The contestants on "Top Chef" are always working to use the most fresh and innovative ingredients possible in the hopes that using a novel ingredient will make their dish all the more memorable. So, it's not surprising that so many contestants over the years have opted to work with either edible flowers or plant pollen. Sometimes, the dishes are successful. Other times, they're abysmal. But when a "Top Chef" contestant uses these decadent blossoms, the result is always entertaining.
In the All Star season (Season 8), the chefs were tasked with making a meal in the style of a certain New York restaurant. Tasked with cooking a seafood dish in a Mediterranean style for the menu at Marea, Stephen produced a dish of salmon, figs, broccoli, and fennel pollen. Sadly, he had a heavy hand with the pollen, and the flavor overwhelmed his dish and got him eliminated.
Canadian food, eh?
In the second episode of Season 2 of "Top Chef: Canada," the chefs were asked to cook for a team of 100 workers who were volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. The Red Team (Trista, Jimmy, Curtis, Sergio, and Sarah) made a menu which included pork ribs, corn on the cob with bacon butter, and an iced tea with edible flowers.
Clearly, pollen was the hot ingredient in Season 8. As part of the second elimination challenge in the 15th episode, Antonia and Mike had to cook one perfect bite for the judges. Sadly, Antonia didn't make the cut: her dish of seared grouper in a coconut lobster broth with apple and dill pollen relish couldn't beat out Mike's dish for a spot in the finale.
In Season 1 of "Top Chef: Just Desserts," Yigit made a variety of desserts for the Desserts Wars showdown. One of the most interesting was a classic fraisier (which is a type of layered chiffon cake.) The cake had layers of raspberry, strawberry, and hibiscus gelee. Hibiscus is a naturally sweet, edible flower that's often used to make herbal teas or Mexican desserts.
Farmer's market fresh
In the Season 2 episode "The Raw and the Cooked," the chefs faced a Quickfire where they had to make an entire dish that was composed of raw, uncooked ingredients. Shopping at a farmer's market in Redondo Beach, Marcel made a dish of watermelon, tomatoes, opal basil, and nasturtiums (edible flowers).