This week, Hosea announces that he has it out for the Superior European, Stefan. He's arrogant, egotistical, and probably putting the moves on Leah. Welcome to Everyone Thinks Stefan is an Asshole, Part II!
Over at the GE/Diet Dr Pepper Kitchen, Padma introduces the Quickfire Challenge with a small child at her side. Oh wait, that's Hung Huynh, winner of Top Chef season 3. Oops!
Behind them is a large object draped in a flat sheet from the Official Top Chef Bedding Collection™ (designed by Martha Stewart, available exclusively at the NBC gift shop).
Fabio thinks it's an ahkwarheeum, er, aquarium...
...but he is mistaken.
Jeffy doesn't mince words in expressing his disgust at the reveal.
Fabio is a little more excited about the possibilities.
The challenge is to make a yummy dish using the packaged crap on the table. And in honor of Hung's supposed title of "fastest Top Chef ever" (fast - as in speedy? or fast - as in man-ho?) the cheftestants get only 15 minutes in which to accomplish this feat of derring-do.
As soon as Padma announces the start of time, the chefs rush to grab their canned goods. A riot ensues.
Jamie mispronounces yet another cooking term.
Padma calls time after a fast fifteen minutes, and she and Hung go around tasting the dishes. Hosea's gamble pays off, and his soup is a favorite, along with Jeff's fried conch and Stefan's grilled cheese-n-SPAM. And the winner is - Stefan! Hey wait...wasn't that Hosea's SPAM?
Next up is the Elimination Challenge. Padma makes the cheftestants draw knives for the umpty-twelfth time. On this occasion, the knives are labeled lamb, chicken, and pork. Sorry, Fabio, no feesh, which means no scallops for Jamie.
The challenge facing them is to create a seasonal meal around their assigned protein. The cheftestants are sent home to plan menus for a lunch for 16.
Team Pork (Jeff, Fabio, Radhika) has decided to cook more in the style of Bland American Blonde than the Italian or Indian components of the team. And Team Lamb (Hosea, Leah, Ariane) is going to have Ariane do all the work. Team Chicken (Stefan, Jamie, Carla) has issues. Stefan, who Jamie refers to as a "know-it-all," basically tells them what they're going to cook and considers the plan final. Jamie and Carla, however, meet separately and make changes to his edict. When Jamie confronts Stefan with the changes, he gets all pissy, as is the Superior European way.
The next day, the chefs go to the grocery store. Only they're not going to the grocery store. They end up 30 miles north of Manhattan at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, one of those popular small farms run by do-good liberal hippies who think Americans want to eat fresh, non-processed food. Isn't it ironic that they get there in brand new, gas-guzzling (estimated mpg 14/17!), Toyota Sequoias?
The chefs are concerned they won't be shopping at Whole Paycheck. The biggest question:
The teams are assigned farm personnel who take them on a Tour de Protein.
They're freaking chickens, Jamie.
After playing with the animals and picking produce, the chefs finally get to the kitchen to begin cooking. They have three hours to prepare a farm-to-table meal for sixteen farm workers.
Tom pays his regular visit to the kitchen to check on the progress of the chefs. After watching Ariane struggle with boning lamb, Stefan and Co., making chicken soup, and Team Pork fiddling with creme brulee, he tells the camera that freshly butchered meat is best served on the bone, it's too damn hot for soup, and creme brulee has already sent one person home in this competition. Makes one think that everyone's ass is on the line this week.
When the cooking is complete and the food plated family-style, the cheftestants proudly bring their dishes to the waiting diners.
The lamb was too aggressively butchered. Team Pork's ravioli was overpowered by pesto. It *was* too hot for Team Chicken's soup, but it was deemed flavorful, as were their other dishes of roast chicken and Jamie's chicken cutlets. (Or were they escallops of chicken?) As for dessert, Carla's fruit tart was the favorite. We can see how this is going to go already....
Toby didn't seem to bring his A-game this time.
Back at Judge's Table, Team Chicken was brought out and roundly applauded for their efforts. Overly-skinny guest judge Dan Barber of restaurant Blue Hill (which also has an outpost at Stone Barns) awarded all three members of Team Chicken the win. Stefan was ready to celebrate.
Team Chicken then went back into the stew room and called Team Pork and Team Lamb to stand before the judges. Team Pork's pesto was critiqued (hey, didn't they decide *not* to do anything ethnic?) as was the flavorless pork tenderloin and the overly-sweet creme brulee, but Jeff's fried green tomatoes were enough to save the trio from the fearsome axe of Padma. Even Radhika, who didn't do much at all to assist her compatriots.
Team Lamb was not so safe. Ariane gave a whole new meaning to "butchering."
When asked if they helped, Hosea and Leah hemmed and hawed until finally they admitted that they had helped a little. Ariane agreed that everyone helped, but I'm not sure if it was to share the blame or to make Hosea and Leah seem less useless. As you can probably guess from my visual commentary, I was pretty irritated that Ariane got stuck with the brunt of the work while those other two stood around and pretended to be helpful. And of course it was Ariane who was asked to pack her knives and go. Completely unfair.
Bye Ariane! You have a lot to be proud of! Now go take a shower so you don't offend the folks back at the sequester house with whom you'll be living for a few weeks yet.
Next week: Restaurant Wars!