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.
As our group of cheftestants dwindles down, the challenges and recaps get more precise. There’s no hiding behind a team; every chef is for themselves. This episode finds them returning to their rooms at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel, exhausted from the previous challenge. Blink, and it’s the next day. They are seen at M.Y. China, Martin Yan’s establishment. If you don’t already know Yan Can Cook, then know he’s the OG celebrity chef. We grew up watching him and The Frugal Gourmet on PBS instead of Sesame Street.
Their Quickfire: Create the perfect chop suey. As Yan explains, ‘chop’ has to do with a mixture, while ‘suey’ is about bite-sized morsels. They have 30 minutes and their very own, super hot wok station to utilize.
Amar ambitiously creates both a pork chop suey with vegetables and Szechuan peppercorn, then plates over a fresh batch of fried rice. However, it is Marjorie’s moment to shine, as she wins her first challenge! The baker/pastry chef proves herself, despite being the remaining female standing in the group. While immunity is no longer on the table, her advantage for the next task is a great one.
They jump right into their Elimination Challenge and guest judge, Adam Fleischman. You may have heard of him— he created a brand known as Umami Burger. While this isn’t a burger challenge, it is about the fast causal concept. Chefs are expected to create one dish that exemplifies their own restaurant concept. They’ll need a name and a complete menu to explain to 150 customers and potential investors. Per Amar, there are, “. . . so many venture capital investors. Not only do you have to make great food, but be the face of the concept and sell it.”
Marjorie’s Quickfire advantage is then announced. She is first to select a sous chef from the group hanging out in Last Chance Kitchen. She selects Angelina because of her beast mode in the kitchen. And then, Marjorie is allowed to pair her remaining competitors with their sous. Recipe for disaster? Unlikely, as everyone appears to be pleased with their partner— even Kwame with Philip.
Amar is matched with recently booted Karen. He informs her that the concept they’ll be working on is a shredded rotisserie chicken idea called Pio Pio. Served with Spanish yellow rice and a trio of sauces, Santana believes diners will be able to customize flavors to their liking. With only a day to create and execute, it feels a little too similar to Restaurant Wars, per Marjorie.
Of the favorite concepts, Marjorie’s Pasta Mama (fresh, hot pasta) and Karl’s Savory Med (a Chipotle-style Mediterranean) please judges the most. Karl earns his first victory with bold and exciting flavors, plus a concept the judges are on board with. Jeremy’s Taco Dudes and Kwame’s chicken and waffle idea suffered from a lack of thought process. Tom’s crack about surfers doing “fish tacos, not pork belly.” may or may not be influenced by a Wing Lam spotting in the crowd. Kwame’s decision to go with frozen waffles may have cost him the title, as he is sent packing.
Can Kwame fight his way back into the competition? Only his Last Chance Kitchen opponent knows the answer.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.