Happy Thanksgiving! The Top Chef contestants cooked up turkeys and trimmings on Wednesday night’s show, with participants gamely clinking glasses and carving birds even though it was filmed in the summer heat. Here are some of the weekly highlights and lowlights:
Chef winner: Josie took the quickfire challenge (global dumplings) and Carla was the overall victor with her carrot soup and turkey meatballs.
Local winner: Seattle’s Fare Start got a star turn of its own, with the main action taking place at its downtown digs and with lots of high-profile praise for its work training homeless and disadvantaged people for culinary jobs. Two teams of contestants (one guided by Emeril Lagasse, one by Tom Colicchio) cooked “Thanksgiving” dinners for the organization’s staff and volunteers.
Other locals: “Chef in the Hat” Thierry Rautureau as a charmingly blunt guest judge. (He callled one dessert a “chocolate bomb,” said that an underwhelming gumbo would get the cook thrown out of the South, and noted that an undercooked turkey was “not recommended by the USDA.”
Dish you’re not making for your own Thanksgiving: The stuffing that Colicchio’s team made under his direction; filled with foie gras and pancetta and pork belly. Judges were told that the recipe was handed down in Colicchio’s family from generation to generation. Rautureau’s response: “I’m not buying that for a minute.”
Dish you really shouldn’t make for your own Thanksgiving: The turkey roasted under Josie’s supervision, which turned out pinkly undercooked. “I would love to send Josie home,” Colicchio said, but she had won immunity in the earlier quickfire.
Carla’s blowup of the night: You knew there would be at least one, right? She didn’t want anyone tasting her dish before it was done. And then she didn’t appreciate being called “sweetie.” Cutting her hand was one thing, she raged, but “you guys decide to call me sweetie and honey and tell me what the $#@ to do is another.”
Surprise loser: Kuniko packed her knives and went home, after serving a potato pave that the judges said was underseasoned and practically raw. Josie told the judges that Kuniko had pitched in wherever she was needed in the kitchen, to the detriment of her own dish, but the judges were unmoved.
Redeeming quote: Kuniko’s final words: “If I didn’t help anybody and only took care of myself, that’s worse than me going home.” Fitting words for a Fare Start feature.
Did you catch any other locals in the background? I thought I saw Skillet’s Josh Henderson, and others spied Wayne Johnson of Ray’s.
Photo of Food and Wine editor Dana Cowin, Thierry Rautureau, and Fare Start’s Megan Karch by David Moir/Bravo