Tre – Grilled Swordfish, Braised Artichoke, Mushroom Panna Cotta, Basil Oil – White thinks it is on the money, and Kate thought it was delicious.
Spike – Seared Branzino with Caponata and Spicy Prosciutto Vinaigrette – Padma liked it, and White credits the textures. Bourdain doesn’t think it is caponata.
Blais – Crudo of Spanish Mackerel, Braised Veal Shank, Fennel Mostarda – Kate said it was elegant and tasty. White and Bourdain also complement it.
Stephen – Coho Salmon, Black Mission Figs, Broccoli Rapini, Fennel Pollen – Uh oh. Kate found the flavors and aroma aggressive. The fragrance is so strong and perfumey that Bourdain equates it to smelling like a head shop. Which is one of the funnier put downs on Top Chef recently.
Fabio – Roasted Lamb, Hoisin Plum BBQ Sauce, Corn, Tomato Salad, Lemongrass, Chevre Ricotta – Tom can’t figure out what is going on. Chang thinks it was not put together well, and Bourdain compares Fabio to a chef lost in the forest who can’t find his way out.
DC Tiff – Crudo of Summer Flounder, Pickled Radish and Peach Puree – Not much about hers, other than Chang thinking it was more of a dish for Daniel Boulud’s style. This was said as a critique, but seems like a complement to me.
Mike – Warm Sockeye Salmon, Eggplant, Marinated Tomatoes and Pickled Peach – Chang thought it was a solid entry. Tom thought the use of the eggplant was very intelligently done.
Angelo – Turmeric Marinated Fish, Dill, Cilantro, Salmon Roe, Chorizo and White Chocolate – Bourdain found it fanciful, and Kate thought the use of chocolate was crazy and exciting. Chang said it was bold and innovative.
Miami Dale – Roasted Veal Loin, Peanuts, Popcorn, French Toast, Corn, Thyme Caramel – Wow, this one is a mess. Dale went for whimsy and instead developed a dish that was one part Snoopy from A Charlie Brown Christmas and another part Buddy the Elf . Padma is aghast at the sweet veal dish. Burke agrees about the sweetness.
Antonia – Pea Puree, Carrot Puree, Seared Scallop and Pickled Carrot – Burke raves about it, he loves the seasoning and found it to be very playful. Goes to show that whimsy can be simple, and doesn’t have to include popcorn and veal.
Casey – Coconut Halibut “Scallop,” Tapioca “Caviar” and Ginger Carrot Emulsion – Kate found the fake scallop, or Scallibut, to be brilliant. Burke would put it on the menu. If they didn’t have to take a winner from each group, I think Casey would have joined Antonia in the Winner’s Circle.
Jamie – Smoked Tomato and Bacon Soup with Heirloom Tomato Salad – Of course, the Queen of Liquids made soup. Of course. Bourdain wonders why adding smoke makes chefs consider things to be better. Burke felt it was too simple and needed more wow.
ChiDale – Sunny Side Up Egg Dumpling, Braised Pork Belly, Milk Ramen with Bacon, Beef and Pork Dale played it like Antonia – no reason to copy the style of the famous chef, just cook your own style but with inspiration. Dale and Wylie cook very differently, but Dale was able to twist his own food into a Wylie-type dish. Perfect. Wylie, the “egg slut” according to Bourdain, goes full into the egg. He loves the runniness, and after some thought describes the flavors as “buttered toast.” And there is nothing wrong with buttered toast. Bourdain and Tom also heap praise on the dish.
SF Tiff – Broken Summer Heirloom Melons with Powdered Ham and Taleggio – She struggled. Unlike Dale, she tried too hard to emulate Wylie and got lost in the gadgets. Bourdain thinks the melons were the “intruders of the party.” Wylie thinks it was too much on the plate.
Carla – Poached Shrimp, Grits, Okra Chips – Tom thinks she did a nice job, because like Fabio, she was lost in this style of food. Remember the sous vide? Wylie thought it was safe, but good. Kate thinks she went the way she had to go.
Marcel – Vadovan Lamb, Tzatziki, Pickled Red Onion and Anti Flatbread – Bourdain expected more from him, as he found this to be timid. Wylie didn’t think the techniques impacted the dish.