Top Chef

Season 1 Episode 4

Food on the Fly

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Mar 29, 2006 on Bravo

Episode Recap

Three chefs are now gone, and the remaining nine gather for this round's QuickFire Challenge. Katie tells them this round's theme is "Food on the Fly", and the QuickFire is meant to test their versatility and invention without giving them much time to ponder their options. They are taken to the Mission District of San Francisco which is filled with specialty markets, and they are given $20 and 30 minutes to shop in one of them – a gas station's quicki-mart! They must purchase their ingredients here, although they are allowed to use any dried herbs and spices back at the Top Chef kitchen. Once they get to the kitchen, they have 30 minutes to prepare their dishes.

The Guest Judge for this round is Jefferson Hill, the Executive Chef at the Rotunda in the San Francisco Neiman Marcus. He goes first to Miguel, who has created a dessert trio of pumpkin Krispy Kreme bread pudding, coconut water with chocolate foam and a listerine orange palette cleanser. Jefferson dismisses his offering as sickly sweet. Next up is Andrea, who does "Pit Stop Peanut Noodles", which he finds too peanut buttery. Then he tries Candice's gazpacho, which he says tastes like nacho cheese although she used no cheese in her recipe. Harold made a plate of "Green Eggs and Spam", and Jefferson criticizes his presentation and his choice of relish as a component. Tiffani's donut bread pudding with blueberry sauce is declared too dry and hard. Dave is given kudos for his combination of flavors in his "Day After Trio". Lee Anne is also a favorite with her "Funyun-Battered Spiedini", which he says is very good. Unfortunately for Lisa, he doesn't like her choice of combinations in her "Gas Stop Breakfast", raising his eyebrows at mixing pork & beans with scrambled eggs. Stephen is last with a medley of five items, but Katie raises an objection when she sees he has used fresh basil on his plate despite her instructions that only dried herbs were fair game. Stephen says he misunderstood her, and Jefferson says it doesn't matter because Stephen's choices didn't work anyway. In the end, in Jefferson Hill's opinion the one real disaster is Candice's gazpacho and the one real success is Lee Anne's spiedini, which gave her immunity for a second Elimination Challenge.

Then they are told their Elimination Challenge is to create a gourmet entree that can be reheated in a microwave. Their target audience will be a group of homemakers and working moms who appreciate good food made fast. They are taken to Berkeley Bowl to shop for their ingredients with a budget of $50 and 60 minutes to shop. When finished, they return to the kitchen where they have an additional 90 minutes to cook, package, and refrigerate their creations. Tom wanders in with about an hour left, and checks on everyone. He feels concern for both Candice and Stephen, while he is confident about Lisa's chances as a working mom herself.

On elimination day they go to a large estate where a group of women from the Oakland East Bay Junior League await them. Each chef is told they will have ten minutes for the presentation of their dish. The ladies will choose their favorite, and Tom, Gail, and Jefferson will decide who is to go home. Dave goes first and serves a dual sauce lasagna with a colorful vegetable medley. The ladies love the lasagna and they say their children would love the unusual colors of his vegetables. Stephen goes next, and he presents a banana leaf tamale with a rojo mole sauce. This isn't so well received, and they say it's tough, too dry, and not hot enough. Harold follows with a coconut seafood soup accompanied by a pea-shoot biscuit which everyone loves. The ladies also rave over Tiffani's mirin-glazed escolar. Lee Anne gives the ladies a tasty chicken and vegetable stir fry with jasmine rice. Then Candice heats up her shrimp and spinach quiche, and the ladies find the crust soggy while the shrimp are overcooked, as well as being too eggy. Lisa is up next and serves an herb grilled chicken with two cheese gratin (aka macaroni and cheese if the kids should ask), but the herbs overpower the chicken and the noodles are rubbery. Andrea charms the ladies with her selection, a Quinoa pilaf with sweet potato mash. Miguel is last, and he serves Asian meatloaf with edamame mashed potatoes and stir fry. Unfortunately he chooses to use the convection oven, thinking it will give him an advantage, but he calculates his time incorrectly and the meatloaf is cold in the center.

At the Judges' Table they discuss the contestants. They feel Dave and Andrea both did a good job of stepping up to this challenge, but the decision of the top three was in the hands of the ladies, and they chose Tiffani, Harold, and Andrea as their favorites. They call in the three and critique them. Harold is praised both for the personal charm he used in selling his dish and the wonderful balance of flavors in his food. Tom even goes so far as to say Harold's soup was better than that of most of the Thai restaurants he's tried. Tiffani's fish was the perfect choice, cooked exactly right, and the vegetables complimented it to a T. Andrea impressed them with her sense of fun yet she also taught them something, and finished by making some great food. The ladies could only choose one, however, and their choice was Tiffani.

The bottom three, consisting of Lisa, Candice, and Stephen are called in next. Lisa's pasta is criticized for being overcooked, and her chicken is declared almost inedible because of the overpowering herbs. Her presentation is also faulted, since the pair of dishes were both an unappealing beige color. The next to be judged is Candice. Her quiche was too eggy, the dough rubbery, and the presentation was very sloppy. Lastly Stephen's offering is declared to be too busy, the mix of flavors confusing and off. Plus, the texture of his tamale was too dry. Gail said she found it almost inedible. The judges send the three away and deliberate amongst themselves. They say Stephen failed through over thinking the challenge, Candice's lack of experience caused her to make a sequence of wrong choices, and they are flummoxed by Lisa's failure in a challenge that had seemed to be tailored for her. They make their decision, and it is unanimous: Candice is their choice to go home.

Candice says a tearful goodbye to her fellow cooks, thanking the ones who supported her throughout the competition. They all say farewell, even Stephen, who says that he is sorry that he was so rough on her during their time together. But Candice says that she is happy she even made it that far into the competition, and she is more comfortable with herself because of it.
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