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One Dish Dinner

Gail Simmons dishes on what makes a good microwave meal.

By Gail Simmons

Millions of people encounter Episode 4's Elimination Challenge every night in their own homes. At the end of a long day, we all want food that can be made in a flash . The trick is creating something that is not only well prepared and flavorful, but easy to make in advance -- so we don't spend all of our free time in the kitchen. I swear my mom could have nailed this challenge blindfolded! When I was young she worked full-time but still managed to put great food on the table for us each night. No doubt part of her secret was using our microwave in the most creative ways (after all this was the early 80s)! She could poach fresh fish and veggies, warm pre-made stews and make killer meatloaf in minutes. Astoundingly, cooking a one-dish dinner that could be re-heated and served to families with discerning taste was something few of our contestants had ever done. Harold, Tiffany and (to our pleasant surprise!) Andrea did manage to make dishes simple enough that our Junior League moms would consider making them, thoughtful enough that the food could stand up well when re-heated and, most of all, that were fast. They were really tasty too! So what lessons can be learned from these Food On the Fly hits and misses? Stephen chose to make tamales that not only were seasoned poorly, but contained over-the-top ingredients -- none of which our busy moms were the least bit interested in learning about, let alone serving to their children. Loosen up Stephen! These women are trying to nourish their families, not give them a geography lesson. Finally, Candice's inexperience showed through once and for all when she chose to prepare quiche in the microwave. Haven't you ever tried re-heating leftover pizza? Better to eat it cold if you are going to eat it at all... Every student knows this! In the end, we all agreed it was time for her to go back to school.

How to Watch

Watch Top Chef Season 21 Wednesdays at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

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