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The Daily Meal’s Chef Madness Challenge: The Final Reveal!

The Daily Meal’s Chef Madness Challenge: The Final Reveal!

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Check out this incredible illustration

When we launched our Chef Madness Challenge a couple of weeks ago, we had no idea what an amazing turnout we would see. Each round garnered thousands of votes, whittling down eight chefs, game time-friendly dishes, cocktails, and beers until only one of each remained.

In the end, Michael Symon beat out Geoffrey Zakarian by a wide margin, and sliders, margaritas, and Guinness also proved to be dominant in their fields.

But it couldn’t just end there.

Behold: the graphic illustration of the Chef Madness Challenge, as painted by artist Michael Marsicano.

In this illustration, the four winners face off against the four runners-up. Our winning chef, Michael Symon, goes in to dunk our winning dish, a slider, carrying our winning cocktail and beer, margarita and Guinness. Below him is our runner-up, chef Geoffrey Zakarian, trying and failing to dunk a Buffalo wing, as our second-place cocktail and beer, White Russians and Miller High Life, fall from his grasp. In a word: awesome.

So congratulations again, chef Symon, for winning the challenge, and thanks to Marsicano for such a masterpiece!

You can order a print for yourself (you know you want to) here; also be sure to follow Marsicano on Twitter @mmillo.

9 chefs reveal why they really turned vegan

With Vegan November 2019 taking the UK by storm, we grilled nine vegan foodies on the real reasons they chose to adopt a plant-based diet.

It’s official: veganism is here to stay.

A study from The Vegan Society shows that 22% of Londoners are embracing veganism, after all, 2019 was a record year for Veganuary with 250,310 participants from 190 countries.

With plant-based diets on the rise in both big cities and smaller communities – there are now 600,000 vegans across the whole of Great Britain – the movement can no longer be overlooked.

But what are the real reasons that more and more people are committing to a meat-free lifestyle? Here, we ask nine food professionals about why they chose to commit to veganism…

Rachel Ama, author of Vegan Eats: Tasty Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day

I cut out dairy around 8 years ago which was a lot harder to do back then as there were so few replacements compared to now. But as soon as I saw how meat and fish ended up on my plate, I went vegan the next day. I’ve always loved animals and had pets, I just hadn’t made the association before between the meat I ate, and the animals I called pets until I saw the real journey and it broke my heart. The challenges for me were always social. I didn’t grow up with any vegan or vegetarian friends, so me being vegan made birthday dinners, gatherings and so on a little bit awkward - trying to find a vegan option or explaining why I didn’t want to eat the meat. I used to eat before I went out or make something to bring – eating out as a vegan is a lot easier now.

I travelled around South America, then road-tripped the States for 6 months which created a whole new love for food and cooking as soon as I got back home. Then shortly after I went vegan. I wanted to enjoy all the incredible food I’ve been eating but without meat, fish and dairy, and from there I just kept experimenting and my love of food grew and grew. You’ll find all my favourite recipes in my new book – there are 100 to chose from!

Valentina Fois, founder of Lele’s London

Lele’s London came before my commitment to veganism. I’d been working at Pop Brixton, where I met loads of inspiring young people opening their own cafes and restaurants. Then, very suddenly, my father died, which was an enormous sadness. I became very depressed, but it made reevaluate my life. I decided I had to give my time and attention to the right things. I went home and told my husband that I wanted to start a cafe. That was in July 2016… by October, we were open.

We started out as a vegetarian cafe and made the move to go fully vegan in December 2017. It’s been a real journey and incredibly fulfilling to have the opportunity to make an impact and promote veganism and ethical consumerism. It has been a personal journey of discovery as I’ve felt the need to inform myself better and look into suppliers. I am vegan for the animals and our environment. I liked eating meat but I love animals more, so the meat eating had to give!

Roxy Pope, author of So Vegan in 5

Before I went vegan, I always assumed I was taking the necessary steps to be as environmentally friendly as possible. I’d switch my lightbulbs to eco-friendly ones, cycle to and from work, take short showers, recycle as much as possible and buy second-hand clothes. What more could I do?

But three years ago, after watching countless documentaries and reading an array of articles, my partner and I decided to go vegan. It dawned on me that by far the most effective way to reduce my carbon footprint would be eliminating meat and dairy from my diet. The facts were staring me right in the face, and I couldn’t ignore them any longer. The only thing standing in the way of making this change was me.

At the time our social media feeds were full of overhead recipe videos showing off cheesy and meaty meals, but nobody was showcasing how amazing vegan food can be. So we decided to do it ourselves and show people how easy, fun and delicious vegan food can be. Pretty much overnight, we started testing, developing and filming recipes from our kitchen at home and that was the start of So Vegan.

Since then, I’ve learned so much more about the positive impact veganism has not just on the planet, but to animals and our health. So I’m now more motivated than ever before to spread our plant-powered message.

Rachel Hugh, co-founder of Vurger Co.

Neil (co-founder of Vurger Co.) and I turned Vegan owing to his personal health issues. Working in the city for years, Neil had suffered with chronic stomach problems for over 10 years that no test or doctor could resolve.

Back in 2016, after suffering for so long, we took a long overdue trip to California to celebrate our 30th birthdays. When we were there we couldn’t believe how intrinsic vegetables were to most main dishes – in fact, we were eating vegan the whole time and absolutely feeling better than ever. It was then that we realised you can still have amazing textures, flavours and fulfilling meals without having to include anything meat-related – vegetables can be the main event.

When we returned to London in 2016 and realised that we couldn’t get our favourite meal (a burger) that was completely vegan and celebrated vegetables, we felt compelled to create the business ourselves. From that moment onwards we have both been vegan in our personal lives and have started and grown a 100% vegan burger concept, from market stall to two sites in Shoreditch and Canary Wharf in two years. Our goal is to keep pushing the perceptions of what a vegan burger can be, how innovative we can be with vegetables and push the limits by showcasing how awesome veggies really are.

Clarisse Flon, head chef at Café Forty One

I have always been passionate about food. Patisserie is my favourite because of all the rules, techniques, history and skills required. I encountered a lot of difficulties at the start of my career as I was suffering from an (at the time undiagnosed) chronic digestive system illness. I was in a lot of pain, often fainting, or unable to stand. It made my job really challenging. As doctors couldn’t find a solution, I started doing some research on my own and developed a real fascination for nutrition and everything about food: where it comes from, how it’s made and its impact on our health and the environment.

All the research led me to eliminate a few things out of my diet, including gluten, before I went fully vegan. My health instantly improved and I went off of all medicine. At the time I was still working in patisserie and I noticed that gluten-free or vegan options were close to none. French patisserie to me focuses on highlighting and enhancing one ingredient or flavour and working on finding the right pairing of textures and tastes to let the raw material shine. This is what we do at Café Forty One, and myself and my team have worked hard to develop a vegan offering that would defy the usual stereotype around plant-based food. Our menu is fresh, seasonal and, I believe, different from anywhere else in London.

