This week's contestants are:
Jonathan Waxman from New York City. He's been a chef for nearly forty years and trained many other famous chefs, including Bobby Flay. He's responsible for Bobby Flay? Burn him!
Roy Yamaguchi of Honolulu. He's the first ever James Beard award winner and created Hawaiian fusion.
Art Smith of Chicago. He's known as Oprah's chef and has won multiple awards for both his cooking and his humanitarian work.
Michael Cimarusti of Los Angeles. He's a well-known seafood chef.
Quickfire Challenge: Create a great dish by buying food from only one aisle in the grocery store while spending only $20. They're judged by Whole Foods employees, like Whole Foods doesn't get enough free advertising on this show. When the results are revealed, Roy gets 4 stars for his Pasta with Fried Egg and Asian Flavors, Jonathan gets 3.5 stars for his Mint, Lentil, and Roasted Pepper Salad, Art gets 4.5 stars for his Multi-grain Risotto with Crispy Rice Salad, Michael wins with 5 stars for his Chocolate Parfait with Ginger Sauterne Syrup and Sesame Crackers. The young buck surpasses the masters!
Elimination Challenge: Each chef creates a mystery box for one of the other chefs, drawn at random. And then each chef has to create a dish from his box of seven mystery ingredients. So they could sabotage each other, but given the camaraderie we've seen on the show thus far, that probably won't happen. This would never happen on the regular Top Chef.
Art Smith makes fried chicken two ways and mango pie. The critics think it was typical Art, but also kind of in his comfort zone.
Roy makes short rib kalbi and mahi mahi with lemongrass and ginger crust. The critics thought the mahi mahi was interesting, but some of the other diners feel that the lemongrass was overpowering.
Michael makes loin of lamb with sunchoke puree, broccoli rabe, and purple cauliflower. He ran out of time and didn't get to sauce all of the plates. The critics think it was good, but just good and nothing stood out.
Jonathan makes pork sausage and pork chop with cauliflower and celery root and black truffle. He complains that he doesn't usually use so many ingredients in one dish, and explains that this is his '80s throwback dish. The critics enjoy the '80s nature of the food.
Total scores: Jonathan gets 20 stars, Roy gets 15 stars, Michael gets 17.5 stars, and Art gets 22 stars and takes the competition. It's quite an upset because throughout, they kept emphasizing how Jonathan was the master chef and all of the others respected him so much and it seemed like he had it in the bag. Actually kind of exciting as an episode! And I suck at math because next week starts the second round!
This week's contestants are:
Jonathan Waxman from New York City, who owns Barbuto. A former musician, he's now been a chef for nearly forty years. Colicchio explains that Waxman is known as "the Godfather" and has trained many other famous chefs, including Bobby Flay. He's responsible for Bobby Flay? Burn him! I can't stand that dude. He's such a That Guy. Gail Simmons tells us that Jonathan owned a restaurant in the '80s where culinary luminaries like Julia Child, Wolfgang Puck, and James Beard hung out. So he's kind of a big deal. His charity is Meals on Wheels, and he vows to be his own competition, instead of looking over his shoulder.
Roy Yamaguchi of Honolulu. He's the first ever James Beard award winner, owner of dozens of restaurants, and he created the culinary concept of Hawaiian fusion. He was also a judge in the Season 2 finale of Top Chef. His charity is Imua Family Services, which helps children with special needs.
Art Smith of Chicago, who owns restaurants in Chicago and DC. He's known as Oprah's chef, and cooks in a Southern style. He's also been a judge on Top Chef, which only makes him fear going in front of the judges himself. He has won James Beard awards for both his cookbook and his humanitarian work, and is playing for his own charity, Common Threads, which teaches children how to cook.
Michael Cimarusti of Los Angeles. He owns a restaurant called Providence, and Gail Simmons assures us that he is "an extraordinary seafood chef." He's definitely the youngest of this week's contestants, but his restaurant has received multiple honors already. He's playing for the Grameen Foundation, which helps people, especially women, pull themselves out of poverty. I went and looked it up, because his description was pretty vague, and it turns out it's a microfinance charity. Michael notes that, when he was a line cook, he cooked with Jonathan, and considers him "a rock star of the culinary world."
Kelly Choi strolls in to discuss the Quickfire Challenge. She points out that some of them have been judges before, but now the tables are turned. She really says "the tables are completely turned." Who writes this stuff? The tables are turned? Hacky. Anyway, maybe they can't write anything too complex or Kelly wouldn't be able to handle it. She pauses after saying that, and the chefs just kind of stare at her, not sure if they're supposed to respond or what. Finally, Art Smith chokes out that he's terrified and everyone laughs with relief because it was really awkward. Jonathan says that Art has a weight advantage (DIVA!) and he knows everything about Roy. Whoa. This JUST. GOT. INTERESTING. I've been waiting for the fact that these people all know each other to come into play. Kelly forces Michael to say something and he says he's nervous. She acts surprised. Dude. He's cooking with a bunch of legends, who are all at least ten years older than him. Also, his face is bright red.