Sure, summer -- for all intents and purposes -- is over. It's depressing. But, there's good news: it's time for our second weekly Padma's Picks recap! Yay? Yay!
OK, first, watch Episode 2 RIGHT HERE if you haven't yet.
Time to dig in.
In this installment, Padma teams up with Chef Donald Link, known for notable restaurants Herbsaint, Cochon, Butcher, Calcasieu, and Peche.
First, they stop at one of Donald's favorite spots, Guy's for Po-Boys. They enjoy what look like oyster po-boys, and my mouth is literally salivating. I'm watching this before eating, which I now realize was a huge mistake. Padma can't finish her po-boy and wraps the rest up to go. Now I know Padma can house something if she really wants to, so she must be really saving herself for the chefs she's about to evalutate. Hey, Padma, I'll finish it for you!
Donald offers up his two options for that last cheftestant spot to a still-hungry Padma: Justin Devillier, Executive Chef at La Petite Groery and Michael Doyle, Executive Chef at Maure in Bywater, which is apparently in a part of town too cool for Donald. Padma compares it to Brooklyn, and after seeing Michael, I think she's pretty spot-on. I'm being 100% sterotypical in saying that Michael could have walked out of any Williamsburg kitchen, and I'm OK with that.
The two chefs describe their restaurants. Justin's used to be a grocery store and Michael's used to be a print shop, but their approach to dining is quite different. Justin's restaurant is a bit more "white table cloth," fussy. And so our "uptown" vs. "downtown" rivalry is established.
Justin is making ricotta dumplings with braised ramps (ramps!), lemon, and fresh coriander -- a play on a souther dumpling with a shrimp broth.
Michael is being "pretty aggressive with vegetables" by combining, snap beans, peppermint, lemon, cabbage with a cucumber and fennel sauce. Oh, and matsutaki mushrooms.
Justin is worried his dish is simple, which if you've watched Top Chef long enough shouldn't be a concern. Ever. Keep it simple!
The two chefs present their dishes to Padma and Donald.
Michael: Blue Lake Bush Beans Over Savoy Cabbage Salad with Fennel and Cucumber Puree
Justin: Braised Ramp, Gulf Shrimp, and Ricotta Dumplings with Flowering Coriander
Unlike the two dishes offered in the first episode, these two couldn't be more different. In fact, one is vegetarian.
Padma's winner? Justin Devillier! (Does he sorta remind anyone of Top Chef Master Douglas Keane or maybe his sous chef Drew Glassell, or is it just me? All I know is, if Justin says he relates better to dogs than humans, I'll be pretty freaked out!)
Padma told Michael that she missed a protein, and Michael assumes that means he should have made meat. I don't think that's what she meant at all, actually. Unfortunately, Michael didn't get to hear Padma's comment that his dish felt like a few sides put together. Padma didn't need a meat; she needed a composed dish -- a dish composed enough to not make her miss a protein.
And so, we now have two chefs -- Michael Sichel and Justin Devillier -- moving on!
Next week, Chefs Bart Bell and Tres Bernard will throw their hats into the ring in a "dive bar food fight." Watch the episode NOW.