Quickfire Challenge judged by Charlie Palmer, famed American chef, who has worked with both of the brothers Volt before: Pair a dish with a bag of Alexia snack chips, with six flavors from which to choose. The bottom three dishes come from Robin and Ash, because their concept is flawed, and Jen, who has a good concept but overcooks her pork chops. The top three are Eli, Bryan and Kevin, for great concepts and execution, and the winner is Eli for making a potato clam salad with fennel, celery, and white truffle sauce, and pairing it with the savory onion chips.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs draw knives and are assigned a part of the pig. They must create a dish pairing pork with pinot noir for Charlie Palmer's charity event, resulting in 150 tasting portions. The cheftestants get to choose which bottle of wine they want to pair with their dish. Eli won't shut up about how awesome he is at pairing foods with wine. Also, back at the house, Robin still won't shut up about ANYTHING, and she and Eli get in a yelling match because they're both kind of dicks.
After some bickering between the brothers Volt, the cheftestants are finally ready to serve, and here are their dishes:
Michael V.: root beer-braised pork cheek with a truffle bun and vanilla/cherry sauce paired with 2006 Cuvaison pinot noir.
Ash: chilled pork tenderloin with cherry and corn salad paired with 2007 Sanford pinot noir.
Eli: Braised pork belly with carrot puree and raw celery and fennel as a play on mirepoix paired with 2007 Terlato family pinot noir.
Kevin: Pork leg paté with mushroom salad and pickled cherries and a pork fat-based mayonnaise paired with 2006 Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills pinot noir.
Mike I.: Pork shoulder stuffed with prosciutto, dates and pine nuts and served over orange blossom yogurt paired with 2005 Wairau River pinot noir.
Bryan: Braised pork spare rib served over parsnip puree with mostarda paired with 2007 Rochioli pinot noir.
Jen: Pork belly braised in soy sauce with a salad made of tomatoes, black olives, apples, celery and truffles, paired with a 2005 Chanson Clos de Beze pinot noir.
Laurine: Pork butt rillettes on an arugula salad with a golden raisin and pearl onion chutney on top paired with 2005 Chanson Clos de Feves pinot noir.
Robin: Brined center-cut pork chop stuffed with sweet potato-apple roulade and a sour cherry-coffee demiglace paired with Mischief and Mayhem pinot noir.
Top four are the brothers Volt, Jen and Kevin (i.e. the final four, so why are we bothering?). And the winner is… Kevin! Who has a tattoo of a pig because he loves pork so much, so it's fitting. As winner, he's invited to be a guest chef at Charlie's event next year.
The bottom three are Ash, Laurine and Robin. Everyone wants Robin to go home. The judges don't think Robin's dish had enough pork in it, and her sauce was gummy. Ash's dish lacked flavor and seasoning, and the judges tell him he should have gone with his first instinct, which would have had more flavor. Laurine reveals that she didn't make the rillette properly, and the judges are kind enough to not tell her that someone compared her dish to cat food. In the end, Ash's continuing lack of confidence (and probably admitting last week that he knows he's not in the top tier of cheftestants) leads them to tell him to pack his knives and go.
Next week: Restaurant Wars!
Morning. Jen sits by the pool while Robin does exercises outside alone on her little yoga mat. And she's actually not talking for once! In the words of Depeche Mode, enjoy the silence. Inside, Eli, the brothers Volt, and Mike I. are hanging out, waiting for the day to start. They look like a boy band (or man band) since they are all wearing matching white T-shirts and dark pants. Michael V. interviews that he was in the bottom for the first time on the last challenge, and narrowly escaped going home, and he didn't like it. Just when you think he's lost his swagger, he compares himself to Babe Ruth and says that even the Babe struck out sometimes. So in other words, he's awesome and it was just a blip. Nice to know his ego is still intact.
Eli gets the call home this week, so either he's going to do really well, or he's going home. He reveals, to the shock of no one who has watched him be an immature dick this season, that he still lives with his parents at the age of 25, and he's close with them. Him being a mama's boy does not surprise me at all. Also, his Crocs are the most disgusting, filthy things I've ever seen. Dude, they cost like $30. Treat yourself to a new pair, because those are gross. Anyway, he interviews that he also doesn't like being in the bottom of the pack, and he doesn't want to be known as the guy who did poorly on Top Chef for the rest of his career.
Robin finishes up her Pilates routine as she interviews that she had cancer and cancer cancer and she beat cancer and cancer and cancer and lots of stuff about cancer, and I tuned out somewhere. I think it's great that she beat cancer. I can't imagine the impact that would have on your life. I don't watch this show for inspirational stories about beating cancer. I want to see some interesting and good food, thanks.
Quickfire Challenge. The cheftestants arrive in the kitchen and Padma introduces them to Charlie Palmer, who Michael Volt tells us is "the pioneer of American cooking." Palmer immediately reveals that he worked with both of the brothers Volt before, but he promises not to let that influence his judging. I can believe it. If anything, he'll probably be harder on them as a result. Padma explains that they need to pay some bills, so the challenge will be to create a dish pairing a product-placed snack food (think fried waffle chips or fancy Andy Capp fries) with a dish each cheftestant creates. The snack foods come in different flavors, and the cheftestants get to choose whatever they want.