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Thursday, 19 May 2011

CHG Top Chef Round Two - The Great Eight

Last week on CHG Top Chef, sixteen culinary upstarts created scallop-based amuse bouches in hopes of impressing the panel of judges and proceeding to the next round. On this fine Saturday afternoon, only eight chefs remain.

Who will be eliminated tonight?

[Cue theme music]



Pork, sourced from that magical creature that provides us with bacon, ham, chops and proscuitto, will star in the day's creations. In addition, competitors must incorporate sage, Granny Smith apples, bacon, prawns and/or figs into their dishes. Each competitor has half an hour to brainstorm and 45 minutes to prep, cook and plate their creations. (Click here to view the photo album in its entirety)

First up: Shirley Fortez vs. Scott Cowan. Shirley mesmerizes with pork loin and deconstructed potato gratin with figs and apple. It's visually stunning and, although it is a veritable riot of flavours, it works. Scott presents bacon-wrapped pork loin with caramelized apple sage chutney. It's a solid concept but the onions are domineering. Shirley will compete in the next round.

Second up: Cedric Boeglin vs. Cole Colley. Cedric wraps his pork loin with bacon and tops it with a rainbow-hued apple-pepper slaw, while Cole conjures up images of Korea with pork loin bulgogi, served with lettuce wrappers and tiny tortilla strips. Cole's originality is intriguing but Cedric's deft presentation and balanced flavours bump him to the next round.

Third up: John Dykeman vs. Eric Amyotte. Eric pairs pork loin with spicy fig jam and bacon-braised leeks; the pork is tender but the figs are overly dominant. John anoints his pork with lick-worthy pan juices amped up with cream, apples and a brown sugar crust. The entire dish encapsulates autumn and catapults John to the next round.

Last up: Andre Nedd vs. Ben Weir. Ben stuffs and rolls pork loin with sage-basil pesto and serves in with apple-fig salad, and Andre dusts his pork with Masala spices, stuffs it with prawns and serves it with wedges of naan. Andre's spices are aromatically evocative of the Subcontinent but the prawns add little to the dish. Ben's pesto is a bit "busy" but bumps him to the next round.

Only four chefs remain. Who will be crowned CHG's Next Top Chef?

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