Top Chef recap: Fifties Food Fight

This week's flashback challenge shows what all the cool cats were eating in the '50s
Ep. 04 | Aired Nov 28, 2012

MEATHEADS After this frustrating challenge, I finally get why Carla yells so much. Male chefs are infuriating.

David Moir/Bravo

Before the main courses went out, Carla had a squab conundrum. The non-judge guests sent a bunch of the dishes back, saying the meat was too red. But as Tim Riggins of Friday Night Lights discovered the hard way, squab is supposed to be served quite rare, and Carla unfortunately over-corrected and served well-done squab (aka pigeon meat) to the judges, who knew better. Padma actually loved the dish, but the others noted that it was too hard to eat with all the bones still in it.

Sheldon impressed with fresh Hawaiian mahi-mahi with beurre blanc, and Micah got a mixed reaction for his mixed vegetables. Hugh said the carrots were underdone and the turnips overdone, but Naomi thought the choice in vegetables was so very 50s. I'm sorry, I don't have it out for Micah, but what is so hard about choosing a decade-appropriate collection of vegetables? It looked like any cafeteria mixed veggies side, and if they weren't cooked right, there's nothing impressive about the dish.

Dream team Stefan and Kristen did a good job with the liver and fried onions, respectively. Unlike Micah, Kristen seemed to take her simple vegetable dishes to another level. Clearly she had a strategy for her mushroom dish, and she accomplished her goal of wowing the judges with dishes that could have been boring. Naomi was not impressed with Bart's double-cut New York steak because he cut with the grain rather than across — Bart the Knight, even I know that's a cardinal sin of butchering! Josie couldn't do for tubers what Kristen did for mushrooms. Her gargantuan Idaho baked potato lived up to its name in size but not in taste. For all CJ's swagger and downright frenetic desire to win, his lamb shish kebab with pilaf turned out under-seasoned and mealy — Tom could tell that he had sous-vide the meat, which a chef wouldn't have done in the 50s.

Danyele and Eliza split the desserts, which all looked as though they came off a cart in a diner (perfect); Danyele's vanilla ice cream with salty peanut brittle was the biggest hit, and Brian Canlis also loved Eliza's mint sherbert. Overall the desserts were neither disasters nor huge winners.

NEXT: Excuses, excuses, excuses

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