Camba contends with drama queen teammate
Chicago native Chrissy Camba lived to see another round on the 10th season of Bravo’s award-winning television show "Top Chef." (Bravo TV)
Chicago native Chrissy Camba lived to see another round — though at times her fate looked questionable — on the 10th season of Bravo’s award-winning television show "Top Chef," which despite being only the second episode of the season was not without some surprises.
Geoduck (pronounced goo-ee-duck) was the hot commodity in the Quick Fire challenge, which required the 15 contestants to pair off into five groups of three and prepare a dish that highlighted local shellfish. (Side note: for those of you wondering about geoduck: it’s a large, slug-like salt-water clam that’s native to the Puget Sound area.)
Judging the challenge were three Top Chef alumni: season 2’s Josie Smith-Malave, season 3’s C.J. Jacobsen and infamous season 5 runner-up Stefan Richter, whom Camba summed up best: “He has an accent, he looks like a thumb, and he’s an evil villain.”
For Camba, though, pairing with Brazilian-born, Italian-raised Carla Pellegrino seemed like it could potentially cost her or fellow teammate Lizzy Binder their spots on the show. Asserting her desire to have both “a James Beard and have a nice ass,” Pelligrino banged around the kitchen waving her hands, barking questions and madly searching for white pepper, much to the dismay of both Camba and Binder. (Another contestant made the comment that he was “glad [Pellegrino] is not on my team.”)
But despite the ladies’ — collectively the Orange Team — lack of communication, their oven-roasted crawfish with fennel and herb salad was enough to secure a “two thumbs up” from the judges, though not victory. That honor went to the Blue Team (chefs Sheldon Simeon, John Tesar and Kuniko Yagi) for their geoduck sashimi.
After drawing knives for immunity, Tesar, who looks like he could be this season’s most hated chef, was left safe from elimination. And never the type of show to miss an opportunity to throw the proverbial wrench in the soufflé, Top Chef unveiled a big twist — the alumni judges were there to stay for another shot at glory. To say the original contestants were less than thrilled would be an understatement.
Moving on to the Elimination challenge, the now 18 contestants were given 47 minutes — the length of time it takes for the Seattle Space Needle to complete one revolution — to prepare a dish using local ingredients for James Beard Award-winning and Seattle-based chef Tom Douglas. (The meal was served in the famous tourist attraction.)
Again, Pellegrino seemed more hindrance than help, prompting more “I’m glad she’s not on my team” remarks from observers and exasperated sighs from her teammates on account of her less-than-subtle culinary persona. But the team’s poached salmon with seasonal vegetables and beurre blanc was praised by judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck and Padma Lakshmi, leaving the three safe.
The Blue Team again took top honors, this time for their chili oil poached cod, and Yagi was named the winner. Surprisingly, it was the alumni that saw their dish getting lampooned alongside the Gray Team thanks to some well-done protein. But in the end it was Washington, D.C. chef Jeffrey Jew who was told to pack his knives over some overcooked halibut.