it looks like a pretty crazy event. The chefs participated in a mini Bocuse d'Or for the Elimination challenge, minus the screaming, flag-waving fans. But there was $30,000 at stake to keep things interesting. Putting aside their differences for a bit, Kevin asked Bryan about how to sous vide his lamb and Bryan was perfectly willing to share the information. It was certainly a risky move (Carla from last season would have surely tried to talk him out of it), but it ended up paying off. Despite being the "simplest" dish in the challenge, it turned out that Kevin's was the one that actually tasted good, making him the winner.
- Nothing displeases the judges like a sad piece of meat. Eli undercooked his lamb and left large, difficult-to-eat pieces of fat in his sausages. That just wouldn't do, and he was sent to pack his knives. As Eli himself pointed out, for such a young chef, it was certainly an accomplishment to make it as far as he did.