I love it when “Top Chef” forces our cheftestants out into the big, bad world, blinking and shivering like frightened moles. This week, they get to frolic in the bay, shucking oysters, slurping them down, and then worrying about what awaits them back in the test kitchen. Probably something involving oysters. Just a guess.
The Quickfire Challenge is simple: the chefs must make oysters for Emeril! Five will make hot dishes, five will go cold. And how will that be decided? Chefs who grab a red apron get to cook hot, the rest get stuck with blue aprons and cold food, as it seems the appeal is really to make a hot dish. The winner will get $5,000, and they get 25 minutes. As expected, there’s a rush on red aprons. I’ve never been an oyster fan, I have to say, so I don’t have much to add on this challenge, I have to say.
Kristen – Hot – Oysters with caramelized honey tomato broth, celery leaves & chili
Emeril likes the celery leaf on top. Oh.
Stefan – Cold – Smoked oysters with potato vinaigrette & flash frozen salt
Emeril likes the crunch. Emeril doesn’t give much away, does he?
Snidely Josh – Cold – Oysters with pickled cucumbers, white soy, cilantro & red chili
Emeril asks him if he shucks a lot of oysters… as he pulls a bit of shell out of his mouth. Snidely Josh isn’t winning this challenge, I don’t think.
Lizzie – Cold – Oysters with crushed currant juice, crushed pink peppercorn
Emeril likes the final drizzle of olive oil, and Padma thinks the currants work.
Brooke – Cold – Oysters with salsa verde, cilantro, horseradish & red chili
Emeril picks shells out of his mouth, so I think Brooke will also not be winning this challenge.
Dallas John – Hot – Oysters poached in garlic butter with Swiss chard & garlic-Parmesan foam
Emeril says the cheese wasn’t heavy, and Padma thinks it was smart to do a foam.
Josie – Hot – Wood-roasted oysters with chorizo & cilantro cream
Emeril thinks the chorizo wasn’t overpowering. That seems like faint praise, doesn’t it?
Micah – Hot – Crispy fried oysters with arugula salad, hot sauce & lemon
This looks really good. Emeril thinks the seasoning is very nice and not overpowering.
Bart – Hot – Oysters with Champagne, butter & cream
Sheldon – Cold – Oysters with chilled Old Bay broth & ginger scallion pesto
Emeril got little hints of ginger and seems relatively pleased.
So who missed the mark? Bart — he felt the butter lost the Champagne and masked the oyster. He thinks Josie should have strained the oyster, as her sauce seemed to have separated. He thought Dallas John’s dish needed pop. He liked Lizzie’s because it was unexpected and delicious. He thought Micah’s was risky, but he wanted to eat more. He thought Brooke’s salsa verde had beautiful flavors that complimented the oyster. Pretty impressive — he didn’t ding her for the broken shells. But the winner is… Micah. For Micah, this is a big deal, as cooking for Emeril is, to him, like being Moses and meeting God.
Elimination challenge! They’ll be cooking for one of the hottest sports teams in Seattle. It’s the Rat City Roller Girls All-Stars! Lizzie didn’t know people still roller-skated! The wrap party for the league is tomorrow, and they’ll be competing in teams of two. Everyone couples up, and Brooke finds herself stuck with Dallas John while Bart is stuck with Josie. Poor Brooke. Poor Bart.
Each team must create a dish inspired by the Roller Girls’ names. Terriyaki Terror, Jalapeño Business, Eddie Shredder, Kutta Rump and Tempura Tantrum. They all have a food connection? How… weird. And convenient!
Oh, and they get to cook at the skating rink! Yay! Everyone gets to see a match that evening, too.
At the rink, Josie gets into it watching the derby dolls. Really, really into it. Everyone thinks Josie is ever more annoying than usual, which is saying something. Brooke realizes roller derby is a crazy, violent version of the Ice Capades. I guess that’s one way of thinking about it.
