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Other Great Reality Shows => Other Reality TV Shows & News => Topic started by: apskip on March 27, 2010, 02:39:50 PM

Title: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on March 27, 2010, 02:39:50 PM
Top Chef 7 has not filmed yet, but sources have revealed that the site of TC7 will be Washington DC. I look forward to the next season.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: TexasLady on March 27, 2010, 03:27:38 PM
Washington D.C. should be an excellent place for the show.  :wohoo:
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: chill_sd on March 29, 2010, 12:22:41 PM
I assume it will feature a lot of pork!  Just kidding, but I'm not familiar with D.C. cuisine.  I guess it would be somewhat cosmopolitan, but with a slightly southern flair.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on March 30, 2010, 04:25:31 PM
Actually, chill, if you think about it Washington DC is the home to many embassies and to restaurants that cater to a broad range of nationalities:

African- DC is home to more Ethiopian restaurants than any city outside of Africa and many of them are clustered around U Street. Servers then scoop stews, vegetables, meats and legumes around a 16-inch circular piece of injera bread (it's spongy and delicious). You’ll eat with your hands, using another piece of injera as a scoop. Some more famous dishes include Wat, a rich meat or legume stew seasoned with a blend of chili peppers and spices; Tibs, a sautéed, grilled or sometimes deep-fried cubed lamb or beef with onion, tomato, jalapeno pepper and rosemary; Kitfo, ground, lean, seasoned beef served raw or cooked to order. While Ethiopian restaurants are the most common African eateries you’ll see in DC, the District is also home to Moroccan and West African restaurants.
Asian- Asian fare runs the gamut in DC, from fine dining restaurants like Makoto in the Palisades neighborhood, north of Georgetown, Penn Quarter's Asia Nine and downtown’s TenPenh and Rasika to noodle shops and pho takeout places in Chinatown. Georgetown's Mie N Yu earns acclaim for its sumptuous decor and use of farm-fresh local ingredients in its Silk Road-inspired menu. There's also excellent Asian food to be found in the northern Virginia suburbs, where large immigrant populations operate give rise to tasty, affordable eateries. Washington is known for fresh sushi, zesty Pad Thai or flavorful curries.
European- European cuisine diners can sample Italian, Greek, Spanish, French, German favorites. DC’s French influences are particularly evident on the fine dining scene, with acclaimed chefs like Michel Richard and Yannick Cam. Flavors of the Mediterranean shine through at casual tapas and mezze bars like Jaleo and Zaytinya and upscale eateries like Taberna del Alabardero and Komi.
South & Central American- Thanks to DC’s large Latin American population, these cooking traditions are well represented on the District’s menus. Diners frequently stop for pupusas and empanadas, or meat and vegetable-stuffed pastries at casual storefronts in the Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights neighborhoods. Sip caipairinhas and mojitos as you take salsa lessons at the lively bars and clubs in the neighborhood. For high-end Nuevo Latino flavors, try stylish downtown eateries like Ceiba  and Café Atlántico.

Top-end Continental and American cuisine is available at CityZen, Auberge Provencale, Marcel's, Kinkead's, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Le chat Noir, restaurant La Perla, Citronelle, Restaurante i rRcci, Sake Club and Capitol Grille, to p[ick just 12 in this category.

So other than soul food, not listed anywhere her because I do not have good access to infomration about it, there is really no cuisine indigenous to Washington DC.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on May 04, 2010, 10:38:07 AM
All has been quiet on the top Chef front until today. Tom Colicchio, the restaurant/chef expert who is the guiding light for this show was just named the James Beard Foundation award winner for 2010. With the upcoming TC7 season, this announcement comes from the Washington Post written by J.M. Hirsch of the Associated Press:

Top Chef' judge Colicchio named top chef for 2010

-- "Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio passed a quickfire challenge of his own Monday when he was named the nation's top chef by the James Beard Foundation.
Colicchio, whose numerous restaurants include Craft, Craftsteak and the recently opened Colicchio & Sons in New York, was named outstanding chef during an awards ceremony that is considered the Oscars of the food world. It's an honor for which he'd been a finalist seven other times since 2002, the same year the organization named Craft the nation's best new restaurant.
Though Colicchio drew many accolades early in his career, he rose to prominence in 1994 when he and partner Danny Meyer opened Gramercy Tavern, which earned Colicchio three stars from The New York Times and several Beard awards, including best chef in New York City in 2000 and outstanding restaurant service in 2001.
Colicchio's cookbook, "Think Like a Chef," earned him a Beard cookbook award in 2001. More recently, he's become known for his role as the lead judge on the Bravo television series, "Top Chef."
The award for outstanding restaurant went to an equally epic name - Daniel Boulud's Daniel restaurant in New York, one of only a handful to get four stars from The New York Times. Boulud, who has restaurants around the world and is known for his contemporary French cuisine, has won multiple previous Beard awards, including best restaurant service for Daniel in 2009 and outstanding chef in 1994.
The James Beard awards honor those who follow in the footsteps of Beard, considered the dean of American cooking when he died in 1985. The awards ceremony was held in New York, where the Beard Foundation is based.
This year's outstanding service award went to Chicago's Alinea, where chef-owner Grant Achatz is known for his ultramodern, often deconstructionist approach to cooking. He is considered at the forefront of the so-called molecular gastronomy movement. Achatz received the Beard Foundation's outstanding chef award in 2008.
The outstanding restaurateur award went to Keith McNally, whose New York restaurants include Balthazar, Minetta Tavern and Pastis. Best new restaurant went to chef Michael White's Marea, which serves the seafood-rich cuisines of Italy's coastal regions.
Rising star chef of the year went to Timothy Hollingsworth at Yountville, Calif.'s much-lauded The French Laundry.
The Beard Foundation also named its top regional chefs around the country, including Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park for New York City (considered a separate region) and Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier of Arrows in Ogunquit, Maine, for the Northeast.
Other regional winners were: Koren Grieveson of Avec in Chicago (Great Lakes region); Jeff Michaud of Osteria in Philadelphia (Mid-Atlantic); Alexander Roberts of Restaurant Alma in Minneapolis (Midwest); Jason Wilson of Crush in Seattle (Northwest); David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif. (Pacific); Michael Schwartz of Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Miami (South); Sean Brock of McCrady's in Charleston, S.C. (Southeast); and Claude Le Tohic of Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (Southwest).
The organization's Lifetime Achievement award went to Ariane and Michael Batterberry, the founders of Food & Wine and Food Arts magazines.

Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on May 07, 2010, 08:43:43 PM
A list of the 40 Top restaurants in the U.S. has been assembled by Perhaps one or all of these 2 Washington DC restaurants  one suburban DC restaurant will be featured in Top Chef 7.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on May 13, 2010, 10:28:29 PM

17 New Chefs Stir The Pot Along With Host Padma Lakshmi, Judges Tom Collichio and Gail Simmons, and New Judge Eric Ripert

NEW YORK - May 13, 2010 - Taste the culinary power on the seventh season of the No. 1 food show on cable, Bravo's Emmy and James Beard Award-winning series "Top Chef: Washington D.C.," premiering Wednesday, June 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. The 17 new chef'testants come face to face in the nation's capitol for the ultimate power play that will determine just who has the chops to become Top Chef.

This season captures the varied tastes of Washington D.C. and features appearances by some of the town's top names including Apollo Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, White House chef Sam Kass, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, CIA Director Leon Panetta and NBC White House Correspondent Savannah Guthrie. The challenges featured will be some of the most creative and inventive yet: the chefs take over the concession stands at the Nationals stadium, go inside the CIA's closely guarded headquarters and literally receive out of this world direction on one challenge from a NASA astronaut orbiting Earth .

Once again returning to the kitchen, cookbook author, actress and host Padma Lakshmi presides over the judge's table alongside head judge Tom Colicchio, recent James Beard Award-winner and chef/owner Craft Restaurants, and judge Gail Simmons of Food & Wine magazine. Joining the series as a regular guest judge is Eric Ripert, award-winning chef and owner of the acclaimed Le Bernardin restaurant in New York City, the 15th ranked best restaurant in the world.

The Emmy-nominated Magical Elves return to produce "Top Chef: Washington D.C." Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz ("Top Chef Masters," "Dance Your Ass Off"), Liz Cook and Casey Kriley serve as executive producers. Chaz Gray serves as co-executive producer.

The 17 "Top Chef: Washington D.C." chef'testants will be whittled down week by week as they compete to outshine their competition. The winning chef will receive $125,000 furnished by Dial Nutriskin, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, a showcase at the Annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and will earn the title of "Top Chef." The Washington Hilton served as the production location for "Top Chef: Washington D.C."

To meet the cast of season seven, see photo galleries and video, visit Photography and bios are available at Following are the 17 new "Top Chef: Washington D.C." chef'testants:

- Alex Reznik, 33 - Hometown: Brooklyn, NY; Resides in Hollywood, CA
- Amanda Baumgarten, 27 - Hometown/Resides in: Los Angeles, CA
- Andrea Curto-Randazzo, 39 - Hometown: Vero Beach, FL/Resides in: Miami Beach, FL.
- Angelo Sosa, 34 - Hometown: Connecticut; Resides in New York, NY.
- Arnold Myint, 32 - Hometown/Resides in: Nashville, TN.
- Ed Cotton, 32 - Hometown: Boston, MA; Resides in New York, NY.
- Jacqueline Lombard, 33 - Hometown: Boston, MA/Resides in Brooklyn, NY.
- John Somerville, 42 - Hometown/Resides in: West Bloomfield, MI.
- Kelly Liken, 33 - Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA/Resides in: Vail, CO.
- Kenny Gilbert, 36 - Hometown: Cleveland, OH/Resides in: Telluride, CO
- Kevin Sbraga, 30 - Hometown/Resides in: Willingboro, NJ.
- Lynne Gigliotti, 51 - Hometown: Philadelphia, PA/Resides in Hyde Park, NY.
- Stephen Hopcraft, 40 - Hometown: Cleveland, OH.; Resides in Las Vegas, NV
- Tamesha Warren, 24 - Hometown: Barbados; Resides in Washington D.C.
- Tiffany Derry, 26 - Hometown: Beaumont, TX/Resides in: Dallas, TX
- Timothy Dean, 39 - Hometown: Washington D.C./Resides in Baltimore, MD
- Tracey Bloom, 33 - Hometown: Rochester, NY/Resides in Atlanta, GA

Bravo's "Top Chef" offers a fascinating window into the competitive, pressure-filled environment of world-class cookery and the restaurant business at the highest level. The series features seventeen aspiring chefs who compete for their shot at culinary stardom and the chance to earn the prestigious title of "Top Chef." Each episode holds two challenges for the chefs. The first is a quickfire test of their basic abilities and the second is a more involved elimination challenge designed to test the versatility and inventiveness of the chefs as they take on unique culinary trials such as working with unusual and exotic foods or catering for a range of demanding clients. The challenges not only test their skills in the kitchen, but also uncover if they have the customer service, management and teamwork abilities required of a Top Chef. The competing chefs live and breathe the high-pressure lifestyle that comes with being a master chef and each week someone is asked to "pack up their knives" and go home.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on May 14, 2010, 02:38:38 PM
Judge Eric Ripert - Ripert is grateful for his early exposure to two cuisines — that of Antibes, France, where he was born, and to Andorra, a small country just over the Spanish border where moved as a young child. His family instilled their own passion for food in the young Ripert, and at the age of 15 he left home to attend culinary school in Perpignan. At 17 he moved to Paris and cooked at the legendary La Tour D’Argent before taking a position at the Michelin three-starred Jamin.  After fulfilling his military service, Ripert returned to Jamin under Joel Robuchon to serve as chef poissonier.  In 1989 Ripert seized the opportunity to work under Jean-Louis Palladin as sous-chef at Jean Louis at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Ripert moved to New York in 1991, working briefly as David Bouley’s sous-chef before Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze recruited him as chef for Le Bernardin. Ripert has since firmly established himself as one of New York’s — and the world’s — great chefs.  In 1995 at just 29 years old, Ripert earned a four-star rating from The New York Times. Ten years later and for the fourth consecutive time, Le Bernardin again earned the New York Times’ highest rating of four stars, becoming the only restaurant to maintain this superior status for this length of time, without ever dropping a star.  In 1997 GQ named Le Bernardin the best restaurant in America, and in 2007, the magazine named Le Bernardin one of “Seven Food Temples of the World.” In 2005, New York magazine declared Le Bernardin the No. 1 restaurant in the city, awarding it five stars in its inaugural restaurant rating issue – a position it holds today. Also in 2005, Bon Appetit declared Ripert’s Butter-Poached Lobster with Tarragon and Champagne its “Dish of the Year.” Le Bernardin continues to receive universal critical acclaim for its food and service. The Michelin Guide, which made its New York debut in 2005, honored Chef Ripert and Le Bernardin with its highest rating of three stars in 2005, 2006, and 2007. The Zagat Guide has recognized the restaurant as the “Best Food” in New York City for the last seven consecutive years. In 1998, the James Beard Foundation named Le Bernardin “Outstanding Restaurant of the Year” and Eric Ripert “Top Chef in New York City.” In 1999, the restaurant received the “Outstanding Service” award from the Beard Foundation and in 2003 the Foundation named Ripert “Outstanding Chef in the United States.” Ripert has served as guest judge (and “fan favorite”) on Bravo’s Top Chef for four seasons  In fall 2008 Ripert published On the Line, his second cookbook with Artisan. In 2002, Artisan published A Return to Cooking, a collaboration between Ripert, photographers Shimon and Tammar Rothstein, artist Valentino Cortazar, and writer Michael Ruhlman that was selected by Newsweek as one of its best books of the season. In September 2009 AVEC ERIC, Ripert’s first TV show premiered on PBS. Ripert is the Chair of City Harvest’s Food Council, working to bring together New York’s top chefs and restaurateurs to raise funds and increase the quality and quantity of food donations to New York’s neediest. When not in the kitchen, Ripert enjoys good tequila and peace and quiet. He lives on the Upper East Side and Sag Harbor with his wife and young son.

Bios for the cheftestants are:

Tracey Bloom - AGE:  33
HOMETOWN: Shortsville, NY – currently resides in Atlanta, GA
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Table 1280
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: English pea salad
Named one of 2008’s “Top 25 Chefs in Atlanta” by The Sunday Paper, Tracey is well known in the Atlanta culinary scene and is currently the Executive Chef at Table 1280, where she shows off her expertise in both the sweet and savory side of culinary arts. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, she decided to go down South to launch her culinary career as the opening Pastry Chef at the award winning Sia’s Restaurant in Duluth, GA. Tracey then joined the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group spending most of her time at 103 West under Chef Gary Donlick, before moving on to work as Sous Chef at Asher Restaurant in Roswell, GA, Oscar’s Restaurant in College Park, GA, and Luma in Winter Park, FL. She would have her last meal with Stevie Nicks and she would prepare Turkey salad sandwiches and homemade lemonade.

Timothy Dean - AGE:  39
HOMETOWN: Washington D.C. – currently resides in Baltimore, MD
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Prime Steak House
FAVORITE RECIPE: Soft Shell Crab Tempura with Virginia Ramps, Morel Mushroom and Garlic Confit Emulsion
Timothy spent 12 years working on and off with the late, great chef Jean-Louis Palladin, first at Jean-Louis in the famed Watergate Hotel and later as Chef de Cuisine at Palladin in New York City. Currently the Chef and owner of Prime Steak House in Baltimore and Prime Steak House by Timothy Dean, which is slated to open this summer in Washington, DC, his first job in a kitchen was dishwasher. He has worked alongside other notable chefs including Alain Ducasse, Roberto Donna, Guenter Seeger and Patrick Clark. A graduate of Howard University, he was named the university’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000. His favorite dishes are Maine lobster with mac & cheese and shaved black truffles and pan seared Hudson Valley foie gras with rhubarb and 20-year-old Port wine sauce.

