Le Chaos at Le Bernardin
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The remaining six chefs are tired of sleeping in bunk beds, and they’re tired of being told what to cook. But, mostly, they’re tired of those evil little twists the producers seem to sneak into every weekly challenge. Me? I can’t get enough of them!

Uber-famous chef Eric Ripert, owner of Le Bernardin, New York City’s preeminent seafood restaurant, visited the stressed-out set of TOP CHEF this week as a guest judge. Contestants sweated openly as they began a quick fire fish filleting contest.

Hosea, a self-proclaimed fish expert, planned to display his knife skill genius. “I am the last American male chef standing in this competition,” he said. Smirking about his opposition, he added, “I’ll take these Euros down. They got no chance!” Would his loud crowing lead to winning the quick fire challenge? Um, no.

  
 
Although Wolfgang Puck protégé Hosea held his own against the other blade wielders for the first two parts of the challenge, he had no chance in the final round against his Euro-nemesis, Stefan. As both chefs were handed a three-foot-long squirmy freshwater eel to peel and fillet, Stefan grinned and remembered the days of his childhood, when he often prepped eel for family meals. While Hosea was still trying to decide which end to slice first, Stefan had the beast nailed to a board, stripped naked, and filleted like a pro. Again, Stefan walked away with the crown of victory on his shiny bald head.

Contestants were then invited to Le Bernardin where they enjoyed a scrumptious six-course lunch. Ooohs, ahhhs, and laughter filled the air during the meal, but the mood changed when the TOP CHEF knife block was served as the dessert course. Chefs drew knives to see which of those amazing lunch dishes they would have to recreate. By themselves. Without a recipe. Right now. Yikes!

Panic turned to concentration, then back to panic again, as the Top Chefs took over Le Bernardin’s super-sleek kitchen. Chef Eric stopped by to offer a hint or two, but the competitors had to dissect the main complexities of the elegant French dishes alone.

Fabulous Fabio and wide-eyed Carla, who’s gaining confidence (and ground) each week, joined Stefan in the top three spots of the day. Fabio got big smiles for his crispy fish, and Carla’s sauce was considered near-perfect, but Stefan—the winning machine—stole the gold again with his spectacular lobster dish. Not only did he walk away with an autographed copy of Chef Eric’s new book, he will also get to mentor under the legendary chef at three of his flagship restaurants.

The news from the judges wasn’t as friendly for tattooed Jamie and the lovebirds—Hosea and Leah. Hosea overcooked his fish, while Leah’s was just plain bland. But poor Jamie took the heaviest criticism of the day. Her salty celery dish was nearly inedible. “Team Rainbow is done,” Jamie lamented on her way out the door. Something tells me we’ll see her again, though. Perhaps in another one of those evil little twists I love so much.

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