Jen Jasinski has not only survived the first three weeks of Bravo's Top Chef Masters, but she was the big winner of last Wednesday's "Sex, Murder and Greed" elimination challenge, when each chef had to create a dish based on one of those soap-opera themes, all judged by cast members of Days of Our Lives. Assigned "murder," Jasinski came up with the "Dead Duck": seared duck breast and citrus-chili duck sausage with fregola and celery salad, a killer combo with a presentation that was just as impressive. That not only won the challenge, but $10,000 for Work Options for Women, the non-profit for which Jasinski -- co-owner of Rioja, Bistro Vendome and Euclid Hall -- is playing.
"It felt awesome to finally win some money for Work Options for Women," says Jasinski. "I know they'll do great things with it."
She wasn't initially sure she'd be able to do great things with the soap-opera challenge; she watched Days of Our Lives for about a year when she was in her twenties, and hasn't seen it since. "We had some time to think about our dish and I was stuck," she remembers. "I decided to make a recipe I loved and tweak it to fit the murder theme. It was supposed to look like a murder scene with the orange sauce, the knife and the celery leaves that looked like feathers."
A slightly modified version of the dish is now on the menu at Rioja, featuring Liberty Farms Pekin Duck, seared breast and citrus duck sausage and fregola sarda salad with caramelized eggplant, celery, basil, parsely, smoky orange sauce and olive-orange purée. So now you can taste what the judges did, and also help add to WOW's take: After each installment of the show, viewers get to vote for their favorite chef at bravo.com. Jasinski and Jorel Pierce, the Euclid Hall chef who's her sous on the show (and featured in separate pieces on the Bravo site), are now in third place out of the nine teams remaining.
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The next installment of Top Chef Masters airs at 8 p.m. tonight -- and you can vote for the home team immediately after.