Tiffany Derry - AGE:  26
HOMETOWN: Beaumont, TX – currently resides in Dallas
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Go Fish Ocean Club
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, The Art Institute of Houston
FAVORITE RECIPE: Spring risotto
Tiffany, a native Texan, definitely flaunts the “Don’t Mess with Texas” attitude. She began working in the kitchen when she was 15 at IHOP where she learned speed, and by 17, her leadership skills in the business were evident as she became the youngest person to ever be in management there. She competed in ACF competitions to help pay for culinary school where she finished in the top of her class. In addition, she received her seafood training from Houston’s Pesce Restaurant while still in school. Shortly after graduation, she went on to become the Executive Sous Chef of Grotto Cucina. Next, she returned to the Art Institute of Houston to do her other passion, teach culinary. In 2008, she was named Executive Chef of the Dallas hotspot Go Fish Ocean Club, which has received many accolades. Dijon, Creole mustard, champagne vinegar, kosher salt and Creole seasoning are the five ingredients she always has on hand.

Tamesha Warren - AGE: 24
HOMETOWN: Christ Church, Barbados – currently resides in Washington, DC
PROFESSION: Sous Chef, The Oval Room
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, The Art Institute of New York City
FAVORITE RECIPE: White asparagus soup
Born and raised in Barbados, Tamesha graduated from The Art Institute of New York City where she was on the President’s List. She went on to work at the world famous Jean Georges restaurant in NYC and was honored with gold and silver medals from the American Culinary Federation. Tamesha is currently the Sous Chef at The Oval Room, one of “Washington’s Power Restaurants,” located next to the White House and owned by Ashok Bajaj, one of the Capital’s biggest restaurateurs. Interested in playing with molecular elements, Tamesha cooks modern American food with French and Asian influences and is sure to bring a youthful, modern edge to the competition.

Stephen Hopcraft - AGE: 40
HOMETOWN: Cleveland, OH – currently resides in Las Vegas, NV
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Seablue at the MGM Grand
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, California Culinary Academy in San Francisco
FAVORITE RECIPE: Agholitti, a small pasta filled with goat cheese tossed in olive oil and tomato water.
Over-the-top and without a filter, Stephen has spent more than 12 years establishing new restaurants nationwide for award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Mina. Currently the Executive Chef at Mina’s Seablue, the AAA Four Diamond restaurant at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, he has also worked alongside other high-profile chefs including Thomas Keller and Charlie Trotter. A proud father of 14-month-old twins, Stephen’s style is all about putting a playful twist on classic dishes to create cutting-edge food.

Lynne Gigliotti - AGE:  51
HOMETOWN: Philadelphia, PA– currently resides in Highland, NY
PROFESSION: Assistant Professor, Culinary Institute of America
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Anything with peas and asparagus
A chef for over 30 years, Lynne is currently an Assistant Professor at the CIA where she teaches Cuisines of Europe and the Mediterranean as well as Garde Manger in the college’s degree programs, Lynne previously was the Chef/Owner of Grappa, which was featured in Atlanta Magazine’s “Best of 1999” and named an Outstanding Restaurant in the 2001 Zagat Guide Atlanta. She has a solid practical background but was also lucky enough to become chef tournant for Guenter Seeger at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta. She single-handedly built her catering and consulting business from a party for 10 people into a half a million dollar upscale off premise catering business. She was also the owner/operator of Grapevine Café and worked for the late esteemed Jean-Louis Palladin at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC. For the past few years, she has been active and interested in Sustainable agriculture and seafood.

Kevin Sbraga - AGE: 31
HOMETOWN: Willingboro, NJ – currently resides in Willingboro, NJ
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Rat’s Restaurant at the Grounds for Sculpture
CULINARY EDUCATION: BS, Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales in Miami, FL
A self-proclaimed “beast in the kitchen” with unrivaled knife skills, Kevin is currently the Executive Chef at Rat’s at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ, which is managed by Stephen Starr. After earning his BS of Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales in Miami, Kevin went on to become the Chef de Cuisine at The Grill at Philadelphia’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel and was included in the 2007 list of “Top 10 Chefs” by Philadelphia Style magazine. In 2008, Kevin served as the Culinary Director of Garces Restaurant Group and was named winner of Best Meat Presentation at Bocuse d’Or USA. This African American, Italian chef declares he’s the “Barack Obama of the cooking game” and wants to prove that “he can.”

Kenny Gilbert - AGE: 36
HOMETOWN: Euclid, OH – currently resides in Telluride, CO
PROFESSION: President/Owner, Passionate Culinary Enterprises LLC; Chef/Partner, G’s Restaurant Group
CULINARY EDUCATION: Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts
FAVORITE RECIPE: A tomato and mozzarella salad with an onion marmalade
Kenny is the President/Owner of Passionate Culinary Enterprises and Chef/Partner for G's Restaurant Group. His cuisine ranges from American Regional, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Native American, Moroccan and African. After graduating from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Kenny went on to become a Chef de Cuisine at the young age of 23 at The Grill at The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, FL, a AAA Five Diamond Restaurant, and the youngest African-American chef ever to run a Ritz-Carlton Hotel restaurant. An intense and no-nonsense chef, Kenny once split his pants open while cooking a 10-course meal and didn’t even blink an eye. If he could have his last meal with anyone, it would be President Obama, and he would prepare a modern American Southern meal.

Kelly LIken - AGE:  33
HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, PA – currently resides in Vail, CO
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Restaurant Kelly Liken
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Parmesan-mascarpone tortellini with spring vegetables and crispy artichokes
Graduating first in her class at the Culinary Institute of America, Kelly is one of the country’s most promising female chefs. In 2008, she was featured in Bon Appetit’s “Women Chefs: The Next Generation” and was a 2009 and 2010 James Beard Semi-Finalist for Best Chef Southwest. A small town girl at heart, she has passed up on offers from heavyweight chefs including Charlie Trotter and Daniel Boulud to stay in Colorado where she feels grounded. Kelly cooks seasonal American cuisine with a strong commitment to locally sourced organic ingredients. She loves to make soup, lamb and anything grilled.

John Somerville - AGE:  42
HOMETOWN: Ohio -- Currently resides in West Bloomfield, MI
PROFESSION: Chef de Cuisine, The Lark
CULINARY EDUCATION: BS In Engineering, University of Michigan
FAVORITE RECIPE: Spiced Spring cucumbers with dill
Growing up in rural Ohio, John developed an appreciation for farm fresh ingredients at a young age. He attended the University of Michigan and earned a degree in Engineering before deciding to pursue his culinary dream. In 1994, he joined The Lark as a Garde Manger, working his way up the ladder to his current position as Chef de Cuisine. He has received two James Beard Nominations for Best Chef: Great Lakes (2008 and 2009) and is recognized as one of the best chefs in the greater Detroit area. His philosophy is “spreading the infectious spirit of cooking!”

Jaqueline Lombard - AGE:  33
HOMETOWN: Grew up in Boston, MA – currently resides in Brooklyn, NY
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Jacqueline Lombard Events
CULINARY EDUCATION: French Culinary Institute, WSET, The Sommelier Society of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Summer Corn Risotto with Butter-Poached Lobster, Black Truffles and Green Onions
Jacqueline is a private chef, sommelier and event producer whose company, Jacqueline Lombard Events, caters to both private and corporate clients nationwide, including Balenciaga, Glamour, Jil Sander, Miele USA, Osklen, Bergdorf Goodman, Barterhouse Imports, Stella McCartney, Wines of Argentina, ViniPortugal, and Wine Enthusiast Magazine, among many others. Her chic, seasonal and sustainable approach to her work has garnered her praise for both the quality of her food, wine education and business practices. Recently Jacqueline revived the venerable Florent restaurant as Executive Chef of Gansevoort 69. Currently she is working on an exciting new concept, serving as Executive Chef of Leña in New York City. Jacqueline is also the Dining & Wine Editor of the

Ed Cotton - AGE: 32
HOMETOWN: Boston, MA – currently resides in New York City
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Plein Sud at the Smyth Hotel
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Fresh Farm Egg Ravioli with a silky English pea puree, spring onion fondue and crispy pancetta
In high school Ed got an early start on his culinary career working for acclaimed chef Todd English at Olives, where he began to hone his knife and pastry skills before helping open Figs in Wellesley, MA. After culinary school he rejoined English working at Olives in Boston and Las Vegas. After spending a year out west, he returned to Boston to become the Executive Sous Chef at the award-winning No.9 Park in Beacon Hill, working alongside Barbara Lynch. From there, he set his sights on the Big Apple where he landed a job with Daniel Boulud at db Bistro Moderne and Daniel. For more than five years, he worked with Boulud, helping him open eateries across the country. Before joining Plein Sud earlier this year, where he has been cooking up a storm, Ed was the Chef de Cuisine at BLT Market and loves to make any dish with rabbit.

Arnold Myint - AGE:  32
HOMETOWN: Nashville, TN
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Cha Chah, PM, and Suzy Wong's House of Yum
CULINARY EDUCATION: Culinary Arts Diploma, Institute of Culinary Education
FAVORITE RECIPE: Anything with peas
Inspired by his mother who has run a successful restaurant for over 30 years, Arnold is the Executive Chef and owner of three popular restaurants in Nashville: Cha Chah, which was voted Best New Restaurant by Nashville Scene (2009), Suzy Wong's House of Yum and PM. Once a competitive professional figure skater, Arnold is also an expert mixologist, savvy event planner, and has been known to appear as Suzy Wong herself to promote his latest concept. Arnold's culinary approach is mirrored by his colorful life.

Angelo Sosa - AGE:  35
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Xie Xie
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Steamed madai snapper with lily bulbs
Angelo, who opened his Asian-influenced sandwich restaurant
Xie Xie (“thank you” in Mandarin) in July 2009, has worked with some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world. Early in his career, he met Jean-Georges Vongerichten who became his mentor, and went on to work for him at Jean Georges, Dune and Spice Market, where he served as Executive Sous Chef. Shortly thereafter, he was invited by Alain Ducasse to create a special seasonal menu at his Paris restaurant Spoon Food & Wine, the first American to receive such an honor. Angelo, who also created the menu for Buddakan, the Stephen Starr hotspot restaurant in NYC, always has salt, Japanese fish sauce, cinnamon, green cardamom and lily bulbs handy in the kitchen.

Angela Curto-Randazzo - AGE:  39
HOMETOWN: Vero Beach, FL – currently resides in Miami, FL
PROFESSION: Chef/Owner, Talula Restaurant and Creative Tastes Catering
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Culinary Institute of America
FAVORITE RECIPE: Fresh berries with zabaglione
Andrea has been a rising star in the culinary world ever since she graduated from the CIA with honors. After working in the kitchens at Tribeca Grill and Aja in NYC, she returned to Miami where she worked at The Heights and Wish. In 2000 during her tenure at Wish, she was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs.” In 2003 she and her husband Frank opened their own restaurant, Talula, which was named “The Place To Be Now” by The New York Times. A mother of 3, she counts chocolate pudding, ice cream and popcorn with Raisinettes among her favorite indulgences.

Amanda Baumgarten - AGE: 27
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles, CA – currently resides in Los Angeles
PROFESSION: Consultant
CULINARY EDUCATION: Le Cordon Bleu in London
FAVORITE RECIPE: Roasted baby lamb with pomme cocotte persillade
A Los Angeles native, Amanda attended Le Cordon Bleu in London and went on to work at four different Michelin-starred restaurants including La Tante Claire and Le Gavroche in London and Melisse and Patina in L.A. From there, she went onto become Executive Sous Chef of Paperfish before joining Ford’s Filling Station as Executive Sous Chef. Currently a consultant, Amanda is a gifted butcher with a distinct sense of flavor and style and loves to make any meat on the bone, but her favorite dish to prepare is Boudin Noire with vanilla-scented apple chutney.

Alan Reznik - AGE: 33
HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, NY – currently resides in Hollywood, CA
PROFESSION: Executive Chef, Ivan Kane’s Café Was
CULINARY EDUCATION: AOS, Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas, NV
FAVORITE RECIPE: Avocado panna cotta with pickled ramps and tomato
Growing up in Brooklyn, the son of a first-generation European family, food was an integral part of Alex's early life. Watching his Russian mother and grandmother cooking in preparation for the daily ritual of good food and conversation set Alex on a path towards creative cooking. After travelling extensively throughout Europe, Alex found himself working in Las Vegas at the legendary, five-star restaurant, Lutece. During his tenure as chef at multiple Bally's/Paris resort restaurants, Alex met famed nightlife entrepreneur Ivan Kane. The two discovered a shared philosophy for great food and impeccable service. Thus was born Hollywood's Cafe Was. Alex's philosophy is to marry local, seasonal ingredients with classic French techniques to create honest Californian bistro cuisine.

Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: TexasLady on May 18, 2010, 11:14:37 AM
Thanks for posting the bios!  :tup:
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on June 17, 2010, 04:36:26 PM
From the 6/16/10 New York Post:

Baby wait
Bun in Padma's oven delayed 'Top Chef'


Last Updated: 11:03 AM, June 16, 2010

Posted: 1:25 AM, June 16, 2010

'Top Chef" fans had to wait a little longer than usual for the new season, which starts tonight on Bravo.

But the delay was in service of a higher cause: Co-host Padma Lakshmi's baby girl.

"We were supposed to shoot the show in January," Lakshmi said yesterday.

"I was going to be eight months pregnant. There was no way I could do it," she said, the sound of hair dryers whirring around her as she prepared to appear on George Lopez's late-night talk show in LA.

So Bravo pushed the filming of Season 7 -- the first set in Washington, DC -- as long as they could, which turned out to be six weeks after Lakshmi gave birth.

When it came time to shoot, she says, "We all were like this big caravan of gypsies who moved from New York to DC and set up camp there. I had my mom there, I had the baby and the nanny." (The cookbook author, formerly married to writer Salman Rushdie, still will not disclose the name of the baby's father, though reportedly it is Adam Dell.)

Though DC is hardly famous as a culinary mecca, Lakshmi says the city presents plenty to start with -- like crab cakes from Maryland, the bounty of Virginia farms, and Ethiopian food.

"Even I didn't know that outside of Ethiopia, DC has the largest Ethiopian population anywhere in the world," she says.

Naturally, the show also takes advantage of the city's biggest crop -- politicos.

"We always have some luminaries," says Lakshmi, who was excited to work with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, White House executive assistant chef Sam Kass and CIA director Leon Panetta as guest judges on the show.

This season, too, the show added Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert to the permanent judging panel.

Nearby embassies opened their doors to the chefs to showcase international cuisines.

Dismissed by critics early on as just a pretty face when she was introduced in the second season of "Top Chef," Lakshmi has proven herself a substantial co-host and judge, as knowledgeable about food as she is beautiful.

"As a model, your success really depends mostly on how you look," she says. "But it's really because this is the genetic roll of the dice I got."

Giving birth is beginning to chip away at Lakshmi 's ambitions, she admits. "My perspective has shifted, and I'm not as hungry anymore because my priorities have changed." Not as hungry -- literally?

"Oh, no," she corrects herself. "I'm literally hungry. I'm more hungry than ever.

"It's really hard when you're trying to lose the baby weight and you're eating all day long on the set."

Read more:
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on June 18, 2010, 05:31:48 PM
For TC7 the blogs appear to be more relevant and interesting than in the past. Here is a large excerpt from Tom Colicchio's blog for episode 1 at

This is a determined group of chefs and they’ve converged on our nation’s capital to win. I myself was glad to learn that Season 7 would be in D.C.  ..D.C. has given rise to terrific chefs such as my friend Jean-Louis Palladin, who succumbed to lung cancer in 2001, but who was a driving force behind cooking in America. It has also attracted others, such as José Andrés, Jeffrey Buben at Vidalia, and Cathal Armstrong at Restaurant Eve. And, on a more personal note, I was also glad that D.C. is an Acela-ride away from NYC, where my new baby and new restaurant both clamored for my attention on the days we weren’t shooting the show.
The chefs hit the ground running with a high stakes Quickfire Challenge. Coupling the fact that this was their very first challenge under time pressure with the fact that twenty thousand dollars was on the line made for some shaky hands trying to wield those knives. I’m quite sure that folks could have peeled potatoes and diced onions far more quickly and neatly than they did that day were they not under a double-whammy of pressure. In fact, you saw only one of three instances in which chefs cut themselves. (As a side note: I’m constantly amazed at the chefs who show up with dull knives! It’s ridiculous – sharpen the things before you arrive, please.)  But this is the type of competition in which one benefits from being thrown right into the deep end of the pool: the sooner the chefs get used to performing under extreme pressure, the sooner they’ll start performing well under extreme pressure, cooking more closely to how they would in their own restaurant kitchens … which the four who made it to the end of the Quickfire Challenge and cooked for us all did very adeptly. When you consider that they were cooking with only basically chicken, potatoes, and onions, under a significant time constraint, on a low burner on a windy rooftop, the food was all surprisingly good. They all thought creatively on their feet and delivered good dishes. I remember thinking, “this bodes well for the season.”

And it did. A great many chefs delivered interesting dishes in the Elimination Challenge (a challenge that made me think of Congress, where folks from every part of the country come together on the Hill to represent their regions. Though that’s where the similarity ends!); there were just too many dishes to feature in the time allotted in the episode. In fact, it’s interesting to note that given how the challenge was structured, each group needed to have a winner and a loser while, in fact, one of the groups was so uniformly strong that any one of the dishes in that group could have won the whole challenge. Those four just happened to be squared off in a heat against each other, so one edged out the others in that group and emerged victorious while another of those very fine dishes landed its chef in the bottom. As for Angelo’s dish, it won

the Challenge because it really did have more finesse than the rest. It was made with a sure hand, and the flavors were great, down to the light bacon sauce (I know, by the way, that it was deemed a “foam,” but a foam is, in essence, a light sauce – by whipping air into a sauce, you’re lightening it up).
That said about Angelo’s dish, and notwithstanding the fact that he won both the Quickfire and Elimination Challenges this week, I’d like to be clear that this is an evenly matched group.  Remember: I tasted all of the food. I was glad to see creativity and skill across the board, despite the range in the nature and length of experience of the chefs, from a 51-year old instructor at the Culinary Institute of America to some whom I call "cooks’ cooks” — the type of line cooks who show up at the restaurant every night, roll their sleeves up, put their heads down and deliver excellent food. While these hardworking and reliable cooks are not always the most creative, you never know when one will suddenly emerge from the pack and distinguish him- or herself in a season of Top Chef! This season’s chefs got off to a great start.  They talked a lot of trash, as I discovered when watching the edited episode (I’d had no idea how much!), but they got off to a great start. With this group cooking, with Gail and Eric trading off judging, and with some interesting politicos coming on board to judge as well, it promises to be a great season. Thank you for tuning in and logging on!

So, here are a few observations from me: There were only 3 judges in episode 1. The discussion above of "trading off" Gail and Eric means that unless Padma is treated as a judge (which is very possible given her culinary knowledge) there will continue to be 3 judges most episodes with one Guest Judge including certainly Nancy Pelosi and other political leaders. When I look at the special video on the Extended Judges Table, I discovered that Padma indeed had the most cogent comments on the dishes, so I now think that she is serving as a judge as well as the host. It's not easy to top Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert and Gail Simmons with excellence in commentary about food, so my hat is off the Padma for being able to achieve that.

I may or may not elect to excerpt Tom's future blogs  into this thread, but if I don't I recommend that you take a look at them at
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on June 18, 2010, 05:33:58 PM
TC7, ep. 1

This new season begins with a brief introduction of just a fraction of the chef competitors. They were lounging on a balcony at Arlington Virginia's Newseum  overlooking the Potomac River (I had never even heard of this, but it is an interactive news museum)
and several national monuments in Washington DC when suddenly Padma and tom walked in and the focus shifted to them. Padma introduced Tom Colicchio and he introduced the first Quickfire, which was to do a High Stakes Mise en Place Tournament in which the winner gets $20,000 cash courtesy of Dial NutriSkin. All 17 will peel 10 potatoes, with only 12 moving to the next round. The next test is brunoising (cut into 1/8” x 1/8” x 1/8” cubes of ) 10 cups of  onions and only the first 8 make it through that. Then 4 chickens need to be broken down into 8 parts each. The four that completed this first were Angelo, Kenny, Kevin and Timothy. Note that all were male; can one infer that the female chefs were just slower and unable to compete on speed? Each was asked to use those ingredients plus a limited range of other ingredients on a large table to create and prepare on a stovetop in 30 minutes a dish that utilized their chosen ingredients. Kenny was looking like the chef to beat in this competition based on his speed in its earlier phases. Those choices were:

Angelo - Roasted Spiced Chicken Thigh w/Roasted Wing, Curry Onion Jam, Potato Noodles
Kenny - Duo of Chicken with Moroccan Spice, Caramelized Onion Confit, Potato Puree and Dried Cherries
Kevin - Boneless Chicken Wing with Hot and Sour Broth, Tomatoes, Fennel, Potato, Mushroom, Pine Nuts
Timothy – Garlic roasted Boneless Chicken Wing with Tomatoes, Fennel, Potato Galette, Oyster Mushrooms, Pine Nuts

Tom’s judging of the dishes results in the following feedback to the chefs:

Angelo – loved flavors, chicken nicely cooked, good use of potatoes
Kenny – liked featuring roasted potatoes, flavors nice, lots of things going on (is that a positive comment?; usually it’s a negative one)
Kevin – broth very salty; Tom could not get past it
Timothy – too much cream in the dish marred flavor development

So it’s Angelo’s dish versus Kenny’s and Padma announced that Angelo won $20,000.

Elimination Challenge

This challenge was issued by Tom to create a dish reflective of the region that is the chef’s culinary home, where you’re from. This is essentially an exercise to let each chef show what skills they have and how tasty their choice of food (not offered to them often in a top Chef season) is. They are cooking for 300 young Washington area residents in the Jaycees at a kickoff party celebrating the opening of the Cherry Blossom Festival., Each of the 4 last chefs in the Quickfire got to choose 3 other chefs they were competing against in 3 groups of 4 except for one group of 5. Their choices were:
Angelo – Tiffany, Kelly, John
Kenny – Tracey, Lynne, Stephen, Ed (chosen by Angelo to put pressure on Kenny)
Kevin – Arnold, Amanda, Jacqueline
Timothy – Alex, Tamesha, Andrea

Each chef has $300 to shop at Whole Foods and 4 hours to prep in the Top Chef  kitchen at the Hilton Hotel They will then have 1 hour to set up at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium The first thing they must do is select a dish and plan the ingredients and preparation execution. During the prep John did not properly work his oven, resulting in the burning of his macadamia nuts. That caused him to get behind in cooking puff pastry. Jacqueline had trouble with her chicken livers.

Those dishes were:
Alex – Deconstructed Short Rib Borscht with Red Beet Puree, Cabbage, Creme Fraiche (Russia & California)
Amanda – Red Snapper Carpaccio, w/ Cucumbers, Clementines, Sencha Oil, Daikon,  Caraway Gelee (California, referred to by Gail as Amanda’s ode to Wolfgang Puck)
Andrea – Pork with Chorizo Potato Gnocchi, Calabaza, Mushrooms, Orange Gremolata (South Florida & Italy)
Angelo – Arctic Char with Pickled Shallots, Chili Tapioca, Smoked Bacon Froth (Rural Connecticut)
Arnold – Kaffir Lime + Thai Basil Cake, Palm Sugar Anglaise, "Myint" Julep (Thailand & Tennessee)
Ed - Sauteed Cod Cakes with Boston Baked Beans, Shaved Fennel Salad (New England)
Jacqueline – Duo of Hudson Valley Chicken Liver and Port Wine Mousse (New York)
John – Maple Mousse Napoleon with Crisp Macadamia Nut and Vanilla Sauce (Michigan)
Kelly – Spice Crusted Grass Fed NY Strip Steak, Fiddlehead Fern, wild Mushroom Sautee, Currant-Lavender Sauce (Rocky Mountains)
Kenny – Cinnamon Coffee Rubbed Trout, Black Bean Mole, Goat Cheese Polenta, Quinoa (Colorado)
Kevin – Pennsylvania Lamb, Meyer Lemon-Pistachio Marmalade, Spring Onions, Natural Jus (Mid-Atlantic)
Lynne – Corn-Camembert Ice Cream on Waffles with Bacon Praline & Caramel Sauce (Hudson Valley)
Stephen – Potato Crusted Ribeye, Celery Root Puree, Scarlet Stadium Mustard Vinaigrette (Ohio)
Tamesha – Jerked Chicken Sphere, Soft Polenta, Tamarind, Mango, Cilantro (Caribbean)
Tiffany – Cajun Shrimp and Crawfish Salad, chicken fried tomatillos (The South)
Timothy – Pan Seared Maryland Rockfish wi/ Pickled Leek, Dill, Grilled Crostini (Maryland)
Tracey - Stone Ground Grits, Maple Cheddar, Port Royal Rock Shrimp (The South)

The judges are:
Tom Colicchio (it’s his show, so you know he will be present most of the time)
Eric Ripert, owner of Le Bernardin (high-end seafood restaurant in Manhattan) and West End Bistro in Washington
Gail Simmons, editor at Food & Wine magazine

Comments from the judges are:
Amanda- Tom said it should have been seasoned better than this; Gail said it’s messy
Kevin – tender, taste of ginger, good flavors
Jacqueline – coarse (she admits it’s quite grainy since she did not have time to chamois it
During prep time)
Kevin - good
Tracey – bland
Stephen – Gail said “I’m tasting the fried and not the taste”
Ed – not enough cod
Tim – Eric said that he had trouble cooking fish with thick skin like that
Alex – Eric said well-cooked. Tom said “this works quite well”
Andrea – Padma said “not Miami but tasty”, tom said well seasoned
Angelo – really good
Kelly – properly cooked medium rare
John – Gail doesn’t taste the maple and neither do Tom or Eric

The judges must decide the Winners group of 4 and the losers group of 4. Winners are:
Angelo – Gail said everything came together, really smart, really tasted the chili; Eric said bacon froth a very pleasant surprise
Kevin - Tom said well-balanced, simple but with good complexity
Kenny – Gail said well-balanced; Tom said flavorful
Alex – Tom stated “you honored your mother” by not leaving the concept fo the basic dish in its deconstruction

Angelo was judged the best. It was a rare double win, particularly difficult with 16 other chefs competing against him.

The Losers’ Group consisted of John, Stephen, Jacqueline and Timothy. Comments from the judges were:
Stephen – rib-eye too thin and cut too small like chicken nuggets; attempt at low fat unsuccessful; a bad idea; not well cooked; he got caught up in the story of it
Jaqueline – she stirred this dish hundreds of time, but this one time it wasn’t right? Come on! Gail said that the lack of fat touted by Jacqueline was actually its major drawback.
John – maple taste not there and he admitted that he used store puffed pastry; Gail queried why John was making that dish if he could not make his own dough; tom called it an “amateurish attempt at making a dessert
Timothy – fish expert Eric said his skin was too chewy; Tom said that Tim should have known better.

Final summaries were:
Jacqueline – your mousse was terrible
John – you acted no better than a first-year pastry student; little maple flavor and store-bought dough
Stephen – you gave us a story but did not deliver
Timothy – you can do a much better job of representing your region

In the end it was John asked to pack his knives and go. That was quite fair in my estimation. Timothy really should not have been there.

Clips of previews of coming episodes make it obvious that there will be important people (including Nancy Pelosi) and important buildings all over the capital city used in TC7.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on June 18, 2010, 05:41:22 PM
Eric Ripert started a video blog at Here is the guts of his first one done from his superb fish restaurant Le Bernardin in NYC:

He expects to judge only on the food, but he has learned that the personalities of the TC7 chefs are very interesting. He noted that a lack of humility in Angelo, the winner of both challenges in ep. 1, was surprising but reasonable. If he were doing the Elimination Challenge, Eric would have made bouillabaisse from the Mediterranean coast of France. Angelo's flavors were very nice and the smokiness of the bacon froth was also very nice.

John distinguished himself with a total lack of the headliner maple flavor and his presentation was "very sloppy." Nobody else was given any consideration for the eliminee.

In TC7 the talent is abundant and there is an abundance of interesting personalities too.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on June 18, 2010, 05:52:37 PM
Not to be outdone, Gail Simmons has a blog at :

Here is her take on the first episode of TC7:

I arrived in town the morning of our first Elimination Challenge and was immediately taken by the beauty of the city in full bloom. Spring is definitely the best time to visit D.C. The snow has melted away and the oppressive heat and humidity of another Southern summer hasn’t yet set in. It was just our luck (and perhaps some clever planning by our producers) that the first week of our shoot coincided with the city’s fabled Cherry Blossom Festival. For about two weeks each April, Washington is blanketed in the soft pinks and creams of almost 7,000 cherry trees, flowering simultaneously. The trees—many situated around the Tidal Basin at the base of the National Mall—were a gift from Japan to the United States as a symbol of lasting friendship. About 3,000 trees were planted in 1912, another 3,800 in 1965. A number of festive cultural events and activities planned around D.C. at this time help celebrate the season and commemorate this generous gift. As we pulled up to the Mellon Auditorium, the gilded hall where our first challenge took place, I remember thinking how fitting the moment felt, as if the trees were welcoming us to town, inspiring our chefs with their unique visual beauty.

The challenge we put to the cheftestants required a little more introspection. Just as every part of the country is represented in the Capital, we asked each chef to create a dish that reflected their roots and personal story. They would serve tasting portions of their dish to 300 young Washington professionals at a Cherry Blossom Gala to kick off the festival. After a thrilling first Quickfire on the roof of the Newseum, the 17 chefs were divided into four teams in which they would compete head-to-head, as chosen by the top finishers in the Quickfire: speed demon Kenny, D.C. local Tim, precision-focused Kevin and our first Quickfire winner, Angelo.

It is always a bit dizzying to taste the food in that first Elimination. Meeting the chefs and keeping their names straight, let alone each of their dishes, can be quite a task. Thankfully, the challenge required that we focus only on one group of four to five dishes at a time, choosing the best from within each group as eligible for the win, while the weakest would be up for elimination. Seven seasons into the show, I understand how terribly nervous our chefs are in this first challenge and have come to expect a certain level of disorganization, considering they are cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen, surrounded by cameras, strange equipment and competitors they do not know (or trust). As usual, we tasted a number of delicious dishes which showed exceptional promise; while a handful of others were unappetizing disappointments.

Although it did not make it into the top four, honorable mention must go to Arnold for his Kaffir Lime & Thai Basil Cake. Considering he is not a pastry chef, making a dessert for a large crowd, especially for the first Elimination, is a risky move. Arnold pulled it off with flying colors. The cake was moist, light, and tasted exactly as described: a balance of fresh herbs and tropical Southeast Asian undertones—and was a clever window into his history and personality. Kelly’s Colorado Grass-Fed Steak was another standout, even if she was not the strongest in her group. Her food was cooked with an expert hand, seasoned well, and reflected not just her origins, but also her cooking philosophy.

In retrospect, it is interesting to note that three of our four Quickfire winners were again at the top of their groups in the Elimination Challenge, but the fourth, Tim, did not make the top four. In fact, he found himself at the bottom of the pile. The best dishes of the day assured me we were in for an exciting season. They exemplified a diverse range of styles, cultural influences and backgrounds, not unlike Washington, D.C., itself. Kevin’s striking Pennsylvania Lamb with Meyer Lemon-Pistachio Marmalade, Spring Onions & Natural Jus echoed the patience and focus he showed in the Quickfire. At first look, Kenny’s Colorado-inspired Cinnamon Coffee Rubbed Trout, Black Bean Mole, Goat Cheese Polenta & Quinoa seemed a bit scattered, but came together beautifully when we tasted it. It is rare that someone presents us with a number of seemingly disparate ingredients that add up to something harmonious and insightful. Alex’s deconstructed ode to his Russian roots was outstanding in concept, presentation, and flavor. The pieces of his Short Rib Borscht with Crème Fraîche looked thoroughly modern, but their sum was unmistakably earthy and sweetly reminiscent of his immigrant past.

But it was Angelo’s Arctic Char with Pickled Shallots, Chilled Tapioca & Smoked Bacon Froth that captured our attention. As we watched him assemble each portion on individual spoons, I worried that the size of each piece of arctic char would be too big for a single bite. And again, as I saw him place chilies, a large sprig of dill and an ample dollop of bacon froth on top, I worried that the multitude of strong flavors would overpower his delicate, beautiful fish. How wrong I was! The final bite was cool and clean, with bright accents from each of the well-conceived condiments, which highlighted the soft texture and taste of the fish, instead of hiding it. The fish paid homage to his childhood in Connecticut, while the supporting components showed off his knowledge of Asian cuisine. We were duly impressed and chose him, once again, as our winner.

I should hope it was clear as to why we chose our bottom four contestants as up for elimination. Poor Jacqueline knew well before we told her that her Duo of Hudson Valley Chicken Liver and Port Wine Mousse was off in both seasoning and texture. Liver mousse should be rich, savory, smooth, and fatty. Hers was just the opposite. This was particularly disappointing considering the green apple and sour cherries she chose to serve with it, which would have paired perfectly as tart counterpoints. Stephen gave us a lovely story about his home state of Ohio with a Potato Crusted Rib Eye and Celery Root Puree, but the choice to deep-fry small “nuggets” of such good quality (not to mention expensive) meat was misguided. All we tasted was the grease, and not even his homemade Scarlet Stadium Mustard could cut it. Tim’s Pan Seared Maryland Rockfish with Pickled Leek, Dill & Grilled Crostino could have been a winner if only he had paid attention to a few crucial details. Choosing to serve this particular fish with its skin was his first mistake. It did not crisp as he’d hoped, so was difficult to cut into bite-size pieces and unpleasant to chew. In addition, his plates were substantially oversauced by not one but two different preparations, making it impossible to differentiate between them and drowning the fish in the process. My final issue with his plate was the “grilled crostino” he placed on top as a garnish. It was far too thick, cumbersome, and in my opinion served no purpose in the context of the dish.

However, nothing that day confounded us more than John’s Maple Mousse Napoleon with Crisp Macadamia Nuts & Vanilla Sauce. If, being from Michigan, John wanted to create a dish centered on maple syrup there were umpteen more skillful ways to do so. I still have no idea why he chose to make us a dessert in the first place, especially one with only three components, a third of which he bought frozen. Unfortunately, the mousse did not have a trace of maple flavor, and watching him work at his station we could not help but notice his state of disarray. Whereas even the three other bottom chefs’ at least showed attempts at ambition, technique, and skill with their food, John’s dish felt amateur and lacking in creativity. To simply bake off pre-made puff pastry and top it with overly-sweet, yet somehow under-flavored, mousse was not enough to pass muster with the judges. Not in the seventh season of Top Chef, and certainly not in Washington, D.C., a town where plenty of strong “candidates” have prevailed against far greater odds. 
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on June 25, 2010, 09:58:50 AM
TC7, ep. 2

The Quickfire Challenge was a bit ludicrous. It was to create a Bipartisan Sandwich and to highlight this concept two chefs were paired up by knife draw and given 30 minutes to create one. When Padma said, “and one more thing…”, they learned that the twist was that the red and blue aprons tied two individuals together so that one could use only their right hand and the other only their left hand. This created a major difficulty. I can imagine how Hell’s Kitchen 6 winner Dave felt when his left hand was taken away for most of that competition by a serious fall in that kitchen, fracturing his left wrist and requiring a cast which stayed on until nearly the end of that season. Alex in particular was concerned about Timothy cutting him. Kenny was given a major advantage when they discovered that Ed is left-handed. 1 out of every 11 Americans are, so there should have been 1.5 left-handed chefs competing on Top Chef (where did the extra half go?).

Here are the pairs and the dishes which competed in this Quickfire Challenge:
Alex/Timothy - Classic French Croque Madame-Ground Lamb, Mornay Sauce, Egg
Amanda/Tamesha - Grilled Sandwich w/ Sliced Prosciutto, Swiss Cheese, Dijon Mustard, Pepper Salsa
Andrea/Kevin – “Philadelphia Cuban” Sandwich-Roasted Pork, Pickle, Whole Grain Mustard, Gruyere Cheese
Angelo/Tracey - Sandwich w/ Flounder Marinated in Fish Sauce, Spicy Sriracha Mayo, Pickled Red Onions, Herbaceous Salad
Arnold/Kelly – “South East Asian Street Food”- Curry Rubbed Grilled Chicken w/ Honey, Indonesian Sambal, Cucumber, Mint, Dill, Cilantro
Ed/Kenny - Korean Chili Rubbed Ahi Tuna Open Faced Sandwich w/ Cucumber, Mango Slaw on Multi-Grain Bread
Jacqueline/Stephen – Saba vinegar onions, California avocado, chicken
Lynne/Tiffany - Flatbread Saltimbocca Sandwich w/ Goat Cheese, Artichokes, Yellow Peppers & White Asparagus

Guest Judge Sam Kass, White House Assistant Chef, made the decisions on which dishes were the best and worst. He gave the worst rating to Stephen/Jacqueline for lack of creativity using plain white bread and to Lynne/Tiffany for texture problems. He liked Angelo/Tracey for bright, lively and vibrant herbs and also Ed/Kenny for flavor and beautifully seared tuna. The winners were Angelo (3rd straight) and Tracey, who get immunity and an additional “advantage.” Ed runs a sandwich shop in New York City so this victory was probably expected by him.

Elimination Challenge

Sam Kass is a culinary supporter of First Lady Michele Obama’s fight obesity program for school lunches. The teams were asked to utilize the average school lunch cost of $2.68 per person for an entire team of 4 to feed 50 students each in the Let’s Move program ( for those who want to learn more about this laudatory program), less $4 for labor costs. That left them with $130 to spend at Restaurant Depot, which was a limit difficult to stay within. Two teams did not understand the directions properly (they thought $130 was per individual) and came to the register with far more than $130, necessitating instant decisions on what would go with them and what could not be taken. These decisions directly affected the outcome of this episode. One chef, Amanda, insisted on being able to buy expensive sherry for her chicken dish. That left only $10 for dessert ingredients for Jacqueline on her team. Of course Amanda was criticized by many for serving a dish with sherry to kids. Her teammates may have succeeded in getting her to change the name of her dish to not highlight the sherry, but that was all the compromise she was willing to do. She didn’t take sherry out of her dish.

The teams for this started by Quickfire winners Angelo and Tracey choosing the second place team of Kenny and Ed. Was this to get the best available talent (Kenny certainly, but not Ed) or to put those two on the firing line with, as Tom put it to Kenny, a 50% chance of going home if their team lost versus the 25% chance that anyone on one of the other team’s had? So, would Angelo deliberately sabotage Kenny to remove him from the competition? I would say probably NO because Kenny would still have to cook worse than Ed and that was unlikely from the first episode performance of those two. The other teams of two paired up fairly randomly with other teams to reach a total of four teams of 4. Teams then had 30 minutes to plan, 45 minutes to shop, 2.5 hours to cook and 1 hour the next day to prep before serving it on normal school lunch trays at the Alice Deal Middle School. It appears that every child got pre-assigned to one team by sitting at particular tables. Tom stated that his mother directed a school lunch program for decades, so this episode is close to his roots. Sam Kass also stated that providing vegetables for a healthy meal is expensive but critical and that the tendency is for school lunches across the nation to be high in sugar and starch (as well as fat and calories). It was noted that the kids filmed in this episode seemed to be generally more open to “healthy nutritious food” than Jamie Oliver found initially in Huntington WV for his TV series “Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution.”

Here are the teams and dishes created and presented:
Amanda, Tamesha, Stephen, Jacqueline - Braised Chicken Thigh in Sherry Jus; Bean + Tomato Salad w/ Pickled Red Onions, Apple Cider Vinaigrette; Sweet Onion Rice,  Tomato, Carrots + Green Onions; Banana Pudding w/ Skim Milk, Strawberries, Strawberry Sauce

Kevin, Alex, Andrea, Timothy - Grilled Apple Cider BBQ Chicken, Picnic Coleslaw w/ Yogurt; Mac + Cheese w/ Whole Wheat Crust, Skim Milk, Low-Fat Cheese; Fresh Melon Kebab w/ Orange Chantilly Dipped in Yogurt

Angelo, Tracey, Kenny, Ed – Chicken Burger with Fiesta Rice; “Peanut Butter and Celery Crudite” w/Crispy Tuile; Sweet Potato Puree w/Cinnamon; Apple Break Pudding with Cinnamon Yogurt

Kelly, Arnold, Lynne, Tiffany - Braised Pork Carnitas Tacos w/ Pickled Onions,  Cilantro; Roasted Corn Salad w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, Chili Oil, Sugar, Salt, Lime Juice; Black Bean Cake w/ Whole Grains, Sweet Crispy Potatoes; Caramelized Sweet Potatoes + Sherbet

Now, there are a few things to keep in mind about this array of dishes and how the chefs interacted with their teammates and talked about the challenges inherent in their dishes. Kelly was criticized particularly by Arnold for only being concerned about her individual dish and not contributing anything to the team, the “me syndrome.” She was also criticized for both using sherry as an ingredient and the impact of its costs on their team budget. Jacqueline was hampered in a big way to create 50 desserts with $10 in ingredients, which is 20 cents per dessert. That buys sugar and starch but not much fruit, so she was at a major disadvantage. Angelo picked a strange item for kids, celery with peanut butter mousse. Kids may like each of those separately (I do), but might never try the combination of the two. This act does lend credence to the sabotage argument, as Angelo’s dish had no nutritional value and his team lacked vegetables (how did Kenny and Ed let this happen?).

The kids generally liked all this food and ate it, but the judges’ comments were sometimes negative.

The first group called in consisted of Angelo, Tracey, Kenny, Ed, Amanda, Tamesha, Stephen and Jacqueline. They quickly learned they were the worst 2 teams, breaking a long-standing Top Chef tradition of announcing in the telecast which team or individuals were in the winners’ group first and causing a look of major surprise on Amanda’s face. As the discussion progressed Stephen volunteered a negative comment aimed at Amanda sacrificing his vegetables at the cash register so that the “substance of the meal (a thinly veiled reference to Amanda’s sherry) could be preserved.” She attempted to rip him to shreds. She also used the phrase “take one for the team is not in my vocabulary.” That’s fine, but if she is so blatant about it, other chefs will find ways of creating obstacles for her. The judges questioned these 8 and learned that Jacqueline had used a lot of starch and sugar in her dish. Jacqueline’s protests that she had wanted to do a healthy chocolate dessert but had no choice due to hear team’s cash register decision to allot her only $10 to ingredients for her dessert led Tom to tell her she should have fought harder for what she needed in the final grocery tally. Only Ed was praised for yoghurt disguised as whipped cream being stylish and genius.

The winners group was Kelly, Arnold, Lynne and Tiffany. Their dishes made the most innovative use of both vegetables and colors and were judged quite appealing to the kids. Comments made to them by the judges were:
Kelly – pork carnitas were crunchy and delicious
Tiffany – sweet potatoes as the basis for a dessert was a fabulous concept and it worked
Arnold – roasted corn looked great and tasted great
Lynne – not even mentioned (how’s that for damning with faint praise?)

Kelly won nothing except the glory and honor of a first place finish. She had succeeded her goal of recognized

The Losers’ group was brought back for the summary and announcement of the eliminee. The summary comments were:

Team competition – the worst performance was Angelo and Kenny’s team but the two worst dishes were Amanda’s and Jacqueline’s.
Kenny and Ed – the lack of vegetables on their tray was attributed to Ed and him since the other 2 were exempt; so why didn’t they plan a better menu?; Sam Kass criticized the team for loading up on starch and sugar
Amanda – use of sherry was a poor decision; lack of eye appeal of her chicken criticized
Jacqueline – too much starch and sugar is indefensible and she made no effort to defend herself
Angelo – Tom asked him if he would have dared to present celery with peanut butter mousse if he had not been immune and Angelo’s equivocal response raised the question of attempting to sabotage Kenny.

The focus of prior judges’ discussion was primarily on Amanda and Jacqueline. They apparently decided that Kenny was partly the victim of unintentional sabotage by Angelo and that Jacqueline had neither the guts to fight for herself nor great culinary skills. Amanda was recognized for getting away with a major misjudgment in the use of sherry in cooking for kids due its cost and alcoholic content. Tom stated that he could not believe that none of her teammates had stopped her from doing so. However, Tom also stated that he wanted chefs to be evaluated on their individual dish and not on team performance, so he was totally inconsistent. The flavor of Amanda’s chicken evoked differences among the judges. Padma actually like it, but nobody else did. They all agreed that the sherry was a bad move. Jacqueline apparently had 2 pounds of sugar in 54 ounces of banana pudding and the rest was mostly starch.  I applaud the decision to eliminate Jacqueline.

Other teams are sure to be wary of Angelo in the future. He’s bombastic and slick but he has a lot of culinary talent. This Elimination Challenge did not motivate him to show any of it. That attitude will get him in trouble with the judges despite 3 wins in all 3 competitions prior to this one. Tom’s final word on this was that it appeared in his final analysis that Angelo was attempting to eliminate Kenny.

If you look at the videos on the website, you will find that Top Chef now has the equivalent of the Amazing Race’s Elimination Station. All contestants are sequestered in a nice hotel until the total season completed filming, which took 4 weeks (one episode per less than every 2 days). John, the first eliminee, praised Jacqueline for the high energy he had observed in the first episode.

I hope the TC7 producers and Tom Colicchio noted how the use of immunity applying to a team competition produces totally unfair results and gamesmanship. I hope that never happens again on any current or future Top Chef season.

I have a few comments on how individual chefs appeal or not to me. I liked Stephen for questioning Amanda publicly, Ed for being quiet and unassuming but talented and I dislike Tiffany for being too bombastic.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on July 09, 2010, 01:17:54 PM
TC7, ep. 3

The Quickfire is being judged by John Iuzzini and Gail; both of them are co-hosts for the upcoming Top Chef: Just Desserts reality show, so it was an opportunity for BRAVO to give free publicity inside one of its hits. The winner’s dish from this episode will be featured on Top Chef: Just Desserts. There is a lot of bitching and grousing among the TC7 competitors, as few like the challenges that pastry chefs face routinely. Tracey had problems with her fruit pie, which Angelo helped her to get out of the oven, but it has no hope of salvation. Tracey had to start again.

