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As we came off last week’s surprising Restaurant Wars elimination of Kristen, six chefs remained as Top Chef: Seattle officially headed into the home stretch. Sheldon was riding high after two wins in a row, and just about every other remaining chef made no bones about their lack of satisfaction with last episode’s turnout. with Josie sensing the sentiment growing against her.
Master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi dropped in for the Quickfire challenge, in which the chefs were tasked with a seemingly simple job: make sushi, or something close to it. The winner would win $5,000, and there would be no more immunity from here on out.
Uechi wasn’t a fan of the hot soup over cold fish technique Lizzie used for her lobster soup, or Josh’s greasy, awkward bacon tempura omelette, but he did like Brooke’s octopus with yuzu and Stefan’s yellowtail and lobster duo. Stefan ended up getting the win, which was surprisingly his first so far this season.
David Chang, of Momofuku fame, trotted out with a casually dressed Tom Colicchio, who informed the chefs that he had some friends coming over for dinner that night, and was in the mood for fried chicken. While the dish might sound easy, Chang assured them that it’s far more difficult than it may seem to get right. Padma let them know that the winner would receive a year’s supply of wine, which Stefan guessed might last him three months. On board to guest-judge were John Shook and Vinny Dotolo (the chefs behind Los Angeles’ Animal and Son of a Gun), Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, and Miami chef Michelle Bernstein, and they all seemed to be in a particularly giddy mood throughout the tasting.
Here were the dishes:
Sheldon: Umami drumsticks and thighs, wings with usukuchi, rice vinegar, and grapeseed oil
Lizzie: Chicken with coriander, black pepper, and brown sugar rub with peach-cabbage slaw
Josie: Chicken with black garlic, cayenne, thyme, and hot sauce with daikon salad
Stefan: Chicken cordon bleu with garlic aioli and lemon
Josh: Smoked fried chicken with hot sauce and blue cheese
Brooke: Dukkah-crusted chicken breast with wilted escarole and tomato salad
Judge's table was pushed back to the following morning, most likely because the judges were just having too good of a time with each other to be pulled away.
On the top:
Lizzie: Puck thought that her chicken was fried really well, but not anyone’s traditional idea of fried chicken. Colicchio thought that her cabbage slaw was "really good."
Josh: Chang and Lagasse were big fans of his smoked chicken.
Sheldon: The judges’ biggest qualm was that there just wasn’t enough of it.
Josh ended up taking the win, as well as 365 bottles of wine.
On the bottom:
Brooke: Nobody was sure why she decided to take the chicken off the bone, and Puck thought that she "overthought the whole process to try to make something to impress us, and what you got was the exact opposite."
Josie: "It was a gut bomb, and not in a good way," said Chang. Colicchio was clearly exasperated with her at this point, constantly reminding her that time management is a major issue here, and has been for her all season long.
Stefan: His straightforward chicken cordon bleu was considered a "twist" by him, but all the judges agreed that it was a cop-out, and not even a particularly good cordon bleu.
In the end, Josie was told to pack her knives and go for her greasy mess. She had been on thin ice for what seemed like many episodes now, and the other chefs seemed glad to see her go.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.
Top Chef Portland Episode Four Recap: Shota's Loose Center
Previously, on Top Chef : Fantastic African fare!
Last night’s episode begins with a moment of television history: The first time a group of sentient adults have stood as one and applauded a cabinet full of Campbell’s soup cans. Yep, we’re kicking things off with a classic product placement quickfire. At least this one makes more sense than last year’s tribute to the latest Trolls movie.
Chefs must choose a foundational can of Campbell’s (cream of mushroom, tomato, etc.) and make a dish inspired by a food memory. And not just a bunch of casseroles, guys.
Some chefs interpret “food memory” as “my memory of the vacation I took in 2018 to a gastronomic capital of the world.” Shota’s plan seems pretty brilliant: he dilutes some cream of mushroom and adds bonito flakes to make chawan mushi.
So, technically adept, but also hitting that whole Campbell’s nostalgia theme in an unexpected way. Shota tells the camera that chawan mushi makes him think of his mom. “She cooked every single day of our lives when we were growing up. I think that’s kind of a big inspiration of why I became a cook.”
When she was not making chawan mushi, mama Nakajima apparently also fried a lot of karaage during Shota’s childhood. If Top Chef Parents ever becomes a spinoff, we know who’s going to kick some ass.
Unfortunately the steamer basket Shota uses does not kick ass. His chawan mush emerged with its center kinda broken, a worthy symbol of pandemic-era America, but not so great for winning a quickfire.
