Top Chef: Los Angeles is the second season of American reality television seriesTop Chef and was filmed first in Los Angeles, California, and concluded in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii. The season premiered on Bravo on October 18, 2006 and ended on January 31, 2007. Padma Lakshmi took over as host, with Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons returning as judges. Filming began in Westwood, near UCLA in Los Angeles, on August 10, 2006. The number of contestants expanded from 12 to 15. The prize money awarded to the Top Chef was $100,000. The winning recipe from each week's episode is featured on Bravo's Top Chef website and prepared by Season 1 contestant Lee Anne Wong in a web video called The Wong Way to Cook. Bravo cited negative viewer reaction to the season 2 chefs attitudes and over-all behavior as the reason why no reunion episode was filmed.
^Note 1 : Otto bowed out voluntarily before Lakshmi eliminated anyone, deciding that his misconduct over the unpaid lychees contributed the most to his team's loss. ^Note 2 : After allegations of cheating, the judges decided not to eliminate anyone. ^Note 3 : Josie and Marisa were both eliminated, who worked as a team in this challenge. ^Note 4 : There were 5 winners in the Quickfire Challenge. These winners did not compete in the Elimination Challenge. ^Note 5 : Mia quit voluntarily before Lakshmi eliminated anyone, fearing Elia would be eliminated. ^Note 6 : Starting with this episode, Quickfire Challenge wins no longer confers immunity from losing the Elimination Challenge. ^Note 7 : There was no winning team in the Elimination Challenge. The bottom 3 was based on each chef's individual performance. ^Note 8 : Cliff was disqualified for aggressive physical contact with Marcel. ^Note 9 : Since Cliff was disqualified no one else was eliminated going into the finale, however Marcel and Elia had the weaker two of the four dishes in the challenge.
(WINNER) The chef won the season and was crowned Top Chef.
(RUNNER-UP) The chef was a runner-up for the season.
(WIN) The chef won that episode's Elimination Challenge.
(HIGH) The chef was selected as one of the top entries in the Elimination Challenge, but did not win.
(LOW) The chef was selected as one of the bottom entries in the Elimination Challenge, but was not eliminated.
(OUT) The chef lost that week's Elimination Challenge and was out of the competition.
(IN) The chef neither won nor lost that week's Elimination Challenge. They also were not up to be eliminated.
[IN (+)] The chef won a pair or team challenge but was not chosen as one of the judges' favorites.
[IN (-)] The chef lost a pair or team challenge but was not selected as one of the judges' least favorites.
(WD) The chef voluntarily left the show.
(DQ) The chef was disqualified and was asked to leave the show.
Each episode includes two challenges. The Quickfire Challenge is a short, simple challenge with a varying reward each week. The Elimination Challenge is a more complex challenge that determines who goes home. One or more guest judges join the show each week to evaluate both the Quickfire and Elimination challenges. Each week's elimination is announced in a segment called "Judges' Table."
Episode 1: Into the Fire
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs must create a flambé dish in a limited amount of time. The winner gets immunity from elimination.
Otto voluntarily withdrew from the show. As Team Korea loaded up their SUV with groceries, Marisa heard Otto say that he thought that the store cashier neglected to ring up a case of lychees. She later revealed this to Colicchio, who made Otto take them back to the store. Otto returned to complete the Elimination Challenge, but announced he was withdrawing from the competition during the "Judges' Table" segment.
Episode 3: Food for the People
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs must create an original ice cream flavor and serve it at the Redondo Beach Seaside Lagoon. The winner gets immunity from elimination.
WINNER: Cliff (Vanilla Ice Cream w/ Cookies, Graham Crackers, and Marshmallows)
Elimination Challenge Prize: The winning entrée will be featured nationwide on the menu of T.G.I. Friday's. (Note: Betty's winning dish has been placed on TGI Friday's menu but renamed "Tuscan Portobello Melt.")
During this quickfire challenge, Betty suffered a dry ice burn that required medical attention.
Episode 4: Less is More
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs must create an amuse bouche dish using $10 of ingredients from a vending machine. The winner gets immunity from elimination.
Top 3- Carlos, Frank, Ilan
Bottom 2- Michael, Mia
WINNER: Carlos (Sunflower Seed and Carrot Loaf with Cilantro, Sesame Seed and Squirt)
Elimination Challenge: The 12 chefs are divided into four teams and are required to create a meal that does not exceed 500 calories (2,100 kJ) to serve at a camp for diabetic and overweight children.
Team Black (Betty, Frank, Marcel)
Sausage & Cheese Pizza
Fresh Fruit Skewers
Crispy Chocolate Cookie with Banana and Peanut Butter Drizzle
Elimination Challenge Prize: A cookbook written by Goin and an opportunity to collaborate on one of Goin's famed Sunday supper menus for her Lucques restaurant.
