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Top Chef recap: 'Make Cornbread, Not War'

A kitchen war between Tom Colicchio and Emeril Lagasse leads to one talented chef’s untimely elimination

Posted on

Top Chef
David Moir/Bravo

Top Chef

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Tom Colicchio, Padma Lakshmi, Gail Simmons
Reality TV

This episode ended with disappointment when we lost a promising chef. But it began on an amazing note, as the chef-testants worked with one of the best foods in existence.

Dumplings for world peace! It’s been said that every culture has some form of dumpling, which this week’s Quickfire Challenge demonstrated. The chefs rushed a map of the world marked by 17 knives labeled with a unique species of dumpling, each from a different country, to see what kind of dough-wrapped food-ball they’d be working with. Some chefs snagged better-known dumplings, like Josie’s Korean mandu — in my humble opinion, the best dumpling in the world — and others got more exotic kinds, like Carla’s Nigerian fufu and Micah’s Kazakh manti. Food & Wine editor Dana Cowin, who’s eaten thousands of dumplings in her day, was on hand to judge, and the chefs had just five minutes to Wikipedia their international dumplings on a unsubtly product-placed tablet device.

Carla’s demise in this challenge came early in the research and development phase. She couldn’t keep up with all the mobile-savvy kids and typed “FUBU” — a line of stylish urbanwear — instead of fufu into her Kindle Fire. To be fair, typing on a tablet sucks (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), but anyone who’s read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe could have told her what fufu is. She ended up “walking into the unknown not knowing” by just inventing a random dumpling that looked more like a giant ravioli. Dana was on to her, saying that her dumpling tasted like it “came to Africa via Italy.”

Also landing on the bottom was Kuniko, who never even put her dish to plate. Brooke also more or less defaulted, since she didn’t have any flour to give her flavorful but naked Indonesian siomay a wrapping.

Micah, despite never having cooked Kazakh cuisine before, rose to the top with a bold manti containing lamb, dates, curry, and cinnamon. Stefan didn’t have to venture into unfamiliar territory to pull off a great ground lamb klopse from his native Germany. (We were also treated to photos of Stefan in his youth — who could have guessed he was a ginger before he lost his hair?) But the win went to Josie for the mandu, which had pork, tofu, shitake mushrooms, scallions, ginger, and kimchi. I’m not sure if Josie’s mandu was especially awesome or if she was simply a conduit for mandu’s inherent awesomeness.

NEXT: Tom and Emeril face off in what Josie called a “Civil War of Thanksgiving”