This might have been the warm-fuzziest episode of Top Chef ever. When Camille got sent home for dumping cornmeal on her pineapple upside-down muffin, there was barely a dry eye in the kitchen. Even Joey From New York's face was red and shining with tears! Aw. Also, when Immunized Casey realizes that she might have screwed her team to such a degree that one of them would be sent home because her dish was just that awful, her guilt-ridden tears bring hugs and rubs from her teammates as well as from other cheftestants. It's no joke that this group is definitely united in supporting one another against all odds, as evidenced by the same hearty round of applause every cheftestant gets on their way out.
In a Bombay Sapphire Gin product-placed Quickfire, where the cheftestants are tasked with pairing set cocktails with their created appetizers, Casey wins the Immunity by matching a Balsamic-Strawberry Rickey with a pecan-crusted foie gras French toast.
The most amusing parts are when Hung thinks he gets mouthy with the Bombay representative, and watching Joey From New York and Howie bond over their mid-challenge distaste for Casey.
Divided into teams of three, the cheftestants set about planning a trio-based tasting menu for a passel of chain-draped food fiends. Coming out with a cherry on top is Team Shrimp -- Lia, Brian, and Hung -- with Lia winning a guest chef gig at some Hamptons charity event. On the opposite end of that spectrum is quiet, hardly-seen Camille, who is sent home for taking Alton Brown's advice on how to make a pineapple upside-down cake but not being Alton Brown.
The cheftestants get up in the morning -- Casey takes some time to sharpen her knives on a diamond block -- and do a group cheer before they head out to the kitchen.
When it comes to Bombay Sapphire Gin, nothing befits such a clean, crisp flavor as a basic martini, pure and simple. Growing up, I learned how to make martinis watching Patrick Dennis do it in Auntie Mame, where I also learned, "stir, never shake -- bruises the gin." A few years ago, Bombay Sapphire was my ultimate in gin tastiness, but I have since discovered Gin 209, Sarticious, Hendricks, Junípero, and Tanqueray Rangpur (best in a gin and tonic; it's too much like a l'Occitane eau de parfum in a martini). However, Bombay Sapphire is the gin of the night, so here you go. You can apply this standard recipe using any brand your gin-soaked heart desires.
2 ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin
1 ounce vermouth
Olives, citrus peel, onions, or what you will
Fill both a cocktail glass and a shaker with ice. Add the gin to the shaker and stir with a long handled spoon. Over a sink, dump the ice out of the cocktail glass and fill the glass with the vermouth. Swirl vermouth around the glass, coating all sides, and dump into the sink. Strain the stirred gin into the glass and add the garnish of your choice.
Sip -- ahhhh.
So, as I might have mentioned before: Bombay Sapphire Gin is in the house and there are lurid cocktails a-plenty strewn about the display table. Dale is totally stoked because his last consulting job was pairing cocktails with food. Predicting that she'll have to deal with a Lemon Drop, Camille sucks in her cheeks. Casey is nervous because she's accustomed to pairing wine, not cocktails, with food. Padma introduces their guest judge, but can we just talk about how much I love her clothes today? The ruffled lavender vintage-y top is perfect with the chocolate brown pencil skirt. Tasteful, understated, very nice. Okay, so Jamie Walker -- the guest judge -- is the "global master mixologist" for Bombay Sapphire Gin. "Dear Keckler, Um, I love your recaps but I just wanted to let you know that I go to Harvard and it's actually 'Mumbai' now, not 'Bombay.' Thanks!" You think I'm joking, don't you? The cheftestants have to whip up some foodstuffs to pair with the cocktails Jamie made earlier. After he gives us a brief but patently obvious Bombay Sapphire commercial, Jamie tells us that more and more restaurants these days are adding "master mixologists" to their staff. These folks are on hand to perform the same duties as a sommelier. Does that open the field up to future cheftestants who will feel Colicchio's wrath? "This is Top Chef, not Top Mixologist!" The cheftestants draw knives for their cocktails -- when Hung pulls his, he mutters long and completely inaudibly to himself -- and get to work.