Aiste Gazdar, co-founder of Wild Food Café

At 19, after many years of asthma, hay fever, yearly bouts of tonsillitis, quarterly flus and many allergies, as well as the typical teenage intoxication, I went from eating junk food to eating organic, to vegetarian, then vegan. I felt better than I ever had. All my senses became clearer and sharper – I went from feeling continually congested to feeling full of life. It seemed like there wasn’t an area of my life that didn’t improve. I have been on the journey of plant-based exploration for the last 20 years and I am living wilder and rawer than ever, and feeling phenomenal.

Being vegan is a win-win situation and a no brainer for me. A significant pillar of my plant-based diet is wild plant food. I would say that going vegan is just a start – there is much more beyond what that word conveys, from empowering ourselves to learning about thriving on earth. Just as there are wilder varieties of animals, there are wilder and more potent characteristics in plant foods.

In my opinion, there isn’t a better way of sharing a more tangible and simple message of heartfelt hospitality than by serving delicious plant-based food. It fosters such an immediate bridge of connection and community, and is an excellent way to share our food vision. After several previous experiments working with culinary projects around the globe, we created our own food and wellbeing project in London. We launched Wild Food Café in Neal’s Yard in 2011, when raw and plant-based cuisine was still very much at the fringes of popular culture. Our dream was to make the café an oasis of delicious plant food and wellbeing in the centre of the city, serving the food that we truly enjoyed eating, but couldn’t really find. We now have two sites that are a dining destination to a broad spectrum of Londoners, omnivores and vegans alike.

Camilla Fayed, founder of Farmacy

I was inspired to turn vegetarian after the birth of my daughter. I then began to follow a fully plant-based diet after the birth of my son a few years later. I had researched that a plant-based diet could lead to increased energy levels, improved digestion and overall wellbeing. And since I’ve began following a 100% plant-based diet I do feel much more energised!

I think the most important thing to do before you move to a plant-based lifestyle is to ensure that you know the difference between ‘plant-based’ and ‘vegan’. Plant-based eating is a style of veganism. I believe in and promote the ethos that ‘food is medicine’ and therefore think that, separate to following a vegan diet, one should also try to eat as many natural, organic and whole plant-based foods as possible. We adopt this same ethos at Farmacy.

I try to avoid eating ‘junk foods’ that contain any kind of chemical or GMOs, even if they are vegan friendly. These don’t contain the same health benefits as natural foods and so don’t tend to make you feel as great when you eat them. A healthy and nutritious lifestyle does not co-exist with chemicals and pesticides.

Last year we cultivated our very own Farmacy Kitchen Garden, a biodynamic plot of land in Kent, that grows fruit, vegetables and herbs for the restaurant. The garden initiative has been hugely educational for the whole Farmacy team. Having harnessed their understanding of provenance and biodynamics, there are now many ingredients on the menu that have been replaced with more sustainable alternatives.

Environmental concerns and animal welfare are also huge motivational factors for me. I would love to see increasing numbers of plant-based dishes on restaurant menus throughout London to combat the huge amount of environmental waste caused by the global meat industry and spare the lives of millions of animals. I would also like to see a shift back to restaurants using 100% local suppliers for produce.

At Farmacy we are supporters of using education and information to create conversations on wellness, conscious eating, responsible local food growing and sustainability. As such, we work hard to represent good practice not just by creating nourishing and healthy plant-based dishes, but also by making sure that we way in which we create and serve them, is as kind to the planet as possible.

Alicia Cooper, Vibrant Vegan Co’s development chef

I decided to go vegan two years ago. Having trained as a nutritionist at CNM it felt like the right decision for my health, as well as for the environment around me. At that time, vegan recipes and meals weren’t readily available, so I decided to experiment with different plant-based ingredients. I started developing free-from recipes for retailers and restaurants across London. The response was fantastic and inspired me to go totally plant-based in both my personal and working life. I’m now the development chef at Vibrant Vegan Co., where I continue to experiment with new flavours and ingredients to create super delicious and nutritious vegan ready-meals.

Sophia Joannides, co-owner of Bluebell Coffee & Kitchen

I learned a lot about food, health and nutrition while travelling trough Australia in 2014. I met so many wonderful and knowledgeable people that really opened my mind to a whole new culinary world.

By the time I moved back to Swansea I had already begun eating less and less animal products, but I tried going vegan for one month as part of the PETA challenge in September 2015. I carried this on until October and I felt amazing. My head felt clearer, I had so much energy and I felt so much lighter. My skin was clearer and I just felt great.

I started reading an inspiring book called The China Study, which pinpointed the health advantages of sticking to a plant-based diet. The final straw for me was when, on Christmas day, our beloved golden retriever Stella died suddenly from an undetected tumour on her kidney. I was devastated but thought, ‘how can I be so upset about one animal dying when so many are all over the world, for people to eat?’.

I made a decision as of 1 January 2016 that nothing that came from an animal would ever pass my lips. ‘But what about Halloumi?’ my family asked in dismay (being proud Greeks!). But I’ve had my fair share of Halloumi, Camembert and all other cheeses. They wouldn’t add anything to my life, and they weren’t something I wanted anymore.

I didn’t want to cause any pain or suffering to any living thing. This was my personal choice and I feel so much better for making the decision.

  • James and Paul Anderson, Two Chubby Cubs, have lost 20 stone between them
  • Couple's first cookbook was released last year and became a best seller
  • Now they've released a second, with 100 fast and filling low calories recipes
  • Here, they share three slimming recipes with Femail including an indulgent strawberry shortcake ice cream

Published: 10:10 BST, 7 January 2021 | Updated: 15:13 BST, 8 January 2021

A married couple who lost 20 stone between them have shared the indulgent low-calorie recipes they used to shred the pounds.

Chef James Anderson from Newcastle and his writer husband Paul, from Peterborough, who go by 'Two Chubby Cubs', have racked up more than 116,000 followers on Instagram by sharing delicious Slimming friendly recipes, including chilli stuffed quesadillas and rainbow peppermint meringues.

The chefs compiled their best recipes in The Cookbook: 100 Tried and Tested Slimming Recipes last year, which became a Sunday Times and Amazon bestseller, even outranking cult classic Pinch of Nom.

Now they've released a second book, Fast & Filling, featuring 100 new recipes that are designed to help weight loss and ensure you save precious time in the kitchen too.

Chapters include: Bangin' Breakfasts, Minute Meals , One Pan, Low & Slow, Tighten the Belt, Fakeaways and Sweet Treats.

