This season of Top Chef has showcased the highest caliber of chefs to compete against one another. That is why it was such a shock last episode when the only chef with a Michelin star was sent home. Begona Rodrigo was at the top many times but ultimately was sent packing because of an uninspired chicken leftover dish. We were all rooting for you!

Luckily for Begona, she wasn’t out of the game quite yet. Begona battled her way back in through Last Chance Kitchen and had one foot in the door alongside Dale MacKay, who was knocked out during a pub food challenge. But which chef would win that coveted spot back into the competition?

Spill The Tea

Over at the hotel, Sylvia Stachyra and Charbel Hayek dished on which chef they thought would come back. They didn’t get to gossip long because Padma Lakshmi stopped by and asked a shocked Sylvia to gather all the chefs and meet her downstairs. The news spread like wildfire and the chefs knocked on doors and ran in and out of rooms like they were in a Scooby-Doo cartoon. 

Padma and Tom Colicchio informed the chefs their quickfire challenge was to enjoy some afternoon tea courtesy of the two chefs trying to win a spot back into the competition. The chefs were tasked with creating sweet or savory finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries. And the winner not only got back in but immunity as well. This news brought a collective groan from the group. 

Back in the kitchen, the chefs only had a few minutes left to plate their food. Begona was all over the place and tripped and fell. Unfortunately, she didn’t have enough time to plate her scones. Dale made smoked salmon and egg sandwiches, bacon and gruyere scones, and ginger cake with mango compote. Begona made crab and seaweed sandwiches and a chocolate eclair. Padma said her sandwich tasted like tuna, ouch. To no one’s surprise, Dale won his spot back and Begona was sent packing yet again.

Life Is No Picnic

Afternoon tea was over and it was time to get back to work. Padma informed everyone their elimination challenge was to work in teams to create a ready-to-serve picnic basket for the judges at Highclere Castle. All Downton Abbey fans rejoiced. Tom expected a five-star picnic from the chefs that also included a sweet dish. 

The group drew knives and was broken up into either team blue or team yellow. Dale picked the blue team and joined Sara Bradley, Charbel, Nicole Gomes, Victoire Gouloubi, and Buddha Lo. Buddha and Sara immediately bumped heads when Sara said she wanted to do a chilled side of Broccolini. Simple just isn’t in Buddha’s vocabulary.

Team Yellow consisted of Sylvia, Gabriel Rodriguez, Tom Goetter, Amar Santana, and Ali Ghzawi. Ten bucks says Sylvia does fried potato cakes. Amar did not like Tom’s cioppino stew idea, but unlike Buddha, Amar did not push back. His “you do you, bro” attitude might end up taking the team down. 

The Queen’s Grocer Isn’t Costco

Because this is a five-star picnic challenge, the chefs got to shop at the Queen’s grocer, Fortum and Mason. Amar felt out of place the minute he saw the doorman, but I bet Buddha felt right at home. The rest of the chefs ran around like kids in a candy shop. Tom bought a ton of caviar and used most of the team’s budget, which didn’t leave much for the team to get the rest of their ingredients with the commoners over at Whole Foods. 

The chefs only had an hour and a half to complete their picnic baskets as there is no kitchen for them over at the castle. Tom pulled out another Iron Chef trick and made olive oil dust for his salad so it wouldn’t get soggy. Dale decided he is also running for office and offered his help to his teammates with their dishes instead of focusing on his own. Nicole was worried because Tom Colicchio questioned her use of salmon instead of tuna for her nicoise salad. Sara claimed her broccolini dish was so good you’d want to make love afterward. Ok, Sara, we get it. You love broccolini! 

RELATED: Top Chef’s Carla Hall Talks Elimination, Plus See Her Old Modeling Photos!

One Picnic Basket To Rule Them All

The next day the chefs head over to the castle for their battle of the picnic baskets. Nicole is still worried about her dish, but is happy because she will be adopting a child once she gets home. Congratulations, Nicole! And now it’s time for the food! 

Team Yellow is up first. Ali made muhammara with pickled walnuts and pomegranate vinaigrette. Tom’s dish was a cioppino salad with pickled apples, zucchini, caviar chips, and tomato vinaigrette. The judges noted it lacked seasoning. Gabriel made a smoked fish tostada with cucumber, onion, watermelon, and pesto. Sylvia did a su borek with chicken, nduja mousse, pistachios, lemon posset, and cucumber salsa. The judges were not fans. Amar finished it off with a rum raisin flan topped with pineapple and sage marmalade. 

Team Blue went next and Dale served a deviled duck egg with caviar. Dale went home on a scotch egg, so it’s egg redemption time for him. Victoire made foie gras rolled in cabbage with agrodolce sauce. Charbel did vegetable crudités with toast, hummus, baba ganoush, and truffle dip. Nicole presented her salmon nicoise salad, and Tom nodded his head while he ate it so he must have changed his mind. Sara served broccolini with manchego, lardo, walnuts, and truffle vinaigrette, and it was a hit! Padma was happy someone finally served cheese. And finally, Buddha served a banana-shaped banoffee pie with biscuit crumble.

Caviar, Foie Gras, And Prosciutto, Oh My!

The winning picnic basket and dish belonged to the blue team and Nicole for her salmon salad. Padma liked how they utilized caviar, foie gras, and prosciutto all within their budget. And Nicole also won a cool ten grand for her dish. Go, Nicole!

That meant the yellow team was on the bottom. The judges thought Sylvia’s dish was too sweet, and they thought Tom’s dish had too many flavors. They also grilled Tom about him spending all the team’s money on caviar you couldn’t even taste it in his dish. So who was going home? We have another twist! Tom and Sylvia now have to do a cook-off to decide who gets to stay. Time to tune in to Last Chance Kitchen to find out!


[Photo by: David Moir/Bravo]

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