‘Top Chef’ Season 20, Episode 2 Recap: Rice Rice Baby

Caviar on a Ritz cracker.

By Shelby Stewart March 17, 2023

Chef Dawn Burrell in the Top Chef World All Stars kitchen.

We’ve already established that Top Chef World All Stars is cutthroat, and after last week’s elimination of Chef Samuel Alberts, the contestants acknowledged how serious it is, too. Each “cheftestant” selected for this year’s competition is either a finalist or winner of their respective Top Chef season—so the stakes are high and the competition is fierce. “The finale is already here,” said Chef Buddha Lo.  

This week’s episode opens with Judge Padma Lakshmi alongside guest judge Santiago Lastra—whose Mexican restaurant is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the U.K. For this episode's quickfire challenge, the chefs were tasked with creating the perfect “amuse-bouche,” or a single bite of hors d'œuvres. The kicker this time was to incorporate one of an array of unique ingredients including caviar cream or Guajillo peppers. The final stipulation: the single bite must fit on a Ritz cracker. 

Once again, the chefs were grouped together, this time in trios. Chef Dawn Burrell, the Houston native we’ve been following, landed in a group with Buddha Lo and Gabri Rodriguez, who was also in the bottom three with Burrell last week. The three chose jackfruit, tamarind, and caviar cream as their special ingredients. However, Lakshimi revealed that the groups of three wouldn’t be working together, but against each other. This time around, immunity was again on the line, as well as a $10,000 cash prize. 

Dawn Burrell presents her rice dish for the elimination challenge.

For the challenge, Chef Burrell opted for a caviar butter-based salmon with tamarind and jackfruit tiger cry, while Chef Lo crafted a veal tartare with jackfruit, tamarind, and caviar cream, and Chef Rodriguez made jackfruit a la Mexicana with caviar paste and tamarind butter. Incorporating his Latin heritage into his dish paid off for Chef Rodriguez, earning him the top spot amongst the three. Chef May Phattanant Thongthong (finalist, season 1, Top Chef Thailand) won the entire quickfire challenge for her avant-garde amuse-bouche featuring spicy kumquat jam with hibiscus juice and yeast extract. 

For the elimination challenge, Lakshmi warned the chefs that the competition could get “sticky.” By which she meant rice, an ingredient that she said has caused the most problems for the show’s talented chefs. Each chef was challenged to create a rice dish their way, either savory or sweet, or even risotto if they dared to try. The dish would be served to 100 guests, along with the judges, who included Top Chef South Africa host, Lorna Maseko. 

As if often does, chaos ensued in the Top Chef kitchen as each chef worked to prep their rice dishes. While rice seems to be a fairly easy dish, a few seconds either way can make or break the taste and texture. Chefs scrambled and yelled for ingredients and the use of the stoves. 

At the judges table, Chefs Rodriguez, Burrell, Thongthong, Ali Al Ghzawi, Luciana Berry, and Sylwia Stachyra were called to the floor. Chef Ghzawi (winner, season 3 Top Chef M.E.N.A.) won the elimination challenge for his lamb ouzi with smoked rice, toasted nuts, minted cucumber and yogurt.

However, it left Chefs Berry, Stachyra, and Burrell in the bottom three, which was the second week on the chopping block for her. Judge Tom Colicchio said that Burrell's attempt at black rice congee “ate more like a black rice soup.” Done right, the black venus rice cooks like porridge, and unfortunately for Chef Burrell, the dish was very crunchy to the judges. The consensus was that despite knowing what Chef Burrell is capable of, she missed the mark on her rice dish, which ultimately sent her home. 

Chef Burrell was told to pack her knives and go, however, she’s still alive and cooking in Last Chance Kitchen, and has a chance to get back into the race for Top Chef World All Stars.

Check back with us for an update on Chef Burrell. You can catch the new season of Top Chef World All Stars Thursday nights on Bravo. 

Filed under
Show Comments