Top Chef: Episode Three

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Okay everybody, it’s time to dish about last night’s episode of Top Chef. In case you missed it, here’s a little recap, without giving anything away.

It’s a showdown between the foie gras and truffle loving food snobs and the dirty unwashed masses who would rather dig into some good old-fashioned comfort food. Padma explains that only 38% of American’s eat in fine dining restaurants, so the the chefs were asked to create “original and exciting food that would appeal to the man on the street.”

In the quickfire challenge, the chefs were asked to create an ice cream flavor (sound familiar?) which they would then serve to a group of children and their parents at the Redondo Seaside Lagoon.

Some of the intriguing flavors included:
• peach cobbler
• an Elvis inspired peanut butter and jelly with bananas
• chocolate with lavender
• ginger snap and citrus crumble
• avocado, vanilla and marshmallow
• waffles and bacon
• bacon and avocado

What did we think of the winner of this challenge? Who should have won? Which flavors did we love and which were boring? What was the deal with Padma’s hot pants?

For the elimination challange, Padma brings out Stephen Bulgarelli, Senior Director/Executive Chef for T.G.I.Friday’s and is met with lots of condescending smiles from the chefs. He asks the contestants to create a dish that would appeal to the T.G.I.Friday’s guests. He explains that the meals that resonate with their customers are ones that they remember from their childhoods, but with an adult twist. The winning entree will be featured on the menues of select T.G.I.Friday’s restaurants. Judging will be done by a group of hungry firemen in South Pasadena. One of the chef’s has an inside advantage, having once worked at a T.G.I.Friday’s and having a brother who is a firefighter. Here’s what they all came up with. Some are pretty good and a number of them are surprisingly unispired.

• Cheesesteak sandwich with onion rings
• Pork chops with mashed potatoes and cabbage
• Marinated fruit salad in a spicy chimichurri vinaigrette
• Surf and turf
• “Wonderland” Mushroom salad with oven dried tomatoes
• Bacon smoked roasted corn
• Fishsticks and mac and cheese with provolone, gouda finished with maple smoked lardons
• Miami style BBQ steak skewers with fire roasted tomato salsa
• Chicken fried shrimp with a corn, red pepper and lime salad
• Meatloaf sandwich with spicy ketcherella
• Strawberry Crisp with a pecan streudle topping, vanilla bean whipped cream and orange caramel sauce
• Grilled cheese sandwiches with Portobello mushrooms and roasted red pepper soup

Which of these dishes are “cravable”? Would you order the winning dish the next time you popped into T.G.I.Friday’s? Were you glad to see the loser go?

Plus next week, guest judge Suzanne Goin! and accusations of cheating!