Last night Top Chef celebrated the holiday season, and even though the episode was filmed sometime in July (check out the cheftestants summertime gear)—Christmas miracles were abound! Or at least forced down viewer's throats like Sous-Vide Duck with avocado foam.
To kick it all off, the Quickfire Challenge had the chefs cooking up a "one pot wonder," which meant they could only use one pot to make a quick dish easy for the common folk to recreate at home. Their Quickfire guest judge: Martha Stewart! Guest performance: Harlem Gospel Choir! The holiday: Christmas Christmas Christmas! The demeanor: serious. As the Huffington Post's Mark Blankenship notes: "The show is so stone-faced you'd think entire nations were going to rise on fall based on the freshness of a scallop."
Things were lightened up, albeit in a contrived way, during the prep for the elimination challenge. The chefs had to cater a Christmas cocktail partyfor amfAR, hosted by special guest judge, actress Natasha "sexy voice" Richardson. Each chef had to base their dish around one of the twelve days of Christmas (three French hens, etc), but when someone (a producer?) left a fridge open, the chefs banded together to help their nearly fallen brethren pull things together. Have that warm feeling yet? C'mon it's Christmas!
Overall, the manufactured holiday cheer was akin to too much sugar in a Padma-panned dish, even with the judges being overly critical and Scrooge-like...and especially with them pulling a second Christmas miracle out of their turtle doves. Once again, however, Fabio saves the day (in a clip from next week); commenting on Jamie's overuse of scallops in her dishes, he quips: "This is Top Chef, not Top Scallops!" (12 Days of Christmas-themed dishes after the jump.)
Courtesy of BuddyTV, the breakdown of the 12 Days of Christmas dishes:
- 12 Drummers Drumming: Stefan Richter makes a pot pie with a drumstick and a little pastry in the shape of a drum.
- 11 Pipers Piping: Hosea takes the concept of “put that in your pipe and smoke it” and goes with it, using smoky spices like chipotle and smoked paprika to flavor his smoked pork dish.
- 10 Lords a Leaping: Jeff has to make quite a stretch, and does a salad with two seared Greek cheese, calling it “Island Leaping.”
- 9 Ladies Dancing: Fabio decides to do something with crab because they have legs and the females “dance” around their eggs.
- 8 Maids a Milking: Melissa Harrison is inspired by the cow, and does a gorgonzola and beef dish.
- 7 Swans a Swimming: Jamie decides to do scallop “swimming” in a vichyssoise.
- 6 Geese a Laying: Ariane does six different kinds of deviled eggs.
- 5 Golden Rings: Eugene makes a seviche and serves it with a ring of golden pineapple.
- 4 Calling Birds: Nobody! ‘Cuz there's only eleven chefs left, psych!
- 3 French Hens: Leah Cohen does poultry on a puff pastry with butternut squash puree.
- 2 Turtle Doves: Carla Hall does a mushroom (it's a turtle's back?) dish.
- Partridge in a Pear Tree: Radhika Desai decides to do duck breast with a pear chutney.