We open with the Quickfire Challenge, featuring guest judge Donatella Arpaia. To introduce it, Angelina D’Angelo wheels in one of her signature New York hotdog carts to compete against the cheftestants. They each have forty-five minutes to create their own signature hotdog, and the top chef wins immunity in the Elimination Challenge. Jill gets dinged because she’s the only one that doesn’t make her own hot dog/sausage. Stefan’s “World Dog” (French bread, Italian sausage, Vermont cheddar) served with German beer also gets low marks. On the high end, Radhika gets point for her Indian-themed dish (shocker!), Fabio earns praise for his Mediterranean dog and the judges like Hosea’s smoky bacon dog. The winner is Radhika.
The Elimination Challenge is also introduced right away. The cheftestants are going to open their own Top Chef restaurant, and they have to create a New American three-course lunch menu. They’ll each be responsible for one dish, and they’ll have an hour to prep before 50 New Yorkers show up for lunch. They divide up into three groups -- Appetizers, Entrees and Desserts -- and complete their shopping. Colicchio shows up to announce that they’ll be serving their food at Craft, his flagship restaurant, and they’ll be serving New York chefs who tried out for the show and didn’t make it. Damn.
Jamie: Chilled sweet corn soup with chili oil and mint
Carla: Rustic apple tart with ginger peach tea, apple cider reduction, and cheddar cheese
Winner is Fabio: Beef carpaccio with arugula salad, Parmesan and spherical olives, to which he applies a technique that makes them like eggs with a hard outside or a soft inside
Hosea: Chilled crab with citrus vanilla dressing, mango and avocado (Slimy, tasted like canned crab, which it was)
Jill: Ostrich egg quiche with rice-pecan crust, asparagus and aged cheese (Looked like dog food, tasted like glue, and she was unable to defend it)
Ariane: Lemon meringue martini with vanilla cookie crunch and cherry surprise (Padma spit it out in a napkin because it was too sweet)
Because she chose a unique ingredient but then used it in a boring way, Jill is told to pack her knives and go.
Various cheftestants are waking up on what I assume is the morning after the first Elimination Challenge. People are still unpacking clothes, and Stefan is doing what one of my co-workers swears he spends a good thirty minutes doing every morning: staring blankly into space and smoking a cigarette. Richard reminds us that one of the three members of "Team Rainbow" has fallen (Patrick), and he does a "Power to the People" gesture that I find endearing. Ariane and Carla seem to be forming a fast friendship. Ariane worries that she's older and less knowledgeable than the other cheftestants, and that might be her downfall. I don't know about the older, but the less knowledgeable part could be a problem. The editors try to rev up Stefan and Fabio's frenemy status by showing Stefan talking about how Fabio is his biggest competition and then Fabio says that it doesn't matter how many dragons you kill, what matters is who takes home the princess. So he doesn't care if Stefan won two out of two competitions already! Also, it's not surprising that an old Italian saying is fairly sexist, since most old American sayings are the same way, no? And I wonder who the princess is in this analogy. Padma? Gail? Colicchio? It's certainly fun to imagine. Everyone gathers their things and heads for the Top Chef kitchen.
We open with the Quickfire Challenge featuring guest judge Donatella Arpaia, who owns many restaurants in New York City. In case you've never heard of her, the editors throw in Hosea giving a testimonial to how impressive Ms. Donatella is in the culinary world. I try to listen to Padma's instructions but I'm totally distracted by her high-waisted stonewashed denim skirt. I seriously think I owned that skirt in 1992. I think I saw Jennifer Aniston wearing it on Season Two of Friends. Is that really back? Anyway, Padma talks about how the cheftestants will be creating one of New Yorkers' favorite foods. Melissa thinks it must be cheesecake. Angelina D'Angelo, the owner of a famous hot dog business, wheels in one of her signature carts to compete against the cheftestants. The cheftestants each have forty-five minutes to create their own signature hotdog, and the top chef wins immunity in the Elimination Challenge. Fabio says, "I love hot dog. Do I know how make hot dog? No." Sometimes broken English is just funny.
Hosea says that some people are panicking. Ariane says that she hasn't made a hot dog since charcuterie class in culinary school, and she hopes to just put two on a plate to serve and doesn't even care what they taste like. Do you think that might be part of her problem? If it's outside of her comfort zone, she doesn't even want to try that hard? Daniel (Weird Beard) says that he's familiar with the professionals' hot dogs, so he's going to make it his own way. Fabio says that you can't beat a New York hot dog, so he's going to make a Panini to make it different, while a lot of the other chefs are doing crazy sushi things. Stefan is also making a Panini dog, using ingredients from around the world. Jill doesn't think she can create a hot dog from scratch, so she's using prepared hot dogs. While she works, she keeps telling Radhika that she thinks the judges are going to ding her for it, and that they'll think she's weird. So why is she doing it? Especially when she seems to be the only one? Hosea has never stuffed sausages before, and he struggles. He knows that they'll taste good, but they don't look so great. Padma calls time and everyone backs away from his or her station.