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Top Chef: Texas

My chicken salad sandwich is better than yours.

Top Chef has finally reached its stride after many weeks of too-Texas-themed challenges.

This week’s Quickfire challenge pairs the chefs into teams of two, and tests their skills on shucking corn, peeling shrimp and making pasta. They have a limited amount of time to finish these challenges, and then are given the rest of the time on the clock to cook a dish using the ingredients they’ve just prepared. In the end, Chris and Grayson create a dish with shrimp and bacon, and win the challenge. No immunity will be offered for the rest of the season, but instead they get to share $10,000.

Next, guest judge Cat Cora announces the next challenge: a block part cook-off in support of the San Antonio food bank. The former team members are now cooking off against each other, making different plays off of the same dish. Grayson and Chris choose to cook a version of a chicken salad sandwich with a watermelon salad. Lindsey and Sarah pick meatballs with a salad, while Ed and Paul choose kalbi, a Korean-style short rib. Eaters will pick the bottom three dishes, and the judges will ultimately choose who will be sent home.

After the cookout, Grayson, Paul and Lindsey find themselves in the bottom. Grayson made a chicken salad with pickled onion and arugula, and watermelon salad with feta and toasted pumpkin. Tom Colicchio is not impressed with Grayson’s choice of a chicken salad dish, but she defends herself, saying that a meatball is no more impressive. Lindsey’s dish was a Greek meatball with lemon yogurt and a black-eyed peas and quinoa Greek salad. Paul wins another $15,000 this week with his Korean kalbi lettuce wrap with a white peach slaw and homemade hot sauce.  

On the losing side, Sara’s apricot and mint meatball with a summer vegetable salad was on the bottom only because Lindsey’s was better. Sara’s was still good, so she’s safe this week. Ed’s open-face sandwich kalbi on homemade bread with pickled cucumber, carrot and daikon radish was generally panned by the judges. Although he made his own bread, Cat Cora said it was too heavy. Chris’ chicken salad with tofu mayo and watermelon salad with pineapple ice was lackluster, and he knew it. In the end, Chris is sent home.

Now, only five chefs remain, plus it’s only a two more weeks until the winner of the Last Chance Kitchen will be allowed back in the house with the final four. That’s sure to bring a lot of surprises, and knowing this group, anger.