Back in the Stew Room after the last competition, Doug says he's there to kick ass and that's what he did. Katie said she doesn't feel responsible for Keriann's dish. Gregory said you don't make mousse by mixing bananas and chocolate and calling it a mousse. Katie said it was rock-hard. NOW we know why it wasn't “mousse-like” - it was mashed bananas and chocolate? Sheesh.
The next morning, Gregory notes that he's been thinking too much, and he's over-planning. He's an ultra-runner, having run 50 mile races in the past. But sometimes you have to push through when you start to fall apart. You have to have perseverance, no matter how much you want to stop.
They arrive at the TC Kitchen, and Padma is there with Jasper White, chef/owner of the Summer Shack restaurants. There are tons of clams next to Jasper, and Padma notes it's a Sudden Death Quickfire. They are taking on Clam Chowda. They have to put their spin on chowder. Jasper White wrote a definitive cookbook called “50 Chowders”. The winner will get immunity, the loser will have to battle it out to stay in the competition. They have 30 minutes.
Mei grabs the entire bucket of littleneck clams, and Adam said they agree to share. Then Melissa takes some of the littlenecks from Mei's station as well while Mei is getting other ingredients. She said she's “not going to play fair anymore.” Hmmm....but now Mei is left with 3 littlenecks, so she's left with steamer clams.
Adam, the New Yorker, is going with a Manhattan-type of clam chowder, using tomato water. He's aiming for a light chowder instead of the heavier chowder that he thinks others are making. Melissa is making a Thai-style chowder, Katie's using black tea sourdough chowder, and Katsuji is making a Mexican chowder (surprise, surprise!).
MEI: Claim & Lobster Chowder with Yuzu Aioli, Celery & Fennel - Jasper asks which clams she used, and she has to say “steamers.”
KATSUJI: Oyster Chowder with Poblano, Jalapeno & Toasted Garlic Broth – Padma asked if he works with oysters a lot, and he says “of course not!”
GREGORY: Razor Clam & Sweet Potato Chowder with Bacon, Dashi & Coconut Milk Broth – Jasper asks how he cooked the razors (he grilled them) and Padma likes the combo of sweet potato with coconut broth.
ADAM: Red Wine-Poached Littleneck Clams, Boiled Potatoes, Carrots, Celery & Tomato Water – Jasper asks if there was any tomatoes, and Adam says just tomato water.
MELISSA: Cioppino Chowder with Clams, Shrimp, White Wine, Onion, Leeks & Garlic – Jasper made some reference to being a Yankees fan, but I didn't understand what he meant.
DOUG: Grilled Oyster Chowder with Steamed Clam Broth & Fresh Jalapeno – Doug said he wasn't familiar with the East Coast clams, so he figured he'd just use the juice from the clams that he steamed.
KATIE: Clams in Lobster Stock with Black Tea & Sourdough – she explained her dish, and Jasper asks “And you thickened it with bread?” and Katie nervously said “Yup!” She thinks that Jasper doesn't seem to love it from his facial expressions.
Jasper's favorite chowders were from: Adam, Gregory, and Melissa. His favorite was Gregory – he has immunity. It's his third Quickfire win. Adam's was a very close second - “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”.
His least favorite chowders was from Doug (too salty), Katsuji (sauce paired with the oyster – couldn't taste the oyster), Mei (prettiest chowder, but it seemed under-seasoned), and Katie (using raw sourdough made it gummy). His least favorite dish was from Katie. Katie must now battle another chef, says Padma, but this time, they're mixing things up. Tom Colicchio walks in with all of the eliminated chefs. After they line up, Tom says “I have a feeling everyone over there feels they went home a little too soon!” George, the first chef out, says “Yeah, first!” Each of the eliminated chefs will decide which one of them will compete against Katie. If their enlisted chef wins, that person will re-enter the Top Chef Kitchen immediately. They can each choose any chef they want, but they cannot choose themselves. After they all choose, George gets 4 votes and is the one who cooks against Katie. He is very surprised, but is definitely going to work hard to get back into the competition.
Their item to cook is rabbit. They have 45 minutes, using any part of the rabbit. Interestingly, Adam gives a few tips to Katie re: butchering the rabbit. Katsuji said “At least we know Katie! She might not be the best one, but we know nothing about George!” Adam gets a bit snarky about George's dish with glazed carrots. His legs aren't cooking quickly, so he goes back to the rabbit and cuts off the loins to use them if the legs don't cook. George is still stirring pans with only 2 minutes left to plate. Others are telling him to hurry and get the food on the plate.
KATIE: Tomato-Braised Rabbit Leg with Moroccan Tomato Sauce
GEORGE: Roasted Rabbit Loin, Barley Risotto, Glazed Carrots & Mustard Rabbit Jus
The first chef to get two votes wins. Jasper votes George, Tom votes for George as well, saying the loin was perfectly cooked. He's back in the competition, and Katie's out. Tom tells the rest of them that Last Chance Kitchen will be coming back, and he'll see them all tonight.
