HAPPY NEW YEAR! You guys this episode had me in tears from start to finish. I was so moved by the immigrants they cooked with at Comal, the chef’s personal life stories, their dishes and from laughing at them getting schooled by some kids.
This week we pick from where we left off fresh from the judge’s table. Stacho is basking in his glory and twirling his moustache. Brother raises his beer to Rogelio who was just eliminated for the amazing person he is and calls him an inspiration. He says he hates to see a man like that go out like this and get choked up. Aw Brother Love.
Brucie Bear and Friar Bucket are in the bear den when Brucie shares a sonogram picture of his son. His story about missing his kid’s birth is way more touching than had been revealed initially. They have been struggling with infertility for 13 years and spent thousands of dollars trying to adopt only for the agency they were using to go bankrupt. Then suddenly a woman 7 months pregnant wanting to give her child up for adoption was connected with them. I was really touched by this story not because I think everyone should have children but if they want them and they can’t, I think it’s wonderful when they open their hearts to adoption.
Hugs you two, I hope it’s all that you want it to be
In the kitchen waiting for the chefs for the Quickfire Challenge is Scar and the Head Judge of Top Chef Jr. and Least Interesting Man In The World…
Denver’s panties are on fire. Scar tells them up to this point this this has all been child’s play
Curtis tells them that a lot of kid’s menus are filled with fried things, cheese and carbs so, it’s no wonder they do not like veggies. He says the cheftestants on Top Chef Jr. did great with this challenge and set the standard high. Really Curtis? Were we watching the same show because one of them served an uncooked brownie, another super dry chicken without sauce and another a curry chicken pot pie so spicy Graham referred to it as throat punch.
In order to determine who will be cooking what they will perform the ancient Top Chef tradition of drawing knives.
And because nothing is as it seems they will have three kids as guest judges.
Jack, Alex Siedel’s son, Nael, Peter Karpinski’s daughter and Lydia, Lachlan’s daughter
Also they will have to use children’s cookery to make this food.
This is the play stand mixer that goes to the kitchen Santa brought my little one
Brother Luck’s mind is blown over all the tiny stuff. Le Bernardin says that her cauliflower head is larger than her tiny cutting board. Friar Bucket shares that he has 3 kids and he thinks that the problem with kids’ menus is that they are too dumbed down. Tanya attempts to make banter with Stacho and asks if he was a picky kid and he says that he’s still a kid. Hmm, most kids do not have facial hair. Le Bernardin is making a cauliflower pizza crust and Baby Bear who drew grilled cheese is doing a play on Caesar salad with grilled cheese croutons. Um isn’t that EXACTLY what Friar Bucket did in the food truck challenge last week with tomato soup when you were on the same team? Tu giggles to himself as he flips his tiny pan.
The kids walk back in and Tanya tells them to watch the F-bombs, Brucie Bear says he has to get used to that. Tanya shares with Nael her macaroni & cheese recipe. Brucie says he’s thinking about the sort of food he is going to cook his son when he can eat solid food and asks Brother how his tiny pans are treating him. Brother can fit three sauté pans in one hand. Later when Jack Siedels up to his station he gets a kick out of him when tells him it’s pretty hard to mess up a burger.
As soon as she says cauliflower crust Nael makes a gross face, hahahahaha. Jack loves it.
Scar, who does have a kid tells her its spicy and Nael tells her that she would not order this if it was on the menu. Brother giggles across the room.
Lydia tells him the flavor goes well with the tortilla.
Nael has to cover her mouth after the bite and tells him maybe it would better without the pineapple.
Lydia says she loves it because it has the grilled cheese but also a healthy element.
Jack says that if someone ordered the dish and didn’t know what it was they wouldn’t think it spaghetti and meatballs.
Nael didn’t like the crust, too mealy.
Nael says the presentation is beautiful and the best deconstructed tacos she’s ever had.
Jack liked the inclusion of the bacon.
Jack says it had very good flavor and it was delicious.
Jack says the combination wasn’t his favorite. Fun fact, it was the fish and chips that won on the Top Chef Jr. challenge
Least favorites were Denver’s, too dry. Friar Bucket’s play on spaghetti and meatballs was too out there. Brucie’s the texture was a little off and dry.
The favorites were Le Bernardin’s pizza. Baby Bear’s rip-off grilled cheese Caesar salad and Tanya’s mac & cheese. The winner is….
Time for the Elimination Challenge
B.Funk is excited to prepare and serve his food. They will be cooking and serving at Gregory Gourdet’s Departure to a group of chefs including Former Food & Wine Editor, now a contributor Nilou Motamed. To prepare they will be visiting Comal a food incubator in Denver that helps immigrant women turn their love cooking from their homeland into careers.
