Top Chef Pairings, Pigs and Pinot

This week’s Top Chef is all about pairings, pigs and Pinot.

Chef and restaurateur Charlie Palmer serves as guest judge.  We learn that the Voltaggio brothers have both worked with Chef Palmer in the past, adding extra pressure for them during the quick-fire challenge.  The quick-fire challenge: create a dish incorporating a snack food from Alexia’s snacks.  This is familiar territory for Top Chef fans, as we know snack food seems to always make its way into a challenge.

Eli is confident about his pairing skills, while Ash reveals that he has been too heavily influenced by the other cheftestants during the competition.  Eli’s confidence is deserving as he takes the top spot in the quick-fire.  His potato clam salad with fennel, celery and white truffle sauce paired with the crunchy onion snack impress Chef Palmer.  Joining him are Bryan and Kevin.  Bryan’s seared rib eye with pickled onion, sautéed mushrooms and chive puree with the onion crunchy snack are praised as delicious, but safe.  Kevin’s warm bean confit tomato salad with fresh herbs and creamed corn also paired well with Alexia’s chips.  On the bottom of the challenge are Jennifer, Robin and Ash.  Jennifer’s sautéed pork chops with tomato sauce and feta cheese are conceptually a good idea, but executed poorly, resulting in overcooked chops.  Robin’s sweet corn panna cotta with avocado mousseline does not pair well with the jalapeno snacks while Ash’s chilled cucumber avocado soup with crème fraiche, crab and red pepper are simply unappetizing.

The chefs must draw knives to find out what they will be working with for the elimination challenge.  Wild, cheeks, ribs, tenderloin, butt, belly center cut chops, shoulder and leg are each drawn.  Padma and Charlie Palmer reveal the elimination challenge: create a pork dish and pair it with a Pinot Noir for Chef Palmer’s annual charity event.  The chefs must each create 150 tasting and pairing portions for the ‘Pig and Pinot’ event.

After wines are chosen by the help of a sommelier, the chefs head back to the house.  Robin and Eli clash and Eli throws out the ‘You’re not my mom!’ remark.  True to form Michael I. calls Robin ‘Rotten Robin’.  It’s just another day at the Top Chef house- full of drama, insults and excitement!

During prep for the elimination challenge Ash explains that Michael I. tells him to create a chilled tenderloin and Ash quickly ditches his original idea.  Ash!  Did you forget about what you said during the quick-fire challenge?

Dana Cowin joins the judges for the elimination challenge.  On top are Michael, Kevin, Bryan and Jennifer.  Michael’s root beer braised pork cheek and steamed truffle bun are delicious with his cherry and vanilla bean sauce.  Bryan’s braised pork spare rib with parsnip puree is paired perfectly with his Pinot.  Jennifer redeems herself from the quick-fire by creating a nicely seasoned braised pork belly with tomatoes and truffle salad.  Kevin wins the elimination challenge with his pork leg pate with mushroom salad and pickled cherries.  Anyone who creates a mayonnaise-base dressing built off rendered pork fat deserves a win in my eyes.   Ash, Laurine and Robin are called out on the bottom and Ash is sent home.  His chilled pork tenderloin with chili and corn salad are described as one dimensional.  Perhaps he should have stopped second guessing his fist instinct.

Next week the competition heats up with Top Chef favorite: restaurant wars!  Be sure to check back for another recap.  Until then, check out some of our favorite recipes.  Cheers!

One single comment

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