Top Chef Season 14, episode 5 aired this past Thursday and was full of all kinds of twists and surprises. The theme seemed to be Southern comfort as contestants were made to tackle both baking and barbecuing for host Padma Lakshmi and her panel of judges. Read on to find out if the ‘birthday curse’ struck again, but beware of spoilers!
The Quickfire Challenge
A dark and empty kitchen greeted the chefs when they arrived for the Quickfire Challenge. No lights, no cameras, no judges, just a dark room that left contestants confused. Out of nowhere, the buzzer sounds and a 40-minute timer begins counting down as the pantry is opened, all while the chefs have yet to receive any instructions. It was Philadelphia’s Sylva Senat who took stock of the ingredients and correctly concluded that the challenge was to create a batch of biscuits. The chefs all work to create their own take on the classic Southern staple, though many admit that baking is not their strong suit and are left stressing as Lakshmi watches them from the production booth. The challenge works as a judge of each chef’s improvisational skills, as they receive no guidance or instruction. Sheldon Simeon, Shirley Chung, and Jim Smith wind up in the bottom three, while top spots go to Brooke Williamson, Katsuji Tanabe, and Jamie Lynch. Williamson comes out on top with her salmon biscuit with avocado and crème fraiche earning her immunity.
The Elimination Challenge
Top Chef Charleston tackled another Southern staple for the elimination challenge in episode 5: Barbecue. The chefs were split into three teams and tasked with barbecuing an entire hog with three complimentary sides to feed 150 people, including country singer and Charleston native Darius Rucker. While the chefs visit two of Charleston’s renowned barbecue joints, Sheldon gets an MRI as he has been complaining of back pain that turns out to be a herniated disc. The rest of the contestants learn about the two signature sauces used in South Carolina barbecue, one mustard-based, and one vinegar-based. All three teams decide to tackle the vinegar-based sauce for their own pig and the challenge begins. Chefs pull an all-nighter to slowly smoke the hogs to barbecue perfection. While the Yellow team made up of Emily, Brooke, John, and Sheldon wowed the judges with their pig and side dishes, the Green team of Sylva, Silvia, Amanda, and Katsuji missed the mark on just about everything and as a result, Silvia was sent home. That’s right, the birthday curse lives on as the 26-year-old gets eliminated on her birthday.
The next episode of Top Chef Charleston airs on January 5, 2017 at 9 p.m. and promises even more difficult challenges as the chefs are tasked with creating vegetarian versions of classic Southern comfort foods as well as paying tribute to the mother of Southern cooking, Edna Lewis. Tune in to catch all of the intense competition.
Luna, N., “‘Top Chef’ recap: Baking, barbecuing and birthdays rattle the chefs,” The Orange County Register web site, December 30, 2016; http://www.ocregister.com/articles/chef-739848-chung-chefs.html, last accessed January 3, 2017.
Leiby, A., “’Top Chef’ Recap: When Barbecue Goes Up in Smoke,” Eater web site, December 30, 2016; http://www.eater.com/2016/12/30/14122852/top-chef-charleston-recap-episode-5-barbecue, last accessed January 3, 2017.
“Top Chef Season 14 Episode Guide,” TV Guide web site, http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/top-chef/episodes/278417/, last accessed January 3, 2017.