In the cars on the way there they are discussing dishes. Denver doesn’t know her heritage, which is weird I am sure that those people dressed in old timey clothes had a few home cooked dishes. This is like when Hazel pretended to be Jamaican on Degrassi. In Brother’s car he shares that his father was Creole and when he was in 5th grade he asked him for a recipe for a school project. His dad wrote down the family recipe for Dirty Rice. At the time Brother was embarrassed because it had weird things in it but a few weeks later his dad died and it was the only family recipe he ever passed onto him. Tears running down my face at this point.
At Comal they are greeted by the Director, Slavica Park she explains that they help women who are interested in starting their own businesses and providing them the support to do so. They are all going to watch and a few will get to participate in the demo. They initially meet with Syrian mother/daughter refugees and I can’t help but think how timely this all is. Friar Bucket asks them if the men in her culture cook and she tells him mostly women because they are better cooks, Baby Bear agrees. Tu feels a real connection with these women as the son of refugees. Some of the other chefs are with Mexican ladies doing mole. She tells them in Mexico they say if you know how to make a good mole you can get married. So true, that is how I hooked my husband. Denver asks if they have recipes or make the food the same every time, they say they just cook from the heart!
They sit down to eat with the ladies and Baby Bear asks if they miss home. The young Syrian girls tells her that of course she misses home.
I am not used to feeling so many emotions while watching Bravo.
Off to Whole Foods where they have 30 minutes and $400 to spend. Tyler feels a little lost because he is just a white boy from Southern California but knows he’s got some Swedish to him and is going to combine the two somehow. Brucie is making Hungarian Lamb Goulash, as his grandfather immigrated from Budapest, interesting. B.Funk share his journey of working hard to learn French technique and then having to go back and learn the food of Black people. He said at first, he was ashamed to learn soul food but when he did everything became better and he blossomed. Le Bernardin talks about her father being a Southern Black man and her mother and Irish/German white girl and eating a variety of foods growing up.
At Departure the chefs are getting started and Friar Bucket’s meal is sounding more and more like a hot mess. Non-mustachioed Joe is making a dish that he makes with his Grandma every Christmas. I wonder if they made this and then watched this episode together? Tanya is making her mother’s gumbo, her own mother had aspirations of being a chef but put those dreams on the back-burner because in her generation her career was secondary.
She reveled in Tanya’s success and whenever she tried to tell her mom it was too hard she would praise her for all she had already accomplished. Stacho is doing a dish that pay tribute to his mother who passed away in his freshman year of college by doing French food with an Italian twist.
Stacho the baby stache years complete with a flavor saver
Baby Bear is doing lentils and rice with a kabob.
OOH girl I had that haircut too
The judges and their dining companions arrive and Scar talks to Slavica about why she started Comal. She says that as a refugee herself, she came to the conclusion that while we all have many disagreements, food is the one thing that transcends all cultures. All the feels Bravo, seriously.
Big Daddy calls Friar Bucket hereditarily challenged and his plate should have focused on one part of his heritage rather than trying to encompass it all. Mourad Lahlou says that had he broken it all up as separate components on the plate it would have all tasted great but together it was too many things going on at the same time.
In the kitchen preparing to serve next, Non-mustachioed Joe is drowning under his own expectations so Tu and Stacho jump in to help him plate.
Alon Shaya says Tanya’s gumbo is really delicious. Dana Rodrigues says the broth is really well-balanced and Gregory says it really communicates the feeling of family. Scar asks Slavica what she thought of Non-mustachioed Joe’s fettucine and she says it needed something more to make it stand out above that pasta you eat every day. Big Daddy says it’s always great to cook with grandma but sometimes grandma’s techniques aren’t always that good. Word to your mother.
Tu and Stacho are up next. Stacho explains how he fused his Italian and French heritage onto the plate. Tu talks about learning how to make fish meatballs with his auntie who recently passed and starts to get choked up. I was like Tu watching this entire episode.
Mourad Lahlou says that he felt Stacho’s soul in the dish and was immensely technical. Gregory says that he thinks Tu cooked with too much emotion and the dish needed acid and salt because he wanted to like it a lot more than he did.
In the kitchen Brother Love is trying to keep his emotions from bubbling over and remain focused. At the same time he is concerned that the dish is too simple.
Slavica asks her if this is how she would cook at home and Baby Bear tells her this is more elevated but classic. Brother tells his story of his father passing on the recipe to him and Nilou asks if he has made it before. Brother has but only for loved ones. Slavica says that’s Brother’s dish is simple but full of flavor. Scar asks Nilou her thoughts on Baby Bear’s dish and she says she thinks she nailed it BUT she’s had better versions of this dish and Alon Shaya nods in agreement. Big Daddy thinks that the flavors in Brother’s dish are exceptional.