The desserts presented were:

Alex – White Chocolate, Tapioca + Chevre Pie, Almond Crust, Raspberry Puree
Amanda – Apple Pie with Rosemary and Bourbon, Hazelnut Crust
Andrea – Key Lime and Meyer Lemon Pie w/ Fresh Basil Syrup + Black Pepper-Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
Angelo – Sweet Potato Pie, Curry Spices, Crumble Crust
Arnold – Kalamansi and Key Lime Pie Parfait w/ Korean Soju
Ed – Banana Cream Pie, Salted Peanut, Celery Spuma
Kelly – Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart, Chocolate Pate Sucre, Spiced Raspberry Sauce
Kenny – Bananas Foster Pie w/ Currants + Chinese Five Spice
Kevin – Blueberry and Coriander Pie
Lynne – Mango Pie w/ Basil & Vanilla Crust, Basil Ice Cream, Coconut Cookie
Stephen – Curried Apple Date Pie w/ Saffron
Tamesha – Nectarine Pie w/ Walnuts and Strawberry Salad
Tiffany – Peach Cobbler w Cornmeal Crust and Buttermilk-Lemon Crème Anglaise
Timothy – Apple and Pecan Deconstructed Pie w/ Whipped Cream, White Chocolate Sauce
Tracey – Blueberry Almond Crunch Pie, Light Cream, Almond Brittle

Johnny and Gail found that the least successful desserts were by Alex (texture not right), Tracey (crust too thin and bottom not cooked through) and Ed (ingredients did not fit together). The winners’ group was Kelly (beautiful ganache), Kenny (simple with great flavors and texture) and Stephen. Kelly was the Quickfire winner, with her recipe to be presented on Top Chef: Just Desserts.

The Elimination Challenge was to use outdoor Weber grills and briquettes to create a picnic meal for a large group of Capitol Hill interns. Shopping at Whole Foods was for 30 minutes and with $400, followed by the 3 hours to prep and 1 hour grilling the next morning. The Guest Judge for this challenge was Jonathan Waxman, 4th place finisher in Top Chef Masters 2 and a favorite chef of mine due to his influence on American cuisine over decades.

The dishes were:
Alex – Pork Butt, Lemongrass Glaze, Polenta, Cucumber Salad
Amanda – Dry Rubbed Baby Back Ribs, Grilled Asparagus, Smoked Bacon Hazelnut Vinaigrette
Andrea – Spicy Root Beer Glazed Skirt Steak, Potato Salad
Angelo – Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps, Smoked Egg Salad
Arnold – Sesame Lamb Meatball, Tabouli Salad, Gazpacho
Ed – Tuna Loin w/ Lentils Hummus
Kelly – Bison Burger, Watermelon, Tomato Salad
Kenny – Harissa Marinated Pork Loin, Quinoa Grilled Eggplant
Kevin – Marinated Flank Steak, Rice and Beans, Tomato Avocado Salad
Lynne – Leg of Lamb w/ Ras El Hanout, Zucchini "Spaghetti", Balsamic Onions
Stephen – Bacon Wrapped Bass, Ratatouille, Olive Pine Nut Cous Cous
Tamesha – Marinated Skirt Steak, Caramel Soy Glaze, Fennel Citrus Salad
Tiffany – Tamarind Glazed Wild Sockeye Salmon, Israeli Cous Cous
Timothy – Pork Two Ways: Dry Pork Loin, West Babyback Ribs, Grilled Vegetables, Spring Salad
Tracy – Italian Sausage Slider, Tomato, Cucumber, Red Onion Salad
The winners’ group was Arnold (full of flavor), Ed (for his successful experimentation), Amanda (for her excellent grilled asparagus) and Angelo (for daring to use Asian flavors). Arnold won.

The losers’ group was:
Stephen – submitted a dish for a restaurant, not a picnic
Timothy – wilted greens
Tracey – Italian food executed poorly
Kevin – his rice and beans were at the quality level of Puerto Rican street food

Tracey was obviously going to lose and so she did.

From Tom Colicchio’s excellent blog on this episode: “While discussing Tracy’s dish at the picnic, we judges all downplayed how improperly seasoned and how generally poor it was lest we make it completely obvious that she’d be going home, but we all knew instantly that her dish was the weakest by far.” I have always suspected that the judges use misdirection to not give away who the eliminee is. This proves my case.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on July 09, 2010, 01:19:12 PM
TC7, ep. 4 Room Service

This episode opened with Tom and Padma already in the Washington Hilton Hotel top chef kitchen as the chefs arrived. What do tom and Padma have in common outside Top Chef? Both are parents of a child under 1 year old, Tom’s being 8 months and Padma’s 2 months when filming took place. This High Stakes Quickfire is to create a dish that will please Tom and Padma but also in a pureed version will also appeal to their infants. Tom and Padma will separately pick winners who will receive $10,000 cash each from Dial Nutriskin. There will be no immunity for the two winners.

The dishes selected were:

Alex – Duck w/ Spinach, Basil, Mushroom
Amanda - Tandoori Crusted Tuna. Caramelized Apple and Cauliflower Ragout, Apple Puree
Andrea – Sweet Potato Tamale w/ Roasted Apples + Smoked Bacon
Angelo – Poached Tuna w/ Fenugreek Broth, Tomatoes, Soy Sauce + Honey
Arnold – Curried Sweet Potato Bisque
Ed – Grilled Salmon w/ Saffron-Curry-Cauliflower Puree, Brown Butter Pine Nut Vinaigrette, Green Apple Batons
Kelly – Roast Pork Loin w/ chilled Peaches, Ginger
Kenny – Curried Chicken, Mango Salad, Butternut Squash Confit, Maitake Mushrooms
Kevin – Pan Seared Duck w/ Baby Carrots
Lynne – Chicken w/ Sweet Potato, Fruit Compote
Stephen – Classic Turkey Dinner w/ Apples, Pears, Onions, Broccolini, Butternut Squash Puree
Tamesha – Salmon w/ Vegetable Chowder, Lobster Stock, Thai Basil & Licorice Oil
Tiffany - Pan-Seared Rib Eye, Mushroom Ragout, Grilled Asparagus
Timothy – Sautéed Lamb w/ Mushrooms, Shallot, Ginger

Tom’s Losers’ group was Timothy for overcooked lamb and Alex for puree herbaceous and watery. Padma’s Losers group was Kevin for pool of blood under the duck and Kelly’s pork for blandness.

The Winner’s group was Lynne, Tamesha, Kenny and Angelo. Tom chose Tamesha and Padma chose Kenny.

Elimination Challenge
The chefs were asked to pair up for this and were told that the losing pair would both be eliminated. Hilton Hotels and Resorts Worldwide VP Restaurant Concepts Beth Scott was on hand to highlight the desire for Hilton Hotels and Resorts Worldwide to obtain new signature menu items that were healthy, sophisticated, tasty and easy to prepare. The winning dinner items would be placed onto the list of menus available to all Hilton properties worldwide. The Judges for this were Dunn, Tom and Eric Ripert plus restaurant owner Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora in Washington. Former top chef contestants Michael Isabella, Brian Voltaggio and Spike Mendelssohn provided comments while sampling the dishes but did not participate in the final discussions on which teams won and lost. This was a round robin tournament involving breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. 2 teams out of 7 were exempt from further competition if they place in the Best of Breakfast group, with the remaining 5 teams competing for Lunch. 2 teams of 5 were exempt if they place in the Best of Lunch group. The final 3 teams have to cook off for Dinner with 2 remaining and one team going home. Breakfast cooking was 30 minutes, lunch 45 minutes and dinner 60 minutes. This is a real marathon of endurance for those forced into the cookoff for dinner. Ingredients were bought at Whole foods for $200 in 30 minutes.

The Breakfast dishes presented by each pair were:

Alex/Ed (Alex screwed up badly by neglecting to plate the sauce on their eggs and Ed by leaving one potato cake off someone’s plate) – Prosciutto Potato Cake, Egg w/ Lemon Pancake, Bellini Cocktail
Amanda/Stephen (she said nobody else would pick either one) – Poached Egg, Pancetta, Potato Rosti w/ Grape Ragout, Hollandaise
Andrea/Kelly - Bacon-Cheddar Wheat Waffle, Poached Egg, Mango-Lime-Mint Yogurt Smoothie
Angelo/Tamesha - Egg, Bacon, White Cheddar Broth
Arnold/Lynne - Tortilla Española w/ Chorizo + Bacon, Olive-Pear Salad & Papas Bravas
Kenny/Kevin - Poached Egg on Herb Brioche, Prosciutto, Manchego, Spanish Olive Tapenade
Tiffany/Timothy – “Creole Style” Crab Cake Eggs Benedict w/ Asparagus, Bacon Potato Hash in Hollandaise

The Breakfast competition was won by Tiffany/Timothy and Amanda/Stephen.

Lunch dishes were:
Alex/Ed – Sea Scallops with Ricotta Gnudi & Broccoli Rabe
Andrea/Kelly – Crispy-Skinned Red Snapper & Panzanella Salad, Mustard Vinaigrette
Arnold/Lynne – Tuna Cannelloni, Forbidden Rice Salas & Tomato Vinaigrette
Kenny/Kevin – Chickpea Pappardelle with Grilled Chicken & Tahini Sauce
Angelo/Tamesha - Beef Slivers, Jicama-Asian Pear Salad, Mint, Cilantro & Kimchi Vinaigrette

The Lunch winners were Angelo/Tamesha and Alex/Ed. That left these teams and their dinner dishes:

Andrea/Kelly – Braised Beef Short Rib, Polenta, Shiitake Mushrooms, Gremolata
Arnold/Lynne – Pineapple Red Curry Mussels w/ Squid Ink Pasta, Focaccia
Kenny/Kevin (and Angelo is rooting against this team as it would be awesome to see them both get eliminated here) – Braised Beef Short Rib, Squash, Potato + Carrot Confit, Tempura Horseradish

The final decision was that Andrea/Kelly were sent back to the group of those who made it through in the first two rounds. Kenny/Kevin had what I regarded to be overdramatized faults in Tom’s criticism of no glaze on the ribs and Eric’s inability to taste horseradish flavor in the food where there should have been some. However, the glaring error in Lynne cooking the fresh pasta 12 minutes before time expired was impossible to overcome. Arnold bitched that he had done nothing wrong, but he was sent home for Lynne’s huge mistake. That’s the way it goes, Arnold. Somebody has to bite the bullet on every top chef episode and this episode it was two somebodies and in my estimation a very fair judgment of the worst.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on July 15, 2010, 10:04:34 PM
TC7, ep. 5 Farm Policy

This episode began with Angelo romancing Tamesha, who clearly looks up to him for his higher skill level. Patrick O’Connell, chef/owner at the Inn at Little Washington, consistently rated as one of the finest restaurant in the U.S.(5 Star and 5 Diamond if you do not subscribe to the Michelin rating system of max 3 stars like me), arrived to be Guest Judge. The Quickfire involved using Maryland blue crab (yummy!) to make the best possible dish in one hour. Some crabs were a loose and a little frisky on the table. Tim has the edge here because he lives in Maryland and “goes crabbing most Sundays.”
The dishes selected were:
Alex - Jumbo Lump Crab, Brown Butter Vinaigrette, Avocado Mousse, Fresh Herb Salad
Amanda - Crab Salad w/ Sauterne Ginger Juniper Gelee
Andrea - Warm Crab Salad, Citrus Gastrique, Mexican Red Chile
Angelo - Blue Crab Broth Infused w/ Lemongrass, Ginger, Mix of Spices
Ed – Jumbo Lump Crab w/ Thai Basil, Mango, Cucumber Salad
Kelly – Crab Salad w/ Grapefruit Vinaigrette, Grapefruit Butter Sauce
Kevin – Blue Crab Chowder with Potato, Celery, Espelette Pepper Oil, Frozen Bacon Crumble
Kenny - Crab 3 Ways: Korean Chili Crab Bisque, Crab Bruschetta Thai Basil, Warm Crab w/ Sesame, Mango Cream Chile and Aioli
Stephen – Crab Salad in Sweet Bell Peppers, Brandy Basil Dressing
Tamesha – Crab Chowder with Lemongrass, Ginger, Cardamom, Coconut Milk
Tiffany - Hot and Sour Crab Soup, Arbol Chilies, Spaghetti Leeks
Timothy – Beer-Steamed Crabs w/ Avocado, Passion Fruit, Heirloom Vinaigrette
The judging by O’Connell rated Andrea low for her potatoes overwhelming the delicacy of the crab in her dish, Amanda for gelee being out of balance and Kevin for his crab getting lost in the complexity of his dish.

O’Connell rated Ed high for his bringing out the natural flavor of the crabmeat in this Thai-inspired dish, Kenny’s trio of crabcakes (presumably for variety and Angelo’s for his dish’s delicacy and showcasing the crab taste. However, the win went to Ed and he got immunity in the Elimination Challenge.

Elimination Challenge

This is to feed 40 local chefs and farmers on huge picnic tables at the Ayrshire Farms, Virginia’s first certified organic and humane farm. Local produce will be used as the ingredients. The chefs have to divide up the logical components of a meal so that appetizers, entrees, vegetables, salads, bread and side dishes are covered for family-style serving but work as one team.  The chefs will find out what cooking facilities and ingredients they will have once they arrive at the farm and they will have the use of a mobile unit with spices, oils, etc. termed the Mobile Pantry that fits in the back of a Toyota SUV.  The job of determining who does what is extremely difficult, as Kenny and Angelo appear to be battling for leadership of the group. Neither one wins it so the result is chaos. The way out is for the 2-person teams from the prior day to be used for the elimination challenge. This makes some people unhappy, with Ed not wanting to spend any more time with Alex so he could pair up with Tiffany, but that does not appear to happen.

When the teams arrive they get 3 hours to cook on outdoor grills with lava rocks, small portable ovens and hotplates. There is a rush to choose the best ingredients there. There were mishaps and second-guessing during the cooking. Timothy decided to not puree turnips that he had cooked to a certain point. Kevin was the victim of Tamesha accidentally knocking over one of his completed dishes involving cauliflower couscous, so he had to start over with broccoli and zucchini.

The final dishes were:
Alex - Provencal Beef Tenderloin w/ Ratatouille
Amanda - Country Vegetable Minestrone, Smoked Tomato Broth
Andrea - Garlic & Five Spice Rubbed Grilled Pork Loin w/ Roasted Shallot-Apple Balsamic Jus Roasted Beets,
Angelo - Ginger Grilled Duck Breast w/ Oregano Honey
Ed – Ratatouille w/ Eggplant, Summer Squash, Tomato
Kelly – Five Spiced Roasted Apples and Roasted Beets
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Basil-Scented Whipped Cream (note- she did this with time left to make a positive impression on the judges, as in for extra credit; I applaud her)
Kenny - , Hot and Sour Curried Eggplant with Peppers & Carrot Tops,
Kevin – Broccoli Couscous Scented with Lemon Zest
Stephen – Mixed Farm Salad: Balsamic Onion, Egg, Apple, Cabernet Vinaigrette + Garlic Dressing
Tamesha – Cherry Compote, Red Wine Balsamic Vinaigrette, Grilled Asparagus Salad
Tiffany - Collard Greens with Swiss Chard, Turnip, Chanterelles in Duck Broth
Timothy – Roasted Turnips & Asparagus with Honey

At Judges’ Table Kevin, Kenny, Kelly and Andrea were rated as the Winners’ Group. Kenny won.