Padma and Dale and Dale’s gleefully loud sneakers are judging this round. “Did you mean for the chawan mushi to be this loose?” Padma asks.
“I like it pretty loose,” Shota tells her in the moment. “Not really,” he tells the camera in the cutaway interview.
Shota has one of the judges’ least favorite dishes. Meanwhile, Chris Viaud wins with a grilled cheese that has a room full of accomplished chefs craving one of their own. Not to compete with. To eat.
Padma previews tomorrow’s challenge: A trip to the orchard’s of Oregon’s Hood River Valley. Do people actually call this region the fruit loop? Or is that like calling San Francisco “Frisco”? I’m reasonably sure nobody said this when I was growing up, but that was also before the era of destination marketing.
Cut to a fleet of BMWs wending their way through scenic evergreen-lined terrain. “Now I understand why people want to live in Oregon,” says Kiki, who apparently is immune to the charms of progressivism, no sales tax, and having a beaver as your state animal.
The chefs are greeted by a scenic orchard and another Top Chef classic: the twist. They must cook savory dishes using fruit, but no vegetables of any kind. No onions, no garlic. No chilies for poor Maria.
Chefs cavort through the orchards gathering fruit it’s weird to see bougie apple-picking that doesn’t involve selfies. Tom swings by for a refreshing round of culinary advice, old school Top Chef style. Avishar, fresh off his win for making a fancy buckeye, tells Tom he’s making “Ohio-otto,” the Buckeye State’s answer to risotto. Tom’s physically pained reaction definitely became a meme within seconds of hitting the airwaves. He also advises Kiki that, with a grill and smoker standing by, maybe using a tiny countertop fryer for her chicken wings is a horrible, awful, no good, very bad idea.
Shota is making salmon atop a bed of pickled fruits. He samples the “orchard jus,” a sort of mole proxy Gabe will put atop smoked plums, and whispers, “That’s nice dude that’s better than my dish.”
As the judges assemble in the world’s most scenic orchardside gazebo, the chefs are nearby, battling the elements. Bees and butterflies alight on proteins. Portland Gabriel get stung by a bee on his finger as he prepares to shuck a bunch of oysters. High winds complicate Byron’s attempts to thread sheets of pasta dough into his KitchenAid.
Shota’s in the middle, which means he doesn’t see any judges table action.
The winner: Gabe with his rad fruit mole! Serving a savory fruit dish with zero meat and a smoked plum as the central “protein” was one high-stakes flex.
The loser: Ugh, I almost couldn’t watch this part. The foreshadowing of poor Kiki’s raw chicken was like the script of a horror film. DON’T GO IN THE BASEMENT FRYER.
Next, on Top Chef: A drive-in! No, not the Canlis one!
The chefs are reunited with their families (this is sweet). But they have to cook up dishes that relate to their heritages. Really not crazy about this episode. It almost seems as if they picked the “TOP CHEF ” winners based on nationalities, instead of their skills. What would have happened if the top 5 were Richard, Marcel, Fabio, Spike and Casey?
How many of our forefathers skipped the Ellis Island bandwagon? I’m kinda thinking this challenge is full of dog poop - but at least the chefs are cooking "real" food.
Kinda want to skip all of this. The judges say everyone wins - nobody is sent home.
So happy Tiffany survived and of course “top chefs” Carla Hall, Richard Blais and Antonia Lafaso. Given Mike cooked up a storm and (for this round) didn’t deserve to be sent home, but to not send anyone home was LAME (with capitalizations).
Hey. excellent post as usual! I am with you on this. I hated that they didn't send anyone home this week. It was a total cop out. And I am disgusted that several chefs who are way more talented have been sent home (i.e. Angelo, Dale, Fabio). Not looking forward to the finale so much. Hopefully, top chef master would be better.
Thanks so much! And totally agree! But I'm wondering if they chose not to eliminate anyone because it would have been Tiffany if they had.
And it would never have been fair to eliminate her at the same point that she was eliminated last time.
Instead, they kept everyone in this round so that they could eliminate 2 chefs next week (most likely Tiffany and Mike), and thereby saving poor Tiffany's pride. (For the record, nothing would make me happier than to see her in the finale.)
I think this the new season of TCM will be amazing. The cast is phenomenal and with a more traditional Top Chef competition. Well, it can't get much better than Curtis Stone.
Why does a person go on Top Chef, anyway?
