Top Chef recap: 'Make Cornbread, Not War'

A kitchen war between Tom Colicchio and Emeril Lagasse leads to one talented chef's untimely elimination
Ep. 03 | Aired Nov 21, 2012

TIME IS NOT YOUR FRIEND Kuniko had blazes of glory in her brief stint in the Top Chef kitchen, but her lack of time management skills ultimately got the best of her.

David Moir/Bravo

That gave Josie immunity going into this week's Elimination Challenge, which divided the chefs into two teams to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for FareStart, an organization that feeds the homeless in Seattle. Padma did a mortifying Scarface impression, calling Tom and Emeril into the kitchen to lead each of the teams in making dueling turkey feasts. For clarity's sake, here are the team breakdowns:

GRAY TEAM: Emeril, Danyele, John, Kristen, Tyler, Kuniko, Sheldon, Brooke, Chrissy, Josie

RED TEAM: Tom, CJ, Carla, Bart, Josh, Micah, Lizzie, Stefan, Eliza

Leading his team, Emeril made the wild guess that Tom would go in a strongly Italian direction with his Thanksgiving meal; to counter that, Emeril decided the Gray Team would go Creole. Another shocker. It was nice to see Emeril come alive in the kitchen. As a judge, he's surprisingly restrained, although I'm glad he more or less rebuffed Chrissy's attempts to make him shout, "BAM!" Here's how the Gray Team fared:

In an attempt to do justice to Emeril's famous turkey, slathered with a triple-spice glaze, Josie captured the worst of both worlds -- the bird looked overcooked on the outside and bright pink on the inside. Danyele did Emeril's mother proud by pulling off her bread stuffing with chorizo and cayenne recipe, and John nailed the cornbread stuffing.

The judges were neither displeased nor wowed by Kristen's assiette of root vegetables, parsnip, truffle puree and creme fraiche, which Tom didn't think the dish needed. Tyler's gumbo with Andouille and shrimp was a misstep; Emeril could tell he hadn't added the Worcestershire and hot sauce at the end. Kuniko failed as well with her completely raw and under-seasoned potato pave — she'd been too busy helping everybody else to work on her own dish. Didn't she say she'd learned her lesson about time management in the Quickfire? Sheldon also disappointed with his braised greens with ham hocks, which looked more like a warm salad than braised greens.

Brooke turned things around with her sweet potato buttermilk pancakes, which Dana called "sweet and tender." The judges all enjoyed Chrissy's bread pudding with pecan and white chocolate but were mixed on John's spiced pumpkin and goat cheese ricotta torte, which even he admitted was "grainy."

NEXT: You know it's Thanksgiving when people are screaming at each other in the kitchen

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