This week's Top Chef didn't overly Dallas-ize Dallas like last week's -- for that, we are thankful. Dean Fearing, the original chef at Mansion on Turtle Creek and the man behind Fearing's at the Ritz-Carlton, met the chefs at Le Cordon Bleu kitchen, the alma-mater of Austin-based cheftestant Paul Qui. There, they were met with a quick-fire challenge that resulted in a Top Chef rarity: the dishes in the quick-fire outshone the dishes in the elimination round.
The challenge was to make a dish that stemmed from one of four "mother sauces" -- hollandaise, bechamel, tomate, veloute, and espagnole -- chosen randomly by drawing knives. That was followed by an elimination challenge that Padma called one of the show's hardest but that the judges later said should have been easy to pull off: 200 four-course dinners starring medium-rare steaks, produced by all 13 chefs.
Here are the moments that lit up our minds and bellies:
Dish that we wanted to snack on gluttonously: Heather's gruyere croquettes from the quickfire I mean, really, crispy fried balls of cheese and rich cream sauce with apple ginger compote and an Asian slaw -- call a babysitter and put on some elastic pants. On a chilly day, these croquettes are your go-to balls.
Best Use of a Cheesy Pun: Grayson While making her winning "mother sauce" quickfire dish, she sassed, "I'm feeling fucking saucy." Good thing she won, because her mouth was on fire. "I've been a saucier, and I'm also classically trained so sauces ain't no thang for me," she said in an interview before cameras cut to her making her truly outstanding corn ravioli dish.
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Biggest Beef (that's not a steak): Heather and Beverly Lee It seems someone told Heather she's on a reality show, and now she thinks it's her duty to run her mouth endlessly. Bev -- diminuitve, quiet, serious, and ok, maybe a little selfish -- was ripe for the picking, and pick Heather did -- pick, pick, pick, pick, pick. "I do have a problem that Bev has been working on shrimp for two days ... If that was my prep cook, and he's working on shrimp for two days, I would be through the roof," she said high-and-mightily. "Heather's the most obnoxious person that I think I've ever met. She's a bully in my opinion and she'd be the first person that I would boot from the island," Dakota chimed in, on Bev's behalf, sort of. "Even though Heather was riding me, I finally finished cooking the shrimp, and they taste perfect," Bev said of the shrimp she fastidiously toiled over as a gazpacho garnish.
Best Overstatement: Ty-lor Boring "Flashing the steaks early is the same as when the meteor hit the earth and made the dinosaurs extinct. It's that big a deal," he said when he found out that Edward Lee had begun flash-cooking the steaks he marked on the grill. Neither went home for the mistake, though Edward was in the bottom three. We must add, Ty-lor was a champ for pushing through despite getting four stitches for gashing between his fingers with an oyster knife. "If it means drinking 18 shots of espresso, I'll do whatever it takes to win this competition," he said.
Most Ruthless Tom Collicchio comments: Talking to Whitney Otawka at Judges' Table... "You're playing it safe and you still mess up; doesn't look good," Tom said of her raw potato gratin. He reflected sadly that he may have chosen the wrong 16 chefs to move forward. "Usually it's really difficult to send someone home, but tonight, you made it really easy," he said. Then, after Padma told Whitney to "pack your knives and go," and as Whitney walked out Tom added another jab. "If you can't put together a great gratin in six hours, you have no business being here." Insert knife, and twist.
Dish That Translated Worst on Television: The Winning Peach Cake Seriously, this thing won? Whatever tasted so good about it certainly wasn't visual. It looked like a sheet-cake cut into neat squares with some confusing fruit salad on top. But judges raved, so we concede. Hopefully these chefs will all step it up next week -- and they better. It's a double-elimination challenge. Till then!