The setting: Canlis
The setting: Canlis
The challenge: Recreate dishes from the restaurant's original 1950 menu
The guest judges: Naomi Pomeroy of Beast, Mark and Brian Canlis
The anticlimax: Designated bad boy John Tesar earned immunity in the quickfire challenge, in which contestants were required to free up their favorite cuts from a side of beef and do something delicious with them. Removing Tesar from the main event deflated the brewing rivalry between him and returning Top Chef aspirant CJ Jacobsen. "I want to beat John bad," Jacobsen said. Tesar was appointed expediter for the challenge, which provoked a weak dig from Jacobsen, who said it was the perfect job for the "Most Hated Chef in Dallas" because "as he'll tell you, he's worked in 96 restaurants."
The dishes: In keeping with the challenge's rules, chefs were faithful to the 62-year old menu, preparing pickled herring, steak, onion rings, liver, crab cocktail, chopped clams and a gargantuan baked potato.
The drama: Surprisingly little, unless you count the serial send-backs of Carla Pelligrino's squab, which Canlis' guests apparently considered undercooked.
The historical triumphs: The judges gave points to Lizzie Binder for having the "audacity" to include a Saltine with her herring, and praised the aesthetic accuracy of the mixed vegetables and sundaes.
The historical debacles: When Season 4 contestant Richard Blais first preached the sous vide gospel, the method was considered scarily new. Four years later, sous vide's so tired that CJ apparently believed it was an accepted kitchen technique when Truman was in the White House. Or maybe he just wasn't thinking clearly. In any case, the judges bopped him for subjecting his shish kabob to a sous vide treatment. But the judges' handle on history sometimes seemed shaky too: In announcing the winner, Hugh Acheson declared the '50s "a time of reveling in simplicity," which means he's probably never worn a girdle and petticoat.
The losers: Jacobsen and Pelligrino were called to judges' table to account for their shish kabob and squab. Josh Valentine was also summoned for his cold French onion soup, which the Canlises criticized for requiring a knife, fork and spoon to eat, and Chrissy Camba had to atone for her soggy Canlis salad. "I can't get sent home for something as stupid as a salad," she moaned. But she was sent home, along with Pelligrino.
The winners: Stefan Richter, Tyler Wiard and Binder were roundly praised, but the $10,000 victory belonged to Kristen Kish, who prepared the fried onions and mushrooms. "You actually know how to cook a mushroom," said Tom Colicchio, who features mushrooms prominently on his Craftsteak menu.
The future: Next week, the contestants cook at Marche -- and apparently disappoint Colicchio.