Top Chef

Season 1 Episode 2

Food of Love

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Mar 15, 2006 on Bravo

Episode Recap

The eleven contestants meet at the Top Chef Kitchen and are introduced to this round's Guest Judge, Elizabeth Falkner, Chef and owner of Citizen Cake in San Francisco. This round's theme is presentation, and they are given their first shot at demonstrating their abilities with the Quickfire Challenge. They are given a box of fruit, a cutting board, and a plate and are told they have 30 minutes to create a fruit plate. They are also told Elizabeth will be focusing on creativity, knife skills, and presentation.

Lisa and Brian are knocked for using a dysfunctional garnish (pineapple top), Cynthia is criticized for being too artistic and not very functional, Dave does a fondue and is told everyone has seen it before, both Lee Anne and Candace's plates are compared to typical buffet presentations, and Andrea is criticized for having a minimalist vision for her plate but not committing to it. Tiffani is praised for her consideration of the seasonality of her fruit, Stephen is highly praised for his creative use of 12 separate cups of fruit on his plate, Miguel's cornucopia presentation is appreciated by Elizabeth, and Harold's elegant display of his knife skills earns kudos. Stephen's unique offering is declared the winner, giving him immunity for the Elimination Challenge. The other chefs are surprised, because some of the fruit combinations didn't work, and Stephen admitted he hadn't tasted everything.

On the roof of the chefs' temporary home, they are introduced to Madame S, the manager of Mr. S, San Francisco's most famous fetish store. She will be hosting a party for 50 of her most loyal customers, and the chefs are told they must each create a sexy dessert for it. Madame S tells them she is looking for something outrageous, exciting, decadent, creamy, hot, and big, giving the chefs plenty of guidance. They are allowed $50 to shop for restaurant supplies at Economy as well as access to all of the items in the Top Chef Pantry. They are given until 10 PM that day to prepare and a few hours before the party to make their dishes.

Back in the loft, there's a general discussion of the meaning of sexy before the chefs set out to shop. Brian chooses to make a strawberry apple crisp with hazelnut whipped cream; Harold makes caramelized banana tarts with buttermilk gelato; Lee Anne creates Asian themed banana nut spring rolls with white chocolate wasabi sauce, after her petit fours don't turn out on the first day; Miguel does a trio of cream puffs filled with lemon pastry cream, mango pillows filled with tapioca, and Hot Hot Chocolate which is a cold chocolate shot with a hot cream finish; Andrea goes with creamy peanut butter balls and crunchy candied almonds; Lisa chooses to make a pecan tartlet with Grand Marnier sauce and chocolate shavings; Tiffani made a cookie necklace, the cookie being chocolate coffee with spicy cherries and hazelnuts; Cynthia made a duo of a chocolate bombe and a pistachio almond Moroccan tart; Dave created a mini pound cake bite with strawberry banana topping; Stephen did a celery/Granny Smith apple gelée with champagne over the top; Candace made an underwear shaped cake with chocolate ganache and decorated with white chocolate ganache.

The first day's preparations are marred by a disagreement between Lee Anne and Tiffani. Lee Anne claims an oven, sets its temperature at 350º, and puts her name on it only to return later to find someone has changed it to 325º. When time runs out, her pastry is not quite finished, and she asks the other chefs if it is okay for her to have one more minute on that day and she will use one less on the next. Everyone agrees except Tiffani, who says it is against the rules. Lee Anne is clearly angry, but decides to start from scratch the next day to do it right.

Cynthia is also having difficulties for personal reasons. Her dad was found to be dying from cancer, but he told her he wanted her to go to the competition rather than stay with him. She had difficulty concentrating because of this, but she wanted to stay and do her best.

The next day they are given four hours before the party to finish their desserts and pack them for travel. A number of chefs' desserts needed to be allowed to set in a refrigerator, but with so many chefs opening it throughout the day its temperature was too high to let them set properly. Harold salvaged what he could of his gelato, but Cynthia chose to throw away her chocolate bombe and Lisa went without her Grand Marnier sauce as a result.

The contestants are a bit overwhelmed at the Mr. S when they saw the products on display, but they had to move past that, set up their tables, and dress for the evening. Miguel has the most unique costume, and Lisa wishes he really hadn't taken his shirt off. The guests enter, and RuPaul appears. She has some fun comments on desserts and how sexy they are. The chefs have to sell their dishes to the various partiers: some meet with success, others get so-so responses.

At the Judge's Table the judges feel a number of competitors fall short, either on taste or the sexiness of their presentation. They ask Madame S to choose the top three. She praises Tiffani's idea for her cookie necklace but says the cookies tasted horrible, and there was the problem of cookie crumbs falling as it was eaten. Her top three are Brian, because of his mixture of textures and his personal charm; Steven, also for great textures and layers; and Miguel, for his enthusiastic personality and the wonderful tastes in his trio. Madame S leaves, and the three are called before the judges. Miguel is named the winner because of the perfect balance of taste and presentation.

Then the judges have the less enjoyable task of naming the bottom group. They ask for Lisa, Dave, Cynthia, and Andrea. Dave's dessert is criticized for being an unappealing flesh-colored blob, Andrea is knocked for showing no originality or pizazz, Lisa is there because she spent time making excuses for her dessert rather than selling it to the judges, and Cynthia is also faulted for not standing behind her food. The judges confer privately, and decide it comes down to a choice between Andrea and Cynthia, since both Dave's and Lisa's offerings tasted good despite their other problems. Elizabeth Falkner says she thinks Cynthia should go home as she showed a real lack of focus, but the final decision is to send Andrea to pack her knives and go. Andrea says in her final interview that she is even more committed to healing the world through better, healthier food despite her early exit from the show.

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