Full transcript after the jump.
Hi I'm Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin, commenting on Episode 5 of 'Top Chef All-Stars' New York.
I was very impressed with the Quickfire and seeing Tom. I think it was a big surprise for everyone to see Tom come in and embrace the challenge, which was to cook something delicious in a very, very fast pace, a very timely manner. Tom, he can still kick ass. He's very precise as you can see on the show. And when we look at it, he's very fast, he's very organized, he's very focused, and at the end he created a dish in 8 minutes and 37 seconds which is very, very fast paced. It's exactly like being a line cook. Actually it's more challenging than being a line cook during service, because he had to filet his fish, he had to open his clams, so he had to do a lot of extra work compared to a line cook. And obviously he is the winner of the Quickfire.
Angelo, Jamie, and Dale are in the bottom of the challenge. Angelo, despite what Tom said about not doing raw fish, decided to do raw fish, which is kind of taking it easy on the challenge because 8 minutes to do a raw fish is really easy going.
Jamie was challenged by the timing, and basically what she can provide is one clam. And the clam doesn't look too happy. It's a sad dish, so she's in the bottom unfortunately.
Dale was ambitious and tried to make his own pasta, but unfortunately his dish looks really terrible. It's actually one noodle with kind of a strange color sauce, which doesn't seem to taste too good. He's actually embarrassed himself. And at the end of the day they are all at the bottom.
On the top we can see Mike, Marcel, and Richard. Marcel was very clever by going to Tom's station and picking up his fish while everyone is fighting by the fridge. That saved him a lot of time I think. And to make a good dashi in such a short period of time is an accomplishment, and I think the dish looks good. The judges were pretty happy, Padma and Tom were pretty happy about it.
The foie gras looked very good as well, and I'm sure it was delicious. Richard made a sauce with his foie gras, he had time to do that. He presented it well. It was very nicely made.
And then Mike made a bronzino with capers and olives. It looks like in terms or harmony of flavors, combinations of colors, and presentation, and so on, and even technique, he deserved the prize. So he's going home with a Toyota Prius.
So the Elimination Challenge is a sh-t show. And seriously, it's a tough challenge for the contestants, and they are obviously a bit lost. But it's really tough. They have to expedite, they have to present the food to the tables, and they still have to cook downstairs the food for themselves and for the guys upstairs. It's very difficult to do that, especially with food that you are not necessarily familiar with. Dale is familiar with that kind of food, but when you look at Fabio he has no idea what Chinese food is about. So that challenge is probably the toughest of the season so far from what I see.
So Casey is very adventurous, and I admire her courage to take chicken feet and decide to make them delicious. And she goes and discovers that she has to cut the nails, and she spends hours cutting nails of the chicken giving them a manicure. And not only that, but she volunteered to be upstairs pushing the cart, so someone else is going to execute her dish. At the end of the day, chicken feet are already challenging for a lot of people to eat. So she didn't choose an easy ingredient, and she was very courageous. I think she's leaving the competition of 'Top Chef' with a lot of glory actually on her way out. I congratulate her for being such a courageous chef.
So Jamie's paired with Antonia, she would love to cook some scallops for the dim sum. They are going to do some string beans together. And it turns out that the scallop dish is not really a winner. The string beans are very greasy, or they look very greasy. Supposedly the taste is not right either. And even Jamie is disappointed with her dish, and so she thinks that she's going home. But Jamie is safe, because I think her dish, even mediocre, is better than the chicken feet. So she's going to the next challenge.
So Angelo and Dale are familiar with Asian food, so I'm not surprised to see them at the top and for Dale to win the challenge. Dale knows how to cook rice for sure, and he found a very original way to present it and to give flavor to his sticky rice.
Angelo is having fun with making a shrimp spring roll, and it looks like it was delicious. All the judges are happy with the dish. The surprise is actually Fabio, who actually surprised himself. He was happy because he made a great, tasty dish although he was very scared with the ovens not being perfect for what he wanted to do. He could have even maybe won that challenge, which would have been quite an accomplishment for an Italian to win a Chinese challenge.
So Susur Lee is a great chef, highly respected in our industry, and he definitely knows Chinese food. He has been very famous for having a great restaurant in Toronto in the past and one in New York. He is very familiar with Hong Kong and Chinese cooking. And I think his comments are –- they are very, very short but they are very constructive and very technical at the same time. So for the viewer it is definitely a big advantage to have him commenting on the dishes.
I am Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin, commenting on Episode 5 of 'Top Chef All-Stars' in New York City.