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Top Chef 3.12 - Manhattan Project Recap

Last night's Top Chef was the last episode before the finals in Aspen. The cheftestants are allowed to hang out in the streets of New York before being whisked away to the famous Le Cirque restaurant. At Le Cirque they are treated to a beautiful VIP dish called Paupiette of Sea Bass. Once they're wined and dined, they find out they have 25 minutes to recreate the dish in the working kitchen. I thought this was an interesting twist on the quickfire, it was nice to see a quickfire that didn't have a weird branding attached to it. So who was the master re-creator and who had the gall to serve raw fish? Find out when you

The cheftestants work in Le Cirque's kitchen indiviually preparing what I'm calling, "My goodness I have got to eat this" meal. Hung is up first and wows owner Sirio Maccioni, as does Casey. The other three didn't fare so well. Dale's was unseasoned, Brian's wasn't wrapped properly and Sara's was actually raw. Needless to say the top two are Hung and Casey, and Maccioni awkwardly jokingly says he'd call Casey the winner because she is attractive, but gives it to Hung as his dish was the most accurate.

Next they're told to get ready for tomorrow's elimination challenge. They get three staples — chicken, russet potato and yellow onion — and $200 to spend at the farmer's market. Their challenge is to create a dish for the culinary legends and professors of the French Culinary Institute in two hours.

Hung — who had an extra 30 minutes to prep thanks to his quickfire win — creates a sous vide Butter Poached Chicken with a crispy chicken skin chip. Sara has some odd fricassee chicken with a Jamaican influence. Dale does a duet of chicken, but forgets his honey sauce. Brian creates a spring peasant's pie — which the judges loved, even though it looked unique. Casey created a "coq a vin" with potatoes and ramps.

In the end Hung is declared the winner and Casey and Brian are right up there with him. This left Sara and Dale in the bottom two. However part of Sara's chicken was raw and her "failure to execute" was deemed worse than Dale's "poor concept." Translation: It was time for her to pack her knives and go.

So now that we're in the home stretch, I have some talking points before the finals.

  1. Did you see the surly line cook's expression when the cheftestants walked in?
  2. I loved Dale's quote, "I'm a big gay chef and I'm going to out-cook your a$$," did you?
  3. If you were Hung, would you have shared your technique with everyone else?
  4. Was it cute or offensive when Maccioni makes the joke about Casey being attractive? Wouldn't it have been really weird and creepy if he was a lot younger?
  5. Is Casey finally proving herself as a chef?
  6. Who do you think the final two will be? Final one? I'm rooting for Hung and Casey, but secretly hope Dale blows them all away.

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