Top Chef Colorado Recap
By Jason Lee
December 25, 2017
This week’s episode opens with an ominous scene—Laura, our resident cheftestant from Denali, Alaska—is on the phone with her son. Her stint so far on Top Chef has been the longest period of time she’s been away from him, and she’s struggling with her focus being so far away for her family.
As any Top Chef aficionado knows, such feelings are often to the downfall of the chef. Some, like Brooke last season, are able to channel those feelings into an even greater drive and commitment to winning the competition. Others, like Laura, it appears, fall apart.
But maybe, just maybe, she’ll be able to pull things together in time for the Quickfire? Odds are against her, given that, as Padma announces, it’s the season’s first Sudden Death Quickfire. Joined by James Beard-winning chef and Top Chef Master Lachlan MacKinnon Patterson, the chefs are asked to do their own personal spin on the classic Denver omelet, which features eggs, ham, bell peppers, and cheese. Surprisingly, even though Lachlan warns them away from doing anything resembling an omelet, we get a lot of breakfast/egg-based dishes.
For some, the exercise goes well. Carrie, who won last week, is on top yet again with a simple but well-executed Denver breakfast sandwich with bacon, pepper jam. Brother, who was near the top of last week’s Quickfire, does well again with a smoked and soft boiled duck egg with a red pepper gastrique. Finally, Tu brings back memories of the first Quickfire with a cold fried egg salad with ham and peppers, which is bursting with freshness and brightness. Brother ends up winning the challenge and immunity.
On the bottom is Laura (unsurprisingly) with a thick and heavy savory French toast. Joining her Tanya, whose cornmeal crepe was dry and flat, and Rogelio, who totally overcooked his toad-in-the-hole egg dish. Those three will cook against each other to see who goes home.
And to aid in the decision is head judge Tom Colicchio. The challenge will be a perfect French omelet. The two chefs who do the best, are safe. And the losing chef will pack his or her knives and go. The instructions are clear—a French omelet should have small curds, no browning, and a fluffy texture. It’s all about technique and timing, the chefs are told.
Advice that they are quick to dismiss. Rogelio, bizarrely, throws cheddar and mushrooms into his egg mixture, while Tanya puts in wilted spinach. Neither the spectator chefs nor the judges can believe it—why aren’t they focused on just making a perfect French omelet?
But they have nothing to worry about. It’s not even a competition with the disaster at Laura’s station. With no clean non-stick skillets available to her, Laura spends precious minutes washing her cookware. After that, she’s too slow to get her eggs cooking, and when she throws some mascarpone cheese into the cooking eggs, it all goes to $#@#. In the seconds before she plates, she drains some of the raw egg liquid into the trash can adjacent to her cooking station and attempts to shape the “omelet” into a trifold by hand. It’s very hard to watch.
Padma goes through the motions and attempts to derive some drama from the Sudden Death Quickfire, but it’s clear—Laura is sent home in tears. Her fellow cheftestants are stunned by her collapse. Laura is, Fatima notes, a two-time James Beard Award nominee, so it’s not like she’s a bad chef by any stretch of the imagination. But today was clearly not her day.
With that decided, it’s onto the Elimination Challenge. The chefs will cook in four teams of three, with each team manning its own food truck. They’ll each have to put together a three-item menu aimed at attracting the business of 150 college kids. The team that does the best at that job will be safe from elimination.
The blue team, made up of Adrienne, Chris, and Tu, decide to go with a sandwich theme. And as they’re all known for spicy cooking, they pick the name Blazing Sammies.
Moustache Joe, Fatima, and Tyler decide on a Hangover Cure food truck, making stuff that just plain tastes good.