Image credit: David Moir/Bravo
A WINNING BLEND Kristen was victorious not once but twice tonight -- can her streak continue next week?
Then came hot mess Josie and challenger Lizzie, who duked it out on raspberry-accented dishes. Josie's summer roll with raspberry aioli, dungeness crab, sockeye salmon, and raspberry wasabi was just as weird as it sounded -- and her sluggish service didn't help matters. (One diner wondered if the smiley chef was so slow because she was killing each crab individually in her booth.) Lizzie's raspberry pork -- a dish meant to highlight the fruit's "beautiful femininity," which, okay, South Africa -- won better reviews, probably because "raspberry" and "wasabi" are two words that should never get anywhere near each other. Looks like all those meals for Desmond Tutu are finally paying off.
Sheldon and Micah's strawberry creations -- an ahi summer roll with strawberries and sweet chili sauce, and strawberry-marinated fried chicken with a strawberry and bacon biscuit, respectively -- both won decent evaluations, if not enthusiastic ones. But Sheldon had a slight edge -- possibly because he managed to get his summer rolls prepped before judging began. (Ahem, Josie.)
Stefan and John's gooseberry dishes were a bit more divisive. Despite all that talk of frozen fish, Stefan's tuna crudo ended up tasting just dandy, according to Padma, Tom, Gail, and Stephanie. John's white gazpacho, on the other hand, was filled with an overpowering chorizo that inspired one diner to compare it to cheeseburger soup. The judges weren't terribly hard on the soup -- but Stefan was, boasting that his opponent had made "the worst gazpacho on the face of the earth." How bad was it, Stefan? "I wouldn't flush my poop with it -- that's how bad it was." Not a soundbite up there with "Top Scallop," but we'll take what we can get.
Brooke and Bart each went in a direction that was half savory and half desserty, surrounding blackberries with smoky, spicy, fishy flavors. Wait -- fishy? Yep: Bart mucked up a perfect blackberry soup with a random piece of bland salmon, which may have been the only thing that kept him from winning the challenge (and $10,000). But Brooke's chocolate pudding with blackberry tapioca evoked s'mores, and as we all know, s'mores are the greatest food in the history of eating.
Last but not least came Kristen, who fought to the finish despite her immunity -- and despite being tasked with cooking "tayberries," which I'm not sure actually exist. No matter: Her toasted sage, matcha, and goat milk custard sounded and looked as good as it tasted, prompting Padma and co. to name Kristen the Elimination Challenge's ultimate winner at Judges' Table. Hooray! In return, Kristen bagged $10,000, which will allow her to travel back to Korea in search of her roots. Perhaps even more importantly, Tom said after she won that if she keeps cooking the way she has been, she'll keep racking up prizes. Could Stefan's crush end up becoming Top Chef's second female winner?
NEXT: Oh wele