Top Chef S9-14: Mentors

Mentors

Top Chef Texas is on its 11th episode and we still have 5 cheftestants battling it out for the title of Top Chef.

Why are we still at 5 cheftestant? The Last Chance Kitchen is over and the winner is back this episode to join the competition for the money and title of Top Chef.

Don’t forget, if you don’t want to be spoiled about this episode, get out of the kitchen now!

The remaining cheftestants sit around a table wondering who will return. Ed puts his bet out there for Bev: a pack of cigarettes. Sarah sees his pack of cigarettes and raises him one banana that Grayson will wipe the floor with Bev.

Either way, Ed doesn’t want anyone back, but that doesn’t matter since tomorrow is a new day and the reigning champ of Last Chance Kitchen will be back in the game.

The 5 cheftestants come into the kitchen to find 5 cloches there. The four wait and Tom asks the reigning Last Chance Kitchen Champion to join them. It’s Bev and though Sarah and Lindsay look like they’re going to throw up, Tom has this look on his face like not only does he see their reaction, but he’s rooting for Ms. Bev.

Ed, Sarah, Lindsay and Paul await the Last Chance Kitchen Champion
Ed, Sarah, Lindsay and Paul await the Last Chance Kitchen Champion
Lindsay wandering out blind
Lindsay wandering out blind

Quickfire Challenge

Back to those cloches. The cheftestants open the cloches to find a blindfold. The challenge is to use their senses to find the correct ingredients to make a great dish in 30 minutes. After they raid the pantry, the cheftestants get to take off their blindfold to use whatever time remains to cook their dish. In addition to that, they must use every ingredient they pick up from the pantry, so just grabbing everything won’t cut it.

The winner of the challenge gets a choice. They can either win a Prius V or guarantee a spot for themselves in the finals.

Bev makes a striped bass with avocado, limited and jalapeno. She didn’t mean to grab a jalapeno, but just went with it. Padma takes a bite and immediately tells Bev the fish is undercooked.

Paul makes sautéed prawns with Thai style tomato salad. Tom wonders if the shrimp is a little undercooked, but Paul says that it should be fine.

Ed makes udon with ribbons of zucchini, mushrooms and scallions. He accidentally grabbed some pork casing and used it for his broth.

Sarah made a corn soup with red onion and chili with roasted mushrooms and peaches.

Lindsay made fish with bulgar wheat, mascarpone and broccoli rabe. She meant to grab crème fresche, but grabbed the mascarpone instead.

Tom makes the final decision and tells Ed that he chose the most difficult ingredient and used it well. Paul made a nice dish, but the shrimp was slightly undercooked. Bev’s fish was very undercooked, but the best thing on her plate was the avocado. Lindsay’s fish was perfectly cooked and the bulgar wheat was a nice touch. Sarah’s soup was delicious and though she took a peach and forced it into the dish, it worked.

The winner of the Quickfire Challenge was between Ed and Sarah. Sarah takes the win and chooses to take a guarantees spot in the finale. She doesn’t have to cook in the elimination challenge and takes the day off.

Who should have won the Quickfire

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Elimination Challenge

Inspiration comes from a lot of places, but where you learn the craft of culinary arts comes from a mentor; that someone in the business who takes a new chef under his or her wings and teaches them the basics and what it takes to pull the most wonderful flavors from ordinary ingredients.

Tom and Padma bring out the cheftestants mentors. There are a lot of tears from everyone, except for Ed. He’s not a crier. Sarah’s mentor is Tony Montuano, Top Chef Master. Lindsay’s is occasional Top Chef guest judge Michelle Bernstein. Bev’s mentor is Sarah Stegner, Paul’s is Tyson Cole and Ed’s is Frank Crispo.

The cheftestants are tasked to make a dish that would impress their mentors. No pressure. Well, everyone but Sarah, who gets the day off to have dinner and a shot of tequila with Tony.

The Tasting

Tom and Padma are joined by Hugh, Gail and the cheftestants mentors.

Bev serves gulf shrimp and BBQ sauce with Singapore noodles. Her mentor, Sarah, thinks it had nice heat and the shrimp was cooked perfectly. Bev is doing what she taught her; she cooks from her heart. Tom thinks it must have been hard to use a wok to cook for so many people.

Lindsay serves a seafood stew over toasted couscous and broth with emulsified cream. Her mentor, Michelle, thought it was cooked beautifully, but she doesn’t know why Lindsay put the cream in at the end. It wasn’t necessary. Frank thought the dry herbs caught him and tasted funny.

Paul serves chilled sunchoke and dashi soup with summer vegetables. His mentor, Tyson, though the balance of flavor was great and the dish has him smiling from ear to ear. Michelle thought it was salty until…she eats it in its entirety and finds the vegetables even it out, a line which Hugh finished for her. Tom seems dumbstruck. He says that Paul has stuck to cooking Thai food for most of the competition and hasn’t done anything like this dish.

Ed serves braised pork belly and smoked oyster crema with pickled vegetables. Gail thinks the food is packed with a ton of flavor. Ed’s mentor, Frankie, thinks Ed went back to his roots. Michelle loves his pickled vegetables and thinks Ed should package it because she would be the first in line to buy it. Tom isn’t a fan of the oyster sauce. He isn’t sure what’s wrong with it

Hugh, Padma, Tom and Gail
Hugh, Padma, Tom and Gail

The Winner

Tom think Paul has a lot of nerve serving that soup. That soup spoke of a chef with a lot more experience who knows when to stop. That was a nice bowl of soup. Gail thought the soup was well prepared and thoughtful food. He really made his mentor proud.

Tom thought Bev’s choice of using a wok was risky, but it really worked out in the end. Gail thought the noodles were perfectly cooked and the flavors were clean.

Tom announces that Paul and Bev are in the top and will be continuing on to the finale. The winner of this challenge and the cheftestant who will take home a brand new Prius V is Paul, who not only gets a car, but also gets his spot in the finale. That’s just the way he wanted it.

The Elimination

Gail thought the aroma for Lindsay’s dish was intoxicating, but she wonders why bring in the crème to the dish. Lindsay thought the dish needed fat, but since she seasoned the fish, it apparently didn’t need it. Hugh thought the dry herbs brought overtones that permeated the dish. Tom thought the dry herbs was a huge mistake.

Gail though Ed’s pickles were insanely good, but there was something off with the oyster sauce. Hugh asks if the oysters were canned and Ed admits they were. Tom leans back in his seat and uh oh. Hugh says there were a lot of things going on with the dish and that’s that.

Gail felt both dishes were over thought and did too much. Hugh felt that Ed was a busy minded chef that was fixated on the recipe instead of going to the market and using the fresh ingredients that were there. It was a done deal when Tom leaned back in his chair. It’s like Ed never watched Spike and the frozen scallop debacle. So, Ed, Crazy Ed, Cray Cray Ed, our loco boy with a twitch in his jaw is asked to PYKAG.

Who should have went home?

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