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Review Wed Mar 19 2008

Top Chef, Episode Two: Teamwork Sucks and So Does Your Blini

Recap by Lori Barrett.

This week on Top Chef, the chefs spent some time in Lincoln Park. For the Quickfire Challenge, they were taken to the Green City Market and left with instructions that each could use only five ingredients to make a dish. All of them seemed into shopping at the market except Dale, a chef from Chicago who works at Buddakan in New York City. He turned his nose up because he wasn’t sure if the meat there was truly the freshest meat available. Mark, the chef from New Zealand, left his bag of lettuce at the table where he bought it, and realized it after the chefs were told their shopping time was up. But he just smiled and said, “That’s a bummer.”

Editor's Note: We leave nothing out in our recaps. Here be spoilers!

Wylie Dufresne from wd-50 was the guest judge. This made Richard, a big fan of molecular gastronomy, very excited, thinking he and Dufresne had a lot of similarities. He made chicken legs flavored with eucalyptus aroma for the challenge.

Mark won. Even without his lettuce.

For the elimination challenge, the chefs drew knives with the names of animals on the blade, such as vulture, bear and penguin. The chefs were told they would be catering a staff event for the Lincoln Park Zoo, in teams of three, with the chefs grouped by the name of the animal on their knives. Each team had to build a menu around the diet of the animal their team was named for. The Bears decided to use honeycomb and salmon, while their team member Dale griped about having to work with a team. Later, when they were shopping and his teammates wanted to get flowers for the table, Dale glowered into the camera and said, “I’m not a fucking interior designer.”

The Gorilla team, with the two local Chicago chefs, focused on vegetarian food (including banana bread), as good gorillas would. Meanwhile, the Lions circled the meat section at Whole Foods while the Penguins gravitated toward fish — and whatever it takes to make a flavored glacier jelly mold. The Vulture team was relieved to find out that vultures actually eat more than road kill, and they ended up wowing the zoo partiers with anchovies and Moroccan lamb meatballs.

The Vultures and the Penguins came out on top in the judging. The glacier, made with mint and yuzu, was a big hit and Andrew, the chef who made it, won the challenge. The Gorillas had two of the worst dishes, one of which was a crab salad from Stephanie, last week’s winner. The Bears got called back to the judges' table for some stuffed mushrooms that had caused concern earlier because they “looked like turds,” in Dale’s words. Even one of the judges said it looked like something a bear would produce, not eat. In the end, Valerie, one of the local Chicago chefs, was sent home for making her olive blinis too far in advance. Apparently, everyone knows — or should know — you have to make blinis right before you serve them. And Dale, the surly chef who doesn’t like teams or flowers, will stay for another week.

Looking for a recap of the previous episode?

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Eamon / March 20, 2008 3:00 PM

Am I crazy, or did they just not show half of the chefs' dishes in the quickfire challenge?

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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