The theme of last week’s Top Chef episode was dynamic duo-ing and deconstruction. Presumably the dynamic duo idea comes from Penn & Teller being there as guest judges. The deconstruction concept comes from the oft misunderstood culinary technique.

Here are a few highlights:

  • The Quickfire was an “angels vs. demons” duo challenge. The chefs were asked to created two dishes of conflict, i.e. healthy vs. unhealthy, or new vs. old. Robin, who can’t be long for the show, won. Everyone was shocked. Eli, in poor taste, attributed the victory to her playing the cancer survivor card.
  • Deconstruction was the focus of the Elimination Challenge. The chefs had to “deconstruct,” or separate out all the ingredients, of a classic dish — yet, the newly re-constructed dish should maintain the dish’s original flavor. I think this means that meat lasagna shouldn’t look like meat lasagna, but it should taste like it.
  • At judges’ table: Michelle Berstein, and strong-opinioned Brit, Toby Young, rejoined the group.
  • On the top: Jennifer (lasagna), Ashley (pot roast), Kevin (chicken mole), and Michael Voltaggio (caesar salad). Kevin won.
  • On the bottom: Laurine (fish and chips), Ron (paella), Ash (shepherd’s pie). Ron was sent home.

kevin_moleKevin Gillespie’s Deconstructed Baked Chicken and Chicken Croquetta,
Mexican Coffee, Chili Flake, Pumpkin and Fig Jam

For the drink pairing — Kevin’s fig jam recipe includes strong brewed coffee and hot chocolate. Having tried the most incredible bean-to-cup hot chocolate at Rick Bayless‘ restaurant, XOCO, that’s what I want alongside this dish. I don’t even care that it doesn’t have booze in it. The hot chocolate is that incredible. It is ground from Mexican cacao beans right in the restaurant, and was my surprise favorite on a menu with a lot of great food (try the ahadoga torta also). As you can see from the pic, I drank it with hot-from-the-fryer churros, but I think the bitter sweetness would complement many savory creations as well. Muy delicioso!

hot-chocolateBean-to-cup hot chocolate and hot-from-the-fryer churros at
Rick Bayless’
XOCO restaurant in Chicago.

posted by Ms. S&C

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