‘Top Chef: Houston’ Recap: Episode 4: Wylie Dufresne whips up look-alikes


Fresh from a grilled potato fiasco in Episode 3, Top Chef: Houston is back this week with another round of cooking mishaps and shattered dreams, complete with a trippy look-alike challenge that sends home not one, but two cooks.

Episode 4 nods to Houston with a rapid-fire cookie as the elimination round plays to the strengths of the molecular gastronomy crowd. Who will see another episode?

Warning: spoilers ahead. Here is a summary of Top Chef: Houston Episode 4.

The challenges

rapid fire: Houston’s own Chris Williams of Lucille’s sets the stage for the Quickfire Challenge. The challenge pays homage to William’s great-grandmother, Lucille B. Smith, a culinary pioneer who nurtured the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., in addition to inventing the original hot bun mix and publishing a cookbook. In honor of that legacy, the chefs are tasked with preparing their own cookie dish for the judges. a cook yes young already feels lively. “I don’t bake. I don’t like baking. I just like being baked,” she says.

Houston chef Chris Williams leads the contestants in a cookie challenge.
David Moir/Bravo

Most cooks take the savory route with their recipes, with the exception of Robert Hernandez, who makes a corn biscuit with strawberries and Japanese brown sugar whipped cream. Hot honey abounds and Jackson calf is trying to redeem himself from a previous challenge by making a very crunchy layer of cheese for his ostrich sausage breakfast sandwich.

In the meantime, Damar Brown of Chicago defends family honor with his drop cookies. “My family didn’t just get the recipe,” he says, “you had to keep making it.” Nick Wallace nods to his Mississippi roots with a state-shaped cookie cutter.

Both Texas candidates Evelyn García and Jo Chan made iterations of cookies with chorizo ​​​​(García’s dish deserves a “Wonderful” from Williams), while Ashleigh Shanti tried to salvage underbaked peppercorn biscuits by frying them.

Shanti’s improvisation fails to impress the judges, who find the cookie overly flavorful and crumbly. Buddha Lo‘s Buttermilk Cookie with Fried Chicken, Hot Honey, and Cheddar also falls short. Jae, channeling a “fuck cookies” attitude, also falls to the bottom of the reworked dough pack.

Kalb’s creative spring onion biscuit breakfast sandwich pleases the judges and gives him a head start in the elimination round.

Chefs await instructions from judges.

Top Chef: Houston’s The fourth episode sends two people home.
David Moir/Bravo

elimination round: Modernist chef Wylie Dufresne joins the judges, followed by a bell parade. Under the lid? It’s the same weird dish – or at least it is looks like the same strange dish. We’re doing molecular gastronomy like it’s 2005, folks. Dufresne reveals that what sits in front of the contestants are actually doubles: dishes that look identical but are made with wildly different ingredients.

Buddha Lo is absolutely eager to get a challenge in his wheelhouse and serve Dufresne. Kalb, who gets the first choice of partners in the double elimination challenge, picks Lo and they get an extra 30 minutes of work time as Kalb’s reward.

The others struggle for partners. Texas chefs García and Chan are teaming up — which means both could be eliminated. Adding to the excitement is the fact that modernist cuisine is not found in the two chefs’ wheelhouses. “Real cooking is my shit, not molding!” Chan explains. The Austin chef worries she might trip García. “You just don’t want to be the person who sinks someone’s dream,” she says.

Nick Wallace and Jae Jung work side by side at their cooking station.

Chefs Nick Wallace and Jae Jung have teamed up to be the “perfect unlikely couple”.
David Moir/Bravo

After a bumpy day of prep, García and Chan run out of time to fully tenderize their pork belly. Detroit’s Sarah Welch and Hernandez are struggling to make similarly textured domes of panna cotta and shrimp terrine. And in case anyone was wondering, Kalb still has no sense of taste due to his battle with COVID-19. “Trying is not my thing at the moment,” he notes.

The Biggest Oops

This Ashleigh Shanti fried cookie was a disaster, and it didn’t help that she tried to play it off as an intention. People know an Ave Maria when they see one.

