It was down to the final eight as we headed into last night’s episode. It got off to a running start, as Wolfgang Puck showed up to tell the chefs that for the Quickfire they’d be working with ginger. They were given the opportunity to cook anything they wanted with the ingredient, but only had 15 minutes in which to pull it off.
Sheldon’s stir-fry tasted like "pedestrian Chinese food," according Puck, and Josh’s white chocolate soup lacked flavor. Brooke’s crispy ginger lime squid impressed him, though, as did Stefan’s ahi tuna, which he called "California-style" (a grand complement, coming from him). He also really liked Lizzie’s watermelon ginger soup. Brooke took the win, and immunity.
Restaurateur Danny Meyer made what I’m pretty sure was his Top Chef debut to introduce the Elimination Challenge that comes this time each season: Restaurant Wars. The challenge was slightly different this time around, however, as it was separated into two: each contestant first had to come up with their own concept to pitch as well as a signature dish for it, which needed to be served to 200 guests. The two winners would then choose teams and build restaurants from the ground up. They’d also take home $10,000.
Here were their dishes:
Josh (Bistro George): Seared eye of rib-eye with cauliflower purée and mushroom red wine sauce and parsley pistou
Lizzie (Mia Filino): Mustard green canederli with fonduta and crispy speck
Sheldon (Urbano): Sour tamarind soup with pork belly, shrimp, and snapper
Stefan (Bangkok via Munich): Thai lobster bisque with shrimp dumplings, potatoes, and radishes
Micah (Raw): Salmon, snapper, hamachi, squid, scallop, and mackerel with raw vegetables
Kristen (Atelier Kwan): Onsen egg with Camembert-mustard sauce and buttered radishes
Brooke (Unkosher): Matzo ball soup with duck confit and toasted black rye bread
Josie (Home 305): Puerco asado, black bean chorizo croquette, pickles, and mojo sauce
On the top:
Kristen: Gail loved the Camembert sauce, and all the judges agreed that it was rich in the best way possible.
Sheldon: Meyer loved the sourness, and Tom added that "everything had a place, everything had a purpose, and there was not one extra thing on the plate, which to me is the hallmark of a great chef."
Josh: "It could be really a neighborhood restaurant," Gail thought, and Tom added that the meat was cooked perfectly.
Kristen and Sheldon took the win, a nice birthday present for Sheldon. Next week they’ll be helming their own restaurant, facing off as executive chefs. "Everything will be built from scratch," Padma told them. They were sent back into the stew room to staff their restaurant from among the remaining chefs, keeping in mind that one would be eliminated.
Kristen chose Brooke (who also had immunity), Lizzie, and Josie. Sheldon chose Josh, Stefan, and Micah.
On the bottom:
Micah: Gail was really unhappy that the fish was all layered together and sliced in advance, and Tom called it a "pu pu platter."
Josie: The dried-out pork "fought back" against Meyer, and all Gail tasted was grease. Her bean cake might have started out crispy, but by the time the judges got it it was mushy. The dish was also bland overall.
Lizzie: Tom thought the dumpling wasn’t cooked enough, and Meyer called it "heavy and gummy."
In the end, Micah ended up getting the boot for his pre-sliced raw fish preparation. Next week, Sheldon will only have two chefs on his Restaurant Wars team.
A word to all future Top Chef contestants: If you’re going to serve a completely raw dish, make sure that it’s absolutely mind-blowing.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.