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May 20, 2013 11:11 PM

Top Chef Canada, Season 3, Episode 10

Quickfire: the chefs are met by an airport bus that takes them to Pearson airport. They are taken to the tarmac where they have to create a dish based on a destination served by the airport. They pick suitcases to determine the destination. The winner gets a trip to Bali, Indonesia.

Nicole chooses Barcelona, Spain. Danny gets Bangkok, Thailand. Matthew gets Sydney, Australia. Geoff chooses Mexico City, Mexico. Dennis chooses New Orleans, USA. Jonathan gets Tokyo, Japan.

On the top: Geoff and Dennis.
On the bottom: Danny and Jonathan.
And the winner is Dennis.
Lisa reminds the chefs to bring the luggage back to to kitchen.

Elimination: The chefs have to cook a six-course Indian feast. The chefs have to prepare a dish inspired by a specific region in India, which is inside their luggage.

Nicole has to prepare a dish inspired by the Punjab. Jonathan gets Delhi. Matthew gets Kerala. Dennis has Goa. Danny has Bengal and Geoff gets Mumbai.

The guest judge is Vikram Vij and Russell Peters is a special guest. The winner will get a $5,000 prize. The chefs also get to ask Vikram and Lisa questions before they have to cook.

Geoff goes first. He makes a brown butter potato cake with mango chutney. Next is Nicole who serves a saag paneer goat curry pakora but doesn't get it all plated in time. Danny is next and he serves a slow-poached grouper with fried gourd chips, lentil beans and naan bread. Matt serves a braised beef with coconut curry, banana chutney and jasmine rice. Jonathan's dish is a roasted pistachio and cardamom braised chicken korma on a saffron and lime cake. He also serves a mango and baby banana lassi. Dennis makes a rosewater and coconut milk rice pudding with ginger tamarind ice cream.

On the bottom: Nicole, Geoff and Jonathan.
On the top: Matthew, Danny and Dennis.
The winner is Matthew and Geoff is sent home.

Is it just me or is this a weird challenge so close to the end? Indian food is so complex and this challenge was so specific and nobody was particularly knowledgable about the regional cuisine. On Top Chef US, they usually save the ethnic challenges for the finale, where the chefs have a chance to prepare themselves and study the indigenous cuisine before they arrive for the finale.

Also, it's a small thing but I thought it was strange that Matt made jasmine rice instead of basmati. And it's the second time that he has excelled at an Indian food challenge.

I thought Mark McEwan was particularly hard on Nicole for not finishing on time and being sick. She missed getting goat on a few dishes. It wasn't like she didn't get any food on half the dishes. She only missed by probably 10-20 seconds. And I know that being sick is no excuse but I think it should be taken into consideration. You can't help but be a bit sluggish when you're sick and she managed to make a delicious dish even though she couldn't taste or smell. She should have received acknowledgement for that.

And can someone tell Mark McEwan to stop saying "pleasant" when describing a dish? It's the most awkward and meaningless description. So the food was edible and not complete crap? How edible? One step above McDonald's? Equivalent to the food at a chain restaurant? Two steps below North 44? It doesn't give us any insight at all as to what the dish was like.

I'm glad it was Geoff who got sent home. He hasn't made anything memorable the entire season. Though I thought Jonathan was pretty lame in the quickfire and a bit obnoxious in the elimination. I don't think Vikram appreciated his attempt to elevate the plating.

Next week, Real Housewives of Vancouver? Oh dear!

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  1. In season two didn't they have the Italian feast pretty close to the end? So in that respect at least within the realm of Top Chef Canada it's not too far away from what they've done before.

    1. I liked the Indian meal concept. A chef with a good palate and strong technique can put out a quality dish even if they're not familiar with the cuisine/region. Geoff failed on both accounts and was rightly sent home.

      That got me thinking though, how awesome would it be to have a real East Indian competitor next season?

      The compliments on the desserts have surprised me a bit. Tapioca pudding? Rice pudding? And they've both been called amazing. I guess there are fairly low expectations when the chefs attempt sweet instead of savoury.

      2 Replies
      1. re: piano boy

        There have been 2 east-indian competitors so far. In season 2 Kunal was half Indian, half British (he was eliminated in the second episode) and in season 3 Kayla is of Indian heritage, though it seemed like her family had also been long time Canadians, at least 2nd generation.

        1. re: Blueicus

          Blueicus - could you look at my question below this and weigh in? Thanks!

      2. Thanks chefhound. I would love to know the mechanics of how this works. Is there anytime for research (on the web? cookbooks?) before the cooking starts? Does Nicole just know how to make a Pakora or does she have time to figure out how to do it?

        Also - it seems they are cooking outside a lot in extreme heat this season (to date, and the preview of next week's show) - I'm not sure that really adds anything to figuring out who is the best chef.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ElizabethS

          Yes, I would also like to know - how can you just pull a pakora recipe out of thin air? You could probably make up a decent curry recipe just on taste but how do you figure out how to make naan? Do they provide information on the different regions or are you left to figure out the regional flavours?

          The cooking outside thing is a bit annoying. It reminds me of Top Chef Texas, with extreme circumstances just for drama. I wish they'd just let them cook in kitchens.

          1. re: chefhound

            I don't think any of them really hit their regions but I was impressed with what they came up with.

          2. re: ElizabethS

            For a start - I don't know the specific rules.

            However, you do see the chefs walking around with notebooks - however when information is put into them, that I don't know. Presumably, chefs might work really hard to memorize a few dessert recipes at the outset, get into the house, and then write those down for safe keeping.

            In the bridal shower episode this season (also for Indian food), and when two people had to make ethiopian food in season 1 - you see the contestants asking various store owners/shoppers for insight on how to make/spice dishes.

            That being said, a pakora is basically just a fritter. So while she may not have a specific pakora recipe - she may have a fritter recipe she can tweak.

            1. re: cresyd

              I'll answer some of these questions as best I can without being overly specific, but the notebooks come blank, we just use it to write down things we've memorized or as notes when we have to write prep or shopping lists during challenges.

              As for making pakoras and naan, when you cook for a while you begin to note similarities between foods that cross cultures, even if you haven't cooked them. Naan is essentially a flatbread. The style of naan that is cooked in a tandoor has similarities to a pizza cooked in a brick oven (though the oven is cylindrical as opposed to flat), the ratio of flour to water to other ingredients may vary a bit, but the differences are small. As cresyd mentioned, a pakora is basically a chickpea flour-based batter bound with vegetables and/or meat. If you have time to play around with the ratios a bit you should be able to make a similar facsimile.

              In terms of any additional information we were given, all I know is that any recipes we create came entirely out of our heads or random people we may try to get help from during the course of the show... of course that sort of behaviour is discouraged.

          3. Geoff might have been culinary challenged, but he did get to the top 6 competitors. He also got off two of the most interesting zingers, both of them aimed at Caity (gawd I hate spelling it that way.)

            I'm not a huge fan of 'Indian' food. I realize that is a vast generalization, but the few times I have eaten it, it just doesn't get me excited about the food.