Big Daddy Tom likes the flavors in Le Bernardin’s dish but doesn’t feel like the trotter is cooked enough. Gail loved all the flavors in Brucie’s dish but the lamb just was not cooked the way it should be cooked. Scar says she could barely cut through the lamb and hers is white in the middle. Gross.
B.Funk is serving by himself and his plates look delicious.
Nilou asks B.Funk if he makes this at home and of course he does its on his menu at his restaurant. Also, it’s his great grandmother’s recipe. Before he even walks away you can tell the judges love it because they are not taking chef bites on that chicken. Gregory says the chicken is perfect, its crispy, juicy and the hot sauce is perfectly spicy. Alon says the dish speaks to the soul and considers himself a biscuit aficionado and this biscuit goes to the top of the list.
After service the chefs dig into B.Funk’s leftover biscuits and Brucie says he knows he not winning this challenge after tasting them. While Friar Bucket pretends that he doesn’t eat carbs.
Scar tells the cheftestants that this challenge was a poignant one. Nilou says as an immigrant herself she feels honored that they shared their dishes with her. However, Big Daddy says that sometimes the stories were better than the food and that perhaps the chefs tried too hard to make things work.
The outstanding dishes were B.Funk, Tanya and Stacho. Big Daddy loves that he wasn’t afraid to give them fried chicken, a biscuit and greens and sometimes that’s what you have to do. Gail says that he excited every single diner when he put that fried chicken in front of them and it delivered. Nilou tells Tanya that the gumbo felt like they were eating in her home as family. Daddy says it was good example of gumbo with soul despite the fried okra on top. Never forget cheftestants Big Daddy hates okra. Gail says Stacho’s dish was the best at exemplifying familial flavors and evolving and adapting them with his skill set as a chef. Scar loved his sauces and mushroom puree. And the winner is….
I am so happy for him, you could tell everyone truly enjoyed his food.
In the bottom is Non-mustachioed Joe, Friar Bucket and Brucie.
Big Daddy Tom tells Non-mustachioed Joe that the dish they all received was fairly cold. Gail adds that she wanted more flavor out of that dish than it served up but understands that sauce would have had a better had it had longer to cook. Daddy tells Friar Bucket that his dish was all over the map and would have been better had he eliminated a few items. Nilou tells him that she could taste his struggle and editing would have helped him in this challenge. Tom tells Brucie that he noticed that he was surprised to be standing here in the bottom. Brucie Bear says that everything he produced he was really happy with all the flavors. Big Daddy is honest with him and tells him that the lamb was not right at all. Gail says that she wanted coziness from the dish but instead got coldness because it was so spread out. Bruce says he understands and thinks he is getting inside his own head too much and going forward will plate in the rustic fashion that he prefers.
Once the cheftestants are dismissed Scar says that all three of the bears failed for different reasons. Gail says that Non-mustachioed Joe bit off more than he could chew and Scar agrees that he didn’t take the sauce as far as he needed too. However Big Daddy says the pasta was a weak and so was the sauce. He says that Brucie Bear went too chefy on his plate. Gail says that the flavors were good but the lamb was so tough that it was almost hard to swallow. Scar nods in agreement not being able to swallow is the worst. Tom says braising meat is 101. Nilou says that had Friar Bucket just embraced one part of his culture it would have been fine. Gail agrees that it was not a complete dish instead it was four separate components that did not belong on a plate together.
Big Daddy says that these sort of challenges are always hard to eliminate on when it’s so personal but ultimately….
Friar Bucket is out
He gets a bear hug and tells the cheftestants that he will see most of them in Last Chance Kitchen. He says it’s not his heritage that failed him it’s his culinary heritage the he failed. He says that this challenge hit him in the soft spot of the dragon but he will always carry this with him.
Next week they are going camping in the SNOW and some of them are NOT excited by this prospect. Also, there is going to be a major shake-up where they are going to reveal Last Chance Kitchen to the remaining cheftestants AND are going to ruin it for the purist who do not like the knowing the spoilers that LCK brings. For those of you who read my Last Chance Kitchen recaps, I should have it up soon so we can talk about it there.
Hey, and did you all know Nilou is not the Editor-In-Chief at Food & Wine anymore? Right after the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this summer the parent company decided to move to Birmingham and she did not go, which is why there was some weird voiceover stuff happening when they introduced her on this episode as a contributor. You can read all about it in the link below.
So, what did you think? A deserved elimination of should one of the others been sent packing. Even though Friar Bucket’s dish was awful everything was perfectly cooked while the other two had actual issues with execution. What would you have cooked? Let me know in the comments below!
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