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Top Chef 3.4 - Cooking By Numbers Recap

Did you watch Top Chef last night? If so what did you think? I think it's starting to get interesting, but there are still a few too many characters for me to keep straight. After a two week hiatus, it was almost difficult to get back into as I kept having to say, "Who's that?" or "Wait, who's that girl?" However, once things got "cooking" (sorry I couldn't resist), I got back into the groove and was ready for a visual feast.

Things start off with an interesting quickfire challenge. Padma and Jamie Walker - guest judge and "global master mixologist for Bombay Sapphire Gin" - presents them with 12 mixed drinks and asks them to create proper food pairings. Immediately we cut to Hung who, having drawn a Raspberry Mint Martini, is bitching pouting about how his food is too good for hard alcohol. He then goes on and on about sweetness always going good with creaminess. To find out who wins the quickfire and who gets sent home at the end,

After tasting all the dishes, Walker puts Joey's "little bit clumsy" dish and Hung's in the bottom two. Hung questions him and asks for Walker to say that sweetness and creaminess don't always go hand in hand. Walker easily obliges. The top three dishes ended up belonging to Tre, Dale and Casey. I thought Dale was going to win, as he had previous experience pairing food and mixed drinks, however it was Casey who took home the immunity. Congrats to her, but can I just ask, did anyone else say, "Who?" when Casey won? She hadn't exactly gotten much screen time prior to this...

Once the quickfire is settled the cheftestants are told to divide themselves into four groups of three for a team challenge. Each team will be responsible for a portion of a 4-course meal and have 2 hours to cook, 30 minutes to shop and $150 to spend. The first thing I noticed was, unlike previous team challenges, the contestants get to break themselves into teams. I was immediately impressed with how diplomatic they were by doing a random name draw for teams. However, the diplomacy was too good to last and the contestants immediately start arguing and the teams reshuffle. In the end we are left with:

Team 1 - Brian, Hung and Lia with a trio of shrimp
Team 2 - Casey, Joey and Howie with a trio of tuna
Team 3 - CJ, Tre and Sara N. with a trio of beef
Team 4 - Sara M., Camille and Dale with a trio of pineapple

It's interesting to note that 1) Joey and Howie are on a team together even though they didn't have to be. 2) Even though no one said there must be a dessert course, Dale has decided they should do a dessert and even goes as far as to decide his team should do a tropical one. 3) Brian, the seafood chef, is once again doing a seafood dish.

When the food is served (they feed the judges, guest judge/restauranteur Barton G. Weiss, and culinary eating club extraordinaire Chaine des Rotisseurs), the shrimp is very successful, the tuna is weak/strong/muddy, the beef is beautiful (although Sara N.'s beef is compared to Denny's roast beef), and the pineapple dessert is a disaster.

The shrimp team is called out as the winners and the best dish goes to Lia with her Poached Shrimp with Lime Syrup. I'm glad to see a lady finally win an Elimination Challenge, but I feel like I hardly know her - hopefully we'll hear more from her soon.

When it comes to the losing team, both the tuna team and the dessert team are called out. Casey's dish is declared the worst, but she has immunity, so it doesn't really matter. Joey & Howie - former foes and current BFFs - are chastised for not tasting Casey's food and for not having a cohesive theme. However the dessert team was far worse, they took a risk and it failed and when all was said and done, Camille (again, "who?") is asked to pack her knives and go.

So what did you guys think? Do you think Brian can skate by on his seafood for much longer? How about Dale's demand for a dessert course, do you think he should have gone? What about Sara M.'s poor use of gelatin? Tell us your thoughts below!

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