Let’s all join the remaining chefs in reeling from Kwame’s elimination. I guess it shouldn’t have been too surprising — he started to falter several episodes before his demise, but Kwame the “prodigy” had one of the most impressive early runs I’ve seen on Top Chef. He’s not coming back, either, since Jason continued his reign on Last Chance Kitchen last week, but there’s no doubt Kwame is a better chef than he is a rapper.
The remaining five cheftestants visited Traci Des Jardins’ The Commissary in San Francisco for the SUDDEN DEATH Quickfire Challenge. To have a Sudden Death so late in the game is really ramping up the stakes. And to add to the pressure, the challenge was to make the perfect slice of artisanal toast, which is a big trend in San Francisco (of course it is). The supposed simplicity of the challenge sent the chefs into a tailspin. It led to Carl taking a risk, which is characteristic, and to Marjorie playing it safe, which has also become a pattern. I can definitely understand why the challenge freaked them out. I’ve messed up a simple avocado toast recipe a dozen times, and I have an expensive toaster!
Jeremy won the challenge with his ciabatta topped with chicken liver mousse, pickled cherries, white raspberries, jalapeno, and arugula. Traci said it was beautifully composed and all the textures came together. Marjorie and Isaac were safe, leaving Amar on the bottom for his heavy-handed foie gras on raisin sourdough, as well as Carl for his grilled sourdough with blistered cherry tomatoes and shrimp. Carl insisted cheese with seafood, while not typical, was done in parts of Italy, but Padma and Traci just weren’t buying it.
WANT MORE? Keep up with all the latest from last night’s television by subscribing to our newsletter. Head here for more details.
For the Sudden Death round, Amar and Carl could cook whatever they wanted. Amar’s pan-roasted sea bream with watermelon radish, plum yuzu brown butter, and pickled mushrooms looked amazing, and I respect him for making something he had never made before, but he probably should have chosen something more familiar. Carl made a crudo, leading Padma to say, “Another crudo, huh?” I guess lately crudo has a reputation on Top Chef for being a “safe” dish that judges tend to like — crudo is the new bacon, maybe? Padma gave the win to Carl anyway while Tom gave it to Amar — I kind of suspect he did that just to keep things interesting — and Traci, as the tiebreaker, decided on Carl, sending Amar packing his knives. For whatever reason, even though he had great moments, I never really remembered Amar’s dishes. Let’s see if he pulls out a last-minute win at LCK.
As Amar walked out, Chef Hubert Keller walked in to announce the Elimination Challenge. We’re coming full circle here since Keller hosted the very first Quickfire Challenge ever at his San Francisco restaurant, Fleur de Lys. Now, the chefs would create a tribute to Keller for a group of VIPs in the closed restaurant’s reopened kitchen.
NEXT: Your finalists are…