Sure, $125,000 is a pretty hefty chunk of change, but in the grand scheme of reality purses, it’s a fairly modest sum. The booth spot at Food & Wine in Aspen is nice, but there are plenty of other food festivals that don’t require months of your life away from home in order to gain a spot. And who reads magazines𠅎ven Food & Wine—these days anyway? (Aside from EW of course.)
The real reason more than 100 people have tested the sharpness of their knives and intellects on Top Chef over the past eight years is for recognition. Whether they have designs on becoming the next Guy Fieri or Gordon Ramsay, young chefs put themselves through reality TV’s proverbial meat grinder because it is their chance to make a name for themselves and/or publicity for their personal brand.
Top Chef is an interesting case, though, because some of its most recognizable alumni—Marcel, Spike, Carla, Casey, Fabio, and a host of others𠅍idn’t make it to the finish line, cash the six-figure check furnished by the sponsors, or score that Food & Wine feature. That’s because on Top Chef, winning doesn’t matter as much as standing out. Mostly, you go on Top Chef because you want people to know your name.
There’s a place for that in Boston, and the Cheers bar is another perfect setting for a quickfire, and having George Wendt’s Norm sitting in his usual spot at the bar clinking glasses with Padma makes things even better. Elevated pub food was inevitable when Top Chef chose Boston, and given the city’s requirement that every bar serve food, it fits perfectly. Unfortunately in this case, the food coming out of the kitchen at 84 Beacon Street is far from the best stuff we’ve seen from this talented culinary cast. Rebecca’s “wicked hot” chicken wings with a spicy ponzu glaze, lime vinaigrette, and fresh herbs looked dry and lacked sufficient sauce. Stacy didn’t even know Cheers had food, and her arugula pesto, prosciutto chips, balsamic tomato jam, and burrata on crostini is unmemorable. And regardless of what Padma says, Aaron’s burger with peanut butter and mayo didn’t sound the least bit appetizing.
After sweeping things last week, Gregory emerged as the new frontrunner, and the other chefs seemed to be chafing uncomfortably at his winning streak. But for the quickfire, Gregory’s the one who seems unsettled (apparently due to thoughts of Woody Harrelson), and even if he𠆝 managed to plate his complete dish, an uninspired burger, it wouldn’t have been a serious contender. Gregory’s fairly frazzled (even his hair is a mess), but George’s consolation lets him off the hook: Harrelson’s a vegan anyway.
The other dish on the bottom was James’ apple cider vinegar, Belgian wit, and coriander-pickled carrots and a red bean puree𠅊 dish that, from the outset, made no sense. There was ample room to push the boundaries of 𠇌omfort” food, particularly in that setting, but James’ insistence on his choice, in spite of the fact that it was entirely unsuitable for the challenge, doomed him from the start. And hummus is not as common as chicken wings in any bar, James. Sorry.
George Wendt’s top two dishes—Katsuji’s and Keriann’s—makes me wonder about the decision to use non-expert judges: How capable of objective assessment are they? Or are they just picking what they think tastes good? (Existential side note: Isn’t that the whole point anyway?) Anyway, George admits he likes the taste of crab, so of course Keriann’s beer-battered onion ring with crab salad and spicy hollandaise was in the top, though it was a well-conceived dish and probably deserved to be there given the other offerings. The surprising winner, though, is Katsuji and his sashimi-esque viche” of mahi mahi and tuna with a roasted tomato and jalapeño salsa. One of the few things Aaron has said that makes any sense is that Katsuji has been adeptly playing some mind games over the young season, rattling the other chefs and causing general chaos. And while Katsuji has yet to prove he’s capable of staying out of his own way and isn’t really looking like a contender yet, the surprise win and its immunity mean he’ll be back next week.
NEXT: Menu management
Chefs and viewers alike look forward to the late-season Restaurant Wars challenge because it tests the chefs on more than just cooking as they develop a restaurant concept in a few short hours. But generally speaking, the challenges all ask the same question: Who cooked the best food?
The elimination challenge this week, though, is one of the more interesting ones in recent memory because it tests an under-examined aspect of being a (Top) chef—menu-writing. Each team is tasked with crafting a traditional three-course Italian progression𠅊ntipasti, primi, and secondi𠅊nd whoever sells the most menus, regardless of how the food turns out, is safe from elimination.
Cooking is all about buzz words—”seasonal,” “gastronomy,” “local”𠅊nd adjective layering suggests expertise, uniqueness, and distinction. Who goes for “vanilla” when “Tahitian vanilla” is available? Why have regular scallops when you can trace their sourcing to a nearby bay? And I can’t remember the last time I ordered salmon that wasn’t roasted over a blend of cherry, pecan, and applewood chips.