The pair shared three seemingly indulgent recipes with FEMAIL including a sweet strawberry shortcake ice cream, their tasty sloppy joe and their eggy-bread sandwich stacks.

James and Paul Anderson (pictured), who go by 'Two Chubby Cubs', have racked up more than 100,000 followers on Instagram by sharing delicious Slimming friendly recipes, including chilli stuffed quesadillas and rainbow peppermint meringues.


You’re looking at this and thinking you can’t have such decadence on a diet.

Listen, we understand, we used to think the same thing, but this is one of our cheat’s recipes where a little of what you fancy does you good. When you’ve had a week of slimming meals and fancy a treat, this is something to savour and enjoy.

We tend to have something like this every couple of weeks to scratch the ‘need sugar, can almost see my feet again’ itch, and we very much encourage you to do the same. Life isn’t there to be filled with fruit salads and rice cakes, after all.

However, this is still a diet book, so if you want to slim it down a little, there are plenty of replacements you can make which are listed in Paul’s notes below. But sometimes – just sometimes – it’s worth going the whole hog.

  • 300g (10 ½ oz) strawberries,
  • chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 250g (9oz) strawberry ice cream
  • 12 shortbread fingers
  • 250g (9oz) vanilla ice cream
  • whipped cream
  • 4 whole strawberries

Heat a saucepan over a medium-low heat and add the chopped strawberries along with the sugar. Simmer for 7–10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to make a strawberry sauce, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Take four sundae glasses or bowls and put a tablespoon of the strawberry sauce into the bottom of each one, followed by a scoop of strawberry ice cream.

Crumble over 2 shortbread fingers, and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Spoon over some more of the strawberry sauce, followed by another 2 crumbled shortbread fingers.

Top each sundae with a swirl of whipped cream and a whole strawberry.

• There's a whole raft of ice-creams out there now that take pleasure in telling you how low in calories they are – they’re really rather good and worth exploring, although if you’re anything like us, you won’t be able to have half a tub in the freezer without shooting the kitchen angst-ridden glances all night until you succumb.

• Shortbread fingers can be swapped out for ladyfingers – those wee sponge fingers that your gran used to put in her trifle – which sounds like an awful euphemism but I hand-on-heart promise it isn’t.

• Strawberry jelly, made the night before and scattered with chopped strawberries before it sets, makes a perfectly acceptable substitute for the sticky strawberry sauce.

• You could always have an apple and a cry in the hallway cupboard if you were so inclined.

‘Iron Chef’ isn’t quite as challenging as it looks

Wondering about how a certain reality show pulled something off? Have a question about a certain contestant?

Whether it's "Survivor," "American Idol," "The Apprentice," "Real World" or another show, send in your questions. Andy Dehnart,'s Television Editor and creator of Reality Blurred, will try to answer them.

Q: On The Food Network program "Iron Chef America," does the Iron Chef know in advance that he/she is going to be selected by the challenger, and do they know what the secret ingredient will be before it is revealed to the audience?— Janine, Houston

A: The chefs aren't completely surprised by the secret ingredient because they have been given a few possible options beforehand.

And on the day of the challenge, they can probably figure out which ingredient it is based upon which shopping list has been purchased for them.

The matchups are also planned in advance, with challengers choosing their opponents weeks earlier. All of that makes it possible for producers to order the right ingredients that the chefs will use to prepare their dishes with the secret ingredient, but it also makes the show somewhat less challenging than it comes off on TV.

Both of these facts were confirmed in a fascinating behind-the-scenes piece in The Journal News' Rockland Magazine by Peter Kelly, who defeated Bobby Flay during an episode of "Iron Chef America." He says he chose Bobby Flay in part because "beating him would be a big deal" and that in Kitchen Stadium, the other Iron Chefs are "actually silhouetted stand-ins," not the real chefs.

As to the secret ingredient, he says producers gave him "three possibilities: swordfish, pork or cowboy steak. So I come up with three separate ingredient lists — only one of which they'll actually purchase for the battle." Kelly also revealed that they actually knew the secret ingredient before taping on the episode began because they could see which ingredients had been purchased for them.

But as is clear from watching the show, cooking that much that fast offers plenty of pressure and drama.

Q: Regarding "The Amazing Race," I've wondered how the teams already have the tourist visas in their passports for some of those countries that require them ahead of time without already knowing where they are going. If the production team gets the visas ahead of the start of the race, then couldn't the contestants just look in their passports and see what stamps are in there and then know where they are going on the race? Then from where they are at in the world, they can kind of guess where they are going next and do some advance research at their hotel before they even open the departure clues, yes?— D. Tucker, Los Angeles

A: Not exactly. Visas are obtained prior to the start of the race, but the producers get visas for many countries beyond just those nations that the teams will actually visit. Contestants may sign 20 visa applications but only actually go to 10 countries.

Perhaps most significantly, some countries don't require visas to be obtained in advance, while others don't require them at all for brief tourist stays.

While you may be right that smart teams would focus their research during the race to some degree, they also have extremely limited time to do so. On the ground, they're usually focused on their most immediate next destination. During flights, when teams actually know where they're going, they can research locations to the best of their ability and try to get a handle on the local language from other passengers.

Pit stops offer perhaps the best occasion to research possible destinations, but are only 12 hours — or, in a few cases, 36 hours — which includes time for long interviews with producers about the previous leg of the race, never mind necessary things such as doing laundry, eating and sleeping.

So if you're in Italy and know you have visas for half a dozen countries that are within, say, a 12-hour flight, which ones do you choose to research? And what about those that may not require visas? And what if the producers decide to take you halfway around the world next? In other words, it might almost be counterproductive in many cases to try to predict where you're going.

Host Phil Keoghan offered further explanation about the visa situation in an interview with USA TODAY, during which he noted that the show doesn't necessarily give teams their visas before entering the country. "Anybody who's selected sends a passport in, and we get visas," he said. "But we make it confusing. They get extra visas for countries they're not going to. Even if they get a visa for China, they don't know where in China they're going. And some visas are not necessarily given right away. Even the crews (accompanying contestants) don't know where they're going."

Q: What was James' excuse for not playing one of his two immunity idols on "Survivor: China"? That has to be one of the worst decisions on a reality show ever!— Anonymous, Wilsonville, Ore.

A: It was indeed amazing that someone who had the ability to remain immune all the way to the final four did not opt to protect himself. But the reason comes down to the social game, and that's what makes "Survivor" such a fascinating show.

Following his elimination, James explained that he, too, was shocked at his stupidity. "I have the two idols and I guess I should have played them. I am kind of disappointed in myself because I could have caught a feeling but I still didn't do it. You can't be angry with anybody because it's a game and they played their best hand and they did what they were supposed to do. I rolled the dice too many times and I just got caught up," he said during his final words at the end of the episode.

