Top Chef: Episode Seven

published Dec 7, 2006
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Did we all see Top Chef last night? Let’s not get into Padma’s bikini top, hippie sweater and bandana tragedy and instead, let’s focus on the food. The theme of the episode was cooking with limitations. For the Quickfire Challenge, judged by Raphael Lunetta, owner of Jiraffe in Santa Monica, was to create an entree using only raw food that they get from the Redondo Beach Farmer’s Market. No cooking. Some of the dishes the chefs came up with included:

• Fresh Corn Salad with Tomatoes, Chili, Avocado and Creamy Lime Dressing
• Salad of Radishes, French Beans, and Bronze Fennel with Tomato Butter Puree
• Tuna with Spinach, Onions, Sesame, Lime, Ginger and Garlic
• Scallop Carpaccio with Radish Salad, Smoked Salmon and Lemon Honey Vinaigrette
• Crudo of Summer Squash, Zucchini with a quick pickle of Peaches, Plums, and Grapes
• Watermelon Napoleon with Avocado, Cilantro, and Salmon Jerky
• Watermelon “Steak” with Tomato Tartare

The Elimination Challenge was to make a tasty and memorable gourmet breakfast for some mystery athletes who will devour their creations after their morning practice. The twist: the chefs will not know what kitchen equipment they’ll have access to until they get to the location (we all know about working in unfamiliar kitchens, don’t we?). Turns out, the chefs had to cook their breakies over a fire pit on the beach in Malibu and the athletes they will be feeding are the surfers out on the ocean. Here’s what they came up with:

• Crabcakes Benedict with Mango Cream Sauce
• “Waffle” with Ham, Cheese, and Fried Eggs
• Spanish Tortilla on “Pan Con Tomate” with Chipotle Aioli
• Black Forest Ham and Egg Bundle with Corn and Leek Ragout on Rustic Toast
• Zucchini and Smoked Salmon Scramble, Cannoli Cream with Strawberries and Holland Waffle
• Chicken Apple Sausage with Sweet Potato Hash and Chive Scrambled Eggs
• Scrambled Eggs with Basil, Almond Pest served “Toad in the Hole” style
• Chicken and Egg tacos
• Poached Eggs, Hash Browns, Gravlax and Cream Cheese with Bacon Lardons

So what did we think of the breakfast dishes the chefs came up with? Which would you prefer to eat after a hard morning of surfing? What’s with all the complaining about cooking over an open fire on the beach? You’d think that none of these chefs have ever cooked anywhere outside a restaurant kitchen.