I want to know more about the duck fat pork belly.
Down to six cheftestants. For the QF - it’s FRIED CHICKEN with Art Smith, whose first job was at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
To determine the spices and herbs they’ll be able to use, they had to do a blindfold taste test of various herbs and spices in 5 minutes. Some did well (Sara and Kelsey with 12 and 11, respectively), and some not so much (Eric had 7, and Eddie and Justin tie Adrienne with 6). Oh - and Justin didn’t figure out salt - an important component for fried chicken marinades and/or batters. He ends up using chicken marinated in shoyu to add the saltiness needed, but ends up cooking in oil that was too hot, while Kelsey’s didn’t cook enough and she had to cut off the cooked pieces to be able to present an appropriate dish.
Adrienne goes with a Moroccan theme based on the turmeric she guessed, and it’s deemed the prettiest dish, but Sara wins with her well seasoned fried chicken with corn & blackberry salad. HOWEVER - there’s no more immunity from here on. She does, however, get $5,000. Not too shabby.
For the EC, they’re in Louisville, home to The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Padma tells them they’ll have to cook a six-course, progressive menu for 100 guests at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, and his daughter, Laila Ali, will be guest judge.
They’re provided binders that have details of 6 of Ali’s most famous fights around the world. Sara didn’t want the local fight in Louisville, but after drawing straws, she ends up with it.
(Borrowed from F&W):
Sara Bradley - inspired by Ali being “fast as lightning”
Fight: The Fight at Freedom Hall
Dish: King salmon with ‘thunder and lightning’ pickled tomato and cucumber
Sara chose to go with a quick pickle of veggies you grab before a thunderstorm comes in so they don’t fall off the vine and get damaged.
Justin Sutherland - inspired by the fight being in Maine, he goes with a seafood theme.
Fight: Liston Two
Dish: Saffron and seafood soup with scallops, clams and mussels
The saffron soup was declared rich looking, but light enough for it’s position in the course progression.
Although Tom later points out that Lewiston, Maine isn’t near the coastline. (Ummm, Tom? They still eat seafood in Lewiston!)
Eddie Konrad - inspired by the fight being held in NYC
Fight: The Fight of the Century
Dish: Brown butter roasted chicken, collard green puree, red wine poultry jus and toasted hazelnuts
Eddie wanted to use NY duck, but couldn’t find it and went with chicken. I thought “Kiss of Death” when I saw how he shifted his dish.
Eric Adjepong - inspired by this fight being in Africa and Ali returning to his roots
Fight: Rumble in the Jungle
Dish: Fufu, plantain, and cassava dumpling with Congolese red sauce
Eric went with a humble African dish of Fufu that the judges said really got the intent of the challenge.
Adrienne Wright - inspired by the heat in the ring (120°), she went with what she thought was a Filipino dish.
Fight: Thrilla in Manila
Dish: Braised shortrib with mango and herb salad
Her dish ended up being enjoyed by the judges, despite the Vietnamese bent to her dish, although Tom called her out on using a bottled sriracha sauce.
Kelsey Barnard Clark - inspired by Ali’s work for and with children, she wanted to do a dish like seeing him through a child’s eyes.
Fight: Fight in New Orleans
Dish: ‘Unanimous’ bread pudding with corn three ways
Little did she know, but bread pudding was one of Muhammad Ali’s favorite desserts, so Laila was pleased she chose to honor her father in this way, even if she was unaware of it. The corn brittle was too much for most of the judges, but Laila liked the lime in the dish.
Sara and Eric are in the Top 2 most inspirational dishes based on the fight chosen, and Eric’s dish of Fufu was chosen as The Greatest.
Padma notes they had to nitpick on the bottom 4 dishes, as they were all good, but Justin’s and Eddie’s are definitely in the bottom, as neither dish resonated with the fight they were trying to represent. Ultimately, Eddie, who said he didn’t connect emotionally with his fight, is sent packing and is off to LCK to fight one last time before they bring the ultimate LCK winner back next week.
You are the best, Linda!
I also happen to appreciate ALL Top Chef recaps.
