So then we were left with the final four hoping to make it to the Top Chef kitchen. I was a little nervous at this point, seeing my fellow Chicago chef Radhika still competing to move on, but was happy to hear the final portion involved actual cooking. I understand viewers' frustration of not being able to taste the dishes, but would say from my living room the scallops looked tasty, with a nice touch of dried apples for some texture contrast. Radhika pretty much had me at pork, and the flavors sounded like they worked well. It came down to Patrick and Lauren, who both chose to do salads on what must have been a hot July day in New York. I think during our season we were convinced that bacon was the way to win the hearts of the judges, but I guess we were wrong. I have to admit a slight bias, having met Patrick while I was out in New York a few months ago (love you!), but I did not want to see anyone leave so quickly.
Then out came the knife block, which made its first of many appearances, to decide which chefs would face off in the first challenge. I like the first challenge in that it highlights the various neighborhoods and cultures found in New York and also gives the chefs a chance to cook head-to- head, which is always fun. I think the neighborhood that I would have been most nervous about was Little India, mainly because Padma seems to know a thing or two about Indian cuisine. All of the markets they found looked great and it would have been fun just to do the shopping to check out all of the different ingredients. I might have to do some exploring on my next trip and check out some of the places I have not been like Brighton Beach and Long Island City.
I was excited to see Jean-Georges make an early appearance. I was lucky enough to have my first cooking job in Chicago at Vong and love his food. Of course having JG show up was sure to make some of the chefs a little more nervous. All in all it seemed like the chefs did well for the first round. Jeff had some timing issues and was unable to get all of his ingredients on the plate, but in the end the judges picked his dish over Fabio's, so maybe it was for the best. It is a little tricky at first because you do not want to prepare your plate too early and have your food sitting, but you do not want the feeling of missing a component (as when my artichoke chips did not make it on my salad) and wondering if that was going to be the deciding factor to send you home.