During the live reunion following the finale, he told host Jeff Probst that his decision basically came down to trust: He considered playing one of his not-so-hidden immunity idols, but had enough faith in his alliance that they would not vote him off. (That may have influenced his final vote as a member of the jury, he was one of just two people to vote for Courtney, who was less of an obvious strategist than the other two finalists, Amanda and the winner, Todd.)

We don't know much more than that because James wasn't interviewed in detail by the media following his elimination. But that's because he was getting another shot at $1 million. Besides the $100,000 James won for being viewers' favorite contestant, he'll have a second chance at the show's prize, as he's one of the 10 "all-star" contestants returning for the new season "Survivor: Micronesia," which is subtitled "Fans vs. Favorites." That series taped while "Survivor: China" aired, and thus James was unavailable to explain his actions.

Andy Dehnart is a writer and teacher who publishes reality blurred, a daily summary of reality TV news.

How'd Adam do?

Maybe it was all the work with seafood and shellfish this week, but Adam was sea-level salty on Thursday night, copping an attitude with Amber, his other teammates and the rival red team throughout the episode. And, just in case he wasn't already in a mood, for the first time this season Adam ended up in deep water with Ramsay too.

For a moment, I really thought Adam might be at risk of sinking.

In case the typhoon of aquatic puns were a wash (OK, I'M DONE!), this week's focus &ndash for the show and for Adam personally &ndash was on seafood. First, the two teams faced off in a surf and turf taste test, with each team responsible for identifying the cleverly disguised proteins on each of three plates &ndash one of the land, one of the sea &ndash as quickly as possible. The red team went first and guessed all three plates in about eight minutes and 46 seconds, setting the benchmark for Adam and the blue team.

And while Adam was positioned to go last in the challenge, he didn't keep his thoughts to himself while his teammates were chewing and chasing down the correct proteins from a mammoth display of options. Unfortunately &ndash for one of the first times this series &ndash his thoughts were wrong, as he insisted to Cody that the mussels on the first plate were clams. And I can't believe I'm saying this, but Adam really should've listened to Cody. What a world.

I hoped Adam would make up for his mussel mistake, but when it came to his time on the final plate &ndash with about two and a half minutes to identify the combination of snapper and squab &ndash he totally beefed (and fished) it. It didn't help that he was paired up with Declan, who for some baffling reason &ndash after struggling all the way through identifying the pairings on the second plate with Amber &ndash was the team member given a second go.

It was not only that the guy couldn't identify anything, he also moved around the competition with the life and urgency of one of the slabs of meat on the table and seemed to clam up under pressure. Then again, Adam wasn't much better: guessing incorrectly, not listening to his teammates' recommendations and apparently ignoring the color-coded system of guidance. (Red meant both proteins were wrong green meant both were right and blue meant one was correct. But when their color turned up blue . they ignored the signal and proceeded to swap out both proteins. Dear reader, I hurt and died.)

In the end, their screw-ups cost the blue team the win, giving the red team a surfing day trip while Adam and company had to spend their time shelling enough crabs to make Maryland jealous.

So no, that would not help tensions on the blue team as Adam sulked about Amber &ndash remember: she's not an original blue team member, but a transplant &ndash both after the challenge with Declan and Cody, as well as during the exceptionally crabby de-shelling session.

Amber wants the team to actually start treating her as one of its members, while Adam and the rest of the crew perceive her as only "half-in," as she continues to consort with the red team. The tension builds as Amber and the team try coming together in conversation during the crabbening but then Adam dead-voice sasses that he's choosing to stay quiet because "I like talking when it's meaningful." (Cut to him in his confessional saying that all-essential reality show line that &ndash let's all say it together now &ndash he's not here to make friends). Well that's not very Midwestern of you! And here I was thinking he and Amber were friendly from before the show!

Adam may not be here to make friends, but Syann was certainly being friendly with him this episode &ndash coming on strong with a little flirty distraction (and some much needed tension deflation) &ndash while Adam was hacking away at his crab. Apparently this isn't a rare occurance as, according to Adam, big Black women love him. Good to know . and good for him! She's fun, sincere and good company, so I'm fine shipping these two. (Aquatic pun genuinely not intended.)

Unfortunately, while Syann brought a smile to Adam's crabby face, it didn't last long. Adam once again had to battle the kraken that is the seafood station during dinner service. And at first, it looked like it would drag him down to the bottom &ndash as it has done to Josh and many others before &ndash as Adam briefly abandoned his scallops on the stove to run to the fridge, resulting in some visually overcooked ocean critters that Chef Ramsay was (unsurprisingly) not pumped to see. Thankfully, the full Ramsay rage experience, complete with food confetti, didn't make an appearance but it was enough to seemingly scare Adam straight after he'd come into the kitchen with brash confidence that &ndash with him manning the station &ndash fish wouldn't flounder this week.

It was apparently enough to scare the rest of the blue team straight too, because after some brief kerfuffles about Amber's steak sear (which, in the end, showed good judgment on her part), they locked it up and delivered what Ramsay called the best service session he'd seen on the show in a long time. It was so good that they not only won the week, but also took over for the red team after the team botched their service by committing one too many miscues.

So phew, after his roughest week thus far, Adam wasn't on the chopping block. And best of all, it seems like maybe Adam and the blue team have pushed their in-fighting ways out to sea.

Well, considering this is "Hell's Kitchen," probably not, especially since Adam's made it clear he's not going for the title of Mr. Congeniality.

Food Network Star

Bobby Flay stars as a guest committee member. The eleven finalists meet for the first time and face three challenges: to create and present an original dish at a dinner party for the Selection Committee, to decorate wedding cakes as judged by Ace of Cakes star Chef Duff and then Chef Robert Irvine of Dinner: Impossible divides them into teams to cater a wedding for 100 in just six hours.

Potluck, Cakes and Wedding Challenge Part 2

Bobby Flay stars as a guest committee member. The eleven finalists meet for the first time and face three challenges: to create and present an original dish at a dinner party for the Selection Committee, to decorate wedding cakes as judged by Ace of Cakes star Chef Duff and then Chef Robert Irvine of Dinner: Impossible divides them into teams to cater a wedding for 100 in just six hours.

Bon Appetit Challenge

Giada De Laurentiis puts the finalists' presentation skills to the test and the winner's recipe wins the cover of Bon Appetit Magazine.

NBA Chocolate Challenge

NBA legend Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins joins last season's winner Guy Fieri to test the finalists.

Fort Dix Challenge

Giada De Laurentiis and Paula Deen challenge the finalists to create the ultimate comfort food and serve it to soldiers at Fort Dix.

