Top Chef Charleston Recap: Episode 4
By Jason Lee
December 27, 2016
Top Chef is bringing it home for the holidays this Quickfire Challenge, with presents galore atop each chef’s work station. A glowing Padma stands next to Nilou Motamed, the new Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine Magazine, who replaces the beautiful Dana Cowen - a frequent guest on Top Chef. Looks like that honor will be passed down to her successor.
But back to the important part - the presents. Padma tells the cheftestants that the boxes contain ingredients and cooking tools, each of which will have to be used in pulling together a dish in 30 minutes. And so begins the most Chopped-like challenge in Top Chef history, but here, with immunity at stake for the winner
In the box, the chefs finds a pressure cooker, a bottle of tequila, white chocolate-covered pretzels, cloves, wasabi, squab, and a melon baller. Sheldon is perplexed by how to incorporate tequila with wasabi. Next to him, Shirley organizes her tools and ingredients to make sure she uses them all.
Meanwhile, Emily has no idea how to use a pressure cooker, which John finds unbelievable. “Have you ever watched Top Chef?” he fumes to the camera.
At this point, that’s the least of Emily’s problems. She’s burned her rice and is throwing it into the blender with some cabbage to make some sort of soubise. Lovely.
At the other side of the kitchen, Sheldon has accidentally stolen Shirley’s tequila. As she searches for it, her squab goes up in flames. Like serious flames.
Before you know it, the 30 minutes are up and the judges come around for tasting. As they do, Shirley notes that everyone seems to have incorporated spherical foods in their dishes. Aghast, she realizes that Sheldon also stole her melon baller, which she never used in putting together her dish.
This, along with her charred squab, leaves Shirley in the bottom of the Quickfire (though to Sheldon’s credit, he totally owns up to his inadvertent actions). Joining her is Emily, with her gummy soubise, and BJ, who made the bad decision to deep fry his squab, leaving it very tough.
On the other side, we have Brooke with a delicious pan-roasted squab and flavors that all worked together, Casey with smoked chili and tequila squab soup that smartly incorporated pineapple, and John, who somehow made a pan-seared squab with mole in under 30 minutes. Casey takes home her second (!!!) win of the season in the first four episodes, and immunity to boot.
This gives her a big advantage in the Elimination Challenge, which will have James Beard award-winner Mike Lata as the Guest Judge. This does not please Emily - she used to work for Mike and was fired for being too bossy and mouthy in the kitchen. Mike Lata is all about seafood, and sustainable seafood in particular. Thus, for this “holiday” Elimination Challenge, the chefs will have to do their take on the feast of seven fishes, which is an Italian tradition that usually takes place on Christmas Eve. But of course there’s a twist - the cheftestants will be using “trash” fish, the incidental catches that end up fishermen’s nets that are thrown back.