Eater catches up with Top Chef cheftestapant and former China Poblano executive chef Shirley Chung to find out her thoughts on this week's episode of the show. Check out Eater National's recap of the episode here. We'll keep the major spoilers out of this portion, but read on after the jump and know there are spoilers ahead.
This week, the cheftestapants get a lesson in the fine art of French cooking from Jacques Pépin, who shows them how to make his favorite dish of Dover sole with artichoke and asparagus and then gives them 35 minutes to re-create the master's techniques. From there, they split into two teams of three facing off to cook French and Spanish dishes with Dominique Crenn and Julian Serano supervising their five-course meal. Here, Chung talks about what happened in the emotionally charged episode.
The Quickfire Challenge was all about technique, cooking for Jacques Pépin. You're a French-trained chef. This Quickfire Challenge must have been a snap.
It was really great. It was definitely really hard. Watching past seasons, we knew there was going to be a skills challenge.
What were some of the things the audience may have missed in the Elimination Challenge cooking with Dominique Crenn?
Everybody loved her. Her energy was crazy. When she talks about food, she's so passionate. We were all excited working with her.
She's gorgeous. Me and Steph we kept talking about how gorgeous she is, how gorgeous her hair is. Nick's face turned red later on when he said he had a chef crush on her.
Do you think you would have been just as comfortable cooking Spanish dishes since you did run China Poblano?
Yes, I'm definitely familiar with Spanish-style cooking and Spanish dishes. My true training was classical French. To be able to show off my skills, I was hoping for team France.
This was an episode where you had one of the judges telling you what to cook and picking out ingredients with you. How did that shake things up with your team?
It was definitely interesting going into the challenge. I cook modern food, not necessarily avant-garde like chef Crenn. We all decided we wanted to go all out instead of playing it safe. We were excited using very modern techniques. We learned that day and then executed. We felt great tasting dishes.
With Nick winning the Quickfire Challenge, it seemed like a butterfly effect going into the finals since it was his dish that lost the challenge.
First of all, he deserved immunity. I was plating up until the minute. I think my plated dish was not as clean as Nick's. His plate was perfect. I have a new respect for Nick and the technical skills over there. I guess we learned something about Nick.
Did you think Nick should have fallen on the sword and resigned to fight back in the Last Chance Kitchen?
I cannot speak for him. I talked about it on the show. If I am in that position, I do really well in Quickfire Challenges. If it's me in that same position, I would have resigned and fought back on Last Chance Kitchen.
From Nick's point of view, he never did well in QuickFire Challenges. He doesn't feel he has the confidence to fight back in Last Chance Kitchen.
Was it fair that Stephanie packed her knives?
Being on Top Chef is really emotional. I think we all cry at some time. I think I was crying. Me and her hug each other. At this point in competition, we hang out all the time and have geek talks not just about the culinary world. We know each other's families. Me and her made the best dish of the night and had a 50-50 chance of leaving and she went home. That was the high that we were coming down from. Now we were facing going home.
You look at the entire menu. The chicken course, everything was classical. [Crenn] wanted us to add elements that didn't make sense. I gained more confidence in this episode. I get this now. I really have to trust my palate even though [Crenn] has two Michelin stars
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