Demos Challenge

Alton Brown helps the finalists focus their brand by creating a packaged food that represents their unique culinary point of view. Then, the finalists go into the studio for their first full-scale on camera cooking demonstrations.

Iron Chef Showdown

The remaining four finalists try to be Iron Chefs! Alton Brown hosts two battles where each finalist must create three dishes in one hour. Each Iron Chef America wannabe gets a surprise sous chef. a previously eliminated finalist.

Meet the Press

Food Network's Rachael Ray invites the three finalists to her daily talk show to each get a turn to cook their signature dish. The search is narrowed to two finalists, and voting opens up to America to make the final decision.

Third Season Finale

The last two finalists fly to Miami and cook for all the Food Network stars at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. Then it's back to New York, where the winner is revealed, live!

The Top Chef Season 17 Winner Is.

"What's really special about this win is that I was doing it for myself."

This article contains spoilers about Bravo's Top Chef Season 17 finale.

Bravo's Top Chef Season 17 kicked off with 15 finalists, frontrunners, and fan favorites vying for culinary supremacy. But after all the intense Quickfires, inspiring elimination challenges, and a star-studded lineup of guest judges, only three cheftestants remained hoping to take home the top title in the Season 17 finale on Thursday, June 18.

So the pressure was definitely on when the final three contestants, Stephanie Cmar, Melissa King, and Bryan Voltaggio, were tasked with cooking "the best progressive four-course meal of your life," as host Padma Lakshmi described the final elimination challenge of the season. The cheftestants did just that in one of the most emotional nail-biters of a finale we've ever seen in the history of Top Chef.

However, it was Melissa who finally got to taste redemption. After placing fourth in Season 12 of Top Chef, Melissa was crowned the Top Chef of Season 17 All Stars L.A.

"It feels surreal. I couldn’t even imagine this happening. The first time around was so challenging and so difficult in so many ways, emotionally, physically," Melissa told The Daily Dish over the phone prior to the finale episode airing. "To even say yes to doing it again, I’m just proud of myself for doing that, and then to go as far as winning, I’m on the moon [laughs]. It’s pretty amazing and incredible what you can do when you push yourself."

Melissa started racking up wins from the very beginning of the competition, winning the very first Quickfire challenge as part of a team that also included Bryan, Jamie Lynch, Joe Sasto, and Kevin Gillespie. She would go on to win two more Quickfires and six elimination challenges throughout the season, giving her the most wins out of any contestant in the history of Top Chef.

"I certainly had confidence going into the game, and I think that carried through the challenges," Melissa said. "But whether or not I would win, I think that’s tough, because everyone was so good this year. Being an all-star cast, you have iconic, legendary names like the Voltaggios, and it was intimidating going into that and not knowing where I would place amongst this group of just amazing, talented chefs."

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Going into that final elimination challenge, Melissa said she just "felt very excited" to be able to present her finale menu. "I know when I was in Boston for Season 12, I didn’t have an opportunity to showcase my finale menu, and that was something that was really driving me to get to that last episode," she said. "The finale’s sort of that one moment where there’s no restrictions and you can, really, create your style of food and not get caught up in the game and the challenges."

As she did throughout the finale in Italy, Melissa decided to combine Asian flavors with Italian cuisine for the finale challenge, serving a char siu glazed octopus, fried shallots, fennel, pickled peppers, and herbs (first course) squash agnolotti, chicken skin, agrodolce cipollinis, Sichuan chili oil, shiso, and squash blossoms (second course) grilled squab with persimmon, porcini, and fermented black bean sauce (third course) and a Hong Kong milk tea tiramisu (fourth course).

"I think it’s always a risk to fuse any culture together, whether it’s Chinese and Italian or Mexican and French, or something like that. So I think there’s always gonna be that challenge of maintaining authenticity and not hybrid-ing things so much to where you can’t recognize it anymore," Melissa said of her finale meal. "But I do feel my strength of being able to do that, being able to bridge these cultures together and highlight it in a very tasteful way where it still stays true to what it is but makes it just a little more interesting. And so, I really tried to hone in on that side of my cooking style and do that throughout the finale."

But in doing research for her menu prior to traveling to Italy, Melissa realized there are many similarities between Chinese and Italian cuisine. "You have pasta, which is essentially noodles, and then you have risotto, which is congee," she explained. "There’s so much overlap and influence amongst each other, it only made sense for me to draw within my own culture for inspiration while there."

In fact, Melissa merged the two cultures so beautifully, it moved one of the diners, eighth-generation Italian butcher Dario Cecchini, who we memorably met in Season 16 of Top Chef, to tears. "They're all very, very good. But, my favorite is Melissa's dessert because it respected the traditions of Italy," Dario said while getting choked up in front of the judges in Italian after tasting the finale meal. "Melissa made an interpretation of one of our traditions and she made it from the heart. It makes me very emotional."

How'd (the remaining contestants which unfortunately don't include) Adam do?

It's black jackets week on "Hell's Kitchen" (or more like black-accented jackets week, considering the new chef's garb is just their old chef's garb but with a bonus black streak on the collar). And here I was hoping everybody on the show was going to look like they redesigned for the four-hour dark and moody Snyder Cut of "Hell's Kitchen."

Before our final six chefs faced off for their new fashion statements on Thursday night, they encountered something even more frightening and intense: a service elevator! AAHHH! Indeed, simmering down after last week's elimination, the sous chefs snagged the remaining contestants and drove them off to a freight elevator where everyone &ndash especially Mary Lou &ndash was apparently convinced was taking them to Jigsaw's death lair or something else horrifying. Ah, yes, that usual twist every "Hell's Kitchen" season where they leave the remaining chefs to be murdered &ndash you'd think the FCC would have something to say about that.

No, surprising no one, "Hell's Kitchen" doesn't send the chefs to a death dungeon, though the show does send them to a Criss Angel magic show, which somehow seems even less enjoyable. I'd joke more about how Angel is in his 50s but still dresses and has the edgelord attitude of a 25-year-old Hot Topic clerk but I don't want to harsh Gordon Ramsay's buzz. Watching the show, the show's big mean boss turned into a teddy bear &ndash eyes wide in amazement at the magician's levititation and gravity-defying moves &ndashand I couldn't have been more delighted. The man just loves magic, even when it's not magic and just a prank:

At the end of his show, Angel doesn't reveal his mystical secrets, but he does reveal something even more important to the chefs: the black jackets, which they'll be competing for throughout the episode across several cooking challenges. The result was the most cooking-forward, food-focused hour of the entire season thus far. No wonder it ranks as one of my favorite episodes.