At the judges' table, the losing teams made allegations regarding the "bending" or "breaking" of the rules in the elimination challenge by a member or members of the winning team. Sam stated that he saw people excessively squirting bottles of olive oil, but refused to say names. Mia stated that Betty had used sugar instead of Splenda; a claim that Betty herself later confirmed, explaining that she thought she had not violated the rules because her team would still be under the 500 calories (2,100 kJ) limit. However, the other contestants understood that the rules required that once the calorie calculations had been completed by the nutritionists, the recipes could not be further modified. As a result, Colicchio stated that all the contestants would remain "on probation" and no one was eliminated in this episode.
Episode 5: Social Service
Quickfire Challenge: Each chef must create a dish using offal, the leftover parts of animals.
During deliberation, the judges could not determine whether Marisa or Josie was more responsible for the outcome of their dish. Because both claimed equal responsibility, the judges sent both of them home.
Episode 6: Thanksgiving
Quickfire Challenge: The remaining chefs must create a dish using three different canned foods in 15 minutes. The winners of the quickfire challenge get to skip the elimination challenge altogether and receive immunity.
Sam (Garbanzo and Beet Salad, Crunchy Anchovies with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette)
Mia ("15 Minute Salad": Garbanzo Beans, Green Beans, Artichoke Hearts and Mint)
Frank (Fruit and Coconut Salad with Blueberry Yogurt Cream)
Elimination Challenge: The five chefs who did not win the Quickfire Challenge must work together to make a cutting edge Thanksgiving dinner for the judges and other Top Chef contestants, using the kitchens in the loft.
Amuse Bouche: Turkey and Egg Toast Canapé (Michael)
First Course: Salad with Chipotle Peppers, Queso Fresco, Pumpkin Seeds, Butternut Squash Dressing (Carlos)
Second Course: Portobello and Button Mushroom Creme Soup with Walnuts (Elia)
Third Course: Turkey Roulade with Stuffing and Cranberry Gelee (Marcel)
Fourth Course: Twice Baked Potato with Shrimp, Parsnip Mashed Potatoes and Corn with Parmesan (Michael)
Fifth Course: Chai Pumpkin Creme Brulee, Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Brulee and a Shot of Coffee (Betty)
Elimination Challenge: The chefs are told by Padma that they must prepare breakfast for athletes. The cooking environment and available tools are unknown to the contestants until their arrival at the challenge. In the challenge, the chefs must cook for surfers at dawn on the beach using only a fire pit and basic kitchen tools.
WINNER: Elia ("Organic Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner": Waffle with Ham, Cheese and Fried Eggs)
ELIMINATED: Frank (Zucchini and Salmon Scramble, Cannoli Cream with Strawberries and Holland Waffle)
Guest Judge: Raphael Lunetta
Original Airdate: December 6, 2006
Episode 8: Holiday Spirit
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs are required to make a Bailey's Irish Cream mix drink and an accompanying dish. The winner gets immunity from elimination.
WINNER: Cliff (Original Bailey's, Rum, Vodka and Vanilla Bean Accompanied by Grilled Sliced Beef, Creme Fraiche Fondue, Nutmeg and Dark Chocolate)
Mia voluntarily withdrew from the competition during the judges' table segment, believing that she was saving Elia from elimination. Her decision at the judges' table was preceded by a monologue by Mia who expressed her anger and frustration with Cliff's attitude toward her.
Teaseradvertisements for this episode showed a cameo of Season 1 contestant Stephen Asprinio, but he is not shown in the aired episode. The video clip with Asprinio was included as bonus material on the Top Chef website.
Actor Nate Torrence had a cameo in this episode. He is one of the many party guests who go to Team Black's table.
Episode 9: Seven
Quickfire Challenge: Each chef draws a knife that shows a different color. The chefs must then create a dish based on the color drawn from the knife block.
Top: Cliff, Michael, Sam
Bottom: Betty, Ilan, Marcel
WINNER: Michael (Orange: Sushi Rice with Salmon and Carrot Chips)
From this point on, immunity is no longer awarded to the winner of a Quickfire Challenge.
Elimination Challenge: The chefs must prepare a seven-course meal, with each course representing one of the Seven Deadly Sins. The sins were drawn from the knife block, but Michael, as the Quickfire winner, was given the opportunity to swap his sin, Lust, for Marcel's Envy. Debi Mazar makes a guest appearance, and her favorite chef in LA Roberto Ivan, from Piccolo in Venice, appears as the guest judge.
Sam: Wrath — Spicy Shrimp Ceviche with Chili Pepper Popcorn
Betty: Sloth — A Trio of Vegetable Soups: Carrot and Fennel, Red Pepper and Beet, White Onion
Michael: Envy — Trout and Salmon with Lemon-Thyme Beurre blanc, Asparagus and Mushrooms
The episode's initial airing ran for an hour and fifteen minutes, rather than the usual hour. The extended version showed Marcel sharply telling Betty to hold service on his dish after she announced she was going to begin service. Prior to Marcel's comment to Betty, an off-screen voice can be heard saying that they were not ready yet and an off-screen contestant can also be heard confirming that they were holding service. The other contestants refused to assist Marcel with service until he apologized to Betty, which he did. The condensed version of this episode cut out the other contestants refusing to help Marcel, but still showed him snapping at Betty and his subsequent apology.
