'Padma's Picks' Recaps

Two food truck chefs compete in the final face-off before the finale.

on Aug 13, 2013


It's the penultimate episode of Padma's Picks! Yes, that's right only one more episode to go, and then… Top Chef Season 11 premieres! This is, however, the last time only two chefs will be competing, though. Next week, all the winners from the first five episodes vie for the final spot in the Season 11 roster.

This week, Padma heads to the legendary Commander's Palace to meet up with Tory McPhail, who just won a James Beard award for Best Chef: South. They start off with a Sazerac, which was apparently the first cocktail. I actually don't think I knew that!

The two head out to see two of Tory's favorite chefs… who just happen to own food trucks. They are... Chris Wadsworth, Excecutive Chef/Partner in Restaurant IPO, The Office Bar, and more specifically to this challenge, Bon Repos food truck. He's competing against Benoit Angulo, chef/owner of La Cocinita food truck. Both trucks are frequented by chefs. Chefs obviously always know the best places to eat.

Benoit and Chris get cooking in their tiny kitchens.

Chris is making seared duck with cracklin in a beer, blood orange, and syrup sauce. Benoit is making arepas. Mmm. If you've never been to Caracas Arepa Bar in NYC, go! 

It seems to me like Chris' dish might be a bit more fine dining, but we'll see what comes out.

"This is chorizo… and my finger" Oh no! Benoit cut himself! Benoit is a bit frantic. He realizes he forgot to remove the tails from his shrimp after cooking. Pull it together, Benoit!

Time to present! Chris actually finished his dish with time to spare. Ultimately, Chris made "Creamy Louisiana Grits, Duck Breast and Cracklin' with Syrup.

Padma comments that his dish doesn't feel like street food, which I'm honestly unsure of whether that's a postiive or negative comment. His duck is cooked perfectly, though, and both Padma and Tory seem to be enjoying it. 

Benoit thinks his dish is messy, but it's time to serve. He made a "Venezualn surf and turf," consisiting of two arepas: one is Spanish-inspired with chorizo and sofrito sauce with griddle queso fresco and pickled tomato (and maybe a little finger. The "surf" element is a Latin American-inspired sofrito with creamy avocado vinaigrette, pickled red cabbage, and cilantro slaw.

Maybe I'm biased because I love arepas, but Benoit's look goooood. They're bigger than I've seen before, but I would eat those every day if I could.

Padma has a touch choice, but ultimately Benoit wins! It doesn't matter what happened in that truck -- it matters what happened on that plate.

Benoit moves on to next week's finale. Watch it HERE!