Bravotv.com: First we have Richard who gets Wolfgang Puck, and he has to make a goulash, spaetzle, and strudel. I thought this was one of the most difficult because strudel is very hard to make.
GS: Strudel is very hard to make. In fact we did an episode of Top Chef Just Desserts where they had to make it, and it took hours even though they were pastry chefs, and they couldn't get it right, stretching the dough and rolling it with the apples. It's very hard to do, and the dough needs to be so thin. But Richard seemed to do a really great job, although he didn’t use traditional strudel dough. It was a lighter, flakier dough. But that's fine. He took a lot of artistic license. They don't have recipes, and this is not food that he makes all the time. He certainly braises meat, but spaetzle and goulash and apple strudel is certainly not something Richard is known for. He did a great job of incorporating the classic flavors that would satisfy Wolfgang's nostalgic yearnings, but at the same time made it his own. I think that really embodied the spirit of this challenge. Richard did exactly what we hoped all the chefs would do. The other two tried to some extent, but their dishes were not as fully realized as Richard's. Richard's flavors were that of a pure goulash –- paprika, beef, sour cream, spaetzle – all of these flavors that really go together well for a reason and are indicative of Austria. That was delicious. But he put his twist on it. He did a dehydrated sour cream, and he cooked the goulash in a pressure cooker. The strudel had this dehydrated tarragon cream, which was similar to the dehydrated sour cream, it was crumbly and dry, but when you ate it with the apple strudel and it melted in your mouth, it became really creamy, and had lovely texture and flavor. The tarragon I thought was really inspired and fresh. It was a modern element that elevated the strudel itself. The apples were cooked as they should have been – brown and caramelized and soft and juicy. It was a successful, smart way to approach the challenge.
Bravotv.com: So it was obvious that he was moving on.
GS: Yes, it was. He did the best without question.
Bravotv.com: Then we have Mike and Antonia. At first they kind of tied. We had Mike's fried chicken, and Michelle said that she gave him a lot of creative license with this.
GS: Yes, and he chose to take it, which was smart too. He knew he couldn't do biscuits, although I have to tell you biscuits are not that hard to make even if you haven't done them before. But certainly it was smart when you don't have a recipe to veer off and channel her Latina roots with the egg yolk empanada. Then there was that play on the chicken and the egg. There was a pea puree with it and a mustard gravy which also was sort of different, certainly not traditional or Southern, but really tasty. He used whole mustard seeds. This was the second time mustard has come into play in the Bahamas, and I did say two weeks ago to remember the mustard. Mustard seeds were in a sauce Richard did in the first challenge in the Bahamas. The thing about mustard that's great is it adds a sour acidic note that kind of cuts the fat of the egg yoke and the fried chicken and brightens up the dish. The idea for Mike's dish was smart, but unfortunately it wasn't executed perfectly. Because he chose to sous-vide the chicken first and not fry it the old fashioned way, the skin slid right off and didn't adhere very well. Mine was a little soggy. There were two pieces, and the under piece was a little soggy, which is the last thing you want with fried chicken. You want that crispy, salty, crunchy skin. I don't know why he chose to sous-vide. Why do you need to? I'm sure some chef can give me an answer as to why it's great. But in my opinion if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's not like it takes that long – cleaning, battering, frying, that's it. You fry it on each side for six or eight minutes and you're done.