Like Top Chef, RDP has two challenges per episode, however, the first challenge in this case is an elimination challenge. Each of three chefs - this week Geoff, JJ, and Britt - must create a "signature" dish by which Rocco can get to know them and their cooking style. Upon entering "Rocco's Loft," the three chefs are given their challenge and 30 minutes to cook. After some time, Rocco comes in to sneer. Unlike Tom Colicchio's usually helpful visits to the kitchen, it seems that Rocco's only there to undermine confidence.
When time's up, Rocco tastes the three dishes and makes unflattering commentary. Britt's made tartare with Arctic Char, not one of Rocco's favorite fishes to eat raw. After making mention of that, he grudgingly admits that the dish tastes fine, even if the accompanying avocado puree was not fit to be babyfood. Geoff's lobster and "poor man's lobster" - monkfish - included shells and nearly-raw monkfish. Another Rocco No-No. JJ's scallops with bacon and corn got a snide "oh, we've never seen these ingredients used together before" comment, but otherwise was fine.
The two remaining chefs were then told that they would be catering a dinner party for Rocco and six guests. The theme du jour was "speakeasy," and the chefs would not only be responsible for creating food but also for designing the decor of their chosen dining room. That's right, folks, "Rocco's Loft" has three dining rooms. Geoff chooses the Terrace Room, which while indoors evokes the outdoors, and JJ takes the Formal Dining Room. They meet with decor guru Jes Gordon who will create a Chicago gangster-inspired room for Geoff and a Harlem speakeasy for JJ.
After shopping and while Geoff is working on his 5 course dinner, Rocco comes in to deliver a twist. One guest is a vegetarian, and another eschews alcohol and pork. Geoff steps up to the plate and creates alternate versions of the meat dishes for guest Christine Ebersole and eliminates the use of alcohol from his other already pork-free recipes. His meal is met with mostly complimentary comments from the guests - who also include former Top Chef Masters host Kelly Choi and TCM2 winner Marcus Samuelsson. (See, this show does have enough connections to Top Chef to warrant being included here on All Top Chef!) Rocco's not pleased with the fish course though, saying that Geoff doesn't know the difference between Atlantic cod and Black cod.
Chef JJ's meal, apart from the overcooked grits in the very first course, fares just as well, if not better than Geoff's. Rocco has a tough decision to make. Ultimately, he chooses JJ's meal as the winner of the $20,000.
So...did you watch? What did you think? Please tell us in a comment. :)
Posted on AllTopChef.com