Team Top Chef

The chefs struggle more with a carnival-inspired Elimination Challenge than a one-handed Quickfire Challenge!

Oct 12, 2011

Sally tried, once again, to play to the guest judges' favorite flavor profiles (she mentioned the same strategy for Pichet Ong), this time, however, it sort of backfired in that Chef Payard thought her pie was a little too tart and her crust wasn't quite up to snuff. Chris' pie was a tad too sweet -- when discussing Chris' pie with Gail, she brought up a great quote from Johnny Iuzzini: "Sugar is not a flavor." I just love this. It's so true, and such a perfect comment for so many desserts we eat all the time. Orlando's pie was successful, but, ultimately, Carlos won. He too knew the flavors Chef Payard enjoys, but -- unlike in Sally's case -- that knowledge actually worked to his benefit.

For the Elimination Challenge the chefs are told they will be creating upscale carnival food for a Top Chef Carnival hosted by Food & Wine's Dana Cowin. There's upscale and there's wearing cocktail dresses to a carnival. I have to say i was kind of nervous for everyone when I saw what the guests were wearing -- the event was actually much more upscale than even i expected!

We'll start with my personal favorite dish of the night -- Sally's. Sally pretty much won me over at "corn." There are a few ingredients that perk me up immediately. Even my friends know which ones they are. If i'm at a restaurant, it's not rare for them to say, "Well, I know what you're ordering." Inevitably, that dish has either corn, bacon, or both! Sooo, Sally's would have been the dessert I would have ordered. Thankfully, it was received well by the judges, but not as well as Matthew's. Matthew made an apple empanada. The judges love their fresh fruit with their cooked fruit, huh? A Matthew hater would say that Matthew's dish looked like a glorified McDonald's apple pie (I thought it too). And guess what? McDonald's apple pies are delicious. But this one was fried, and the crust on Matthew's just looked like flaky deliciousness.