The Contestants: Marcus Samuuelsson, David Burke, Monica Pope, Carmen Gonzalez and Thierry Rautureau.
Chef Gonzalez comments, "If you want to know how good a chef is order the simplest thing on the menu." Gonzalez looks like the first injury of the competition, slicing a gash in the middle finger of her left hand opening some ranchero cheese.
From cilantro to harissa (hot chill sauce) to broiled tomatoes, to prosciutto (on the outside of the sandwich)these are no normal grilled cheese. Most interesting is the Moroccan Grilled Cheese with feta and raisin walnut bread from Chef Pope.
Chef Pope's charity Recipe for Success picks up $5000 for her Quickfire win.
Onto the Elimination Challenge where the chef's will cater a celebrity birthday party for Mekhi Phifer from ER. "I want you guys to make your own version of soul food for this party," is the instruction Phifer gives to the chefs.
For winning the Quickfire, Chef Pope gets first selection of protein (shrimp) at the market-and no other chef gets to make that choice.
Chef Burke declares he is going for "gourmet soul food
Cheff Samuelsson is doing a BBQ chicken with sides of mac and cheese and collard greens.
Chef Gonzalez is working on a yucca and bacon mash with oyster and hot sausage stew and a side of fresh corn.
Chef Burke is going for a sweet potato custard with crab hush puppies and pickled watermelon rind.
Chef Rautureau is doing a Moroccan pork shoulder with farro, roast cauliflower and brussel sprout slaw.
Chef Pope is working on shrimp and grits "mac and cheese style" with an okra and tomato jam on the side.
In the hour of prep the chefs have in the Top Chef kitchen, they have to pack their food and ingredients for transport to the party. This is traditionally a spot in the show where someone leaves something behind and has to make a last minute change in plans. Chef Gonzalez is struck: she left her stew prep back in the Top Chef kitchen. The two and a half hour cooking time will run while she gets her stew.
Chefs Burke and Pope jump in to help out, and do some prep for Gonzalez-but while not focused on the dish burn the yuccas.
The lines at Chef Samuellson's station are long, but the judges are a little put off by the heat in his BBQ sauce. The judges give a good review to Chef Gonzalez' stew dish, but lament the missing (burnt yuccas) starch. Chef Burke served his custard from egg shells, and the display and flavors are well received by the judges. Chef Rautureau gets a unanimous good review for all but the cauliflower, "Cooked to an inch of its life," is what Judge James Oseland feels.
In this challenge, two contestants move onto the championship round, three will go home.
Chef Gonzalez gets a total of 15.5 stars and wins the challenge-with an amazing comeback from kitchen disaster. The ASPCA gets $10,000 for her win as well.
Joining Gonzalez from this week's competition in the championship round will be Chef Samuellson with 14.5 stars.