"Eric has finally turned into the favorite I thought he was in the first few episodes. Even so, he still landed in the bottom three in the fried chicken challenge (he named seven spices correctly, third place), despite winning last week’s challenge with a delicious-looking… you guessed it, fried chicken wing. I’m telling you, this season is weird as hell.
Luckily he got to do a dish for the Rumble In The Jungle, for which he cooked Fufu dumplings and red stew. I’ve never had those things but that’s probably the point
Reminding me of both fufu, which I confuse with coo coo! Roxanne Vernon, where are you?
Am I the only one who is shocked, SHOCKED at how few chefs could ID herbs by smell?
I didn’t know salt had a smell!
Wait…was it smelling or tasting?
" For the challenge the chefs had to blindly taste 30 different herbs and spices and only the ones they could correctly identify based on taste alone would be available to them for use in the creation of their own secret recipe of fried chicken.
8:05 p.m. – In the blind tasting, Adrienne Wright , Eddie Konrad and Justin Sutherland each only identified six spices, half as many as Sara who identified twelve mostly using just her sense of smell. Eric Adjepong with seven and Kelsey Barnard Clark with eleven managed to at least not be the worst at the test."
I believe they were dried herbs, so maybe they weren’t as aromatic as they could be.
Eric is my favorite
I like your guy too, but I have to root for my local chef, Michelle.
Ok. Which one is Michelle? I’m have to say, this season’s chefs are so lacking in personality I still don’t know all the names!!!
I love those blind tasting and mise-en-place relays. Bummed that they edited so much of that out. Did they give everyone the same dish if spices? Not sure I would want to taste anything that 5 people have put their fingers (and possibly licked fingers) into…
Guess it’s good that Adrienne’s dish turned out good at the end. Thought she deserved more flack for her SE Asian cuisine blunder. For how confidently she declared that she knew those flavors, I assumed she must have at least eaten Filipino cuisine before, and maybe she’s even traveled there. Didn’t realize she assumed all SE Asian food must be the same.
I was surprised they revealed the winner of LCK, don’t they usually wait until the next full episode?
Maybe because it’s not the finale yet
They did? I didn’t understand. I remember thinking LCK was going to be over WEEKS ago.
Brother came back and got eliminated again a few weeks ago, but LCK has continued.
That’s why I wasn’t sure what to make of last week. When does LCK REALLY end?
Oh … you’re right, it might not be over yet. Just because another chef is re-entering the competition doesn’t mean LCK is over! The elves are really mixing things up this season.
No, I think this is the finale coming up. At least, my DVR has no further episodes to record this year.
Don’t they usually do a final three? Would this be a final four, or five?
Oh, Michelle Minori is my local chef. She made a dish that Colicchio said was the best they had had this season.
Oh, now I see they will have another elimination challenge, and then the showdown.
Tom Colicchio wakes up the remaining cheftestants and says “meet me in the garden.” Kelsey wishes she had cuter pajamas.
Before the QF, there’s a return of the ultimate LCK winner for the start to Episode 12 - and it’s Michelle Minori. The Last Chance Kitchen is now closed, per Tom.
The Quickfire is to harvest veggies and make a vegetable-forward dish in 45 minutes featuring the ingredients they grew in their own gardens. Sara is the only one who has a plot of ground that actually looks like a garden - the other chefs left theirs to their own devices (i.e., they didn’t weed all that much!). Additional ingredients are what’s available in the house’s cabinets and refrigerator.
Sara, Justin and Adrienne are in the top 3, and Justin’s dish is picked by guest judge Ouita Michel as the winner. He gets $10,000.
However, only 5 chefs will make it to Macau, China - the location of the final competitions. To get there, they have to create an elevated dish inspired by their mentors, all of whom will join the judges at the Brown Hotel in Louisville for the dinner. And Gail Simmons returns from maternity leave for this one meal.
But before they shop, they attend a food auction of “elevated ingredients”, including Iberico ham, fois gras, and wagyu beef tenderloin. Each has a total of $500 to spend at the auction and later at Whole Foods.
