Top Chef California: Episode 3

By Jason Lee

December 14, 2015

When she told her sad story, you knew she was in trouble.

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Padma promised road trips and finally, after two fun-filled challenges in Los Angeles, Top Chef’s first road trip has arrived. Shortly after last week’s episode finished, the Top Chef producers reveal, Padma advised the cheftestants to get a good night’s sleep because in the morning, they’re headed to Santa Barbara.

Lucky bastards. I’d love to take a trip to Santa Barbara.

And, of course, where are the cheftestants taken? For the umpteenth time (seriously, how many times has this happened already?), after a strange side-trip to the dock to check out some freshly caught uni, the chefs are dropped off at Sanford winery for a Quickfire. Been there, done that.

Except, we haven’t. Not this season, at least. This isn’t just any ordinary Quickfire a winery. Nope, it’s this season’s first Sudden Death Quickfire. With the fresh uni sitting in the trunk of the SUVs, Padma tasks the cheftestants with pairing two of Santa Barbara’s most iconic ingredients - highlight the uni in the Quickfire dish, and make sure that it pairs well with a Sanford wine of their own choosing.

Grayson notes that there weren’t any Sudden Death Quickfires on Top Chef: Texas. It’s a new thing for her and she’s not super fond of it. Seriously, Grayson, is there anything that you’re fond of on the show?

The chefs quickly get cooking, except for Chad. He quit drinking years ago and can’t taste the wines. Instead, he resorts to reading the descriptions of the wines on their bottles. Meanwhile, Giselle scrounges for eggs - she really wants to make scrambled eggs with uni (I feel like we’ve seen this before many times on Top Chef). But she can’t, as Carl has grabbed all the eggs to make exactly that.




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On the other side of the kitchen, Angelina starts making pasta with uni butter. She says that, in a Sudden Death Quickfire, it’s smarter to play it safe and aim for the middle.

Out of the 15 chefs, Padma and Dana Cowin (our guest judge for the Sudden Death Quickfire) pick three chefs as their favorites. Grayson (!!!) showcased her uni very well with her dish of crab salad with cucumber and uni. Wes served creamed corn with uni and employed flavors that built on each other. Finally, Carl smartly paired eggs and uni. Giselle scowls. At least she doesn't have to feel too bad, as Grayson (!!!) ends up winning immunity.

Wow, what a comeback.

On the bottom, we have Angelina, as her pasta with uni butter was way too salty. Joining her is Giselle, who offered potato with onion jam and uni, but her potato was undercooked and the jam was overly oniony. Finally, we have Karen and her hot and sour soup with whipped (but nonexistent) uni.

Giselle ends up as the overall loser, and given the Sudden Death Quickfire, must choose one chef to cook against to stay in the competition. She chooses Angelina. Smart choice. Padma gives each chef a huge ostrich egg and asks for a dish that highlights it.


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