The first challenge was Taste It, Now Make It, in which the six remaining competitors are given a signature Chef Ramsay dish and must recreate it as accurately as possible without being told the ingredients or recipe. Their palates must detect what the fish is, what's in the two purees and what's in the salad topping the dish. The chefs are all in the same ballparks for the ingredients but they also occasionally deviate on certain elements. Half the crew picks cod as the mystery leading fish the other half selects sea bass. Just about everyone detects that the salad features green apple, but while Cody thinks it's accented with white onion, Mary Lou figures that the crisp savory note in the topping is endive, a guess that ends up scoring Mary Lou's on-point version of the dish the win and the first black jacket of the season (and a membership card to the fancy black jacket lounge, complete with massages and booze). It's been easy to overlook Mary Lou this season due to her silly demeanor and bright purple hair, assuming she's there as a character and less as a chef, but she's made it this far with almost no trip-ups and now clinched the first spot in the final five. Underestimate her at one's own risk.

She's not the only one who scored a black jacket in the challenge, though, as Declan's cod dish also earns him new garb thanks to his accurate ingredients &ndash including noting the shallot garnish. So while they get massages and champagne, the remaining four contestants gear up for the second black jacket challenge of the day. And also Kori very loudly points out that she would stab somebody in order to get a black jacket. And to think people were scared of the freight elevator!

The second challenge is like Deal or No Deal for foodies, with six guards coming in with secret briefcases of ingredients: no losing options, all excellent starting points to make a tasy dish. Amber, much like in the first round, is overthinking herself, setting herself back on time. Leaving aside her testy relationship with her fellow blue team members, I think Amber's a talented chef, but if this show is any evidence, she flusters way too easily to be in charge of Ramsay's restaurant. Meanwhile, on the other side of the kitchen, Nikki manages to muck up her lobster, overcooking the tail to the point that, instead of making that the obvious focal point of her dish, she has to bury it in the polenta. Her dish ends up tasting good, but looking too poor to earn a black jacket &ndash instead, the next two black jackets head over to Cody and Kori, who finally delivered an excellent dish to go along with her well-established excellent kitchen management skills. Just keep not stabbing people, please.

And so we're left with two final chefs and only one black jacket left to hand out. On one side, you have Nikki, who lacks experience but clearly has the natural skill to move on. On the other, you have Amber, who has the experience and clearly the polish on the plate, but gets easily knocked off her mental rhythm &ndash and she's going into the final challenge cocky, underestimating Nikki's culinary chops. Bold choice, daing the reality show gods to smite thee.

The goal in the final challenge is to make a definitive dish from your culinary past. In Nikki's case, it's a heightened version of pork chops and scalloped potatoes &ndash a side that she remembers eating a lot of growing up poor and often hungry, relying on boxed scalloped potatoes to get by during hard times. On Amber's side, it's a classic beef bourguignon because, when she lived in France, it was the first dish she tried that she fell in love with because her mom was a bad cook and made bad pot roast. Welp, hopefully Amber's mom isn't watching this episode!

Between the two, Nikki's dish and story hits a bit harder beef bourguignon is such a classic, standard, easy win of a dish while Nikki's had more personality and feeling behind it. But unfortunately, Amber's dish was more polished &ndash and, in the end, I think Ramsay wanted to pick somebody with more experience to be in the final running to lead his restaurant, so Amber gets the final black jacket, much to Declan's unhappiness. I'm sure this won't be a problem in any future episodes .

Nikki isn't sent home completely empty-handed, though. For one, for the first time with an eliminated chef this season, Ramsay lets her keep her chef's smock, a trophy representing what she accomplished on the show &ndash which, considering how little experience she has and considering how much she was underestimated and looked down upon by her fellow teammates, was quite impressive. Plus, Ramsay offers her the chance to fly out to any of his restaurants to stage &ndash aka basically a very fancy unpaid internship &ndash to learn even more skills and to gain even more connections in the industry. It's clear that he sees that she has mountains of potential she's maybe not ready to win "Hell's Kitchen" and run a restaurant now, but Ramsay sees something like that in her future.

In the end, Nikki may have lost this week, but much like Adam could leave the show with his head high, she totally won her time on "Hell's Kitchen." Plus, she made millions of viewers across the nation suddenly have a huge hankering for scalloped potatoes &ndash an impressive, and much appreciated, final feat.

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As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.

Endurance Challenge [ edit | edit source ]

The Endurance Challenge is an endless challenge where the score is based on how many perfect orders can the player serve.

Starting foods are very simple and change on every attempt. There are four food slots, but multiple slots can have the same food in them.

Roughly every six orders, there will be a text message from Chef Risotto giving the player two options that will make the round more challenging. These will involve either replacing one food with another or upgrading another food.

If the player serves a mediocre or bad meal, burns any food or misses a message from Chef Risotto, the challenge will immediately end. This can be used to the player's advantage: if they knowingly make a mistake, they can refrain from serving for as long as possible to serve any other foods and earn a few extra points.

A blue star is awarded when the player reaches certain high scores. The game will keep track of the highest score and no more blue stars will be awarded until the player reaches a new milestone.

Top Chef Canada Season 9 Episode 2 recap: No walk in the park

By Dan Clapson

The ten remaining chefs have shuffled into their holding room adjacent to the TCC Kitchen and you can tell it is early in the morning. Being able to watch Kym make themselves a coffee and Alex tear open a Quaker instant oatmeal for breakfast–that brand plug was pretty in your face–offers us as viewers a brief glimpse at just how early production begins for these competitors on the daily.

Assuming everyone’s been fueled and caffeinated, the episodes cuts to the chefs lined up in the kitchen as they await details of their second Quickfire Challenge of the Top Chef Canada season.

Quickfire Challenge

Eden is looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as she peppily tells the chefs they will be cooking up some diner classics at the first-ever Top Chef Canada diner.

Being just as (mildly) dramatic while in my own home as I am when out in public with other people, I gasp. This Quickfire Challenge sounds identical to Top Chef: Portland’s second episode. which aired two weeks ago.

I rarely like to draw comparisons between the two shows, but with an identical theme it will be impossible not to. We’ll see how this goes.

The chefs begin to pull diner menus to reveal what classic comfort food they will have to create.

Kym winds up with a western omelette and Erica draws “club sandwich”. For Andrea, a reuben, Siobhan is tasked with a hot turkey sandwich, Alex a chicken-fried steak and the list goes on.

“Sloppy, cheesy, greasy burger, let’s go,” says Jae-Anthony. It’s nice to see some more screen time for the Ottawa-born chef, he’s quite animated.

He winds up drawing “banquet burger”. To be frank, I have never heard of this type of burger before and had to Google it. Are you familiar?