The best turn

Shanti may have fumbled in rapid fire, but along with her three-time teammate Luke Kolpin, she redeemed herself in the eyes of the judges with a well-executed scallop served with squeezed honeydew. Alongside Kolpin’s twin dish, they almost won the evening together.

Chef Ashleigh Shanti slices ham.

top chef Contestant Ashleigh Shanti had one of the biggest mistakes in episode four’s quickfire challenge, but quickly made amends in the elimination round.
David Moir/Bravo

The winner

Jackson Kalb and Buddha Lo prevailed with their playful dishes Everything But the Bagel and Strawberries and Cream. Veal served a salmon tartare with capers, shallots, cream cheese bavarois, marinated tomatoes, and buttermilk and onion dressing with an “everything” tuile that looked almost identical to Lo’s white chocolate panna cotta dipped in strawberry jelly, topped with strawberry candy and Strawberry cream tartar was dressed with basil oil dressing and a traditional tuile. Dufresne praises the chef’s ability to make everything different, down to the smallest detail, while Padma Lakshmi uses over-the-top compliments (“Whimsy”! “Sublime”! “Delicious”!). Shanti and Kolpin redeem themselves with a close second place.

Chefs Jackson Kalb and Buddah Lo present their dishes to the jury.

Chefs Jackson Kalb and Buddho Lo impressed the judges with their dishes Everything But the Bagel and Strawberries and Cream.
David Moir/Bravo

The losers)

The team of Hernandez and Welch and the Texan duo of Chan and García ended up bottom of the field this week in what became a real Lone Star State nail biter. Team Texas stumbles on flavor and texture. Tom Colicchio describes Chan’s dish as “like pork belly leather,” while Lakshmi says García’s dessert was too sweet. Both teams struggled with basic cooking techniques, Colicchio says. An emotional García felt the weight of being at the bottom, shed a few tears and vowed to keep pushing.

Welch presents shrimp sausage (despite a mild shellfish allergy) over brown butter toasted brioche with a brown butter crumb and squeezed pickled cucumbers. Robert serves strawberry panna cotta with crème fraîche, Japanese brown sugar sprinkles, kiwi and basil. Both look similar but fail to perform with poorly textured main components. (Hernandez has to readjust his panna cotta on day two after it failed to set.)

In the end, Welch and Hernandez are sent home. “We’ve formed such a bond with each other, and I think we both feel like we let each other down, which is so hard in this situation,” Hernandez says.

Chefs Robert Hernandez and Sarah Welch listen to judges' feedback on their dishes.

top chef In the fourth episode, the judges sent home contestants and teammates Robert Hernandez and Sarah Welch.
David Moir/Bravo

Outstanding dishes

  • Cookies. Now please give me a cookie.
  • Honestly, would eat anything Kalb brought out during these challenges. Taste bud issues don’t seem to be slowing him down, and the cookie sandwich with a thick chunk of fried cheese looked dopey.
  • Shanti’s scallop with pressed honeydew kanzuri, toasted walnuts and cider broth alongside Kolpin’s king oyster mushrooms with pickled cucumber, mashed carrots and mushroom and seaweed oil broth seemed to taste as good as they looked.
  • Can we get a taste please Monique Feybesse‘s coffee and ice cream sandwich?

favorite moments

  • Wallace, who walks into the kitchen with a Mississippi-shaped cookie cutter, demonstrates next-level pride.
  • As Welch Jung and Wallace say they “are like a perfect odd couple – you’re like our parents.”
  • When Feybesse imitates her teammate Damar Brown in the confessional booth.

Damar Brown and Jackson Kalb laugh.

Chefs like Damarr Brown and Jackson Kalb have been strong Top Chef: Houston.
David Moir/Bravo

Biggest Snack

Chefs step up their game. Lakshmi describes the elimination challenge as “a very spectacular night of food.”

What’s next?

Keyword drum roll: Next up is barbecue week and there’s brisket! Let’s hope the Texans show us what they’ve got. Catch Top chef: kitchen of the last chance where Welch and Hernandez will fight to return to main competition.


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