Top Chef
by ryanoneilttc

photo: bravo
Original Air Date: Dec 18, 2013
Ryan O Associate Editor

In the Quickfire, the chefs have to cook drumsticks. Questlove from The Roots is there but doesnt get much screen time.

In the Elimination, the chefs have to cook lunch for 500. Things are starting to get a little personal for a few chefs.


Questlove of The Roots is in the kitchen with Padma. He says theres no limit to the quest for good food. Then a drum line marches in, because, sure. They lead in a table full of drumsticks.

They have 30 minutes to make a dish with any of the drumsticks. Padma announces its first come, first served with regards to who gets which kind of drumstick. This causes a near riot. Nicholas tries to make it a big deal that he helped Shirley up when she fell and then she took the drumsticks he wanted. Well, he mightve been partly responsible for her going over in the first and she was there first so she should get her choice. Plus, I dont like Nicholas.

And, god, can everyone stop saying, protein? Its meat. Say, meat. No one is grabbing tofu drumsticks or bean drumsticks. Its meat.

Nina is making jerk drumsticks. Shes worried about it being too spicy.

Justin is going to knock his drummettes out the park, so dont worry about him.

Nicholas reminds us that Carlos is self-taught, so theres things he doesnt know.

Heres what they made.

Carrie: Squab legs marinated in thyme, juniper and cocoa powder with fig mostrada

Brian: Chicken soup, chicken skin crackling with parsley and Thai basil

Shirley: Crispy duck leg with Szechuan chile salt and mint

Nina: Jerked Guinea hen charred with juniper berries and Scotch bonnet peppers

Stephanie: Fried and grilled turkey leg with sriracha and sour cream buttermilk dressing

Nicholas: Twice-fried quail legs with sesame sauce rolled in gomaiso (a Japanese spice mix made from unhulled sesame seeds)

Justin: Chicken drumettes with smoked aioli, herb salad, and sorghum vinaigrette

Carlos: Fried goose leg with cranberries and apple salad


Nicholas: Too much salt

Justin: Not creative enough

Carlos: A bit overcooked and it hard bone shards


Carrie: Cooked perfectly, good fig jam

Nina: Not too spicy

Brian: Crunch even though it was soup

Carrie wins!

Elimination Challenge

Freshman orientation is happening at Louisiana State University. The cheftestants will be cooking lunch in the dining hall for 500 of them and serving it cafeteria style.

The winner gets a car.

This will surprise you: after they pile into cars to drive to LSU, Nicholas is driving. Because hes the best driver.

When they get to the kitchen, guess who yells, GUYS! We have to talk about stations before we touch anything!

Theres some back and forth between Shirley and Carlos about who will get a particular station. Shirley called it well before Carlos but he insists on having it so he can cook fish.

Nicholas marks his oven.

Shirley ends up with the wood-burning oven. Shes not pleased.

Tom shows up and checks on the chefs. Carlos tells him hes going to cook the fish on the flat top grill and then put it in the oven.

During service, Carlos needs an oven to cook his fish. Nicholas needs an oven to keep his plates warm. Ugh.

Gail, Emeril, Tom, and Padma show up.

Heres what they made.

Shirley: Roast beef with potato puree and fire-roasted tomato relish

Nina: Fried chicken with sweet corn puree and pickled onions

Brian: Shrimp cake and spinach with chipotle aioli

Gail likes that Brians shrimp cake has pieces of shrimp that are big enough that you know theyre shrimp. Thats not exactly the strongest compliment ever, is it? Padma likes Shirleys tomato relish. Gail thinks her roast beef is cooked to the right doneness.

Nicholas: Roasted pork, parmesan grits, and bacon brown sugar gravy

Tom thinks Nina shouldve fried her chicken twice instead of just once; the breading is falling off. He thinks theres not a lot flavor her corn puree. Tom says Nicholass pork could be seasoned better but likes his bacon gravy.

Carrie: Broccoli salad with herbed yogurt sauce and pita bread (if you guessed that theres no line at Carries station, then you know college kids)

Justin: Marinated Gulf shrimp, cauliflower, asparagus, and garlic puree

Gail says theres not a lot of flavor in Justins dish. Padma was happy Carrie gave them vegetables but Gail expected a little more at this point in the show.

Stephanie: Spicy tomato soup with pimento cheese sandwich

Carlos: (Carlos tells Tom and Emeril that Nicholas stole his oven, which is why hes a bit slow): Seared tilapia with chile ancho and Mexican coleslaw

Despite the slowness of the service, Tom and Emeril like Carloss dish. Emeril thinks it has a nice spiciness. Tom likes Stephanies soup but he didnt like that Stephanie put the grilled cheese partly in the soup because that means you end up with a soggy sandwich.

By the way, Nicholas cooks with a lot of integrity. Just so you know. You know what? Keeping an oven from someone so you can keep your plates warm? Not a lot of integrity.

Judges Table

The screen pops on and we see the judges talking. Padma says Brians croquette was very nice. Gail liked it and liked the spinach salad, too. Emeril liked Shirleys roast beef and how she used the wood oven. Tom didnt like that it took 15 minutes to get Carloss food. Theres consensus that Stephanie made a mistake putting the sandwich in the soup.

Gail liked the idea of Justins dish but didnt like the actual dish. She thought the puree had almost no flavor. Tom thought the dish was bland. When Emeril had Ninas fried chicken, the breading fell off. Plus, she ran out of corn. Tom says that if Carrie didnt have immunity, shed be on the bottom.

Shirley, Brian, and Carlos go see the judges. They have the best dishes.

Carlos said everything went smoothly. Tom said the fish was well-cooked.

Emeril says the spinach salad made Brians dish.

Tom said the meat in Shirleys dish was perfectly season and perfectly cooked.

Shirley wins the car!

Stephanie, Nina, and Justin go see the judges. They have the worst dishes. (My guess is that Stephanie is going home.)

Nina gets criticism for both running out of corn and for the corn itself. Padma says the students who didnt get the corn had a better dish. Emeril says the first batch of corn was better since his corn was pretty good.

Gail wouldve dialed back the cottage cheese in the sandwich. And putting the sandwich in soup made it disintegrate.

Justin says, with all due respect to [his] fellow chefs, but [he] couldve easily knocked out a shrimp roll and crushed it. He tried to cook the food he usually cooks.

They leave.

Tom says that Nina running out corn was a big deal. Justin cooked a bland plate of food. Stephanies soup was good.

The sandwich wasnt good.

They return.

Justin is out.

Last Chance Kitchen

Louis vs. Justin

The challenge is to make a dish using ingredients native to the others home. So, Louis has to make a dish with ingredients from New Orleans and Justin has to make a dish with ingredients from Northern California.

Heres what they made.

Justin: Grilled sardine with roasted corn and sherry vinaigrette

Louis: Redfish almondine with corn puree and crawfish sauce

Tom liked both dishes a lot but says Justins sardine was a little on the dry side.

Louis wins.