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The Daily Dish Top Chef

This Is What Tom Colicchio Would Cook in the Wood Fire Elimination Challenge

The head judge showed Nilou Motamed how he would have handled the Top Chef: All-Stars L.A. premiere's elimination challenge of creating a wood-fire seafood feast.

By Abby Feiner
Tom Colicchio Takes on the Wood Fire Elimination Challenge!

On the Thursday, March 19 premiere of Bravo's Top Chef: All-Stars L.A., the contestants were faced with an elimination challenge to create a seafood feast on the beach using fire as the only source of heat. While the five competing teams came up with a variety of options, ranging from charred salmon to grilled scallops to a flatbread featuring grilled clams, head judge Tom Collichio explained in the What Would Tom Do? episode above that he would take a different approach if he were the one competing. 

How to Watch

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

In the video, Tom tells season 16 judge Nilou Motamed that if tasked with the same challenge, he would opt to make an appetizer of grilled oysters with compound butter, which, as Tom explains, is "a butter with stuff in it." (For more on that "stuff," check out the recipe below.) 

As they began to prepare the dish, which Tom revealed he makes at home in his fireplace, he was quick to admit that he's under slightly less stress than the competitors he judges. "I don't have a clock that I'm up against," he said. "All my ingredients are here. I'm not going to run around a pantry." To make the challenge a bit more equal, Nilou aimed a fan directly at Tom in an attempt to recreate the windiness of the beach. 

Nilou was definitely having fun at Tom's expense throughout the meal prep, and couldn't help but playfully call him out for his dish choice. "Wouldn't you say to them they copped out by doing something way too easy?" she asked as Tom loudly hit his knife against his cutting board to tune her out in jest.

What Would Tom Do 101

However, once the dish, which took just under 19 minutes to complete, was served, Nilou had to admit it was a success. "You got so much flavor," she said. "Well done."

Check out the video above for more banter between Tom and Nilou, and read the recipe below for a step-by-step guide to make Tom's grilled oysters at home! 

Tom's Grilled Oysters with Compound Butter

•    1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
•    1 tablespoon roughly chopped preserved lemon
•    1 tablespoon roughly chopped Calabrian chiles
•    1 tablespoon roughly chopped scallions
•    1 tablespoon roughly chopped chives
•    Salt & Pepper
•    1 dozen raw oysters in their shells

1. In a medium bowl, add the butter. Add lemon, chilis, scallions, chives, salt, and pepper and mash together until well-incorporated. Set aside.
2. Vigorously scrub the oysters under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris. Prepare a bowl of ice water and submerge the clean oysters. One at a time, place an oyster on your work surface, cupped-side down. Dry the oyster and, using a folded-up kitchen towel, hold the oyster steady with your non-dominant hand, with the hinge facing your dominant hand. Use the tip of an oyster knife to gently pry open the hinge, then twist and rotate the knife until the hinge pops open. Continue to pry, opening the oyster further. Wipe your blade clean as needed. Sweep the blade flat across the top of the oyster, gently slicing through the muscle that connects the oyster to the top shell. Remove and discard the top shell. Take care not to tip the oyster and lose the liquor inside the shell. Scrape the knife between the oyster and the bottom shell to sever the muscle attaching them, and set the shucked oyster, in the bottom shell, aside.
3. Preheat a grill over medium. Put about 1 teaspoon of the butter mixture onto each oyster, and use tongs to transfer the oysters, still in their bottom shells, to the grill. Cook, uncovered, just until the butter is melted and bubbling; the oysters will be warmed through and slightly cooked. Use tongs to transfer the oysters to a platter. Serve immediately. 

Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer.

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