Hello, my little Kramer knives. (I actually use a Global chef's knife, so i feel like a poseur, but I'll get over it.) In this past week's episode of Last Chance Kitchen, reigning champ CJ competed against fellow tall drink of water, Bart, in a game of chicken. They had to make something pretty bland -- a chicken breast -- and make it bold… and beautiful. Bart was obviously fretting over his seasoning, which Tom said improved. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to get him the win. And so, CJ moves on to live another week! I think it's time to start calling him Chef Hot Ginge a la Prince Hot Ginge (Harry). I'm getting over bronchitis -- please allow me this one moniker.
Back in the Top Chef Kitchen, Padma introduces Bob Kramer of Kramer Knives to the chefs. We just watched Sheldon sharpen his knives in the chefs' quarters earlier, so methinks he might do well in this challenge. We also saw Stefan use wrinkle cream, though, so I'm not sure what to think about anything. A sharp knife is a chef's most important tool. When I moved to Manhattan, I invested in a good chef's knife, and it was one of my best purchases. I don't know if I could swing a Kramer knife, but I'll add it to my list. Bob demonstrates how his knives cut through rope! If we had shown him cutting through a soda can, I would've lost it. You know, if you call in to Top Chef in the next 30 seconds, you get not one, but two inches of Kramer knife! But that's not all!…
The chefs engage in a knife skills relay race. Since the mise-en-place relay race is my seasonal favorite, I'm happy to see another spin on it! The remaining chefs break up into three groups of three. First, the chefs have to turn their dull knives into razor sharp blades that can cut paper. In a weird power play, John declares his team ready even though Kristen isn't. And in another weird turn of events, Kristen's knife easily cuts throughout the paper, and John's doesn't! It's OK because they still beat the Green Team of Stefan, Brooke, and Lizzie. Round Two is to tourne 50 potatoes. I don't think I"ve ever eaten a potato that shape in my life. Maybe at a bat mitzvah? Anyway, Josie cuts herself, so she's disqualified, leaving John and Kristen to fend for themselves. Unfortunately, they lose to Micah, Sheldon, and Josh by two potatoes! For the final round the chefs have to break down two rabbits. Josh says it's ilke breaking down a cat. I'm leaving that one alone because I honestly don't want to know how he knows that. Micah wins and gets immunity. Nice work, Micah! Let your talent speak for you!On to the Healthy Choice Elimination Challenge! We've been celebrating our tenth season of Top Chef on Bravotv.com, and what better way to do so on the show than to look back at the season's most controversial dishes? This time, though, the chefs have to improve upon them, make them healthier. We learn a lot of things in the kitchen. John Tesar is Jimmy Sears (we know this already, but it still blows my mind every time I hear it.) John isn't the only Top Chef Bourdain has written about, by the way. Read Medium Raw for Season 4's Erik Hopfinger. We learn that Brooke was bigger at one point. Josh is going to make pork again. Lizzie's scallops smell a little rank. And finally that Sheldon could yell out "yahtzee!" at any moment. I forgot about that game.
The chefs will be judged by Padma, Tom, Wolfgang, and joining chefs Jonathan Waxman, Wylie Dufresne, and most recently-crowned Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino.
For the most part, the chefs do a decent job, but, for better or for worse, three dishes stand out. First up is Kristen's, which wins. You could just tell she nailed it. I think, more than any of the other chefs, Kristen figured out a way to take an unhealthy meal like a chicken pot pie, and capture its flavors in a healthy way. Way to go, Kristen. As Alicia Keys might scream, "This girl is on fiiiiiiire!"
The other two dishes worth discussing are John's and Lizize's -- the bottom two. Well, we know what went wrong with Lizzie's. She had bad ingredient. It could be argued that John's was doomed from the beginning too. He cooked risotto in a non-flat pan, so his grains cooked unevenly. He knew his pan wasn't right, but didn't do anything to change it. At Juges' Table, he obviously mentioned the pan's shortcomings, as, I think, any of the other chefs would. But, Josh chimed in. I have to give credit to John for keeping his cool, but was Josh right? I honestly have no idea. I will give John the benefit of the doubt that an ideal pan wasn't available, but as a chef, you need to figure these things out. Even if the rice had been cooked correctly, I still don't know if the judges would've been happy with John's flavors.
Luckily (I think), LIzzie and John were able to make a second dish to decide who would stay and who would go. The dish they had to recreate was CJ and Tyler's doomed pork burger from the Pike Place challenge. I wonder if you guys think that's been the moment of the season so far? If not, let me know which moment you would have selected in the Comments section below.
John decides to go with a mediterranean theme and makes a lamb burger. I just had my favorite lamb burger, the Breslin burger, only a couple days ago, so I was psyched for the idea. Lizzie makes a chicken burger. I actually thought making a chicken burger was rather risky because it can dry out very quickly. Tom seemed to like both of them, but ultimately Lizzie won, and John goes home. But! John gets to compete against CJ in Last Chance Kitchen, which you can watch HERE. It's a good showdown, and we'll discuss it next week.While I was disappointed in his absurd pickle predicament in his final moments on the show, I'm bummed to see John go, honestly. I know that some of the chefs (and viewers) had their differences with him, but he's extremely talented, and i think he kept everyone on their toes. With one of this season's most divisive characters gone, I wonder who they'll all turn on next!
I also can't wait to see who made the matzoh balls that have Gail so riled up in the preview for next week's episode!
Until then, Have a Nosh