Our Hometown Hero Chef Evelyn Garcia been on a roll with her two consecutive weeks of victoriesand I’ve crossed my fingers that this week will be three.
In the Top Chef kitchen, the chefs were greeted by judge and host Padma Lakshmi, as well as Houston’s own chef, Ope Amosu, owner of ChòpnBlọk, and Top Chef All-Star, Kwame Onwuachi.
The breakdown of ingredients and guest judges revealed this week’s quick challenge: African cuisine. Houston is home to one of the largest Nigerian populations in the country, it is therefore not surprising that the chefs were tasked with the challenge of preparing a dish with traditional African swallows – Iyan, Amala and Eba. The chefs took a crash course in African dishes and seasonings. Chef Amosu and Onwuachi asked the chefs to try traditional soups and stews, such as Egusi, ground melon seeds with beef, and Efo Retro, a Nigerian spinach stew.
Each week, I’ve watched all the chefs explain how their experiences have shaped their cuisine, and this week was no different – chef Nick Wallace’s Mississippi upbringing allowed him to approach the challenge in a Southern way. , after making an okra stew. Garcia made a stew of tamarind and chicken wings. Unfortunately, her flavors dominated the dish, making her one of the judge’s least favorites in the rapid fire. Chef Buddha Lo’s prawns and guinea fowl with peanuts and fried plantains prevailed and granted him immunity for the elimination challenge.
Naturally, we can’t go a week without an omen from Lakshmi, and this week she told the chefs, “if you want to win, you have to dominate,” as the lights went out in the kitchen. When the lights came on, Garcia blurted out, “Jurassic Park? and walked into Top Chef Colorado winner Joe Flamm.
After a brief trailer for the upcoming Jurassic World Dominion movie, Lakshmi and Flamm explained that the dinosaurs will serve as inspiration for the elimination challenge. In the new film, dinosaurs rule Earth through air, sea, and land, and chefs are challenged to do the same, but instead “rule the kitchen.” The contestants received a message from actors Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt, assigning the chefs a specific dinosaur whose diet should be reflected in each of the chef’s dishes.
And, what better way to set the stage for a sci-fi inspired dinner party than to eat it at Houston Museum of Natural Science?
The chefs were then divided into groups of three and tasked with creating a three-course meal inspired by each of their dinos. Garcia is placed with Chef Jackson Kalb and Wallace, and she’s given the Quetzalcoatlus, an airborne dinosaur (which was coincidentally discovered right here in Texas.) mash, a pork tenderloin as the main entree, and a cake finish at the melting cocoa. Garcia’s pork tenderloin was a hit with the judges, with accolades at all levels. Kalb’s bloody velociraptor-influenced dessert brought him home for Team Brown, giving Chef Garcia a third win for the week.
Unfortunately, our fellow Texas representative, Chef Jo Chang, didn’t beat the elimination, leaving Garcia as the only Texas delegate in the competition. Next week, however, the chefs will face off in restaurant wars at the brand new Post Houston.
Watch Top Chef every Thursday night on Bravo.