Tag top chef summary

Top Chef in Napa Valley

We’re down to the last two episodes of Top Chef Las Vegas! The final four head to Napa for their quick-fire and elimination challenges. This week’s guest judge is Top Chef Master, Chef Michael Chiarello– a pioneer of fine dining in Napa Valley. For the quick-fire challenge the chefs must cook with Napa Valley’s signature crop: the grape. The chefs have a full pantry and 30 minutes to cook for Padma and Chef Chiarello. And for a classic Top Chef twist, they must cook and serve their dishes on the Napa Valley Wine Train. On the menu:

Kevin: honey and fromage blanc mousse, glazed grapes, olive oil and sea salt
Michael: grape leaf stuffed with couscous, vinegar glazed grape and scallop
Bryan: roasted hen, bacon, brussel sprouts, concord grapes, ruby quinoa and qrugula
Jennifer: sautéed chicken livers, clams, cabernet grapes, wild mushroom and tendrils

Michael wins the last high stakes quick fire and his prize: a new Toyota Prius. Padma announces the elimination challenge, which will determine who will be competing in the finale for the title of Top Chef. The elimination challenge: catering the Rutherford Hills Winery Crush Party. The cheftestants must each create two dishes, one vegetarian and one protein, using only local ingredients (other than salt and pepper). If the ingredient isn’t raised or grown in Napa, they will not be able to use it.

The final four head to a local market to select their ingredients. Back in the kitchen, head judge Tom Colicchio comes by to check in on the chefs. On the menu:

1)    grass-fed brisket with pumpkin polenta and marinated root vegetables
2)    roasted beets and carrots with carrot top puree and san andreas cheese

1)    turnip soup with foie gras terrine, poached pear and glazed turnip
2)    vegetable pistou, heirloom tomato coulis, 63 degree egg and fennel

1)    fig-glzed short ribs, celeriac puree, wax beans and wild arugula
2)    goat cheese ravioli, delicate squash puree and bronze fennel

1)    grilled duck breast, braised dug legs, squash puree and foie gras vinaigrette
2)    chevre mousse with honey mushrooms, braised radishes and basil

Guests arrive and it’s difficult to tell who will be eliminated. At this point in the competition, any tiny mistake can send someone packing. The judges convene at judge’s table and Tom appropriately praises the chefs for their great efforts all season long. Bryan wins the elimination challenge. However, one had to go and Jennifer is sent home. It really could have been anyone at this point. We are sad to see her leave, as she was one of our favorites. Next week is the season finale! Let us know who you are rooting for!

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!