'Top Chef': Did the chefs ruin a challenge worth $6,700? Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons are not impressed

At $6,700 per kilo, the white truffle is exotic and extravagant in equal measure


                            'Top Chef': Did the chefs ruin a challenge worth $6,700? Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons are not impressed
Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi (Getty Images)

The top five finalists of 'Top Chef' — Melissa King, Bryan Voltaggio, Gregory Gourdet, Kevin Gillespie and Stephanie Cmar — have reached Italy after weeks of serving delicacies at the Los Angeles kitchen.

To make their trip a memorable one, they were tasked to hunt white truffles — a hard-to-find, tough-to-grow, mind-numbingly expensive edible fungi. With the help of professionals and a troupe of dogs, the chefs were able to hold on to some for their menu later that day. The truffles grow underground, near tree roots. They have a distinctive odor, which starts to fade once it has been removed from the ground. It stays fresh only for a week or so.

At €6000 ($6,700) per kilo, the white truffle is exotic and extravagant in equal measure. It wouldn't be incorrect to assume that the contestants were given a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experiment with the food item, when a string of food connoisseurs and chefs can only dream about having them in their kitchen. 

"As a chef, it's my job to highlight these truffles rather than peak a flavor. I really want to make sure that that aroma is present in whatever dish I make. I don't want anything to overpower the white truffle," said Melissa who seems to know her way around the fungi. But will that be enough to move forward in the competition?

In the clip at the judges' table, Padma Lakshmi and Gail Simmons seem to be unsure of the menu the chefs put together. While the Canadian food writer-author said the raw flavor of the white truffles were lost on her, Padma critiqued one of the dishes, said: "If you had done something way simpler, you would have knocked this challenge out of the park."

Did the chefs not live up to an expensive challenge? Who will be going home tonight? While we'll have to wait until the end of the episode to know that, Melissa seems to be a judges' and fan favorite. She has won quite a few challenges and has been consistent with her dishes. Even on the days she wasn't the winner, the experts had very little to complain about. 

Watch all the new episodes of 'Top Chef' on Bravo every Thursday.

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