Quickfire Challenge. Guest judge is Grant Achatz, who is a superstar in the culinary world, particularly known for molecular gastronomy. He's also a cancer survivor. Cheftestants pick a knife with a number, and the number corresponds to a page in the Top Chef cookbook. The challenge is to put their own spin on their assigned recipe in one hour. Halfway through the challenge, Padma drama queens into the kitchen and tells everyone that they need to stop making what they were working on and transform their ingredients into a soup. After sampling the soups, Achatz is impressed by Jamie's complex chickpea soup, Leah's transformation of her original recipe (tuna tartare with white asparagus) into a chilled soup, and Daniel's ham and egg soup. The winner is Leah. I obviously can't judge flavor, but I was impressed that she managed to turn tuna tartare into a soup, even though based on the descriptions I would have liked the other two soups better. Leah gets immunity for the Elimination Challenge.
The Elimination Challenge is to divide into two teams and cook a Thanksgiving feast for the Foo Fighters and their entourage (over sixty people including many vegetarians) while incorporating their likes and dislikes. The winning team gets to watch the Foo Fighters concert and the losing team will have to clean up, and one member of the losing team will be eliminated.
The cheftestants travel to Rochester, New York (my hometown!) where they discover that their kitchen is outside; all the cooking needs to be done in microwaves and toaster ovens, with no refrigerators. The first team (chosen by Leah) goes by Team Sexy Pants and consists of Leah, Jamie, Hosea, Stefan, Fabio, Melissa, and Radhika. The second team (the leftovers) goes by Team Cougar and consists of Jeff, Richard, Alex, Ariane, Carla, Daniel, and Eugene. I can't believe they went shopping in Rochester and didn't shop at Wegmans, which started there. That is a bunch of horseshit.
After eating a LOT of food, the Foo Fighters crown Team Sexy Pants the winners, mostly due to their tasty vegan stuffing and superior desserts. Team Cougar has to clean up and then also report for Judges' Table. Ariane is told that her turkey was perfect, and Eugene's smoked pork (on a MacGyvered grill) was good too. Jeff's dishes (spoon bread and pumpkin mousse) were unsuccessful, but he took on a leadership role on the team that might have contributed to that. Daniel's potatoes were undercooked. Richard tried to make chocolate-banana s'mores, but they weren't warm and the vanilla crème topping looked like spit. The saliva sends him over the top, and Richard is told to pack his knives and go.
It's the morning after the last elimination, and Fabio is still riding the high of his win. He knows, however, that it won't last long, since they have the next round coming up. Ariane realizes that her problem in the last elimination was that her food was too sweet. She interviews that she thinks her nerves are getting the best of her, and she knows that since she's been in the bottom two for both Elimination Challenges so far, the other cheftestants are questioning her skills. So, she needs to pull it together. Richard says that at this point, they've been able to get to know one another a little bit, despite being competitors. He reveals that Jeff is nicknamed Don Johnson, which is a terrible nickname, because he looks nothing like Don Johnson. Surfer Boy might be more appropriate, if a little on the nose. Richard adds that Fabio is the cute Italian, and Leah is fun and flirty with a nice rack. It kind of cracks me up that he knows about as much about these people as we, the viewers, do at this point.
The cheftestants arrive at the kitchen for the Quickfire Challenge. Padma welcomes them to "Thanksgiving" (this was filmed in July) and introduces the guest judge, Grant Achatz, who (Jamie tells us) is a superstar in the culinary world, particularly known for molecular gastronomy. Hosea lets us know that Achatz is also a cancer survivor. The cheftestants pick a knife with a number. The numbers puzzle them all, because they seem to be fairly random integers like 188 and 91. Padma explains that the number corresponds to a page in the Top Chef cookbook. Available in stores now! Not to get all foodie, but I kind of feel like the whole point of this show is to demonstrate that good cooks can cook something edible and palatable given a few ingredients and some other constraints. Other than maybe the finals and Restaurant Wars, I can't think of a lot of recipes I would want to try to recreate from this show. And even if I did, I would want to try to put my own twist on it. Then again, I consider recipes to be starting points, and I know others who follow them to the last detail, so I'm sure the cookbook sold just fine.
Anyway, the challenge is to put their own spin on their assigned recipe in one hour. Jeff has a pork and apple salad recipe created by Howie, and feels that since they are both from Miami, it should be a breeze. Also, I note that Jeff is the chef at the Dilido Beach Club, and that is just one typo away from being not safe for basic cable. Melissa gets CJ and Tre's recipe from the frozen food challenge, and since she's not planning on freezing and reheating her recipe, that does seem a little unfair. Then again, she's supposed to put her own twist on it. Leah gets Hung's tuna tartare with white asparagus. She's not too worried, since she's worked with those flavors before and tartare, by definition, doesn't really require cooking so much as prepping.