2 cheftestants down, 15 to go - this is Top Chef, episode 2! Team Rainbow is now down to 2 members, and the chefs are recovering from their first elimination challenge. Ariane is feeling the pressure, clearly in over her head. Meanwhile, Fabio and Stefan renew their (so far) lighthearted rivalry. After all, "it's not how many dragons you kill, it's who takes home the princess."
Hot dogs, hot dogs, hot dogs! The guest judge is Donatella Arpaia, renown restauranteur and frequent judge on Iron Chef America (you may have seen her on the big Thanksgiving battle last week). Padma also introduces Angelina D'Angelo, who, with her husband Gary, runs 2 hot dog trucks in Queens (and also looks TINY next to Padma and Donatella). Angelina runs "Dominick's," one of the most famous in the city. The challenge for the chefs is to create a hot dog that rivals Angelina's.
Did you know that although there are thousands of hot dog carts and trucks in NYC, 99% of them are all the same dog? They are all produced by Marathon Enterprises, the parent company of Sabrett, and sold by Katz's Deli, Papaya King, and yes, even Dominick's. Anyone in NYC would recognize the familiar blue and yellow Sabrett logo and umbrella that adorn many of the carts. And while it might be the same recipe, any hot dog fan knows it's how you work with the dog that counts.
The chefs jump right into the challenge, doing just about everything you can do to "elevate" a hot dog - except, to my disappointment, pigs in a blanket. Most end up making their own sausage, which is very different than making a hot dog from scratch, but I guess close enough for the judges. During tasting, Padma finds a bone in Jamie's pork and beef sausage, but the taste must have been good enough for her to get over it. Stefan and Fabio both go with paninis, but the judge's hate Stefan's "world dog." Fabio's dog is in the top 3, but in the end Radhika takes the challenge with her lamb, pork and ground chuck kabob-style sausage with caramelized onions, cucumbers and tomato jam. She wins immunity.
The chefs will each be cooking one "New American" dish for lunch service at -gasp- Tom Colicchio's Craft restaurant. "New American cuisine?" Tom has a pretty good explanation on his blog, but it comes down to bringing together different regional American cuisines while still being fresh and original. Apparently there's a fine line between New American and hackneyed regional cuisine, as the chefs find out. Here's the menu for the evening:
- Jamie - chilled sweet corn soup with chili oil and mint
- Hosea - chilled crab with citrus vanilla dressing, mango and avocado
- Leah - yukon potato, seared scallops with chives and green peppercorns
- Fabio - beef carpaccio with arugula salad, parmesan and spherical olives
- Melissa - grilled avocado, white peaches, nectaries and balsamic vinaigrette
- Stefan - pan seared halibut with micro greens, ravioli, champagne sauce and dill oil
- Alex - grilled pork tenderloin over potatoes with mushroom, tomato and red beet demi-glace
- Eugene - open meatloaf sandwich with ciabatta, gouda fondue and portabella ragout
- Jill - ostrich egg quiche with rice-pecan crust, asparagus and aged cheese
- Jeff - southern chicken, honey mustard and chorizo corn spoon bread