Full transcript after the jump
I'm Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin: New York City, commenting on Episode 15 of Top Chef All-Stars.
So for this Quickfire they bring back three classics. One of them being hot dog. The other one being made with canned food, and one being also cooking in one pot, one pan. I think cooking with food in a can is more difficult. Hot dogs, being pre-made, is also not that easy. And I would have loved to have the one-pot, one-pan, cooking challenge. I think this way you can express yourself the most, have a better result.
But they look like they were very creative. I mean I was very surprised how creative Richard was with the hot dog. Because to me I would have looked at, and stared at sausage for a long time and didn't know what to do with that. So they were going strong on that challenge.
So then the twist in the middle of the challenge arrives. And Antonia has to be with Carla basically sharing the same apron, and I guess working each of them as one end. Richard has only one hand that he can use. And Mike has for the challenge, he cannot use any utensil. However, he has it easy in a way, because his pork is cooking in the pressure cooker. You just have to wait for the pressure cooker to be ready, the pork to be ready inside, and serve it. In a way he's lucky on that challenge, but it's Richard's fault because he gave them the easy one.
So Wolfgang is the judge. We all know Wolfgang. He has been an inspiration to the entire industry for many, many years. He's a great chef. And him being there, it's certainly a pleasure to see him on the show, and then reassuring that they are going to be judged by someone who's really knowledgeable.
So for the elimination challenge they have to cook for the chefs what they would like to have for their last supper, if they had the luxury to choose for their last supper. And Melanie Dunae who did the book “My Last Supper” is there, actually. And we have Morimoto, and we have Michelle Bernstein, and of course Wolfgang is there, and the usual suspects, Tom and Padma and Gail are there.
And they’re cooking after getting directions from Morimoto, Michelle, and Wolfgang. And it's not very easy. I mean, Wolfgang like a goulash, spaetzele, and for dessert a strudel. It's not that easy to do the three dishes like that for one challenge.
Actually when I was younger, in culinary school for graduation I had goulash to make, so anyway I think I would have maybe done well for Wolfgang.
Morimoto: it"s a little bit complicated. He like pickled radishes, miso soup, of course, the rice has to be cooked perfectly for him, and Antonia has to do some sashimi. She has some problems with the fish, one of them not being fresh, so she switch to the tuna. Her soup seems to be overly salty and that probably come from the miso paste that they're using in the soup. So it's not a winner.
Mike is doing the fried chicken, and he tried to have a twist on the biscuit. He does an empanada with an egg, which is a good idea.
And the winner, of course as we know, is Richard, who does a good job despite the fact that his spaetzeles are a little bit firm.
The fried chicken is good, but the skin or the crust seems to go away. And the play on the biscuit, I don't know, I mean. I think if it's your last supper, you really want to eat what you want, and not necessarily have some one interpreting your best meal. So it's probably why Richard won that challenge. First because he did probably the best job in terms of cooking it, and because he was very loyal to the recipes.
So my last supper, actually I am in the book of Melanie, my last supper, was an easy one actually. Toasted bread, black truffles on top, olive oil, a good bottle of bordeaux. That would have made the winner for sure very happy, because you just have to grill the bread and shave the truffles.
So Tom think that Mike has the easiest dish with the fried chicken and the biscuit. I am not sure about that. To make a fried chicken, I mean, yeah of course it's a fairly simple challenge But at the same time when you have simple challenges, it's no safety net. If the oil is too hot. If you don't do a good job with the biscuit/empanada whatsoever, you're done. So it's not necessarily an advantage to have a simple dish.
So Richard is the winner. He's safe. He's going to the finale and he must be thrilled.
Now it's the surprise envelope to be opened. And the surprise is that Antonia and Mike have to compete again. And they have to do one-bite dish in 45 minutes that will eliminate one and bring the other one to the finale.
Mike makes a surf and turf with beef. He takes lobster and make kind of a tempura. It looks like it's a little bit under-seasoned, for some palettes, and Morimoto being Japanese, I don't know, you take a big risk to do a tempura. However, as a viewer it looks good on camera. Antonia does a grouper with a very strong curry sauce, very powerful sauce.
At the end it's basically a tie, and Wolfgang has the difficult task to decide who has the most votes and goes to the next level. And unfortunately for Antonia, she's going home. It's finished.
So it's going to be a big battle as we know. In between Mike and Richard. Two different styles. Two very different personalities. Of course, both of them have talent. Both of them are very creative. They both understand very well Top Chef. Now they know the challenge is basically their fantasy restaurants. They have probably few hours to think about it. And we're going to be delighted next week to see the battle.
I am Eric Ripert, chef of Le Bernardin commenting on Episode 15 of Top Chef, the All-Star season.