"A clever cook, can make....good meat of a whetstone." -Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch priest and scholar (1466?-1536)
And if they try to be too clever, they can make a whetstone from good meat.
This was an interesting episode, insofar as the Quickfire Challenge required cooking with the worst of ingredients while, in contrast, the Elimination Challenge provided the opportunity to work with the very best available anywhere. As Jamie said in dismay upon learning of the Quickfire Challenge, without great ingredients it's hard for chefs to do good work. This could not be more true.
It was my time in France over 20 years ago, working in the kitchen of Michel Bras, that taught me this lesson; what I began at Mondrian and continued at Gramercy Tavern really culminated in my conceiving of and opening Craft, which was created to focus on the ingredients and create meals that honor them. And, in doing so, it also honored the farmer. I work closely with farmers of small, local farms, and I make it a point to visit the farmer's market as often as possible, always striving to get the food from the ground to the table as quickly as possible. Being at the forefront of the Farm-to-Table movement, I have been so glad to see chefs like Dan Barber pick up the mantle, so I was excited that this week's Elimination Challenge would bring the cheftestants to his exceptional farm to cook. He and the farmers of Stone Farms, as well as we Top Chef judges, were really looking forward to seeing what the chefs would do with all of the amazing produce and lovingly raised animals. We were all let down.