Top Chef Colorado Recap
By Jason Lee
December 20, 2017
One bullet dodged. Many more to go.
The Tyler’s elimination win already fading into the background, the cheftestants return to the Top Chef Kitchen the next morning for a Quickfire fan favorite: the mise en place relay race . . . or as I like to call it, countless opportunities to lose a finger. Or “Casey’s downfall.” (If you haven’t seen Top Chef all-star Casey Thompson’s laboriously slow onion-chopping during the relay race, I encourage you to try and find a video online)
The fourteen chefs are split into two teams of seven and will have to allocate their numbers to (1) finely chopping one quart of shallots, (2) peeling and thinly slicing one quart of cremini mushrooms, and (3) cleaning and portioning twenty pieces of beef tenderloin, which must be between 7-8 ounces each, all within thirty minutes. The members of the team that finishes the fastest will then have whatever time is remaining to cook a dish featuring those ingredients. The winner gets $5,000 and immunity.
The blue team (Rogelio, Bruce, Tyler, Claudette, Brother, non-moustache Joe, and Adrienne) immediately jumps ahead of the green team (Laura, Carrie, Tanya, Chris, Tu, Fatima, and moustache-Joe). They build a big lead with the shallots and hold it through the mushrooms. Green rallies back by having two people tackle the tenderloins, but three of their cuts fail to fall between 7 and 8 ounces. Meanwhile, Bruce, who took the slow and steady route by methodically weighing each of his cuts, takes home the win for team blue.
And with eight minutes left on the clock, members of the blue team immediately start a mad rush towards the stove to start searing off their meat. The number of collisions by or around the stovetops is concerning, but no blood is ultimately spilt. That is, except for Rogelio’s fillet with mushrooms and Dijon cream sauce. The meat didn’t have enough time to rest, and his sauce was broken . . . like his spirit. He ends up on the bottom of the challenge, along with Tyler’s bourbon grilled steak, which didn’t come together due to its predominant focus on the accompanying carrots.
On top, though, are Brother (with great incorporation of hibiscus in his seared fillet with mushrooms, shallots, and fennel) and non-moustached Joe (who infused tons of flavor in his ginger-marinated tenderloin). Joe comes away with the win, $5,000 richer and bursting with immunity.
With the prep work done, it’s onto the main event. Our guest judge is Denver chef Alex Seidel, who specializes in “bridging the gap between farmer and consumer” (doesn’t that sound fancy on a Linkedin profile?). He runs his own farm, which the chefs will have the pleasure of visiting. They’ll work in the same teams to put together a four-course progressive dinner for twenty of Denver’s finest chefs and suppliers, in which each course incorporates a specific ingredient from Alex’s farm.
After some light banter in car over to the farm, the chefs discover that the “farm” is actually a farm and dairy, and that their secret ingredients are four specific cheeses produced by the dairy. After sampling them all, the chefs split off into their teams to plan their meals.
While things are relatively harmonious with the blue team, moustache-Joe is running roughshod over the rest of the green team, dictating what he’s envisioning for each course. The chefs seem of two minds about it—on the one hand, he’s acting like a dick (and they’re right), but on the other hand, his suggestions are actually pretty good (which is annoying).
Joe continues playing the front-seat and back-seat driver at Whole Foods, suggesting that Chris give his planned dessert some second thought. At dinner following the shopping excursion, Chris asks Joe to trust him and learn to relinquish some of his control over the menu. Joe is unabashed in responding that Chris has not yet earned his trust in the competition.
Looks like Joe might be just as douchey as his moustache.
Morning dawns the next day and the chefs head to Alex’s restaurant, Mercantile, to prep and cook for the meal. But the day only brings more turmoil and drama to the blue team. Their bone-in lamb chops were not properly prepared, and Tu’s efforts to clean them up are haphazard at best. In fact, when Tom and Alex swing by the kitchen to check in, Tom tries but can’t help himself from correcting Tu’s approach to tying the meat. Tu also, somehow, manages to scorch the sauce for the meat.