There is not much information available online, but it appears to be an Ontario term for when a cheeseburger is presented open faced with the burger and cheese on the bottom half of the bun and the topping on the other. Essentially, it is the burger equivalent of Saskatchewan residents calling a hoodie a “bunnyhug”.

Oh Canada, you’re so (regionally) quirky!

As the chefs clutch their plastic-coated menus with their assigned dishes, awaiting further instructions, Eden comes through with a solid twist: “The future of food includes plant-based cooking. This is a vegan diner!”

This curveball means there shall be no comparison between Top Chef: Portland and Top Chef Canada in my mind tonight.

To make this Quickfire even more eventful, two very cool guest judges roll in. Celebrated Toronto chef Suzanne Barr of Wall of Chefs and Canada’s boyfriend, George Strombolopoulous.

Erica seems happy to see both of them walk into the TCC Kitchen and cites Barr as a well-respected chef in the city and Strombo as a vegan “before it was cool to be vegan”. It’s hard to disagree with either sentiment.

There are 40 minutes on the clock for the chefs to prepare their plant-based version of diner classics which is 10 more minutes than last week, but not much time at all considering the parameters.

Siobhan–who is re-imagining a hot turkey sandwich–notes that she hasn’t cooked vegan food before as she begins cutting huge pieces of tofu and tossing them in a mixture of cornstarch and poultry spices. “I’m hoping to get everything on the plate today,” she says.

Galasa is challenged with recreating a traditional meatloaf which is something he says he has never eaten before, but appears familiar with at its base. He seems to understand the importance of layering flavours to make a vegan dish pop and looks to mushrooms for meaty texture and umami in his dish.

Josh tugs at the heart strings and explains that he was raised by a single mother who, at times, worked three jobs. TV dinners were a regular occurrence in his household and Salisbury steak was always his favourite. His vegan interpretation sees him grilling cauliflower and making a celeriac puree along with a vegetable gravy.

Jae-Anthony is a ton of fun so far this episode. He’s upbeat and is getting plenty of fun sound bites. “I got a bigass piece of jackfruit to replace the meat,” says the chef.

He’s playing off the banquet burger theme with a braised “meat” creation of sorts that incorporates a Trinidad fry bake which he’s making using his grandmother’s recipe. This sounds promising and tasty.

Emily admits she’s not overly familiar with diner food, but tells a cute story about stopping at small town diners while on road trips with her parents as a child. She is planning to draw on these memories to help her create a vegan tuna melt.

Right away, it feels like Emily’s dish has gone off the rails as there are many things on the go in preparing this dish. She is spiralizing something, making a cashew crema and a potato rosti in lieu of bread. The rosti seems like a poor choice as Eden, George and Suzanne are expecting something that resembles a tuna melt. While I don’t want to say most bread is vegan, a lot of it certainly is, so it feels like an odd choice to deviate so far from the original dish.

Kym wins in the creativity department for making a Vietnamese banh xeo look like a western omelette. They use lobster mushrooms to help make the filling more hearty and finish things off with pickled jalapenos.

It all feels so clever and very on point. Kym’s dish is really the only one that looks like the classic menu item they were assigned.

I don’t want to give her the gears again, but Siobhan’s finished product looks shockingly below par. Two huge slabs of lightly battered tofu on toast points with some sort of berry syrup that has seemed to have soaked into the tofu batter. A fistful of arugula on top for good measure.

It seems inedible to Eden while George and Suzanne appear to be politely biting their tongues.

Visually, Emily’s final product looks more like okonomiyaki than a tuna melt. It all seems a bit over thought and Eden and her guest judges seem less than enamoured.

A round of applause bursts out for Galasa with his mushroom meatloaf sitting atop a caramelized onion puree.

Andrea makes reuben-inspired nuggets of sorts. A spin on falafels with flavours of a reuben. At surface level, this does seem clever, but why no sandwich?

It’s at this point that I wonder if the chefs were given clear direction with this challenge and its parameters. Why are Emily and Andrea going so far out of the box while Kym is applauded for their vegan dish resembling the diner classic they are interpreting.

Did Emily and Andrea think they were supposed to be wildly creative with the theme? It doesn’t make sense for chefs to be doing this if they are competing for immunity. I suspect the expectations of this challenge were not clearly outlined.

Jae-Anthony’s dish looks very delicious. He’s using Trinidad fry bake as a bun and Suzanne is especially into it. George gushes as well. Eden says she wishes there was something to cut through the richness, so perhaps a quick pickle would have done the trick.

Josh’s looks more like a beautiful vegetable dish than anything you’d find in a diner, but it appears stunning. Eden and co. seem smitten with this dish, but make no mention of it not resembling the menu item it is inspired by.

Not surprisingly it is Andrea, Emily and Siobhan with the low marks and Galasa, Josh and Kym on top. It also seems odd to not show Aicia’s Quickfire creation for a second week in a row.

Anyway, Galasa’s mushroom meatloaf leads him to victory and he seems very pleased. Comfort in safety!

Elimination Challenge

The chefs find out that they are going to be working in teams to make harvest-inspired picnic baskets using one of three key ingredients: apples, corn or pumpkins. One by one, they pull knives from a hay bail to find out what ingredient they’ll be cooking with.

Andrea, Jae-Anthony, Galasa and Kym all draw “apple”. Alex, Aicia and Emily end up with “corn”. The Karbelniks–I love that I can say that–and Siobhan are team “pumpkin”.

For their ingredients, the teams venture out to Downey’s Farm–which is about 40 minutes driving distance from the heart of Toronto without traffic, but with traffic? About four hours.

Jokes aside, they will turn these ingredients into luxe picnic-friendly dishes that will be presented at the Toronto Botanical Gardens to Eden, Mark McEwan, resident judges Chris Nuttall-Smith and Mijune Pak, and guest judges Guy Rawlings and Kim Montgomery-Rawlings of the award-winning Montgomery’s.

Eden points out that they had a picnic-style reception at their wedding and says, “No pressure!”

I’m not sure if that actually is pressure. If it was a restaurant that specializes in picnic baskets then sure, but restaurant owners that have had a picnic at their wedding doesn’t leave me shaking in my culinary boots.

At the farm, we see Alex cuddling a goat unabashedly. He goes on to say how cute they are. and how good they can taste. He and his teammates, Emily and Aicia, leave the goat enclosure and stroll the corn rows.

Emily explains her uncertainty with the task at hand. She’s unsure how to work with corn to make it the star of a dish. This is clearly foreshadowing and likely not the good kind. Uh oh.

Galasa appears to be in apple orchard heaven. In every moment of screen time centred around team “apple”, he is either eating an apple or picking one.

How many apples did Galasa eat during this montage? I say three!

I’m relieved to see that Kym and Josh get to say those sacred words when asked how to play for ingredients: “Interac Flash!”

