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The Daily Dish Top Chef

Naturally, Tom Colicchio Nailed the Phone Call Quick-Fire Challenge

With help from Nilou Motamed, the Top Chef head judge took on the recent quick fire challenge to recreate a restaurant dish guided only by someone over the phone. 

By Abby Feiner

While Bravo's Top Chef: All Stars L.A. cheftestants were recently shocked by their quick fire challenge, which was to recreate a restaurant dish guided only by a loved one's description over the phone, head judge Tom Colicchio is up to the task – with a little help from Nilou Motamed.

How to Watch

Watch the Top Chef Season 21 premiere on Wednesday, March 20 at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

Just like the competing chefs in the episode, Nilou received a dish from Los Angeles restaurant Osteria Mozza and asked Tom to recreate the meal, which he had never seen before, using nothing but her verbal description of the food. "Can Tom recreate this dish without seeing it? Without tasting it first?" She wondered aloud in the What Would Tom Do? episode above. "Just by listening to me describe it?"

After noting the main meal on the plate was "an orange-fleshed fish," Nilou and Tom worked together to conclude that it was likely trout due to the appearance of the skin.

Based on Nilou's description, Tom went on to cook green lentils and mirepoix (a mixture of carrots, onion and celery) in a pot with garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and tomato paste. 

After some confusion over whether the dish had red cabbage or radicchio, Tom went with the cabbage and cooked the vegetable with balsamic vinegar and sugar to recreate what Nilou described as a "sweet and sour" taste. To cook the trout, Tom added bay leaf, thyme, and butter. 

After seeing a photo of the plate in front of Nilou, Tom declared: "Mine looks better."

Back in the same room, the two were extremely proud of the final result. "I feel like this dish is a real testament to my powers of description," Nilou said. "And your powers of cooking."

Watch Tom and Nilou take on the challenge in the video above, and see the recipe below for a step-by-step guide to making the meal at home! 

What Would Tom Do 104 01

Sea Trout with Lentils and Cabbage 

4  6oz filets of Sea Trout skin on
2  Bay leaves
4  sprigs of Thyme
2 tbl butter
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil
2.5 cups Green Lentils
2 c Water
¼ c Carrot, fine dice
¼ c Onions, fine dice
¼ c Celery, fine dice
1 tsp Garlic, minced
3 Bay Leaves
2 sprigs Thyme
2 Tbl Tomato Paste
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil
1 head Red Cabbage, shredded
¼ c Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbs Light Brown Sugar
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil
Garnish : Parsley

Start with Lentils: Sauté mirepoix, herbs and tomato paste in medium sized pot. When onions begin to brown, add lentils and water. Cook until desired doneness.
Shred red cabbage and sauté in pan with olive oil.  Add balsamic and brown sugar.  Cook down until most liquid is absorbed.
Season Trout and sear skin side down in hot pan.  Add Bay leaf Thyme and butter to pan.  Flip when nice and brown.  Cook for about 5 minutes depending on thickness of filet.
Assemble Dish and Garnish with parsley. 
Serves 4

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