While this season of Top Chef has, save for a few tears, been drama-free, last night’s episode made up for lost ground. When expert chefs Dominique Crenn and Julian Serrano weren’t arguing over chocolate chicken and corn silk nests, the cheftestants were feeling betrayed and hurt by one of their own. But before any of that went down, we watched a Quickfire Challenge judged by the always amiable, bow tie-wearing Jacques Pépin. He gave the chefs a quick lesson on how to make his favorite dish, Dover sole with artichokes and asparagus, and then told them to recreate it in 35 minutes.
After sweating over trying to impress the great Pépin, the chefs met Crenn and Serrano. For the Elimination Challenge, they divided into two teams—the French half led by Crenn and the Spanish team led by Serrano—and told to prepare a five-course meal that featured almonds, olives, chicken, mussels and chocolate. During the meal Crenn and Serrano heatedly debated the “new cooking,” proving that cheftestants aren’t the only ones with tempers. But the real tension took place at the Judges’ Table, where unfortunately one talented cheftestant was sent home for a dish that was only slightly flawed. For those playing F&W’s Fantasy Top Chef, here are the points earned and lost by chefs last night.
Nina Compton: +10 for winning the Elimination Challenge with her simple, classic potato salad with shrimp and olives. Total points: 64
Shirley Chung: +1 for taking a risk with liquid nitrogen. -3 for being on the losing team in the Elimination Challenge. +2 for her deeply flavorful and perfectly clear consommé, which the judges adored. +1 for the scathing look she shot Nick after Stephanie was sent home, ensuring an interesting next episode. Total points: 60
Nicholas Elmi: +3 for winning his first Quickfire Challenge. -3 for being on the losing team in the Elimination Challenge. -5 for making the judges’ least favorite dish of the night: chicken with spiced chocolate and a corn silk nest—something so “new school” that chef Serrano didn’t want to even try it. It was so bad that it prompted chef Pépin to suggest Nick give up his immunity and resign. +2 for not resigning; he won his immunity fair and square. This is Top Chef, not top good guy. Total points: 51
Carlos Gaytan: +1 for crying while talking to his daughter. +1 for presenting his Spanish dishes in Spanish to the judges. +3 for being on the winning team. Total points: 45
Stephanie Cmar: +1 for crushing on chef Crenn and calling her “drop dead gorgeous.” -10 for being told to pack her knives and leave for slightly soggy croutons. Total points: 41
Brian Huskey: +3 for being on the winning team. Total points: 30
Louis Maldonado: +2 for winning yet another Last Chance Kitchen, this time with sweet and savory beignets. Total points: 20
Keep up to date with the current standings with F&W’s updated roster.