WINNERS: Sam (Southern Kraft Sandwich with Tempura Shrimp, Pickled Peaches and BBQ Aioli) and Marcel (Lamb Kebab with Curried Kraft Mayo, Endives and Tomatoes)
Elimination Challenge: Divided into two teams, the contestants must devise a concept, interior design and menu for a raw restaurant space. Sam and Marcel, as the Quickfire winners, chose their teams. This elimination challenge is similar to Restaurant Wars of Season One.
Lalalina (Italian Family Style): Sam, Mike, Ilan
Course 1: Fried Meatball on Crostini with Parsley Pesto
Course 2: Linguini with Walnut Parsley Pesto and Roasted Mushrooms
Course 2: Tempura Vegetables and Mozzarella with Cornichon Aioli
Course 3: "The Best Burger Ever" with House Made Chips
Course 4: Oreo Lemon Pie
WINNER: None (Marcel's dish was selected as the featured dish on Bravo's Web site)
Guest Judge: Mike Yakura
Original Airdate: January 10, 2007
Episode 11: Sense and Sensuality
Quickfire Challenge: The chefs have to prepare a dish using Nestléchocolatier products.
WINNER: Sam (Shrimp and Banana with Chocolate Chipotle, Black Bean and Cilantro Pesto Sauces)
Elimination Challenge: The chefs must work together to create a romantic 5-course menu for celebratory couples in Santa Barbara. Sam, as the Quickfire Challenge winner, was allowed to choose which course he wanted to execute and which proteins he was going to use. The remaining contestants were not allowed to use the same proteins that Sam chose. Sam elected to cook the first course and use lobster and scallops as his proteins.
Course 1 (Sam): Seared Scallops with Lobster Plum Sauce and Beets
Course 5 (Elia): "The Kiss": Chocolate Mousse with a Chocolate Heart served on a Pastry Heart
WINNER: None (Ilan's dish was selected as the featured dish on Bravo's Web site)
Hazing Incident: After the Elimination Challenge, but before the Judges' Table segment, Cliff, Elia, Ilan and Sam got drunk and decided to forcibly shave Marcel's head. Cliff approached a sleeping Marcel and wrestled him to the ground. Marcel freed himself from Cliff's hold and slept in a bathroom. Ilan videotaped the incident with a video camera borrowed from production and can be heard in the recording encouraging the other contestants to use the clippers on Marcel. This sequence shows Ilan and Elia shaving their heads before deciding to shave Marcel's. However the editing is misleading as Elia is shown briefly with a full head of hair in the background as Cliff wrestles Marcel. The next day, Cliff was disqualified from the competition, as the show's rules expressly forbid contestants to touch one another in an aggressive manner. However, it is mentioned that during the judges' deliberation that Cliff's dish is the weakest of all five, and that he likely would have been eliminated at the Judges' Table anyway. Tom Colicchio said in his blog post for the episode that he was willing to send home all of the contestants involved except for Marcel, holding them all accountable either for their actions that escalated the situation, or their decision not to speak up for Marcel while he was calling for help. But the producers stepped in, not wanting to end the season on a sour note - without a final competition and with what would've been an anticlimactic ending giving the title of Top Chef to Marcel by default.
ELIMINATED: Sam (Opakapaka Poke with Sea Beans; Mascarpone Mousse with Hawaiian Salted Coconut Milk and Citrus Tuile) and Elia (Snapper Steamed in Ti Leaves; Ahi Poke with Olives, Capers and Lemon Confit)
During this episode, it was revealed that Sam was voted Fan Favorite.
The Hawaii episodes were filmed in December 2006, several months after filming concluded in Los Angeles.
Attack on Marcel: Before this episode aired, news emerged that Marcel was attacked and permanently scarred in a Las Vegas nightclub by an unhappy viewer. The female assailant walked up to him at the bar, verified his identity as the Top Chef contestant, and struck him with a bottle. The result was thirty stitches and a "one inch scar over his left eye."
Episode 13: Hawaii Finale, Part 2
Final Challenge: The chefs must prepare a five-course meal to be served to the usual judges' panel and five additional guest judges at one of two restaurants in the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Ilan cooked at Donatoni's Restaurant while Marcel cooked at Imari Restaurant.
The judges compared Ilan's dishes to Marcel's, as follows:
Previously eliminated contestants Sam, Elia, Michael, Betty, Mia, and Frank were asked to return as potential sous chefs for Ilan & Marcel. Each returnee was asked which finalists they would prefer to work with. Elia, Michael and Betty chose Ilan. Sam, Mia and Frank chose Marcel. Ilan and Marcel were then allowed to choose two chefs. Marcel chose Sam and Michael and Ilan chose Elia and Betty.
At Judges' Table, Hubert Keller represented the collective panel of guest judges.
During the episode, viewers chose Ilan to win over Marcel in a SMS poll.