The Losers’ Group was Timothy, Stephen and Amanda (3rd time there for Stephen and timothy and second for Amanda). Timothy’s not finishing off the turnip mousseline which would have improved his dish immensely was a critical mistake; O’Connell called it “a bit of a mish mash.” Stephen served an overdressed salad in a bowl, two major faux pas, and the lettuce was also bruised. Amanda did not have any pasta in her minestrone as noted and challenged by Eric. She also did not cut her vegetables uniformly as her leeks and celery were cut small but her carrots were cut large.

The summaries by Tom of their litany of errors was:
Amanda – not cutting vegetables to a uniform size forces them to cook at different rates
Stephen – lacked confidence by serving an overdressed salad which also had too many ingredients
Timothy – not continuing to the mousseline was a big mistake

Their decision was to eliminate Timothy, but any of them could have been chosen as they all stood out as much worse than the rest.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on July 17, 2010, 06:25:36 AM
There are now 11 chefs left in TC7. I think they clearly fall into the category of having the skills to go all the way or "not ready for prime time." I have constructed an index based on +1 for each winners' group finish for both the quickfire or for the Elimination Challenge and -1 for each losers' group finish. Here is the results  for chefs still in the competition (note - Arnold was the only chef who actually had a positive rating when he exited and Timothy had a -5 rating when he did):

Not Ready for Prime Time
Andrea -3
Kevin -2
Stephen -2
Alex 0

On the Bubble
Amanda +1
Tamesha +1
Tiffany +1

Expected by Me to be the Final 4
Ed +2
Kelly +2
Kenny +5
Angelo +5

Note that I expect 3 males to be in the final 4 based solely on what they have accomplished so far in the competition.  Andrea, Stephen and Kevin has distinguished themselves as having fewer skills than the others left in TC7. Alex appears to be a mediocre competitor. Amanda seems to frequently show questionable judgment.  Tamesha and Tiffany haven't fully developed as chefs yet so their promise is outweighed by their inexperience.

I welcome alternative points of view on these predictions.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: TexasLady on July 20, 2010, 11:10:16 AM
I'm almost caught up Apskip. Then I will have some opinions. It does seem like this is a more cutthroat season than any I can remember.

Thanks as always for the great recaps!
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on July 22, 2010, 05:53:40 PM
TC7, ep. 6 Cold War

The Quickfire started with James Beard Award winning chef Michelle Bernstein arriving as Guest Judge. Andrea, also a Miami area chef, notes her competition and hopes that Michelle will not be biased against her to make her look bad. In your dreams, Andrea! You are not close to the same league with Michelle. The TC7 winner will not be anyone close to a mature experienced nationally acclaimed chef like Michelle. Only when you get invited to Top Chef Masters X can you claim to be in the same league as Michelle. Will that ever happen for Andrea? It will be a long while if ever in my opinion.

On with the action, which starts with the sight of some “exotic” proteins. The chefs drew knives to determine the order of selection and this is one of those times when it really does matter what choices you are left with. Here are the choices of the chefs in order of selection:

Alex- foie gras (what an incredible edge this gave him)
Kevin - frog legs
Ed – Wild Boar
Tiffany – Yak
Stephen – Cayman Crocodile
Angelo – Duck white Kidneys (Padma asked him “do you really know what these are?” and Michelle revealed that they are artfully renamed duck testicles)
Kevin – Ostrich
Kelly – Rattlesnake
Tamesha – Llama
Andrea – Duck Tongue
Amanda – Emu Egg

It should be noted that in a post-episode commentary Eric Ripert stated that the selection order for the above exotic proteins was mostly the way he thought difficulty dictated, except that emu eggs were much easier than 11th and crocodile much harder than 5th.

Padma gave the chefs about 5 minutes to settle into the 45 minute cooking time. Then she directed each chef to switch to the next left position and cooking that protein with a new concept. That’s what I call a serious twist. The dishes that resulted from that are:

Alex – Ostrich
Amanda – Llama Sous-Vide w/ Leek, Date, Bacon Compote
Andrea – Wild Boar & Risotto w/ Dried Cherries, Almond, Mushrooms, Red Wine
Angelo – Seared Crocodile w/ Ginger, Garlic & Chiles
Ed – Yak Kefta w/ Dried Fruit Couscous, Stewed Vegetables, Yogurt Sauce
Kelly - Emu Egg Omelet with Goat Cheese, Almonds, Fennel Salad, Harissa Vinaigrette
Kenny – Rattlesnake Francese, Rattlesnake Cake w/ Leeks, Bacon, Curry Sauce
Kevin – Duck Testicles Meuniere w/ Beet, Licorice Puree
Stephen - Seared Frog Leg Confit, Tomato Grits, Mascarpone, Blackened Bourbon Sauce
Tamesha – Duck Tongue in Broth w/ Mirepoix, Lime, Cilantro
Tiffany – Foie Gras w/ Caramelized Apples, Toasted Pecans, Brandy-Caramel Sauce

The Losers’ group consists of Stephen, Alex (ostrich dry) and Amanda. Winners’ group was Kelly (emu egg cooked to perfection), Tamesha and Angelo. The winner was Kelly.

Elimination Challenge

Two teams are formed with 5 in one and 6 in the other. They will be competing against each other is a Cold War where all dishes will be served cold. The teams get a treat by riding briefly on the Presidential yacht Sequoia to do their planning, then they are off to shop with $200 in 30 minutes at Whole Foods and cook for 2 hours in the Top Chef kitchen within the Hilton Hotel before the food is put into cold storage overnight for serving cold the next day. Although Michelle, Tom, Gail and Padma are there, the initial judging to determine one winner and one loser from each team will be done by the other team, which is tasting their dishes. This opened up once more the possibility of gamesmanship. Stephen is captured on film stating that he wants to see Kenny and Angelo eliminated so that his chances will improve with the two best chefs gone. You may assume that his voting will be heavily biased as a result, but since Angelo is his teammate it is not possible for Stephen to vote against Angelo.

The dishes created and presented were:
Group of 5
Alex - Lamb Sous Vide w/ Red Beet Puree, Tzatziki
Amanda – Chicken Galantine with Mache, Plum Chutney
Ed – Sockeye Salmon on Pumpernickel, Cream Cheese, Chilled Cucumber Vichysoisse
Kenny – Tuna + Veal w/ Mediterranean Condiments
Kevin – Chilled Beef w/ Crispy Rice, Jalepeno Oil
Group of 6
Andrea – Trio of Tartares: Tuna, Beef, Mushroom-Fennel
Angelo – Poached Sockeye Salmon w/ Cilantro & Chili in Pineapple Tea
Kelly - Grilled Lamb Salad, Lamb Carpaccio, Black Eyed Pea Hummus
Stephen - Ostrich Barded in Caul Fat & Basil w/ Mushroom Duxelle Balsamic Glaze
Tamesha – Scallops w/ Pickled Rhubarb, Cilantro, Basil w/ Rhubarb Jus
Tiffany – Spice-Crusted Ahi Tuna w/ Gazpacho Sauce

The Winner nominee from the Group of 5 was Kevin. The Loser nominee, also chosen unanimously, was Kenny. You know that Angelo is a ringleader of the Get-rid-of-Kenny movement, but he took a low-key role, letting his teammates argue against Kenny’s dish. Michelle gave her honest opinion that Kenny’s dish was the worst from his group. Amanda’s dish was considered because it had too much cartilage present. The Winner nominee for the group of 6 was Tiffany. The Loser nominee was Tamesha, who cooked her scallops only on one side and left the scallop to sit in the jus from the rhubarb and congeal.

The final vote for who wins and who gets eliminated went to the judges. They easily picked Tiffany as the overall winner, but the decision on Worst appeared to be much closer. In the end, Tamesha was eliminated and Kenny survived barely. As Tom Colicchio put it in his weekly blog, “Kenny is lucky that Tamesha’s dish was so stunning a miss.” He cannot be a happy camper with the knowledge that several from the other group were so ready to get rid of him. However, he will get to fight another day in TC7.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on July 28, 2010, 10:21:39 PM
If you go up 3 posts from this one, you will find my ratings of the chef's based on first half performance. The lowest rated chef was Andrea, with Kevin and Stephen next. That predicted 2 out of the Losers's group of 3 in the episode whose recap will be posted tomorrow morning
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on July 29, 2010, 09:28:42 AM
TC7, ep. 9 Power Lunch

Kenny noted that he has barely survived two Loser group ratings and he suspects that others are trying strategically to eliminate him from the competition (he’s right about that). Angelo says he had no ties to any other chef. Tiffany noted that everyone should be responsible for their own food and questions whether she should be accepting help form Angelo.

The usual Quickfire to start the show used as Guest Judge Rep. Aaron Schock from Illinois’ 18th Congressional District, with the distinction of at age 29 being the youngest member of the 111th Congress, who spoke on how the extreme influence of lobbyists has resulted in the first day in Congress of new Representatives learning about the ethics restrictions they must accept. This includes no food from lobbyists unless it is served with a toothpick. This Quickfire is in that spirit to challenge the chefs to create the best dish that can be served decently on a toothpick and taste great. Padma announced that this is a high stakes Quickfire for $20,000 cash fro Dial NutriSkin and immunity in the Elimination Challenge.

The dishes presented were as follows:
Alex – Pan-Seared Scallops w/ Crispy Bacon, Strawberries & Basil Essence
Amanda – Lamb Kabob w/ Heirloom Tomatoes, Salsa Verde
Andrea – Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Pecan Cheddar Waffles, Pickled Watermelon, Black Pepper Maple Gravy
Angelo – Cucumber Cup w/ Spiced Shrimp, Cashew
Ed - Duo of Tuna: Crunchy Tuna Confit, Grilled Tuna w/ Avocado, Sweet + Sour Watermelon
Kelly – Nantucket Bay Scallops w/ Watermelon, Pickled Watermelon Rind & Watermelon Vinaigrette
Kenny – Tandoori Spiced Sockeye Salmon + Shrimp Kebab w/ Mango-Mojito Relish
Kevin – Grilled Pork Kabob Onion, Bacon + Sherry Jus On Mushroom
Stephen – Scallop + Beef w/ Crispy Potato, Tarragon Bearnaise Sauce
Tiffany - Crispy Pork Roulade w/ Prosciutto, Date & Red Pepper Coulis, Westman cheese

Schock’s choices for Losers’ group and comments were on the dishes of:
Alex- too many flavors going on on one toothpick
Ed – taste was inferior even though it looked good
Kelly – lacked flavor

The Winners’ group was Angelo, Ed and Stephen.
Angelo – WOW!, fireworks in my mouth
Kevin – first tasted and the standard as he compared all other dishes to that
Stephen – there’s a lot on that stick but he enjoyed it all

Angelo was selected as the winner and got the $20,000 and immunity. Andrea in a moment of levity stated that if Tiffany’s fiancée caught wind of what was going on between Ed and tiffany, Ed would be in a lot of trouble.

Elimination Challenge
The Exec VP of the Palm DC restaurant in Washington, Bruce Bozzi Jr., came to announce that for the first time in its history, the Palm was turning over its kitchen to the Top Chef competitors for a lunch to which it turned out a key legislator, master chef, the restaurant’s VP and several journalists from NBC were the diners. Judging would be by master chef Art Smith, Tom and Gail. Tom was going to monitor things in the kitchen to protect the interests of The Palm. The list of diners was: Virginia Senator Mark Warner, Lisa Brzezinski(Morning Joe cohost), Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe host), John Podesta (President, Center for American Progress), Bruce Bozzi and Padma at one table; NBC correspondents Kelly O’Donnell, Luke Russert and Savannah Guthrie plus  Art Smith and Gail at the other table. The walls of the Palm have caricatures of famous people and the winner will get theirs on it. Also, the winning recipe will go on the Palm menu. Ed started off missing his pea puree which was a primary component of his meal. The others came to conclusion, possibly incorrect according to Tom Colicchio, that Alex who used a pea puree as a major part of his final dishes stole Ed’s pea puree but Alex claimed it was his own.

The chefs drew knives to determine what their primary protein would be:
Kevin – lamb chops
Ed – 4 pound lobster
Tiffany – swordfish
Amanda – Porterhouse steak (which she butchered into a filet mignon and a NY Strip by removing the bone)
Stephen – salmon
Alex – salmon
Andrea – swordfish
Kelly – Porterhouse steak
Angelo – 4 pound lobster
Kenny – lamb chops

The use of pairs of the same protein provided some interesting comparisons, as that was the way the dishes were served. However, each chef competed against all other chefs, not just his/her matching protein.

The chefs went to Whole Foods as always, but the time to buy ingredients and budget were not shown but it looked to me they had $200 and 30 minutes to shop for extra ingredients. They had 75 minutes to prep in the Top Chef kitchen the night before. The Palm was supplying the proteins and 4 other ingredients for each chef.  Cooking was finished at the Palm on a staggered completion schedule. What I found most fascinating was why the decision was made to serve full portions of 10 individual meals to the diners. Nobody (not even me or Adam Richman) can eat that much in one sitting, so why weren’t the dishes done in tasting portions?
The individual meals were:
Alex – Applewood Smoked Salmon w/ Black Forbidden Rice, English Pea Puree
Amanda – Strip: New York and Filet Mignon, Red Wine w/ Pomme Parisienne, Arugula
Andrea – Swordfish w/ couscous risotto   
Angelo – Poached Lobster w/ Lobster Froth, Jicama, Arugula + Asian Pear Salad
Ed – Poached Lobster Ballotine w/ Eggplant + English Pea-Asparagus Fricassee
Kelly – Porterhouse w/ Crispy Potato-Arugula Salad, Roasted Shallot Demi-Glace
Kenny – Peppered Lamb w/ Fig-Pistachio Bread Pudding, Fig Jam, Vanilla-Morel Demi Glace
Kevin – Double-Cut Chops w/ Olive & Goat Cheese Rissole, Mache, Tomato Concasse
Stephen – Salmon w/ Warmed Vegetable Salad, Worcestershire Vinaigrette
Tiffany – Swordfish w/ Olive-Raisin Tapenade, Broccolini, Bacon

The Winners’ group was Alex, Tiffany and Ed. Alex used a pea puree that could have been made by Ed, who could not find it and had to switch to broccolini that Tiffany helped him with. Alex talked piously about the value of making your own food, but it looked to 90% f the viewers polled that he had indeed stolen the pea puree which according to Art Smith was the most wonderful thing on his plate. Alex won the Plam menu opportunity and caricature on the wall.

The Losers’ group was Kevin, Kelly and Andrea. Kevin’s problems included inability to pull off his daring creation. Kelly was there because she totally oversalted her food, overwhelming its natural flavors. Andrea had couscous that were mushy and glop and the swordfish overcooked and the vanilla sauce detracted from her savory dish due to its overwhelming sweetness. Tom summarized that Kevin had overcooked lamb, Kelly oversalted and Andrea had a poor execution. The chef eliminated was Andrea. That was a very fair choice based on her limited skills over the first 9 episodes. It was time for her to leave. Amanda and Stephen are likely to be next. Kelly turned up on both Losers’ group lists this episode. She is one of my favorites and I hope that she does not exit the competition in the near future.

Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on July 30, 2010, 09:17:50 AM
To the readers of my recaps for TC7:

I will be out of commission for about 2 weeks starting with next week's episode. I also expect to miss August 11 but should be back by August 18 to catch up on the ep. 10 and 11 recaps.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: ugot2bekidinmeny on August 12, 2010, 04:54:51 PM
Alex should have been gone 2 weeks ago with the pea puree issue..

 no way he was a better cook then kenny..

 kenny you're a stand up guy!! :tup:
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on August 15, 2010, 08:44:29 AM
TC7, ep. 9 Restaurant Wars

That famous line from South Park "they killed chef Kenny" has to be considered here because the South's Park's Kenny looked almost identical to TC7's Kenny.  Why this was important will be made clear to you over time.

This episode started with a Quickfire to make the best possible dish within the usual constraints. The Guest Judge was Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The dishes prepared were:

Alex - Roasted Lamb Chop, English Pea Puree, Smoked Bacon,  Parmesan
Amanda - Oakwood Grilled Strip Steak w/ Roasted Sunchoke, Maitake Mushrooms w/ Red Wine Au Jus
Angelo - Confit of Tomato Soup, Farmers Squash, Olive Crouton
Ed - Seared Rib Eye w/ Crushed Walnut Potatoes, Baby Arugula, Balsamic Fig Reduction
Kelly - Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart, Blackberry-Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream, Blackberry Puree
Kenny - Crispy Aged Goat Cheese w/ Strawberry-Rhubarb Relish
Kevin - Pan Roasted Halibut, Fennel, Marmalade, Tomato Fennel, Emulsion
Tiffany - Crudo of Black Bass, Yellowtail Snapper w/ Meyer Lemon-Caper Relish

The winner was judged to be Ed, who did not get immunity or anything special.

The Elimination challenge was a United Nations of Flavors Restaurant Wars competition with two teams of four chefs but really every man/woman for himself. It involved complicated buying within 45 minutes and $1000 each at both Restaurant Depot and Whole Foods. Prepping was for 2 hours, followed by staggered 2 hour cycles to allow a switch in front of the house and back of the house from one team ot the other. The dishes presented were:

rest. EDOO (Mediterranean-inspired)

Angelo - confit tomato soup w/ crouton and squash
Tifffany - crudo of black bass and yellowtail snapper
Tiffany - seared striped bass w/ clams, chorizo, spinach
?- seared lamb w/ Paremsan foam and pea puree
Angelo and Ed - Slow Baked Turbot, Eggplant Caviar & Black Olive Jus
Alex/Angelo/Ed/Tiffany - Roasted Red Snapper, Wilted Greens and Maitake Mushrooms
Alex - sautéed rib eye with crushed walnut potatoes

Rest. ?
Kelly - Corn Soup
Kenny - beet salad w/ endives and chorizo/citrus vinaigrette
Amanda - NY strip steak, maitake mushrooms, Swiss chard, sunchokes
Kenny - fried goat cheese on strawberry/rhubard relish
Kevin - pan-roased halibut w/ fennel marmalade, tomato/fennel emulsion, white beans
Amanda/Kelly/Kenny/Kevin - Sauteed Shrimp Over Angle Hair with Sauce and Crispy Basil

There was a lot of chatter about which dishes were stronger, but to the judges was crystal clear. The Angelo/Ed/Alex/Tiffany group had produced better flavors. Although some from his team arguing on his behlf were trying to find a way for kenny to be retained despite being judged Worst of the worst, there is no such way. Ed's perfectly cooked turbot was judged was judged Best of the Best.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on August 22, 2010, 08:54:28 AM
TC7, ep. 10 Covert Cuisine

This episode used Wylie DuFresne, chef/owner of WD50 as Guest Judge. This Hihg-Stakes Quickfire had a prize of $10,000 and required the 7 remaining chefs to create whatever they liked to use up all of a series of ingredients arriving in mystery boxes. Those were:
Rockfish and Fava Beans and Hominy Grits
Squid and Blac Garlic
Ramps and Passion fruit

This was a challenge to creativity and the results were interesting. Dishes created were:
Alex - Rockfish with Fava Bean Puree; Ramp Fondue; Sauteed Squid
Amanda - Crispy Skin Striped Bass; Squid Fricassee; Leek and Mushroom Fondue
Angelo - Smoky Hominy Grits, Squid, Rockfish Tataki, Passion Fruit Gel
Ed - Rockfish Sashimi and Hominy-Basil Puree Pashion Fruit, Grilled Squid Marinade
Kelly - Yucatan Seafood Stew w/ Black Garlic, Fava Beans, Grilled Ramps
Kevin - Pan-Seared Rockfish, Black Garlic, Hominy Puree, Jicama, Passion Fruit Salad
Tiffany - Fish Stew w/ Hominy, Fava Beans, Saffron and Black Garlic

Wylie selected Tiffany as the winner.


This started with drawing knives to pick a dish to cook. Here are the results of that:

Amanda - French Onion Soup 
Alex- Veal Parmesan
Ed - Chicken Cordon Bleu
Angelo - Beef Wellington
Kevin - Cobb Salad
Kelly - Shrimp Kung Pao
Tiffany - Gyro

The challenge is to disguise the dish so that its description does not give away its original name but still make the flavors right for the original dish. This is a very delicate balancing act involving flavor and execution. All chefs struggled a bit, with Kelly ruining an entire pot of rice and having to do it over (she did not think there was time until Tiffany told her it could be done and Kelly remembered that cooking times are entended at the 8,000 where she typically cooks. Leon Pannetta, U.S. CIA Director and clearly a culinary connoisseur from his time in Congress and earler Presidential administrations was asked his opinions until he had to leave. He was to easily able see through most disguises.

The real judging was Wylie, Eric and Tom and these were the dishes:
Alex - Veal and Parmesano Chese with Tortelloni and Tomato Sauce and Tempura Cheese
Amanda - Consomme with Oxtail Marmalade, Caramelized Ohions, Shaved Gruyere
Angelo - Tartlette topped with slivers of Beef
Ed - Roasted Chicken Breast, Ham and Cheese Croquette, Spring Onion Soubise
Kelly - Spicy Shrimp Broth w/ Rice, Peanut/Vegetable Salad, Szechuan Shrimp Tempura
Kevin - Romaine Lettuce, Bacon, Rocquefort, Tomato, Avocado, Cucmuber and Turkey
Tiffany - Smoked Leg of Lamb with Smoky Eggplant, Tomatoes, Pickled Eggplant

It was apparent from the commentary that Alex was in trouble for both flavors and execution. The Winners Group consisted Tiffany, Kelly and Ed. The 5 night trip for 2 sposored to Paris by Hilton Hotels was won by Tiffany, who would use it for her honeymoon.

The Losers Group consisted of Angelo, Alex and Amanda. Alex wass judged the worst and eliminated.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on August 22, 2010, 12:59:12 PM
Ep. 8 Foreign Affairs

Washinston DC is our nation's capital and as such has a constant influx of foreign dignitaries and many of their cuisines represented.  You can conceptualze this episode as a way to challenge chefs toward international cuisine thinking.

Marcus Samuelsson arrives to be Guest Judge for this episode. He recently won Top Chef Masters 2 and is chef/owner the the Red Rooster.

The Quickfire is to create a dish based on the principles of Ethiopian cuisine, at which Marcus is an acknowledged world expert. Those principles are :
injera bread (used to sop up all liquids and substitute for all utensils and plates)
wat or stew
use of wide arrays of spice blends

The dishes created and presented were:

Alex - Beef and Lamb Tongue Stew with Cabbage and Potatoes
Amanda - Stewed Goat on Inijera Bread, Sauced with Braised Liquid
Angelo - Berbere-spiced Dora Wat Chicken w/ Egg, Mango Yoghurt, Mint on Steamed Injera
Ed - Stewed Lamb and beef tripe cauliflower, chickpeas, braised greens
Kelly - Leg of Lamb Wat, Cauliflower, Yoghurt and Mint Puree
Kenny - Duo of Lamb Meat Loaf and Ribeye w/ curry and Dukkah Spice
Kevin - Braised Chicken w/ Chickpeas, Cucumber Mint Salad and Yoghurt
Tiffany - Beef Goulash w/ Poached egg, Red Currants, Red Peppers and Yoghurt

Marcus' judgement was that Alex (too dry) Kevin's salad and Stephen's dish were the worst.

The best dishes were from Angelo (who admittedly cooked in an Ethiopian restaurant before), Amanda for her fine work cooking difficult goat, and Tiffany for her ability to use Ethiopian principles in a dish not Ethiopian. Tiffany was the big winner, of immunity and of bragging right over Angelo.


The embassy folks from many nations were served this lunch at the Meridien House, with only sterno heat for chafing dishes so no onsite preparation or finishing could happen. 100 tasting portions were to be totally prepared at the Top Chef 7 kitchen at the Hilton Hotel for 30 minutes finishing the next morning. The food budget was $200 and time to purchase 30 minutes at Whole Foods. The most striking item was Stephen's purchase of brazil nuts as part of his ingredient (was Bravo trying to tell us something?).

The chefs were shown a map of the world with the the national colors of maybe 10 countries on it. They were to draw knives to determine the order of picking the cuisine they would do. Here are those results:

1. Tiffany Mexico
2. Kenny Italy
3. Ed China
4. Kelly France
5. Angelo Thailand
6. Alex Spain
7. Stephen Brazil
8. Kenny India

The resulting dishes were:
Alex - Cordobresa Braised Veal cheeks, jamon torta, olive and tomato salad
Amanda - Beef bourguinon w pommes fourchettes, horseradish mousse
Angelo - Sashimi of Tuna with Candied Wasabi & Soy Infusion
Ed - Tea Smoked Duck Breast with Pot Stickers in Szechuan Jus
Kelly - Beef Carpaccio with Spring Vegetable Salad, Truffled Vinaigrette & Parmigiano-Reggiano
Kenny - Curried Chicken with Leek & Parsnip Puree, Lentils & Cucumber-Mango Salad
Stephen - Flank Steak in Chimichuri Sauce w/ Black Beans and Rice
Tiffany - chicken tamales with queso fresco and Tomatillio Sauce

Joining the judges panel for this was world-class chef Jose Andres, the popularizer of tapas in the U.S. and chef/owner of minibar and Jaleo in Washington DC. The judges sampled 4 dishes round 1 and 4 more round 2. They decided that the Winners Group was Tiffany, Kevin and Kelly. The winner was Tiffany and a surprise prize of $10,000 was awarded. She is adding to her honeymoon in Costa Rica hoard.

The Losers Group was Stephen, Alex and Ed. Per Tom, Stephen's dish had poor execution and the rice was overcooked and he used the concept of Chimichuris inappropriately. Ed had not rendered off some fat and it sounded that he was a marginal member of the Loser's Group. Alex had some poor cooking technique  It was quite obvious that Stephen's limited skills had finally caught up to him. He was eliminated.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on August 26, 2010, 07:12:17 PM
TC7 ep. 11 Making Concessions

The guest Judge is Rick Moonen, a noted seafood master chef. So we can anticipate that this QAuickfire will use fish in some way? No such luck! The theme of this one if use of food idioms. Each chef got to draw a knife to deteremine order of selection of a food idiom which will be the basis for their dish.  The winner's recipe will go into Schwann's frozen meals delivery service. Those choices are:

Kevin - Bring Home the Bacon
Amanda - The Big Cheese
Kelly - Sour Grapes
Ed - Hot Potato
Tiffany - Spill the Beans
Angelo - Bigger Fish to Fry

Amanda - Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon and Jalapenos & Pork Chop
Angelo - Chili Crusted Tilapia Satay with Asian Tartare Sauce, Sambal & Sriracha
Ed -  Herb Roasted Garlic Ghocchi, Spring Vegetables & Mushroom Fricassee
Kelly - Pan Roasted Chicken Breast over Caramelized Brussels Sprout Leaves with Red Grape Sauce
Kevin - Bacon 3 Ways: Bacon Puree, Chopped Bacon, Bacon Froth with a Poached Egg
Tiffany - Pan Seared Cod Over Stewed Beans, Swiss Chard, Carrots and Bacon

Rick Moonen didn't like Kelly's Sour Grapes dish, nor Amanda's Big Cheese baked macaroni and cheese dish.
The dishes that were on the top were Kevin's bacon dish and the winner was Ed's Potato dish. 

The Elimination Challenge was to create a dish for serving at an upscale concessions stand at washington's Nationals Park. The shopping time was normal, but it appeared that the budget was $2000 per chef. They had to select a concept that could flourish  in that environment. The cooking was done mostly in the Top Chef kitchen and then reheating in the cramped concession area. As the chefs were setting up, 3 Nationals stars came by to watch and chat, then later to eat. This provide instant publicity for the effort.

One of the loose ends was how orders would be handled. Angelo volunteered to do this but had second thoughts. It worked out OK without hurting his food. The dishes selected were:

Amanda - Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with Fennel, Meyer Lemon & Fava Bean Puree
Angelo - Sweet Glazed Pork, Lobster Roll with Sweet Sesame Pickles
Ed - Shrimp and Corn Risotto Fritters with Jalapeno Aioli 
Kelly - Open faced Crab Cake BLT w/ Sweet Potato Fries
Kevin - Herb Marinated Chicken Kabob w/ Romesco Sauce, Shoe String Fries and Smoked Paprika Aioli
Tiffany - Italian Meatball Sub with Fennel, Basil Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella

The top two rated by Eric Ripert (who doesn't seem like a baseball type), rick, and Tom were Ed and Tiffany. Ed was ratedas having perfect balance of outside crunchiness and inside creaminess, so he won a trip to Australia. After the $10K prizes that is the best prize I remember for TC7.

The other 4 were all rated in the worst group. Angelo had way too much bread ono his sandwich and it was soggy and there was to much sweetness on the plate. Kelly had fabulous crabcakes but a poor BLT. Kevin had put fries on teh skewer, which wass too long and difficult to handle. He had a problem with demand for his chicken. Rick thoought he should have gone Romesco sauce but noy two sauces. Amanda, to have things ready the day before in the prep, had diced her tuna and it had oxidized into a grey/black color which was unappealing. Amanda earned the elimination.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on August 26, 2010, 07:19:26 PM
There are only 3 or 4 episodes (how do you count double ones?) left. It's time for an assessment of who should win. Originally I did an analysis which showed that Angelo and Kenny were top dogs, with Ed fairly close behind. I rated Kelly in the middle and  Kevin and Tiffany low. Q few things have changed since then. Ed and Tiffany have been cleaning house and Angelo, Kevin and Kelly were dropping. A this point in TC7, here is the order of finish I predict:

1. Ed
2. Tiffany
3. Angelo
4. Kelly
5. Kevin
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on September 02, 2010, 09:06:43 AM
TC7, ep. 12, Gastro-nauts

The Quickfire was about pairing food with wine and the Guest Judge was Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine. The chefs had to choose a wine and then create a dish that matched it as closely as possible. This was announced as a High Stakes Quickfire. The dishes were: 

Angelo - Sautéed Foie Gras w/ Black Salt & Fennel Salad (Evolution White Wine)
Ed – Grilled Wagyu Rib eye with Spring Potato Risotto & Wild Mushroom Ragout (Rosso Del Montalcino)
Kelly – Wild Boar Tenderloin, Black Berry Conserve, Blue Cheese Emulsion & Mache (Federalist Dry Creek Zinfandel)
Kevin – Grilled Quail w/ Shaved Apple-Fennel Salad & Apple Vinaigrette (Tangley Oaks Merlot)
Tiffany - Cocoa and Black Pepper Crusted Wagyu Tenderloin with Spring Risotto (Two Hands Shiraz)
Dana was not fond of Kevin’s quail (a last-minute substitution for a braised pork belly that did not cook enough in one hour). She also disliked the blue cheese foam in Kelly’s dish. The Winner’s group was Angelo and Tiffany. Angelo won. Kevin stated that it looked like Angelo had his mo-jo back.

