Top Chef

Season 1 Episode 9

Napa's Finest

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM May 03, 2006 on Bravo
out of 10
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Episode Summary


The four remaining contestants cook for some of Napa Valley's most respected chefs using dream ingredients, but not before they try to elevate common junk foods to uncommon gastric delights.

Guest Judge: See notes section

Quickfire Challenge: Reinvent a Junk Food Standby

Elimination Challenge: Create a Truffle Dish for Fine Wine

Round Nine.


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  • Chefs are to prepare a dish using black truffles and a rare wine.

    This episode was a sad one for me, because Lee Anne was eliminated.

    The Quickfire Challenge was to take a junk food and make it fancier, for a lack of better words on my part. Dave chose nachos, and failed. Lee Anne chose hot dogs, and made a japanese sausage that was well received. Tiffani chose the corn dog, and hers was also well received. Harold came out on top, with a popcorn dish that had the judges singing his praises.

    Harold rightfully won this challenge in my opinion, and Dave rightly lost. There was no question about this challenge.

    At the market, they all got their ingredients. Lee Anne got lamb, followed shortly by Tiffani, and then by Harold. Dave wisely chose beef.

    They prepared their meals, and when the judges tasted them, they enjoyed each, but found problems with each as well.

    At the judge's table Lee Anne was unjustly eliminated, in my opinion. Had she gone first, the outcome most likely would have been different, because the chef's palates would not have had lamb in them :(moreless
  • Final 'challange' episode. Next its the final in Vegas.

    In the quickfire challenge, Harold won the day putting him in good shape for the elimination challenge. Dave was Dave and lost the quickfire challenge completely! This put Tiffany and Lea Ann in the position of controlling their own destiny.

    This battle was partially decided at the market place when three of the contestants went for lamb. This turned out to be a strategic mistake of huge proportion.

    When the cooking started, it was interesting to see how the personality of the individual chef manifested itself in their dishes. Harold in his element (high quality ingredients, meat), Tiffany finally had her audience of choice, Lea Ann free to show her skills, and Dave who was able to stay true to himself.

    In the end, Dave’s simple meal went the furthest to highlight the key ingredients (truffles and Schaefer Reserve wine). His Mac and cheese was the star. By doing beef, he had separated himself from the pack and allowed his food to be judged for what it was, really, really, good food!

    Harold and Dave won outright, sadly Lea Ann lost because she just tried to meld to many flavors and textures, and she used lamb. By the time she delivered her plates, the judges had already tasted two other lamb presentations. Had she gone first, the results may have been different.

    Las Vegas should be interesting, Dave, Harold, and Tiffany. I think early odds put Harold 1st, Tiffany 2nd, and Dave as the dark horse. But as the saying goes, on any given day, anyone can win!


Featured Episode Clip

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Lee Anne, Harold, and Tiffani, chose lamb for their protein selection. This turns out to be a huge tactical error, all but assuring Dave a trip to Las Vegas.

    • The winner of the Quickfire challenge was Harold.

    • QuickFire Challenge Dishes:

      Harold – Popcorn Cakes with Ecuadoran Ceviche.
      Tiffani – Chorizo Duck Sausage Corn Dog with Camembert Cream Sauce.
      Lee Anne – Japanese Seafood Hot Dog with Spicy Mustard and Lotus Chips.
      Dave – Seafood Nachos with Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa and Avocado Crema

    • Elimination Challenge Dishes:

      Tiffani - Seared lamb loin, cauliflower puree, truffle & foie gras stuffed gnocchi.
      Harold - Roasted lamb loin, sunchoke creamed spinach, sautéed chanterelles & truffles.
      Lee Anne - Butternut squash & truffle risotto, braised Treviso & mushrooms, crusted lamb loin.
      Dave - Truffle & cognac cream macaroni & cheese, filet of beef, collard greens & radicchio.

    • Lee Anne was eliminated.

  • QUOTES (3)

  • NOTES (2)

    • The guest judges are all well-respected chefs with their own restaurants:

      Douglas Keane - "Cyrus"
      Cindy Pawlcyn - "Mustards Grill"
      Philippe Jeanty - "Bistro Jeanty"
      Hiro Sone - "Terra"
      Greg Cole - "Celadon"
      James McDevitt - "Restaurant Budo"
      Keith Luce - "Press Restaurant"
      Lissa Doumani - "Terra"
      Victor Scargle - Exec. Chef, "Julia's Kitchen", Copia
      and John Shafer - Shafer Vineyards (provided wine)

    • In this round and the next there is no immunity and no "prize" for the Quickfire Challenge; the Quickfire Challenge results are included when the judges determine the winner.