Top Chef Recap: Lights, Camera, Cook!

12/04/2008 at 12:00 AM EST

Top Chef Recap: Lights, Camera, Cook!
Michael Lavine /Bravo
After four weeks in front of the cameras, Top Chef's remaining contestants should be prepared for live TV, but many had trouble on Wednesday's episode when they had to present a dish on a actual cooking show. But Ariane, Jeff and Fabio won over the judges -- and the hosts of the Today show. -- Emmet Sullivan

In the quickfire challenge, contestants had to make a breakfast amuse bouche for host Padma Lakshmi and guest judge Rocco DiSpirito. After Rocco admitted his love for bacon, the chefs all tried to incorporate it somehow into their dish. Leah Cohen won her second quickfire in a row (and immunity) with her bacon, quail egg and cheese on grilled bread while Jamie Lauren came in second with a similar creation, a breakfast BLT.

Padma didn't waste any time in explaining the elimination challenge. Chefs had to prepare a dish in just two and a half minutes while giving a live TV presentation about how to make it. They were judged on their food, timing, presentation and attitude.

After a trip to Whole Foods that included some contestants jumping behind the counter to cut their own fish, the chefs got to work. Jamie seemed confident after her past live TV experience, but the duck egg on her salad ended up raw and she ended up grumpy. Melissa Harrison's shrimp was so spicy that judge Tom Coliccio had to stop eating it, and Alex Eusebio rounded out the bottom three with his underdone crème broulee.



Ariane Duarte seemed confident after the judges praised her turkey last week, but she went with a simple beefsteak tomato salad with watermelon and feta cheese. Fabio Viviani, who joked about his accent during the presentation of his tuna with carrots and asparagus, joined Ariane and Jeff McInnis in the top three.

Padma let the chefs head home before the next day's judging, but didn't mention the early morning catch. At 2 a.m., Tom Colicchio stopped by the apartment to gather the winners for a special prize. Their dishes were going to be featured on the Today show, where the women of the show would decide the winner. After tasting the three creations (and Kathie Lee Gifford, spitting out Jeff's malfouf roll with shrimp), the hosts award Ariane with the win.

Back in the kitchen, the bottom three faced the judges. Melissa argued the most to stay -- at one point making Alex feel like she was throwing him under the bus by implying he didn't want to be there because of his impending wedding. It worked -- the judges sent Alex packing (but more for the fact that he chose the impossible task of making a crème brulee in a short amount of time) while Melissa and Jamie went home safe for another week.

Tell us: Who should have gone home? Did Melissa really throw Alex under the bus? And was it appropriate for Kathie Lee to spit out Jeff's dish?Michael Lavine /Bravo

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