The Quickfire Challenge also tested another fundamental chef skill -- cooking meat to temperature. That's something that so basic any chef should be able to do it with his or her eyes closed, but as we've seen time and time again on Top Chef, sometimes it's the most basic skills that are the hardest to nail. What I think Top Chef gets right is this combination of testing the most important basic skills, alongside with more "advanced" capabilities like patience, palate, creativity, thoughtfulness, and presentation. To be a great chef, or a Top Chef, I suppose, you've got to master it all, from the most simple task -- like cooking a steak medium rare - to the most challenging, like creating a menu in the course of three hours, and serving it to a fine dining restaurant filled with hungry diners. That's why this week's challenges were so compelling.
In the end, Spike, who was the winner of Quickfire, lost the Elimination Challenge for something I thought was so surprising -- his insistence on sticking to those dreadful water-logged scallops. Why? There was no rule that said he had to stick to that protein. He could've cut his losses and perhaps made something on the fly and made it to Puerto Rico.