Ron Duprat's Top Chef Recap, Episode Four
This week's episode was clearly one aimed at the hardcore foodie segment of the viewing audience. It was light on the inner kitchen drama, but heavy on world famous chefs and exotic foods. The episode began in Daniel Boulud's (who evidently needed no introduction as the contestant's collective jaws dropped open upon his introduction) Las Vegas restaurant Daniel Boulud Brasserie. The quickfire challenge of the week involved figuring out the best way to cook snails. The stakes were raised considerably when the contestants were told the loser of the quickfire challenge would not only suffer humiliation before a famous chef, they'd have to pack their knives and go home.
Ron decided to make Escargot Provencal with caramelized shallots, slowly cooked with pernod and fresh herbs. Unfortunately, while his snails were cooking, Robin somehow confused her dish with Ron's and took it off the stove. In his trademark jovial manner, Ron insisted the snails Robin claimed to be hers were in fact the property of our favorite Haitian chef.
As is the case during many elimination challenges, the judge's comments on the dishes were reserved to a few grunts and mutterings of words like "interesting". Ron's dish did not land him in the top three, but it didn't put him in jeopardy either. Kevin's quickfire dish, an escargot fricassee with a candied bacon jam, won proving once again that bacon can make any dish better. The bottom three, Jessie, Ashley, and Robin ensured the fourth woman in a row would be eliminated. Each got a second shot at the challenge and created an amuse bouche. Robin's avocado soup and Ashley's foie gras with candied pineapple were good enough to keep them in the competition while Jessie's tuna tartare with fried quail egg sent her packing.
Then things got serious. For the elimination challenge, each contestant was to pick a knife with a French protein or sauce, then pair up and create a dish combining their ingredients. Ron's choice of frog legs seemed to be a great fit with his cooking background. That is until he was paired with Robin's confit. Just to make things a little more nerve wracking for Ron and crew, they were informed they would be creating a six course meal for a few famous chefs who would be joining the judges table this week, namely Hubert Keller, Laurent Tourondel, Jean Joho, and chef of the century Joel Robuchon. Everyone had heart attacks and ran to the kitchen.
Ron's happy-go-lucky mood in the kitchen was tinged with a darker flavor than we've seen on Top Chef. This is no doubt due to his having to work with Robin, who absolutely could not stop talking and making suggestions to Ron. Each idea she had was quickly shot down or completely ignored, and Ron confessed he hoped the dish would be judged on the strength of the frog legs above all else. Hilarity ensued during prep as Robin yammered on and on while Ron kept quiet, no doubt hoping her face would melt off or at least her mouth would fuse shut.
At the judges table, Joel Robuchon commented their dish was original and had a lot of thought put into it, but the flavor of the frog was lost in the confit. Other chefs commented the frog legs were overcooked and over floured, but since frog is such a tough protein to work with, it was deemed acceptable. Ron avoided being in the bottom and survived another episode. Bryan won the challenge for a reconstructed trout dish and Hector was eliminated due to undercooking and over cutting his meat.
Ron didn't exactly get a ton of face time this week, but with two less contestants next week, here's to hoping he takes a step forward.