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Top Chef: Uncommon Sense and Sensuality (Episode 11 Recap)


If you haven't watched last night's episode, titled "Sense and Sensuality" then beware, there are big time spoilers ahead! Now, for those of you that did watch it, can I just say, "DRAMA!" - this is the kind of stuff that makes for good TV. I mean (spoilers begin now, so if you haven't watched and are still reading, well, I tried to warn you), how often do you get to see gorgeous food, shaved heads, and wrestling matches all in the same hour!?

Since this was the last elimination round before the chefs meet back up in Hawaii, the stakes were HIGH. I mean, who wants to make it this far, only to pack their knives at the last minute. Even better question: Who wants to get that far and then have to pack their knives because of their actions and not their food???

To check out my full recap, including winners, losers, drastic measures and more, read more


The episode starts off with guest judge Chef Eric Ripert (of NYC's Le Bernardin) and yet another sponsored commercial, er I mean, quickfire challenge. This time it was by Nestlé Chocolatier (which I'm mentioning only because I find it interesting that Nestlé has come up with a new premium brand... I guess that means I fell for the marketing).

For the quickfire challenge, our beloved chefs were asked to make either a sweet or a savory dish featuring chocolate. Ilan lost with a horrific looking chocolate ganache with chicken livers (I thought it sounded interesting, but in the end, even I was repulsed, and I'll eat just about everything) and Sam won with a shrimp, banana concoction.


Bravo TV has stopped posting the recipes for the quickfires, but here's what everyone made:

  • Elia: Poached chicken topped with chili chocolate sauce and caramelized pecans AND "Kiss" - Creamed mousse of ginger and chocolate with strawberry and mint crumble
  • Sam: Shrimp with bananas, chocolate chipotle, black bean and cilantro pesto sauce
  • Cliff: Braised chicken piquillo peppers, rosemary and chocolate sauce potatoes
  • Ilan: Chicken liver chocolate ganache with fried ginger and sherry sauce
  • Marcel: Potato cannelonis filled with coffee whip cream and chocolate mousse with vanilla powder

After the quickfire, the contestants were told they needed to make a five course romantic dinner. Since Sam won the quickfire, he got to choose which course he was making and which protein he was using. He chose scallops and lobster, which meant that no one else could use either scallops or lobster.


When the contestants arrive in Santa Barbara (where the romantic meal took place), they were greeted with a tiny kitchen. Surprisingly, the meal goes off pretty effortlessly. Sam is up first and asks Marcel if he can help plate, but Marcel says he can't because he's busy prepping. So, when it came Marcel's turn to plate, Sam said he couldn't help since Marcel didn't help him. However Sam says he couldn't be "that guy" and ended up helping anyways. The only other kitchen drama occurred when Elia's chocolate hearts couldn't be whipped up fast enough and she claimed that she "quit." Also calling it the first time she's put out something she's not happy with.

The judges eat it up. For the most part they like everything (I think this may be a Top Chef first). The only exception being Cliff's beef dish which they claimed to be like hotel food (Chef Tom also stated that Cliff's greens were worthless). They also noticed that Elia's "chocolate hearts" were missing, but Padma liked it, she thought the dessert was romantic.


Here's what everyone made and in the order it was served:

  • Sam: Seared Scallops with Lobster Plum Sauce and Beets
  • Ilan: Fideos with Clams and Saffron
  • Marcel: Salmon with Celeriac & Beets
  • Cliff: Sirloin with Lentil Puree
  • Elia: "The Kiss" Chocolate Mousse with a Chocolate Heart served on a Pastry Heart
  • So, the chefs cooked a great meal, the judges loved it, it's going to be a tough panel, but WAIT. What's this? We have what, 15 minutes left in the episode? Turns out our fledgling chefs, high off of adrenaline head back to the lofts, where they get tanked and decide to shave their heads.


    Yes. That's right. SHAVE THEIR HEADS.
    Ilan and Elia shave their heads, Sam chickens out, Cliff is already shaved down, so that leaves Marcel. Poor sleeping Marcel. Now, I'm all over the map with what I think about him, he's endearing one minute, annoying as hell the next, and as much as I can't stand the Teen Wolf hairdo, this is "joke" that's just not funny. I mean the guy is asleep, minding his own business and then Cliff grabs him. He literally yanks him off the couch and holds him in some weird wrestling pin. It was frustrating and uncomfortable to watch. No one wanted it to happen, but no one stopped it either.
    Sam just sits there, Ilan continues to film and then finally Cliff lets go. Marcel eventually ends up sleeping in the bathroom, I assume with the door locked for safety. And now Cliff seems like an okay fellow, but all season long we've seen some nasty mean streaks and violent tendencies come out. I would have probably also spent the evening locked away.


    The next morning the chefs are met by Chef Tom, who arrives and looks quite frightening. He asks everyone but Cliff to leave the room and then WHAT WHAT? Cliff it's time to pack your knives and go. Turns out there's a small clause in their Bravo TV contracts that state, if you touch another contestant, you're out. Cliff is obviously shocked by this, but accepts his departure gracefully.

    Back at the judge's table, the rest of the judges learn of Cliff's departure. They are truly shocked (although Padma definitely looked more shocked once she saw Elia's shaved head) and appalled that this could happen. However, they all agree that Cliff's was the weakest dish and that he probably would have gone home anyway. They then analyze all the other dishes and talk about letting one, if not two, of the remaining four go (hrmmm... I thought they liked the meal?). When the contestants return, Padma tells Sam and Ilan they they are still in the running, but that Elia and Marcel need to "pack their knives and go... TO HAWAII!"


    I'll admit now, although my brain knew there was no way they could only bring two chefs to the finals, I totally fell for it.

    Now, a few things to discuss:

    • Elia: I LOVE her with a shaved head!
    • What would you have done if you were Marcel
    • Would you eat chocolate and chicken livers together?
    • What do you think of Chef Tom? How about his dismissal style?
    • Padma's outfits - come on tell me what you really think!
    • Anything else that comes to mind? Discuss in the comments below!

    Source: Bravo TV

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