Off to the Top Chef Kitchen where we find bushels of live blue crabs and guest judge Patrick O'Connell, Chef/Proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington. The Quickfire Challenge was simple enough: make a delicious dish with Maryland blue crab. The execution was less so as the chefs struggled with the snapping, spidery creatures. Despite working in DC, Temesha admitted she had never picked a blue crab before, Ed got creative and baked his live crabs in the oven, and Maryland native Timothy Dean decided to go simple with his dish and let the flavor of the crab meat speak for itself. After Padma and Chef O'Connell sampled all the chef's dishes, Chef O'Connell declared that Andrea, Amanda, and Kevin were the least successful. On the other hand, Ed's Thai-inspired dish with strong natural components of basil, mango, and cucumber worked well, Kenny's trio of crab bites worked well, and Angelo's blue crab broth infused with lemongrass and ginger was "delicate." Ultimately, Ed took the win and had immunity for the Elimination Challenge.
Speaking of the Elimination Challenge, this week the chefs had to put together a meal for 20-odd people (not 20 odd people) at Ayrshire Farm, Virginia's first organic and humane farm. Although all the chefs would work as one team, each chef was responsible for at least one component of the meal. They all raced back to their communal digs to work out a plan. Immediately, Kenny and Angelo went into appendage measurement mode, sending the discussion off course. In the end, the chefs decided it is best to just pair up the same way they had for last week's challenge. Ed was not thrilled to be stuck with Alex again, but he had immunity, so what the heck. Similarly, Tiffany was unsure about working with Tim again, so she chose to focus solely on her part of the dish and leave Tim to his own devices.
On a chilly spring morning, the chefs set off for Ayrshire Farm where they found tables and propane stoves set up in the middle of a cow pasture as their kitchen. They had to produce their dishes using the ample supply of meat and vegetables grown on the farm plus the pantry items in the back of one of the Toyota SUVs. The rustic conditions caused some problems. A bowl of cauliflower is knocked on the ground, causing a substitution of broccoli. Andrea broke down her pork loin into sections in order to fit it on the crowded stoves. And Tim, once again, was indecisive about how to cook his turnips and asparagus.
The guests arrived and were seated at a massive table also set up in the great outdoors. Eric Ripert joined Padma, Tom, and Chef O'Connell in the tasting and judgment. While they felt that the meal was good overall, there were some elements that just didn't work and they took those criticisms back to judge's table. Kevin, Kenny, Andrea, and Kelly were called out as the favorites of the challenge (no surprises there). Alpha male Kenny was deemed the winner with his hot and sour eggplant with peppers and carrot tops.
And now for the bad news...Tim, Amanda, and Stephen were the bottom three. Amanda's minestrone was missing the crucial element of pasta and the carrots were cut too big to cook evenly with the other vegetables. Stephen's choice to put his mixed farm salad in a bowl was a bad one because the dressing could not distribute equally over the greens, and the apple pieces were too large. Tim also made a bad choice in leaving his turnips and asparagus in chunks rather than pureeing the veggies as he had originally planned. In the end, his dish was judged too bland for Top Chef, and he was asked to pack his knives and leave.
The field of cheftestants is thinning and a pecking order appears to be shaping up. We'll have to see if the bottom feeders are picked off as predicted or will some improve their game and rise to the top. Let's read what you think in the comments section.