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Jul 27, 2010 05:09 PM

Ideas for Top Chef challenges

I just made some chicken liver pate and I’m disappointed that it’s kinda flat. I don’t know if I should add lemon, or more herbs, s+p, or if I’d just ruin it more. Anyhoo. I was thinking it would make an interesting Quick-Fire Challenge to see who could best improve on the same batch of something like that, or maybe on the same basic soup.

For an Elimination Challenge around the holidays, I’d find it interesting and useful if all the contenders had the same types of leftovers to work with – roasted turkey, baked ham, potatoes, squash, green beans – and see who can come up with the most creative dishes using a minimum number of the ingredients.

I guess a common thread is that I’d like to see them use more of the same baseline ingredients.

Anyone else have such an obsession with this show that you start thinking up production ideas in your head? And any suggestions for fixing my pate?! (although that question is obviously better suited to the Home Cooking board.)

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  1. I think we'd been over this path before, but it is always kind of fun to indulge in this fantasy.

    I like Niblet's idea of using the same baseline ingredients. I would also like to see some of the classically trained chefs be shoved into a different milieu, like Chinese cuisine and then serve the results to a room full of picky Chinese eaters. (You can substitute any culture in there).

    I really liked the QF where they had to do short order cooking. I also liked it when they had to cook in a food truck for a bunch of drunks, that is pretty challenging.

    Part of the limitation of the show is that they are limited in prep and cooking time. I would like to see them challenged to prepare something that takes a long time, like beef Bourguignon or a timballo.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Phaedrus

      A very limited budget vs. nearly unlimited time would make for an interested challenge. The rules could be something like 'you have $50 to feed 10 diners, and you have now until the same time tomorrow to prepare your dish, stay up all night if you want to'.

    2. My favorite QF challenges are blind taste test, guess what's in the dish and speed prep.

      For the EC, the leftover challenge sounds fun.

      1. No comment on Top Chef, but try a little cognac to perk up your pate. Works for me every time!

        1. Using the idea from another thread on this board about foods they'd like to see banned from Top Chef, I would suggest a QF Challenge where contestants MAY NOT use the following techniques/ingredients:

          Pork belly
          Short Ribs
          Sous vide

          Realistically though, given the whole Korean-Mexican taco food trend, a QF challenge I would like to see is contestants having to pick 2 different ethnic cuisines using knives and having to create a dish that represents flavour profiles of both cuisines. I'd be really impressed if someone could do Korean - Moroccan, but they could really make it difficult with odd pairings, like Mexican-Swedish or Indian - Greek.

          1 Reply
          1. re: SeoulQueen

            Top Chef Season 1 sorta had that challenge with Latin American + Moroccan, Indian, Chinese or Japanese. I like the idea of opening it up to more permutations though.

            (lifted from Wikipedia)
            Episode 5: Blind Confusion
            Elimination Challenge: Working in teams of two, the chefs must create a dish fusing Latin American cuisine with one other ethnic cuisine. Dave and Tiffani had Moroccan, Andrea and Miguel had Indian, Lee Anne and Stephen had Chinese, and Harold and Lisa had Japanese. They then had to distribute the dish from a cart in the Mission District of San Francisco.
            WINNERS: Dave and Tiffani (Moroccan Cubano Pork Sandwich
            )ELIMINATED: Lisa (Japanese Seared Tuna Avocado Salad}
            Guest Judge: Mike Yakura

            I really liked that challenge. Inventive contest concept and the execution was creative. That was the first episode where Top Chef really clicked for me, seeing how seemingly simple things could doom or elevate a dish.

            And nitpicky I guess but Quick Fire and Sous Vide are mutually exclusive aren't they?

          2. My husband is an emergency manager and would like to see a challenge using shelf stable ingredients only.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tiki101

              You are replying to a four-year-old dead thread.

              I'd like to see a creative use of local, native ingredients. Shelf-stable be damned!!! We want ingredients that can be foraged after the Chinese drop a huge nuclear bomb on Pittsburgh