Bravotv.com: You judged the Quickfire this time.
Gail Simmons: I did, which was fun! A lot of pressure… I love that it was a relay race in the truest sense of the term. The sous chefs started it and handed the mise en place on to their chefs who then created the dishes, which is an interesting metaphor for how things work in the kitchen. Not that the sous chefs only do mise en place in a kitchen, but a sous chef preps and supports the chef, and the chef creates the overall vision. I ate a lot of raw lamb at day. A lot of raw lamb…
Bravotv.com: Some of the chefs went right in, but even Douglas said, “I don’t know how I’m going to mix these ingredients together.” Was that combination classic at all, or was it a difficult combination?
GS: It wasn’t an impossible combination; it wasn’t like weird ingredients. On their own, celery root, pomegranate, lamb, and squid are very common ingredients, but harmonizing them can be challenging. It takes a moment of pause to come up with something like that. Some chefs are really quick on their feet about the way they cook; they can just jump in and throw a dish together. Others need more time to think it through.
Bravotv.com: Sue’s lamb loin with the slaw won.
GS: It was surprisingly good considering how little time they had. The quality of some of the dishes was really exceptional. There was harmony on her plate; she made those ingredients feel completely organic and natural together, and it was delicious. She added pistachios, and sometimes all you need is a fifth ingredient to bring it all together. And I think the pistachios and pomegranate worked so well -- they’re both sort of Middle Eastern, traditional ingredients seen together all the time By using that fifth ingredient, she made it feel like she’d been cooking that dish for years.
Bravotv.com: This was our first elimination Quickfire. Richard was unfortunately sent home.
GS: I felt terrible. It was a really hard challenge because there was so much food and so much detail. He was at a disadvantage -- his sous chef finished last, so he finished the mise en place last and had the most prep to do; he had 10 minutes to cook his dish, and he just wasn’t able to pull it together. That’s where Battle of the Sous Chefs comes in to play. Also, he called his dish a tartare, but it wasn’t a tartare; it was more of a carpaccio. He had this problem in the last Elimination Challenge too where he called his dish a taradito, but it really wasn’t. Because he called it that, you have in your head an expectation of what it’s supposed to be, and then it doesn’t measure up to what the definition of that term really is.
Bravotv.com: On to the Elimination Challenge at the Asian night market.
GS: This was one of my favorite challenges of all my time on Top Chef just because it was just so beautiful that night, and it was just such a fun night. Also, it was a great challenge in terms of current culinary trends.