The final auction prices are ridiculously low for what the chefs are buying - I think Sarah got the Iberico ham for $80 (market price $500). However, Adrienne WAY overspends on in-season asparagus - $100 (market price, $20, IIRC).
Mentors and dishes as follows (borrowed yet again from F&W):
Mentor: Kim Alter of Nightbird
Dish: Slow roasted salmon, crispy skin, grain porridge with burnt citrus and marrow broth
Judges said they loved the salmon and crispy skin, although a couple of them had slightly overcooked salmon. (That dreaded white albumin!)
Kelsey Barnard Clark
Mentor: Gavin Kaysen of Spoon & Stable
Dish: Gumbo with crab, seafood sauce and garnished with caviar
This was the first staff meal she made at Cafe Boulud, and the judges and mentors were very impressed with Kelsey’s double roux. But Chris Coombs (mentor to Adrienne) found small bits of crab shell in his dish.
Mentor: Chris Coombs of Boston Urban Hospitality
Dish: Spiced duck breast with seared foie gras, spring vegetables and garden herbs
Adrienne’s dish, while tasty, looked like hell on the plate, as she lost track of time with too many components and ended up just throwing things on her plate. Her mentor made sure to mention that he wished his plate had been wiped.
Mentor: JD Fratzke, formerly of Bar Brigade
Dish: Yellowtail two ways: sashimi style and miso-cured
Justin was so quick in getting his dish cooked and plated, he was finished plating five minutes before service - and to keep the hot food warm, he rotated the dishes under heat lamps. Tom always points out that those chefs who do a two-way or three-way dish should have only done a one-way. Sure enough, Tom says it again. Some diners get perfectly cooked fish; some was overcooked, and Tom said the raw side was bland.
Mentor: Brian Voltaggio, chef and restaurateur
Dish: Waakye with wheat berries, barley and quinoa cooked in sorghum leaves and plantain puree
Eric was inspired by how Brian deconstructs and reconstructs food, and while the dish was enjoyed, Tom said it was missing a “green” and the dish wasn’t all there.
Mentor: David Posey of Elske
Dish: Olive oil poached sea bass, Iberico ham broth, soy beans, black eyed peas and baby lima beans
Sara was inspired by a dish her mentor had made with ham broth, so she goes in that direction, adding a Kentucky flair with the soup peas and beans. Her fish is perfectly cooked, and the broth is light but deeply flavorful.
The judges briefly review the dishes, and Gail said she feels she knows the chefs based on the dishes they served. The winner is Sara, so she’s headed to Macau. The judges critique each remaining dish - Gail is surprised at Justin saying he had done everything he had wanted to with his dish; Adrienne admits she was rushed getting everything on her plates, and felt it reflected poorly on her mentor; Kelsey gets good reviews on her sauce; Graham compliments Michelle on using every bit of the fish, and Eric gets praise for using sorghum leaves and having perfectly cooked grains.
Kelse’s, Michelle’s and Eric’s dishes are all deemed good enough to get them to Macau, leaving Justin and Adrienne as the two on the bottom. Ultimately, it’s decided that Justin who didn’t present their vision well enough and who doesn’t get to go to Macau.
So it’s 4 women and Eric. Three more episodes to go.
You were right! Tom said " last chance kitchen is closed for the season".
Thank you Linda!
I was really happy the Michelle came back - I really thought she was the dark horse right when she was eliminated.
I think I’m rooting for Sara right now too. First I was shocked and mortified that she cut up that Iberico ham to boil it into broth . . . the horror . . . but I guess it tasted really good!
My S.O. is rooting for Adrienne, who I like, but from a performance on the show standpoint I’m not sure she is a front runner.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Kelsey in the beginning but she has grown on me and I’d be happy if she won.
I’m neutral on Eric.
Let’s go ladies - kick some but in Macau!
I loved the preview of next week with all the “wacky” (in quotes because it’s wacky to us Americans) food vendor shots. Those experiences are why I seek out markets in foreign countries and I really hope they do that justice in the final episodes!