Quickfire Challenge. Season Three Winner Hung Huynh joins Padma in revealing that the chefs have to make a delicious dish using non-fresh ingredients, which horrifies the cheftestants. The Hung twist, since he’s so fast, is that they only have fifteen minutes. The cheftestants are all disgusted by the canned food, and they end up coming off kind of snobby, to be honest. I guess the audience for this show isn’t the typical home cook, but I still think there are a lot of people in this country who don’t have access to fresh farm-direct locally grown food year-round. Maybe I’m just bitter because I live in the Arctic tundra, so there’s not a lot of local produce going on for about five months of the year. But I think it’s a bigger challenge to cook something edible when you don’t have the greatest ingredients.
Hung doesn’t like Leah’s fried waffles, Radhika’s bean dip or Jamie’s bruschetta, mostly because he feels they all needed more effort and were too simple. He did like Hosea’s pea-and-spam soup, Stefan’s grilled cheese sandwich with soup and Jeff’s fried conch with dipping sauce and pina colada. He chooses Stefan as the winner.
Elimination Challenge. They are put into teams based on proteins (chicken, lamb, pork) and told to create a seasonal, family-style lunch based on their team’s protein. Team Lamb is Hosea, Leah, and Ariane. Team Chicken is Stefan, Jamie, and Carla. Team Pork is Fabio, Jeff, and Radhika.
Stefan and Jamie butt heads over Stefan's stubbornness. Ariane is nervous about working with the “lovebirds” Hosea and Leah, since she feels like they share a brain and don’t really listen to her. The teams head to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a “non-profit farm and education center” to do their “shopping.” So it’s totally going to be farm-to-table in the strictest sense. After shopping, they’ll be cooking for the farmers and their families.
Team Pork makes seared pork loin, sausage ravioli with pesto, fried green tomatoes, grilled corn salad, and crème brulée. They are criticized for their choice of removing the pork from the bone, but people like the fried green tomato, which Jeff made.
Team Chicken makes chicken cutlets, lemon-herb roasted chicken, chicken ravioli soup, and a nectarine and strawberry tartlet. Their flavors are good but some of their dish choices are questioned, like serving soup on a hot day. The diners like Carla’s desserts.
Team Lamb makes roasted duo of lamb, heirloom tomato salad, rosemary and garlic-roasted potatoes, Swiss chard, and a summer berry trifle. Their lamb is not butchered well, and it’s overly seasoned, which is a huge problem.
Team Chicken with Jamie, Stefan, and Carla are the winners, and the judges don’t name an individual winner. Teams Pork and Lamb are brought back in to defend their dishes. Ariane takes heat for the way she butchered the lamb, although her teammates take some heat as well for leaving it all up to Ariane and not stepping in when she screwed up. On Team Pork, Jeff gets in trouble for his butchering, Fabio is told his pesto was too heavy-handed, and Radhika is criticized for not doing much at all. The Pork team is saved, so the Lamb team loses, and ultimately Ariane is sent home for the butchering blunder.
The morning after the double elimination, various cheftestants are making breakfast and/or getting ready for the day. Leah is sad to lose Melissa, but she's happy that Hosea is still there. We'll find out just how happy in a few minutes. Hosea is wearing a T-shirt that says "I heart Padma" and I wish they didn't have to wear the chef's coats in the kitchen because I'd like to see Padma's reaction to that shirt. If she even noticed. Hosea says that he's getting pretty sick of Stefan talking shit all the time, and Hosea is now gunning for Stefan. I don't know how you can really target someone for elimination on this show unless you are on a team and somehow set them up for failure, but I think Stefan is probably too smart to put himself in that position. Stefan brags about how he's won three challenges already and asks, "How do you like that, Hosea? How do you like that in your face?" I think Stefan needs to work on his idioms a bit.
Quickfire Challenge. The cheftestants walk into the kitchen and find Padma standing there with Hung, the winner of Season Three. Stefan is gazing at Hung with love in his eyes. Or maybe he's looking at Padma. Hard to say. Fabio interviews that he knows Hung loves to cook fish, and there's a giant structure next to Padma with a sheet over it, so Fabio thinks there will be an aquarium underneath with fish in it. Given the shape and size of the structure, it's not a bad guess. Padma announces that any chef can create great food with fresh, seasonal ingredients, but that's not what this challenge is about today. She whips off the sheet (wonder how many takes that required) to reveal some shelves filled with canned goods like you would find in most home pantries. The cheftestants are HORRIFIED. They have to use canned goods? Like a commoner? Why, most of those ingredients aren't even organic! The horror! I realize I'm a little touchy about this. Of course, fresh ingredients are always going to taste better. The thing is, where I live right now, we have about ten inches of snow on the ground, and that's going to be true until about April. So unless you either ship stuff in from other parts of the world, which is not the greatest in terms of the carbon footprint, or you have stuff frozen and/or canned from the warmer months, you're kind of screwed. So most of us make do with canned food. Granted, I'm not even close to a top chef, but I am probably a typical viewer of the show, and I find it kind of insulting. But as Fabio would say, this is Top Chef, not Top Kim Goes On A Rant About Food Snobs, so I'm done.