Episode 4 of Top Chef Seattle begins with the chefs entering the kitchen for the Quickfire Challenge, waiting for them is Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief from Food and Wine, and Padma. For this Quickfire Challenge, the chefs had to create an authentic international dumpling. The chefs grab a knife off of a world map that represented a dumpling from that region of the world. To help the chefs research the international dumpling they need to create, the pantry was supplied with Amazon Kindle Fires. What a shock! Product placement from a local Seattle company! As with all Quickfire Challenges, the chefs scrambled around the kitchen to make their dumplings.
Unfortunately, Kuniko was unable to plate her dumpling in time, so she didn’t have anything for Padma and Dana to sample. On the bottom were Brooke, her dumpling needed a wrapper; Carla’s Africa dumpling was more Italian than African; and Kuniko was ineligible since she was unable to finish her dumpling. The best dumplings were made by Josie, Stefan, and Micah. The winner of the International Dumpling Quickfire Challenge was Josie with her Mandu Korean dumpling. She now has immunity in the Elimination Challenge.
Since this episode aired a day before Thanksgiving, the Elimination Challenge this week was to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for the Seattle organization Farestart, which provides culinary training for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. The chefs were split into two teams, Gray and Red. The big surprise for this challenge was when Tom and Emeril entered the kitchen. Tom will lead the Red Team and Emeril will lead the Gray Team. Tom’s Team decides to go with an Italian theme Thanksgiving dinner, and Emeril’s Team naturally goes with a New Orleans Creole inspired dinner.
The judges for the Thanksgiving Elimination Challenge included Dana Cowin, Megan Karch, Executive Director of Farestart; and Seattle Chef and restaurant owner, Thierry Rautureau. Josie presented the Gray Team’s dinner. The judges liked the flavor of the Gray Team’s turkey, but the inside of the turkey was almost raw. The Gray Team prepared two dressings, one was Emeril’s Mom’s stuffing, prepared by Danyele, and the other was a cornbread stuffing, prepared by John. Kristen’s root vegetables came with a truffle puree and crème fraiche. Tyler prepared a sausage and shrimp Gumbo, which was lacking flavor. Kuniko’s potato Pave was raw and under-seasoned. Sheldon’s Braised Greens had good texture, but were a bit undercooked. Brooke prepared the Sweet Potato biscuits, which all the judges seem to like. Chrissy prepared White Chocolate and Pecan Bread Pudding. John made a Spiced Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Ricotta Torte.
Chris presented the Red Team’s dinner to the judges. He prepared the Italian inspired turkey, which turned out better than the Gray Team’s under-cooked turkey. Carla prepared a Carrot Soup with turkey meatballs. Bart prepared a Fennel, Gorgonzola, Orange and Pumpkin Seed salad. Josh prepared a Sweet Potato Ravioli with Pecans. Emeril thought the ravioli was the weakest dish of the Gray Team's dinner. Micah prepared Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and Shallots, which according to the judges were not seasoned. Lizzie prepared a Potato Puree. Stefan made a Panna Cotta with Orange Cardamom and crisp and candied pecans. Padma thought the Cardamom was too strong, but Tom thought it was the best part of the dessert. Eliza made a Chocolate Tart with white chocolate and mint syrup.
Judges Decision: Since Tom and Emeril were the leads on each team, they of course were not part of the judging. The four remaining judges all chose Tom’s Red Team over Emeril’s Gray Team. Chris (CJ), Carla and Lizzie from the Red Team were brought before the judge’s table to select the winner of the Elimination Challenge. The winning dish was prepared by Carla, for her carrot soup. Next were the chefs chosen from the losing Gray Team. Even though Rosie had immunity, the judges wanted to let her know that the turkey was under-cooked. The other chefs chosen were Tyler, Kuniko and Sheldon. Kuniko was the chef sent packing her knives. It just wasn’t her week. First, she didn’t finish her dumpling in the Quickfire Challenge, and then she under-cooked her potato Pave. I liked Kuniko and she showed promise last week when she won the Elimination Challenge.
The stakes are raised in next week’s episode as two chefs will be sent packing their knives, and tension seems to heat up between Josh and Stefan.
Be sure to check back next week for my recap of episode 4!