Your Top Chef: California Recap (OC Edition) - Week 3

Giselle & Amar's Elimination Challenge contribution
Giselle & Amar's Elimination Challenge contribution

Disclaimer: While this is a Top Chef recap, this is also specific to OC. In other words, us Weeklings are rooting for Amar Santana!
Disclaimer #2: There are total spoilers in here. Do not read unless you want to know who won what this week, okay? Now, let's DO this.

Where we at? Oh, yeah. The gang is headed to Palm Springs, where people, " . . .sit in the sun and drink white wine spritzers." according to Jason of Seattle. They are greeted by Desert Adventures and take the company's signature red jeeps along the San Andreas fault to convene with Padma and restaurant mogul Jose Andres, surrounded by lots of futuristic equipment. If you aren't familiar with Jose, just go to Vegas, where he's got places everywhere. 

Padma breaks down the Quickfire rules: Create a dish in 30 minutes using equipment powered by clean energy. The contraptions turn out to be cutting edge cook stoves and ovens. And we gather clean energy is the fancier term for solar power these days. Because, you know, solar is about your roof.

Folks quickly dive in, doing what they do best. Or in Phillip's case, pick up rocks. Man (Bun) wants to serve his dish on rocks, since he's surrounded by them. This gives us our first Amar soundbyte, "It's 200-degrees outside. (Putting) oyster on a piece of rock. What's wrong with you, bro?" Padma later referred to Man Bun's dish as, "snot on a rock." Burn! Santana's got achiote-marinated shrimp with panzanella salad and romesco sauce. Chef happily explained to Padma and Jose how he was able to toast croutons in his fancy oven. 

Not too much drama here, 'cept for Giselle straight up shattering her oven. And Wesley getting his shi^t together and serving the winning dish from a spic 'n span cooking station. His shrimp with coconut broth, lemongrass, sauteed mushrooms and pickled red onion pleased the judges to the sound of immunity, a $10k donation to World Central Kitchen plus his very own clean cook stove. Way to turn it around, man. 

The 14 are quickly divided into two groups for their Elimination Challenge. The instructions: Serve a four-course, progressive meal. Beginning with an appetizer and ending with dessert. Without a kitchen. Oh, and let's screw you over further and get you on golf carts to meet us at your "cooking stations"— a bunch of snack carts. They remind us of those rolling kiosks at the mall where you want to get your iPhone screen repaired. 

With $500 and 30 minutes at Whole Paycheck, Amar's Team Orange opted for a Latin-themed menu. At the posh PGA West course, round one turns out to be a head-to-head ceviche showdown. Team Blue starts off strong by serving their items over ice, ice baby. We also discover Richard Blaise, the badass Mary Sue Milliken and Douglas Keane have joined the golf outing.

Next round is another coincidental battle of grilled shrimp. We won't linger too long except to say Angelina and Grayson are dissed by the judges for a combination of overcooked shrimp and lack of acid in their chorizo hash component. This ain't looking good. Oh, and Jimmy Schmidt of Morgan's in the Desert is golfing too. Because Palms Springs gotta represent. Next!

It's in the third course where Amar resurfaces, leaving a salsa verde to Giselle while he focuses on a spice-rubbed grilled New York strip. Served alongside a bacon and asparagus potato salad, Santana considers it a "five-star dish", while Andres thinks it's more like two disjointed dishes. Their opponents present a roasted pork loin with Greek yogurt, grapes, green chili and green apple. Hard to say exactly who won this course.

To finish, Issac and Phillip butt heads over dessert. Big personalities plus delicate treats equate to more of Man Bun's (supposedly) unintentional shenanigans. But first, neither one of them can keep their burners lit. Damn desert winds! Issac's grapefruit sabayon is missing more pronounced grapefruit flavor. Man Bun's wife's dessert recipe is so delicate, his flimsy serving bowls keep flying away. This forces chef to kneel, plate and describe his dish with a tablecloth over his head. Cue Padma dying of bewilderment.

At Judges' Table, Richard Blaise and John Besh(!!) join Tom and Padma to dish out criticism. Jeremy wins his second challenge for Team Blue, receiving a week-long return trip to La Quinta. Colicchio sums things up with a golf analogy, "There are no mulligans. Every stroke that you take is counted. Everything that goes on a plate is counted." And with that, we say good-bye to Grayson. Her attitude while leaving is priceless. Don't let the golf cart hit you on the way out, girl.

Snippets of next week include ogling Chrissy Teigen, Art Smith's "big fat gay wedding" (his words, not ours) and seeing Man Bun potentially screwing up again. Ah, the powers of editing.

See ya next week, people!

Upcoming Events

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >