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Although Tom Colicchio was thrilled to have a fellow baldy join the judging panel this week, newest TOP CHEF addition Toby Young sent contestants into a nervous frenzy. Judge Toby is England’s toughest food critic, and he has a reputation for spouting off career-crushing comments. Lucky for us, he has crossed the ocean to torture (I mean critique) our Top Chefs.

The quickfire challenge—make a tasty dessert without the use of sugar—led to Indian chef Radhika successfully snatching this week’s protective shield of immunity before the elimination challenge was revealed. When the announcement finally came that chefs could cook anything they wanted for Judge Toby’s first day, they fumbled over themselves to find the perfect ingredients at the grocery store. The mysterious addition of “a group of food experts” who would join the tasting panel had chefs eager to show their best work.

  
 
EVIL TWIST ALERT! Oh, how I love these…

Of course, it wasn’t going to be that easy—just a happy group of chefs cooking what they love to cook for some hungry folks. No! Instead, they were broken into two groups under the pretense that the venue’s kitchen was too small to accommodate the entire team. Group One would cook and be judged, then Group Two could come in once it was all clean and tidy again.

The surprise came when those “food experts” were revealed: the off-duty team of Top Chefs were invited to the tasting! Even more interesting was watching the cooks who made the meal watch the ones tasting it via a super-sneaky hidden camera. Very clever.

I have to admit, I’d been looking forward to the new judge and his wicked reputation for weeks (I live for this kind of stuff). And Judge Toby didn’t disappoint. He has an original culinary perspective, and he offers his unique brand of feisty narrative with a typically somber English smirk. It’s brilliant. Some of the highlights:

Radhika’s spicy Indian soup was explained: “The UN inspectors were clearly looking in the wrong place. I have found the weapons of mass destruction, and they are in this bowl.”

Referring to the fabulous baby vegetables under Wolfgang Puck protégée Hosea’s bland bacon and halibut dish, Toby had a theatre reference for us: “Like when they hire classically trained actors to play character roles, the two leads were upstaged by the supporting cast.”

And he had a nice collection of zingers too:

Sushi chef Eugene’s fish dish was “The bland leading the bland.”

And country girl Melissa’s fish tacos “Tasted like cat food.” Ouch!

Food was eaten, chefs were judged, and everyone had a turn at watching the tasting sessions. Tension mounted as tattoo-covered “Team Rainbow” chef Jamie, a three-time “almost-er” made the top three again this week. She squirmed and prayed that her name would finally be called as the winner of an elimination challenge.

Even with Euro-jerk Stefan’s delicious duck and sauerkraut dish and nervous Ariane’s perfect pineapple chutney topped fish, Jamie’s succulent scallops earned her the top spot. Not wasting time humbly enjoying her big win, Jamie announced with a victorious smile that she is a force to be reckoned with. Watch out!

When it came time for contest eviction notices, Radhika escaped the axe by way of her earlier immunity win, while Eugene’s overcooked fish dish and Melissa’s cat food, (er…fish tacos) earned each a plane ticket home.

Next week, we’ll watch the chefs battle it out in the disastrous “vegan challenge.” I can’t wait to see what Judge Toby has to say about it!

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