Vail’s Liken back on top
August 7, 2010
VAIL, Colorado – Kelly Liken is back in her comfort zone on Bravo Television’s “Top Chef,” finishing the season’s eighth episode in the top three.
Nine chefs remained at the start of episode eight Wednesday night. The competition has been heating up in the kitchen, and Liken knew from the beginning of the show she had to step it up this week.
She finished last week’s episode in the bottom three, narrowly escaping elimination for over-salting her porterhouse steak dish. It was a new place for Liken, who has typically finished in the middle or on top in past episodes.
“I messed up last night,” Liken said at the beginning of the episode. “I made a fatal error in seasoning and I think it put some fire under me to step it up and really pay attention.”
The first challenge of episode eight, the Quick Fire challenge, made chefs create an Ethiopian-inspired dish. The winner of the challenge would win immunity in the following elimination challenge.
Liken admitted she had never even eaten Ethiopian food, let alone cooked it.
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“Have you ever seen nuts in Ethiopian food?” she said to one of her competitors.
She made a leg of lamb with roasted cauliflower and yogurt. She didn’t excel at the challenge, but judges didn’t put her in the bottom three for her dish, either.
Next up, the elimination challenge. Contestants had to draw numbered knives to determine the order in which they could choose the country that would inspire their dishes.
Liken picked the no. 2 knife and chose Italy.
The curveball that judges threw at the contestants this week was that they had to make 100 plates for diplomats and ambassadors from each of the nine countries on the list, but they wouldn’t have any electricity once at the site of the catered event. They had to cook and prepare their dishes ahead of time and then reheat them via chafing dishes.
Liken decided to adjust her plans when she learned this, going from her original idea to make a gnudi, an Italian dumpling similar to gnocchi, to a beef carpaccio with a shaved spring vegetable salad, served cold.
The move landed her a place in the top three. Judges complimented her ability to keep a dish simple enough that the natural ingredients are able to shine.
One judge told Liken she honored the Italian tradition of carpaccio, yet at the same time gave it her own personal touch.
One of the Italian diplomats said the dish represented Italy better than he did.
Check out the Vail Daily on Aug. 12 to find out how Liken does in Episode 9.