Your Top Chef: California Recap (OC Edition) – Week 4

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.

Welcome back! We are still in the beauty that is Palm Springs. 13 cheftestants are still standing in Season 13, en route to Hadley Date Garden. Trivia moment: Did you know that Palm Springs is the date capital of the US? Neither did we. The gang collects a trio of varieties— Deglet Noor (or Nour, as we learned during Quickfire), Zahidi and Medjool. Meanwhile, Issac (our New Awlins rep) is transfixed on the machete-like harvesting device. Yeah, we need to be moving along to the kitchen already.

They are greeted by Padma and her good friend Chrissy Teigen (a.k.a singer John Legend’s supermodel wife), whom we learn is a massive foodie and Top Chef superfan. Capable of making Kwame lose his cool, Chrissy proceeds to describe their fruitful bounty as, “sweet, succulent and sticky.” Breathe, Kwame. Breathe! Their Quickfire assignment: describe the best date you ever had using the ingredient. Cambridge Carl explains to viewers the importance of making a savory balance in this dish. We then learn of (almost) everyone’s romantic escapades. Most confusing soundbyte goes to Giselle, because how exactly do you “softly make out”??

Our first Amar moment involves his dish of stuffed Medjools with chorizo, bacon, toasted almonds and blue cheese. Both ladies loved the dish’s appearance, but Padma questioned the story behind it. Santana explains how he took his beautiful ex-girlfriend out for a meal. However, she paid the bill before he could, “She was a keeper.” The problem: Why DIDN’T he keep her? “Oh, she’s coming back.” he coolly remarks. O-kay.

The immunity winner for this round is none other than Jason serving roasted baby carrots with Deglet Nour dates, brown butter, cumin, and pine nuts. Despite a “crazy punch in the face of spice”, the all-around char of the dish won them over. As Chrissy struts her way out, she is replaced by the talented Art Smith, chef and LGBT activist. After a couple of formalities, he announces their Elimination Challenge: Work as a team to excel and provide a catered reception for 25 couples. Padma was even ordained that morning and will officiate the ceremony in a fierce outfit! Another sweet twist: Art will supply the wedding cake, reminiscent of his not-so-ideal experience baking dessert for a wedding during his Top Chef: Masters tenure.

With three hours to prep and cook tomorrow, the team divides and conquers Whole Paycheck with $2000 and 30 minutes to shop for their big fat gay wedding reception (Art’s words, not ours!). The next morning, there’s a chill yoga session by the pool before heading over to the Culinary Arts Academy to get crackin’. As usual, there are personality clashes. Angelina freaks out about seasoning and timing to Jason. Kwame isn’t a fan of Philip’s potato smoothie sauce. And Giselle cannot seem to go 10 minutes without asking for approval on her work. 

Padma’s creme tuxedo with coattails actually is fierce, as she addresses the couples. Art and his partner Jesus take the opportunity to renew their vows. Things get pretty emotional as the chefs rush to prepare for service at Colony 29. The judges roam from each grouping of stations. Chad and Amar plate a petite sherry-glazed pork belly with smoked orange marmalade, pickled fennel, onion and smoked salt . Santana is very confident that they are, “not just making your typical wedding food.” Head judge Tom is definitely a fan, “Can I have more, please?”

Saucier Kwame has the pleasure of being on both the winning and losing team. Paired with Wesley, they nail a cucumber onion salad with citrus vinaigrette and cashews. On the flip side, his collaboration with Philip put them at the bottom. However, the real loser this round turns out to the Giselle, as she departs for Last Chance Kitchen. The rest of them learn that their next destination is San Diego, home of the Richard Blais property Juniper & Ivy. More shenanigans await as we bid you farewell until next week.

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