Gail and Richard Blais show up in the TC Kitchen. Padma said after 11 seasons, they're doing something they've never done before. Since they've arrived in Boston, people have been writing them asking how they can taste the chef's food. Tomorrow, they'll cater a tasting event for some of Boston's biggest foodies and Top Chef fans. Tom said they tweeted out about the event, and they had over 15,000 responses. Only 75 were picked. And Padma said that the chefs won't be shopping – the judges are going to Whole Foods. Gail said they will not seeing the ingredients they'll be choosing until the next day when they arrive at the TC Kitchen to cook. They draw knives to see whose pantry they'll have access to.
Tom – Mei
Padma – George, Gregory
Gail – Melissa, Katsuji
Richard – Doug, Adam
The judges head off to Whole Foods, and Gail is laughing at Richard being Richard – he grabs a cart and starts running as he used to do when he was on Top Chef! The other three just wander throughout WF, and Richard says “let's go look at some nice vegetables....THIRTY MINUTES, PEOPLE!” As Richard is at the meat counter, he asks for 15 racks of lamb – and Tom says to him “you really want those racks?” Richard says “You want the racks?” and Tom says “Yeah.” Richard says in the confessional “He is a Jedi warrior; he says 'Give me your lamb'” as he waves his hand like Obi-Wan Kenobi. LOL Gail got lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Padma looks for the fennel, and Gail says Tom took it all. Richard notes that Padma probably has people shopping for her. Meanwhile, Richard is in the vitamin aisle looking for lecithin and agar-agar. At the checkout counter, Richard leaves to go find something else, after hoping that the fishmongers cut the fish nicely. He says “I don't want to be the judge with two people in the bottom because they bombed with my ingredients!”
After he leaves, Padma says in the confessional “Richard....leaves his shopping cart there unattended!” and she grabs Richard's cart and pushes it around the corner...BUT, in doing so, she takes a sharp turn with his cart, and she dumps all of his fish. Richard returns to the checkout, and asks Gail “Where is my stuff?” and Gail pointed “Padma took it!” Richard says this is like high school with pretty girls making fun of him. When Padma and Richard are both back at the counter, he says “This is a cruel freshman prank! Am I now initiated?” and Padma says gleefully “You're now initiated!” LOL
Meanwhile, back at the house, George gets to see the house. Gregory notes that it's frustrating to have George back on the competition, as he has tons of recipes he hasn't yet used. Everyone is waiting to see what George has up his sleeve. Doug says he never doubted George's abilities. The next morning, they wake up. George feels a bit uncomfortable in the house, knowing that they've all established relationships with the other chefs, and he has to prove himself.
They get into the Top Chef Kitchen and see their pantries and fridges stocked with ingredients. They have 3 hours to prep and serve tasting portions of their dish for 75 Top Chef super fans. Mei thinks Tom shopped fro her in a way that she can go in several different ways. Adam, meanwhile, feels as if he's left with a bunch of ingredients that don't go together from Richard's Pantry. Doug, however, is going to focus on one or two big flavors and bring them out.
Gregory is looking at Padma's Pantry, and he thinks she bought ingredient with flavors that will play to his cooking style, as well as George's Greek heritage Turns out Gregory does use some of the jackfruit, as he thinks it's important to teach the guests about new things. George is very nervous in his first elimination challenge. Melissa is feeling good about the ingredients from Gail's Pantry. Adam says “So Melissa is making Shrimp Scampi. With salad. AGAIN. And Melissa's a great chef. Playing it safe is not going to win.” Katsuji thinks Gail went with North African flavors with harissa, potatoes. Doug is struggling with his concept but is concentrating on mussels and chorizo for a classic flavored dish. Mei is having problems cooking her rack of lamb in the pans, so finishes them in the oven.
The guests arrive in the kitchen, and they're all walking around watching the plating and looking at the various areas of the kitchen, asking questions of the chefs as they plate. The judges arrives, and talk with the guests about them shopping for the ingredients.
KATSUJI: Harissa-Poached Shrimp with Tunisian Potato Salad, and White Sangria – Gail likes the potato salad. Richard said next time, it could use some chili (he had ribbed Gail for not buying some chili peppers for Katsuji earlier).
GREGORY: Coconut Milk & Chicken in Madras Curry with Jackfruit Relish – Tom sais it's a good plate of sweet and hot. Padma thought it was delicious.
ADAM: Flash-Marinated Shrimp, Mushroom Conserva, Peppadew Peppers, Herbs & Aioli – Richard asked Gail how she feels about the texture of the shrimp. Gail replies she would have liked it 5 degrees hotter and 5 seconds longer. The shrimp feels a little squeaky to Gail.
In the in-between, Doug notes that there's a young girl there (with her father?) who seems to really like his dish, and she keeps coming back to his serving station. So he gave her several more portions. Doug gave his menu board to her as a souvenir and took pictures of her with it in the TC Kitchen.
MELISSA: Sauteed Shrimp, Harissa Yogurt, Roasted Rig, Fennel, Dill, Mint & Artichoke Salad – Richard thought it could have used a bit more spice, and Gail thought the shrimp was just on the edge of being salty. Richard thought it might be too safe.
MEI: Rack of Lamb with Charred Eggplant Puree, Scallion-Ginger Relish & Lamb Jus – Padma loves the eggplant puree. Tom asks if she always cooks her lamb that rare, and after a bit of hesitation, she says “Yes.” Padma says “Wow. For me, the lamb is too rare.” and Tom says he prefers medium-rare. A bit later with guests, Tom says to them (about himself and Padma) “We're about the same height!” Padma removes her 4” heels, and sure enough, she's almost the same height as Tom! LOL
DOUG: Chorizo-Marinated Mussels with Sweet Pepper & Cauliflower Relish – Gail says it's nice. Richard likes that he focused on one region – a little Spanish.
GEORGE: Beef & Lamb Kabob with Green Lentils & Cucumber-Mint Yogurt – Padma says the lamb is moist and flavorful. Tom says the cook on the lentils was perfect – still firm but not crunchy. Padma welcomes him back to the competition.
Gail, Padma, Tom and Richard get together, and Tom asks Richard what it was like. Richard replies it was awesome – he likes that the super fans gets to see behind the curtains. The favorites seems to be George and Gregory. Richard notes that Gregory introducing a new ingredient is a good thing (just as Gregory said). Another dish that was enjoyed was Doug.
Dishes that weren't as well received were Mei's. Tom didn't get a lot of flavor, and Padma's was too undercooked. Gail said it was slimy. Another “slimy dish” was Adam's shrimp dish. Richard said just pouring olive oil over top was a mind-boggling technique. Gail said it wasn't cooked and it was straight-up squeaky. Tom said “And Adam said that's what I wanted.” Melissa's dish was also not well received. Richard said it was way too safe.
Back to Judge's Table and the Stew Room. Padma comes in and asks to see everyone. She asks George, Doug and Gregory to stay where they are. Everyone else steps aside. They are the top dishes of the night. Richard thought George's second chance dish was a great way to come back. Padma tells Doug that it's the most savory, soulful and well-spiced dish of his that she's had. Tom said he did a great job of editing down to ingredients that naturally go together. Richard tells Gregory that his dish was other-worldly. He gave the guests an experience.
Gail announces the winner: It's Doug! That makes two challenge wins in a row for him.
Padma calls over Mei, Adam and Melissa. They have the three least favorite dishes. Gail said Mei's food was good, but the lamb rack wasn't done. Mei realizes she should have taken it off the rack because it was uneven; Tom said they were all that way. The neck side with more fat, and the loin side, which is much more lean. You usually cut it in half as they cook differently. Padma asks Adam how he felt about his dish, and Adam replies he knows he took a risk with the preparation. He said it's not a technique he executed as well as other dishes he's prepared on the show. Richard tells him that a lot of the guests thought he dish was the best of the night, but texturally, the shrimp was squishy. Tom said the pepperade was under-seasoned. Padma asks Melissa if she was worried that they would ask her if she had several hours to cook, what did she do during those hours, as she was cooking the shrimp to order. Melissa said she wanted a lot of knife cuts going on in the dish, and that's what took up a lot of her time. Padma replies “You always have great knife work; I want to taste flavor. I've already seen seafood on top of a salad in the last challenge.” Gail wanted to see a bit more depth. Richard notes something that was said earlier by Tom – all of the dishes were really good. At this point in the game, the compression is really tight, and there's no more middle.
Padma tells Adam that it's time for him to PYKAG. Tom admires that he pushed it with his huge risk in preparation, but it just didn't work. Adam is surprised; he says in the confessional “It may just be cooking to some people; but this is what I breathe and bleed every day of my life. If you don't love cooking enough to be an emotional mess on national television? Put the knife down!” He also notes that Top Chef has served as a platform for so many chefs who didn't win to find their voice and reach the next level. He's 100% excited to see what's on the other side of the door.
Last Chance Kitchen is back – a two-part premiere online at Bravo's site. The new reigning champ will then take on Katie and Adam to try and stay in the competition.
Annnnnd in the preview for next week, it's GRONK!!! Padma asks him “Do you mind if I call you Rob? You can call me honey!” Rob's reply “Alright honey! I eat a lot – I need a big sausage!” Ummm....OK!