The Elimination Challenge was to create a dish that could be quick frozen and sent as meals to the International Space Station. Food scientists from NASA gave a presentation on what the considerations that needed to be factored in> those included low sugar content and small bite sizes as well as spiciness whenever possible. The chefs designed their dishes for 8 portions and bought ingredients at Whole Foods in 30 minutes for $200.  They prepped in the Top Chef kitchen and would finish with 1 hour in the cramped Langley kitchen. Everything appeared to go well except that just before the end of the prep period Tiffany discovered that her mussels had frozen in the refrigerator and died, necessitating some adjustments. Final cooking was completed and the meal was served to 1 NASA food scientist, 2 NASA astronauts, the legendary Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 fame as the guest diners plus Padma, Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert, and Tom Colicchio as the judging panel. The winner would win a loaded Toyota Avalon car and also be the guest of NASA for viewing one of 2 remaining Space Shuttle launches. The dishes prepared were:
Angelo - Ginger Lacquered Short Ribs with Pea Puree, Pickled Mushrooms & Horseradish Crème Fraiche
Ed - Yogurt Marinated Rack of Lamb with Eggplant Puree, Cous Cous Croquette & Hummus
Kelly – Pan Roasted Halibut with Artichoke-Fennel Barigoule, Salsa Verde Salad
Kevin – NY Strip Steak with Bacon, Jalapeno & Corn Puree
Tiffany - Pan-Seared Alaskan Halibut with Coconut Curry, Snow Pea Shoots & Jasmine Rice

The Judges Table back at the Hilton went right to the heart of the choices the chefs made. It was hilarious that Bourdain and Ripert seemed to disagree on just about everything. The concensus of the judges was that all dishes had superb flavors so the differentiation of one dish from another would be difficult. Angelo had a near-perfect dish, except that Tom found the candied ginger too sweet. Kelly lost points only for low originality, since she had an almost perfect execution. Ed had a very complicated Moroccan-inspired dish to go for the desired spiciness; Eric thought it was too complicated but Anthony and Tom thought he pulled it off. Kevin used sirloin steak as comfort food; the judges thought he could have attempted something less banal. Tiffany had made flavor substitutions of fish sauce for the spoiled mussels. That fish sauce was too raw and the black pepper sauce was overpowering; Anthony also thought her choice of fish should have been a stronger one.     
The winner was Angelo, who in addition to the car won the new book Modern Raw by Anthony Bourdain plus of course the ticket to the semifinals. So, who would not be going to the semis? The loser was Tiffany. Ed, Kelly and Kevin all are going to the semis.

Padma announced that the site of the semis would be international for the first time, in Singapore, a worthy international food capital.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on September 09, 2010, 12:48:30 PM
TC7 Finale, part 1

The chefs arrived in Singapore and undoubtedly checked into the Singapore Hilton but were sent to a special building with thousands of hawker street food stands to tour it under the guidance of K.F. Seetoh, a legendary Singapore street food expert and blogger. Seetoh led them to many different types of street food and you hope they were taking careful mental or written notes because you know that what they were learning will be needed all too soon. They rejoined Padma in an area with 4 mini-kitchens set up with ingredients and just woks for cooking. The Quickfire was to create a special Singapore
Street food dish that the locals would enjoy. Seetoh was the judge. You might expect that Asian food expert Angelo would have an advantage, but watch what happens! Padma announced that this would be a surprise High Stakes Quickfire, with the winner going straight to the finals with immunity from the coming Elimination Challenge. The dishes created were:

Angelo – Chili Frog Legs with Pineapple and Rambutan Salsa

Ed - Stir Fry Noodles with Black Pepper Sauce, Lobster and Gai Lan
Kelly – Chinese Noodles with Lobster, Cockles, Bean Sprouts and Chinese Broccoli

Kevin - Seafood Stew with Lobster and Cuttlefish with Crispy Shallots

Seetoh’s comments were:
Angelo – liked Rambutan flavor and pineapple
Ed – liked Gai Lan Singapore style, use of 2 types of noodles, range of flavors
Kelly – imparted broth flavor into noodles
Kevin – sophisticated and complex flavors

So, you might guess that Seetoh named Kevin the winner, but there is a lot of effort in Top Chef finales to not give any results away prematurely, which requires toning down the commentary on the winner’s dish. In this case the actual winner was Ed. The chefs went out for a brief walk afterward and found a prawn pond where only Kevin was successful in catching one, but he did not want to take it off the hook.

Elimination Challenge

Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine was throwing a small soiree for her 80 closest friends in Singapore. Not really, it’s probably only major foodies allowed in. She has commissioned the TC7 finalists to cook the food for this special event at the Tanjong Beach Club. The chefs were required to work together as a team for several reasons, one of which is the cramped kitchen space at that club. They have $200 each to shop for Asian spices and specialty items and the proteins, vegetables, etc. are being provided. Their first step was to plan their menu. They presumably have not slept from landing in Singapore and with only one hour to prep and 90 minutes to cook with no sous chef help they all decide to do only one dish. However, Ed had a Pearl Harbor sneak attack set up, as he was ready for 2 dishes because he did not believe they would be allowed to do only one. The chef prepped the next morning and then transferred to Panjong Beach Club to do final cooking. They were moving right along with 28 minutes left when tom arrived and provided the twist that if they have ever seen a Top Chef finale you know must come some time. Tom stated that one dish per chef is unacceptable and they all must do two. Ed was ready, so he now have a huge advantage. Kelly, Angelo and Ed must scramble to finish their first dish, create a second dish and cook it in less than 28 minutes. The dishes created were:

Angelo - Lamb Tartare with Rambutan Ceviche and Curry Oil
Spicy Shrimp Broth with Ginger and Prawn Dumplings
Ed - Crispy Rice and Potato Cakes, Sweet and Sour Pork, Kai Lan
Fried Banana Fritter with Red Chili Paste
Kelly - Chilled Cucumber-Yogurt Soup, Bitter Melon Salad; guava/apple salad
Seared Prawns, Spicy Red Coconut Curry, Crispy Prawn Heads
Clam Chowder Flavors of Southeast Asia
63° Farm Egg, Pearl Tapioca, Radish Condiment

The judges (Tom, Padma, Gail and Seetoh, s Dana did not join them) mostly reserved their comments for back at Judges Table, where they opened it by asking each chef for an overview of their concept. Kelly talked about how they all worked together as a team (Angelo added in a brigade system).

Angelo (tartare) - talked about how he wanted to do Indian spice blends and sought a major challenge, having never done lamb tartare before
Angelo (broth) – it was highly oversalted (Padma)
Ed (cakes)– tastelicious (Gail); pork and sausage nice complements to the rice (Seetoh); could have fried rice cakes to add a new texture and make this even better (Seetoh)
Ed (fritters) – perfect stoner food (Tom); I wanted 6 of these, not just the 2 I received (Gail)
Kevin (chowder) – elevated (Gail); needed more heat (Seetoh)
Kevin (congee dish) - a huge risk but it was perfectly executed (Tom); would have liked an additional crispy or herbacious texture added to make it even better (Seetoh)

The decision on the winner was easy. Ed wanted it more and pushed himself for the victory, with Gail stating that his dishes directly reflected his personality. He was the first part 2 finalist. Kelly, Angelo and Kevin had to wait for more judges’ discussion.

The judges next summarized their additional perspectives on the dishes:

Angelo – soup oversalted but lamb tartare perfect
Kelly – cucumber soup fish texture off but guava/apple salad superb
Kevin – chowder nice, congee superb

Padma announced that Kelly would be packing her knives and leaving (actually, I will bet they have a role for her in the part 2 finale). Kevin and Angelo breathe easier as they are in that finale part 2 along with Ed.

It's time to look back at my July 17 predictions about who the final 4 would be:

Expected by Me to be the Final 4

So, that happened except for Kevin substituting for Kenny.

If you ask me who I think will win, I say whoever was best on the day of competition. They have different styles, but all are excellent chefs. I think Ed has a 40% chance of winning, Angelo 35% and Kevin 25%.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on September 09, 2010, 09:07:38 PM
For lack of anything better to watch tonight, I turned on the replay of Sunday night's Iron Chef America. Who should appear as sous cjefs for Cat Cora's team but Richard Blais (2nd placed a few seasons back) and Ed cotton (who will win. place or show TC7 next week but it was flimed months ago). They lost by 11 point to a California chef named Kostow, with points deducted for Cat's apple tobacco smoker impacting one dish badly the difference.
Title: Re: Top Chef 7
Post by: apskip on September 16, 2010, 04:15:24 PM
TC7, finale, part 2

It's the second and last part of finals in Singapore, with Angelo, Kevin and Ed competing for the grand prize. It was staged over a two day period following the elimination of Kelly. Padma immediately called the Final 3 back to hear that they would be cooking the best 4 course meal of their lives. The famous knife block was there for some type of draw. The courses would be:
1. Vegetable
2. Fish
3. Meat
4. Dessert (and Gail Simmons gave a plug for dessert since her Just Desserts new show was premiering immediately after Top Chef's finale)

Tom Colicchio stated that he and Eric Ripert were going to the market the next morning and buying the fresh fish, meat and any other proteins that all would cook with. There would be 3 hour prep time the next day. The sous chefs were brought in and they were all prior Top Chef winners. Angelo wanted Hung Huynh because they were in Singapore and Hung specializes in Asian food. The draw was:

Kevin – Mike Voltaggio (TC6) (both Ed and Kevin wanted Mike)
Ed – Ilan Hall (TC2)
Angelo – Hung Huynh (TC3) (note that Angelo’s wish was granted. Was this a harbinger?)

Seetoh’s final word to the chefs was “Sock It to Me”. I can just imagine him on 1967 Laugh-In saying that with his modest accent.

Angelo on returning to his room was very ill and a doctor examined him. It was one of those “it will pass, buddy, but not soon enough to allow you to cook” diagnoses. The next morning Angelo was totally out of it but the doctor gave him an antibiotic shot just in case it helped. Tom decided to allow Huynh at the market where each group had $300 and 1 hour to shop for other ingredients to be in phone contact with Angelo in his bed and later in the prep kitchen. It was as if Angelo’s group was almost competitive with Huynh’s extreme energy vs. the focus of Ed/Ilan and Kevin/Mike. Angelo was clear on one raw material he believed was critical, the in-house or store supply of foie gras (which was extremely limited). Huynh cornered the market by taking the one roll of it, which meant that Ed and Kevin could not use that ingredient. I believe that the original plan was to have the final cooking and meal that evening after another 3 hour period of cooking and plating, but it did not happen until the next morning. The doctor pronounced Angelo weak but able to compete and so he did to the best of his surely limited-by-the-lingering-effects-of-flu abilities. The market trip by Tom and Eric resulted in these proteins:
Fish –rouget, cuttlefish, cockles, clipper lobster
Meat – pork belly, duck

Tom cautioned that all of the non-primary proteins must be used up in other dishes. During the prep period some tensions between Ed and his sous chef Ilan Hall seemed to materialize. Ed was unhappy about the final execution of the fairly simple dessert. Kevin did his pork belly sous vide.

The dishes prepared were:

Angelo #1 Royale mushrooms, Noodles, char sui bao Pork Belly w/ watermelon tea
#2 Asian Style bouillabaisse w/ sautéed rouget and poached cuttlefish
#3 Sauteed duck breast and foie gras w/ marshmallow + tart cherry shooter
#4 shaved ice and coconut-vanilla ice cream w/ exotic fruit

Ed #1 chilled Summer corn veloute
#2 Bacon-wrapped slipper lobster and char-grilled cuttlefish w/ zucchini pesto
#3 Duck 2 Ways: marinated roasted duck breast and braised stuffed duck neck w/ baby spinach
#4 Sticky Toffee Date pudding with fleur de sel crème chantilly.

Kevin #1 Eggplant, zucchini, roasted pepper terrine, tomatoes, jalapenos, black garlic puree
#2 Seared rouget and cuttlefish noodles, pork belly, cockles, slipper lobster, cigala
#3 Marinated Roasted Duck w/ duck dumpling, caramelized bok choy, orange coriander sauce
#4 “Singapore Sling 2010” gorgeous fresh fruit of contrasting colors inside a purple shell floating over a coconut pannacotta

The invited diners for this special meal were:
Iggy Cha, restauranteur
Su-Ly Tan, travel author
Susan Feniger, Top Chef Masters competitor
David Chang, chef
Vincent Bourdin, pastry chef
Paul Borlotta, owner
Dana Cowin, Food and Wine magazine editor-in-chief
Andre Chang, owner

The meal was enjoyed by all diners and there were appropriate comments about special aspects of it. The 4 core judges went back to Judges Table to question the chefs interspersed with their own commentary (which was revealing nothing about relative performance). Here are a select few comments:

Angelo’s Vegetable - smart, utilizing local ingredients (Gail); vegetables were special (Eric)
Angelo’s Fish – Cherry Puree was by no means a palette cleanser (Padma); Angelo responded that it would have been if she recycled to the salad; there was no user’s manual (Tom)
Ed’s Fish – roasted duck breast and neck then braised the neck; demonstrated great skill (Tom), spinach was excellent (Gail) 
Ed’s Dessert – really good (Gail); disagree strongly, it’s what I could get at home (Tom); why not something more advanced?(Tom); Ed responded he did not want to take a risk on the dessert course even though he had considered lemon curd (author - not all that “advanced”)
Kevin’s fish – Kevin stated pork added to enhance this dish
Kevin’s Meat – duck cooked nicely, not over-rested
Kevin’s Dessert – Singapore Sling 2010 – I went to where the original was invented (Raffles Hotel) and yours is much better (Gail); coconut on bottom was a surprise and highly refreshing (Eric)

The conclusion from the judges talking internally was that they had succeeded in getting the chefs out of their comfort zone (“element”) and that with 4 judges with major differences in perspective a decision would not come easily since all chefs had cooked exceptional meals.  A course-by-course review led by Padma unearthed these additional comments:

Vegetable – Angelo’s noodles were pasta, not veggie in character (Eric); Kevin’s noodles not exciting (Padma went further to say timid)
Fish – Angelo’s beautiful (Gail); Kevin’s rouget was not very good (Tom); I disagree totally, it was cooked on one side and the skin was crispy, perfect (Eric, a higher authority on fish than Tom)
Meat – Angelo’s duck a great job (Gail), slightly overcooked (Tom); Kevin – cooked sous vide and perfectly (Eric), all the flavors worked (Tom),
Dessert – Kevin it was a fruit punch, which actually carried a huge wallop (Gail); so refreshing (Eric)

Summary comments about the chefs were Ed did a nice job (damning with faint praise?) and Angelo (“you paid homage to the ingredients”), but nothing was said about Kevin. Tom stated that the Top Chef title and prize was about to be awarded to the chef who took the most risks and had the best meal. They made the final decision, to proclaim Kevin as Top Chef. I have to believe that Angelo was hampered by the 3 hours prep time lost. Ed apparently made a mistake with his dessert, although there were no judging comments along those lines. That mistake was its extreme simplicity and admitting being unwilling to take any chance with simple add-ons like lemon curd, which could have enhanced the dish. I don’t think that a little bit of salt in the whipped cream (which Ed accused Ilan of) was responsible. Contrast that with Kevin’s approach exemplified by the creation of Singapore Sling 2010. Kevin just had the highest level of taste and flavor development particularly in my opinion with his Singapore Sling.