Back at the apartment, everyone continues to be annoyed by Josie, who seems to be annoyed right back. Don’t call us names, Josie! “This tree right here, you don’t want to bark up, Micah!” Josie retorts in weirdly fractured English. And then she tells him he’s hiding in the closet. What? Bart tries to calm down Josie, as she’s his partner and he has to control the crazy. Micah, to his credit, doesn’t seem to care that much. As he’s (most likely) not in the closet.
Dalla John says Brooke reminds him of his daughter. He actually seems to get the warm fuzzies around her. Brooke doesn’t even seem skeeved out. How sweet!
Our judges arrive at the rink: Emeril, Padma, Hugh Acheson and Tom Colicchio. Hugh declares that Padma’s roller derby name should be Padma Smacks-Me.
Dallas John & Brooke – Kutta Rump
Thai beef with lobster jasmine rice & Thai slaw
Hugh thinks the flavors build really well and it has a beautiful amount of acid. Kutta Rump thinks it gets spicy, but I think she means that in a good way.
Bart & Josie – Teriyaki Terror
Steak teriyaki with forbidden rice, beet blood & green papaya salad
Teriyaki Terror declares it unique. “Is that unique good or unique crappy?” Hugh asks. Um, crappy. Emeril thinks it’s under seasoned, Padma thinks the rice is overcooked, no one likes it. Bye, Josie or Bart!
Lizzie & Micah – Jalapeño Business
Crab-stuffed jalapeño with avocado cream, onion & pepper relish
Jalapeño Business likes the Seattle twist on the jalepeno. Hugh thinks it’s better than he expected. Tom likes that it’s crispy.
Stefan & Kristen – Eddie Shredder
Corn puree, chicken liver & sunny-side up egg
Eddie Shredder thinks it’s awesome. Emeril thinks the corn pudding is delicious, but the egg is overdone. Tom thinks they missed some opportunities. But Eddie likes it! Don’t argue with Eddie, judges.
Josh & Sheldon – Tempura Tantrum
Tempura yuzu curd with shiso, fresno chili, sweet potato & vanilla
Emeril thinks it’s a great idea, but the tempura isn’t fried enough. Hugh thinks the tempura failed. But Tempura Tantrum loves it!
Emeril thinks some chefs could have been bolder, and some dishes were executed perfectly. Time for judges’ table!
Padma calls back Dallas John & Brooke and Micah & Lizzie. I’m sure they’re the best pairs. And they are. Emeril tells Dallas John & Brooke everything was cooked perfectly, and he tells Lizzie & Micah people were raving about their dishes. The winning team is…Dallas John & Brooke. Brooke decides that she does work well with Dallas John.
Dallas John declares that he’s hugely relieved to have finally won a challenge — but he really wishes he’d won by himself. Yes, even when he shows a mushy nice side, the jerky side lives on.
In the stew room, Snidely Josh complains that Micah & Lizzie made a jalapeño popper. Grumble, grumble.
Called back are Josie & Bart and Sheldon & Snidely Josh. So, Josie or Bart is going home. No way is Sheldon going home, and by default I assume that means Snidely Josh is sticking around.
As expected, the judges zero in on Bart and Josie. Tom is furious — why do the cheftestants think that something poorly season paired with something well-seasoned results in something seasoned? Emeril declares their food a mishmash, and Hugh thinks their beet was served on top of boring porridge.
Snidely Josh & Sheldon talk about their tempura. Snidely Josh suddenly has to bring up the “jalepeno popper.” It was concession-style food, he whines! Tom tells him it was not concession food. Nod and smile, Snidely Josh, you idiot! Never complain about the competition!
Anyway, Snidely Josh has nothing to fear — it’s Bart who gets the boot. I’m sure that’s because Josie is fixing for a fight and is simply better, more annoying television. Sad, but true. Even Bart thinks the Josie show is what the judges like. I don’t think he’s wrong at all.