- In the seventh episode of Top Chef, chefs compete in a tasty breakfast challenge and hear from Olympians before partaking in the first-ever Top Chef Olympic challenge.
Welcome to Talking Top Chef, a weekly blog where we review the latest episode from the best reality show on TV. I’m going to fill you in on a little secret: Shortly after the season premiere last month, I discovered Top Chef is extremely popular at Sports Illustrated. From Crossover writers to our very own managing editor, this show is loved by so many over here. (Even Rob Gronkowski's been on it!)
And why shouldn’t it be? It has everything: Amazing food, intense competition, plus the chefs are insanely talented but more often than not they can also be erratic and unpredictable, which makes for great entertainment.
As for me? I’m obsessed. As a result, we decided the logical move would to be start reviewing the show here at SI Eats. So let’s get down to business.
Season 15, Episode Seven; “Olympic Dreams”
In any season, I’ve always considered the seventh episode to be one of the toughest, not just because the competition gets a little tougher (less contestants, a bigger need for quality) but also, emotionally, the chefs begin to feel it.
Bruce is the perfect example. He’s been through a rollercoaster, both in the kitchen and out of it as any day now, as Bruce and his wife are expecting a baby via adoption—as the episode begins, we find out that the baby’s birth mother’s water broke so naturally, he’s all over the place.
“I’m gonna be a dad,” he says crying to the camera. “It’s crazy.”
Many hours later, Jude Paul was born. 7 lbs., 3 oz. and 21 inches long.
Congrats, Brucey. So happy for you and your family.
Now, let’s get it on.
The next morning (6:00 a.m. to be exact) Padma decides to come to the house and wake them up with a surprise guest….BROOOOOKE WILLIAMSON! Brooke is last season’s winner and one of my favorite ever contestants. She’s also really good friends with Bruce.
Of course she is, cause Bruce knows everybody.
Anyways, after all the contestants wake up, Padma introduces them to Brooke and surprises them with the QUICKFIRE challenge….and I’m thinking it involves the best meal of the day: BREAKFAST.
Everyone in their pajamas freaks out.
“Some of us are morning people,” says Fatima. “Some of us….aren’t.”
Guys, Fatima drops gems of wisdom every week. If she’s not your favorite, or at least up there, then you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.
Anyways, here’s the challenge: Create a breakfast dish featuring Nutella in 30 minutes.
The issue here (aside from the time limit) is that this is the first challenge in their house kitchen and they can only use things from the pantries.
I don’t think I have to tell you that this is going to be a mess, seeing as they 30 minutes, limited space and they’re all in their pj’s. But, Nutella is giving the winner $5,000 and immunity so GAME ON.
Side note: Joe is wearing BEAR SLIPPERS.
As the chefs go through mayhem, it’s refreshing to see that through it all, they’re joking with each other and having a good time. So nice to see, but remember y’all: don’t take your eyes off the prize.
By the end of the task, Fatima, Claudette and Carrie end up as Brooke’s favorites with Carrie winning it thanks to her eggs benedict with Nutella, strawberry habanero jam and hollandaise.
Carrie is a risk-taker and I dig it. A few episodes ago, she made a cake in the woods, and now she’s mixing savory with sweet. It was a really ballsy move and once again, it paid off.
“Being here, it’s just magnified what I’m good at. I’m good for taking something comfort food and simple,” she tells us, “and putting a really odd twist on it. I put pepper jam on an egg on Nutella, that’s really weird right? But it works!”
Keep doing you, Carrie.
Now comes the elimination challenge. As you might have predicted from the episode’s title, this one is all about the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
This challenge is all about showing some TEAM USA spirit and just as I say this, here come some special guests: Olympians Meryl Davis, Gus Kenworthy and John Daly enter and Fatima goes all Stan on us.
“Meryl Davis is the figure dancing queen. I am totally fangirling over Meryl, 100% I am not embarrassed.”
The Olympians discuss what it takes to succeed in their respective competition. For ice dancer (GOLD MEDALIST) Meryl Davis the key is precision. For freeski slopestyle (SILVER MEDALIST) Gus Kenworthy it’s creativity. For two-time skeleton racer John Daly, his sport requires speed above all else.
In the first-ever Top Chef Olympics, the contestants—in teams of three—will face off in three head-to-head heats, where they have to use all of these attributes. They’ll have to feed the judges, the Olympians and 70 diners.
No big deal.
The interesting thing here is that the chefs now get a chance to pick their own teams as opposed to drawing knives. “The Bears” obviously make a team (Joe, Mustache Joe and Bruce), then there’s “the Foxes”: Adrienne, Carrie and Fatima and finally we have Chris, Tanya and Claudette.
Chris is beginning to get a little annoyed by the whole “Bear” thing but he’s not going to let this hurt his game as he believes he is part of a great team. I’m with you, my man.
As I see the teams, I realize that this is a season where I really don’t know who the weakest link is anymore. These are really strong contenders so the key for today is all about TEAM WORK. My gut tells me there is too much ego with “The Bears” and this might be their Achilles heel, but only time will tell.
Ok this is how this challenge works:
One chef from each team must focus on speed so they have to feed 30 diners in 45 minutes.
One chef from each team must focus on precision by cooking a protein to the perfect temperature and compose a dish using Chiffonade, Batonnet and Brunoise knife cuts.
One chef from each team must make the most creative dish possible by using a surprise, mystery protein.
Wow. Game on.
Before the craziness of the challenge, the chefs got together and hosted a baby-is-here party for Bruce.
He obviously lost it.
It was a nice touch before hell breaks loose the following day
When the chefs enter the Top Chef kitchen, it feels as if they’re actually competing at the Olympics. There is an energy that revitalizes each one of them.
Every chef is running around as always, but the difference is that now, there’s a live audience watching you cook. The biggest issue is teamwork and Claudette, Tanya and Chris seem to be missing it.
By the way, at the end of each round, there is an actual medal ceremony. This might just be one of my favorite episodes ever that doesn’t include restaurant wars.
And the scores for the speed round:
Red Team (Fatima): 47
White Team (Claudette): 41.5
Blue Team (Bruce): 50 — WINNER (His polenta killed it)
And the scores for the precision round:
Red Team (Adrienne): 40.5
White Team (Tanya): 18.5
Blue Team (Joe): 42.5 — WINNER (Urfa Biber roasted chicken cooked to perfection)
And the scores for the creativity round:
Red Team (Carrie): 35
White Team (Chris): 51
Blue Team (Mustache Joe): 51.5 — WINNER (He made a beef short rib casoncelli with carrots and ramps)
The blue team killed it, pure and simple, but the overall winner is Mustache Joe. I got to tell you, I’m not his biggest fan but you can’t knock on the hustle on this guy. He’s an insanely creative chef who just amazes me every week with his ingenuity. Well deserved.
This is tough as right now I think Tanya and Claudette are fighting for their lives and really, they only have themselves to blame.
As expected, both fight it out and the main reason being was the lack of teamwork but Claudette was the first to bring up the fact that Tanya wasn’t helping, which really wasn’t true.
Then the judges try to ask Chris about it and Chris wants NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.
In the end, Tanya leaves.
“I’m actually a little relieved and I’m really exhausted,” she confesses to the camera. “I’ve been in this industry for a long, long time. I’ve done a lot of pioneering but there’s still a long way to go.”
Well, fam. That’s it. What a ride. It was definitely one of the best episodes and one of the most exhausting to watch, I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for the chefs.
I’ll see you all next week for……RESTAURANT WARS!!!!
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