Alex, Kym and Erica are all on separate teams, but seem to be the chefs that have the best handle on this challenge as they all regale us with their love of picnics in separate diary sessions.

Josh proposed to Erica while on a picnic, Kym’s last meal before flying out to compete on Top Chef Canada was a picnic and Alex, well, he explains that his favourite style of a date is a picnic date. Surely many single lady viewers–and many of my gay brethren–have made note of this.

Aicia–who finally gets some screen time–walks us through the frittata-quiche hybrid she is making. It sounds tasty enough and it looks like things are going well until she cuts into it. It’s got a soggy bottom and a dense filling.

You can tell Aicia is not pleased, but there’s no time for a plan b. “It’s a very valid reason to go home,” she says matter-of-factly.

We leave Aicia in frittata-quiche purgatory and segue to the Toronto Botanical Gardens as the judges and host arrive via tandem bikes. It’s a nice, warm-weather touch to set the mood for the outdoor feast and as Mijune and Chris zoom by I ponder how often Mijune actually rides a bicycle.

Team “corn” is up first with Alex presenting trout rillettes with corn bavarois and corn chips, Aicia with her egg-corn creation studded with braised kale, caramelized onion and roasted garlic and, last but not least, Emily’s five-spice duck breast with a harvest vegetable salad, polenta and pickled plums.

Emily’s dish comes under much scrutiny. The duck is over done, the salad is “a jumble of things” (Mark’s words, not mine). It seems as though corn is far from the star.

Aicia garners lukewarm reactions to her baked egg and corn dish which are certainly not as negative as she has hypothesized, but they aren’t glowing. It is Alex that received all of the accolades for a dish well done and smart use of their assigned ingredient.

Next up is the “apple” crew (Andrea, Kym, Galasa, Jae-Anthony).

Jae-Anthony has made a bison tartare with smoked gouda and a Haitian green sauce. Earlier we saw that Kym suggested adding some grated cheese to the tartare. This seems like an unorthodox suggestion to Jae-Anthony, but he does so anyway.

Prior to delivering the picnic basket to the judges, hearing Andrea explain the complexity of her dish in terms of preparation is worrying. Will there be enough time for her foie gras pate with apple gel, crostini and spiced apple mostarda to work out is the true question of the day.

Sure enough, you can practically see Andrea’s pate swishing around in its container when Eden pulls it out of the basket. This shan’t end well.

It’s also tough times for Jay-Anthony who’s tartare is deemed ill-fitting for a picnic and one that does not do apples justice. Though apple-forward, Galasa’s refined take on a crumble also falls flat.

With three bad apples out of the punch, Kym offers a glimmer of hope for the team with a vibrant tuna tataki made with an apple miso glaze, apple salsa, pickled apple skins and a yuzu buttermilk emulsion.

The judges appear to love it as much as they loved Alex’s creation.

Both Erica and Josh seem very happy to be cooking with pumpkin.

Josh says that he is making pumpkin tenders for their picnic basket. He is doing so by compressing the pumpkin in goat milk and curry spices. From there, he will coat the pieces of pumpkin in a fried chicken dredge and fry them. This sounds quirky and could really go either way, but I like the sounds of it.

Siobhan is making spiced pumpkin cheesecake with cherry compote and chai-infused whipped cream. She says she is comfortable making this dish, but splits her cheesecake in the oven. It also looks very mealy.

Editing implies that Josh saves the day and suggests she creates a parfait with the dessert components instead. The dessert container looks like an absolute hot mess, so let’s chalk that up to only have a few minutes on the clock to fix a problem.

Josh seems to have a hit on his hands with his oddball tenders–though it's never mentioned what the dips on his plate are–as does Erica who melon-balled the hell out of a pumpkin to make one of the best-looking fall salads I have ever laid eyes on.

The roasted balls of pumpkin are combined with pumpkin seeds, goat cheese, pumpkin blossoms and a truffle honey vinaigrette made with toasted pumpkin seed oil and shallots. The salad sends the judges into a tizzy.

I have never seen a salad win an Elimination Challenge on Top Chef Canada, but this could be the day.

Siobhan is the weak link of team “pumpkin” with an underwhelming parfait that lacks texture and proper flavour balance.

“So that was a delicious way to spend an afternoon,” says Eden.

Was it? Based on the picnic guests’ critiques it seemed like the majority of dishes did not land well aside from the ones made by Alex, Kym, Josh and Erica.

Judges' Table

Being judged as teams seemed like an odd choice considering what was required during this Elimination Challenge. The only thing tying the chefs together in each group was the designated ingredients. Outside of that there did not seem to be any collaborative menu development or teamwork required.

Erica, Josh and Siobhan are called in to see the judges. It’s clear that they are the winning team. The judges applaud Josh for his creativity and Mijune continues to gush over Erica's dish, in particular the truffle honey salad dressing–which Erica serves at her restaurant inside of Elmwood Spa, so run, don’t walk.

Though the team collectively won this week, McEwan points out that Siobhan herself has failed the challenge. The young chef has a few tears and says she’s having some self doubt in the competition.

“You deserve to be here,” says Pak.

As a viewer, it’s tough to agree with that sentiment at this point based on what we've seen throughout the first two episodes of Top Chef Canada Season 9.

The trio returns to the holding room and send in team "apple" who is on the chopping block.

Jae-Anthony’s gouda comes into question, among other flaws in his dish. I don’t think it is that unusual to add cheese to a tartare in some respect, but the judges say otherwise and suggest it was simply misused.

Andrea is having another bad day in the TCC Kitchen. She is a victim of creating a dish that: a) required more time than she was allotted to complete correctly and b) didn’t travel well.

Galasa is berated for his texturally unappealing apple crumble, but he is safe from elimination.

Kym is the sole chef from team “apple” to receive praise. With no shortage of compliments, it seems bizarre that they are in the bottom this week because of a technicality.

In the end, it’s down to Andrea and Jae-Anthony and it is the latter that is sent packing.

Was this a fair elimination? I'm not so sure.

Kitchen Scraps

From a viewer's point of view, only four chefs garnered positive feedback for their Elimination Challenge dishes. It felt strange to not see Alex and Kym alongside Erica and Josh getting accolades, especially when the majority of chefs received negative critiques.

Was there a team element to this challenge that we did not see? If not, I have a hard time understanding why the chefs weren't judged individually.

I loved that the show kicked off with Suzanne Barr and George Strombo, but restaurateurs Guy Rawlings and Kim Montgomery-Rawlings of Montgomery's seemed like an odd choice for guest judges for a picnic challenge. Having guest judges in a season that was filmed during the pandemic has its limitations of course, but the duo might have been better suited to a challenge that allowed the chefs to be a bit more creative in a dinner service setting.