Top Chef 4: Knife Skills on a Night of Firsts

Kelly Choi, of "Eat Out NY," returns as host of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" for the second season. Joining her at the judge's table will be Jay Rayner, restaurant critic for The Observer; the Insatiable New York Critic Gael Greene; Saveur Magazine editor James Oseland and Top Chef judge Gail Simmons. Bravo/Top Chef Masters

A couple of firsts for Top Chef Masters helped pave the way for the final two contestants to move into the championship round. The fourth episode in Top Chef Masters Season 2 opened with the first ever high stakes Quick Fire Challenge. The winner moves onto the championship round.

The Quick Fire featured knife skills as the contestants had to create a visually appealing and good tasting fruit plate. From tarts to tempura to apple soup there were lots of takes on fruit and presentation. Take a look at some of the final offerings here.

Chef Susur Lee, known for his Asian fusion fare felt his knife skills were among the best in the cast and he was on his way from the Quick Fire to the championship round. He ended up with a 2.5 star rating (last) in the challenge-which prompted a beeped out, "What the ** response."

Instead, James Beard Award winning Chef Jody Adams (chef/owner of Rialto in Cambridge, MA) picked up the win with her Fig and Walnut Tart. She's playing Top Chef Masters for the Partners in Health Charity which picked up $5000 for her win. Adams though was not done, promising to keep on pressing to win more for her charity.

The family dinner took center stage at the elimination challenge, as the chefs were challenged do a modern and gourmet spin on family dinner. The "family" for this challenge? The 125 members of the cast and crew of the ABC show Modern Family.

From gnocchi to sausage to pasta all the classics were on the menu.

Chef Debbie Gold of The American in Kansas City found her family inspiration from Peter Brady; pork chops and applesauce. Can't get much more family than the Brady Bunch, right? The judges thought her dish ended up too sweet (the combination of glaze on the pork loin and Apple Butter was overwhelming) and she got 10.5 stars.

Chef Maria Hines used her Northwest roots and James Beard Award skills to craft Sockeye Salmon with Paprika Potatoes, Almond Slivers and Almond Milk. The dish earned her 13.5 stars, but not enough to get to the championship round.

Chicago chef Rick Tramonto, whose taken a turn at the judges table on Top Chef left the comfort of his place Tru to create a stew of truffle white beans with escarole and grilled sausage. Well received by the Modern Family cast and crew but not as well with the judges. His 13 stars were not enough.

Chef Adams already assured a spot in the championship round made it interesting. She served up Braised Chicken Thighs with Mushroom, Semolina Gnocchi and Herb Salad which got her 14.5 stars and was in the lead heading to the judging of the final dish.

Chef Lee was looking for a rebound from his disappointment in the Quick Fire served up Roast Chicken & Farce Curry, Polenta Grits, Tomato Jam and Chili Mint Chutney (Ying Yang balance with a meat and vegetable dish). He scored perfect five-stars from the judges and just missed the perfect 20 star rating, getting 4.5 stars from the Modern Family cast and crew. Lee's 19.5 stars is the highest elimination total ever for a Top Chef competition.
So it's onto the championship round for Chefs Adams and Lee, joining the winners from the first three episodes.

And it would not be Top Chef until someone said something they would regret on camera. This week we should thank Chef Adams for our Quote of the Week, "What makes this a challenge is its like "interrupted sex. You cook for an hour and a half and then stop. How can you climax?"
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