We’ve seen the trend for many seasons now on “Top Chef” — a contestant gets eliminated in surprising fashion, and then goes over to “Last Chance Kitchen” and starts cleaning up and taking home big wins. So far, Jamie Lynch is the gut who is doing that. He defeated darkhorse winner contender Jim, and last week, he managed to oust returning chef Katsuji Tanabe, who went home after a contentious Restaurant Wars in which he and John Tesar were very much at odds.
So could he keep it going this week against the recently-eliminated Emily Hahn? We’ll certainly say that at one point, it did look as though her chances of taking this duel were pretty high. The whole concept behind this was that you only had 45 seconds in order to grab as many different ingredients as possible, and then use them in order to make a dish. For all of the talk about confident, she was pretty strong in making ingredients that she knew she could execute. Also, she did not forget proper season like Jamie did.
The fact that Jamie still managed to find a way to eke out a win here just shows how strong of a cook he really is. He was able to use some smart techniques to generate flavor-enhancers when it comes to everything from arugula to the rind of the watermelon. Both chefs did essentially have different versions of the same thing in tomato salad, but his just had a little more consistency going on despite this one big weakness. Emily may have switched her plan a little too late, since serving a cold salad with a warm vinaigrette just did not mesh.
In looking back finally at Emily’s time in the competition, we would say that her biggest strength was that she was a team player, and she was gracious even when things didn’t go her way. We even saw that tonight. Knowing that Jamie had fallen on his sword and saved her back when he gave up his immunity, she tried to give him salt and pepper before Tom Colicchio stated that it was against the rules.
Overall, we’d say that this was a fun episode even if neither dish seemed to blow Tom away. One of the best things about this show is the peanut gallery of already-eliminated chefs whose job mostly seems to be trolling everyone while they work. Maybe it’s another layer of pressure, but it also keeps things light and fun. Grade: B.
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