This should’ve led to obvious choices—red meat being the absolute “must”𠅋ut Aaron, surprisingly, seizes on another key to the challenge by busting out an array of action verbs to drum up interest in the Purple Team’s dishes. (For the record, Katsuji and Aaron, macerated and marinated are actually two entirely different things, but these are cooks, not English majors.) Eventually, Tom repeats Aaron almost word-for-word at dinner—people care almost as much about what you do to their food as they do what the food actually is. Roast it, braise it, caramelize it. Or just serve scallops, because everybody likes scallops.
The diners’ choices, I think, gets at an anxiety that was teased out in a few different ways this episode—the difference between diners’ subjective tastes and those of the so-called experts. Diners look for ingredients they know and like the judges look for dishes with flavor combinations they know will make sense. The diners and judges probably aren’t always in alignment about what dishes are the st” because st” means different things to different people.
On paper, the Purple Team looked like the “worst” bet for success, and as Aaron and Katsuji battled as service started, they looked doomed. Although he’s a mess in the kitchen, Aaron somehow plates a really stellar-looking dish that stands out appearance-wise, with seared scallops, picked ramps, crispy speck, and those macerated peaches. It’s traditional without being dated, and Tom calls it one of the evening’s best dishes.
Gregory’s dish—peppercorn-crusted strip loin (more solid word choice there) with a sweet onion compote, roasted tomato, and cured olives and herbs𠅊lso earns praise from the judges (and Schlow, who’s sneaking bites in during service), but Katsuji runs into trouble with his spring pea and goat cheese ravioli with pecorino, green chili, and mint. The pasta itself is dry, but one diner’s curveball really prompts a swing and miss from him.
I’ve railed about this before in the past, but something about Emmy Rossum’s presence leaves me pretty disappointed in the judges. Sure, dish adjustments due to dietary restrictions are a day-to-day necessity in the lives of these chefs, but the smarminess with which it was handled by the judges was inappropriate. Gluten allergies are, of course, a very real thing, but after the chefs worked all day on pasta dishes, handicapping them in this way seemed unnecessarily cruel. At the same time, the disappointment and outrage the judges’ table felt over less-than-stellar gluten-free substitutes was a huge turn-off. What did they expect? It just serves to confirm something we all think deep down: The worst kind of eater is a militant one.
NEXT: Low risks and no rewards
“Why do a salad when so much is on the line?” It’s a valid question that Doug(ie) asks himself as he plates his coleslaw-esque radicchio salad with warm pancetta, goat cheese vinaigrette, and hazelnuts. You have to feel for the Orange Team—they’ve made a menu that proved Mei wasn’t too far off in calling them underdog sous-chefs. Their lack of design experience showed, with far too active verbs and a menu that was fated to be ordered only by the most adventurous Top Chef guests.
Their saving grace, though, is that their cooking more than compensates, with Adam’s aggressively spiced bay scallops and fennel linguini with sun gold tomato gremolata sending Richard 30 years into his past and Mei’s crispy-skin branzino with lemon jam, salsa verde, and radishes prompting the table to invoke memories of Marea. Even Adam’s polenta looks good, and something tells me that if this had been a challenge based purely on cooking, the “underdogs” would’ve pulled the upset.
Poor James. Poor, poor sweet “s baby” James, who was having the time of his life on Top Chef, but he fell victim to one of the show’s typical takedownsing a team player. Despite realizing immediately that diners would see (and order) red, he allowed Melissa and Keriann to pilot a three-by-sea menu. While Melissa and Keriann both prepare solid dishes (Melissa is approaching dark-horse status to make a deep run), land-locked James’ chilled wild shrimp, mussels, and clams with arugula, navel orange, and capers is a relic of a bygone era, “shrimp cocktail with orange juice,” as Tom says.
Stacy’s rib eye (and Rebecca’s scallops) almost carried a mediocre menu to safety through the sheer number of orders they received, but the Blue Team’s dinner, on the whole, seemed uninspired. Despite how proud Rebecca seems to be of her dish—seared scallop with charred fennel, orange, and arugula—the dish underdelivers on the char, overdelivers on the salt, and suggests that she’s out of touch with modern times. Katie’s still doing her thing with a hand-cut pappardelle with basil walnut pesto and confit cherry tomatoes and a gluten-free zucchini pasta option. The judges like it all, but even the most patient viewer has to be getting bored by this food.
At least once a year, Tom gets downright offended by a chef’s culinary choice, and it usually spells doom for the offending party. This time, Stacy’s sliced grilled rib eye with king trumpet mushrooms, asparagus, and Kalamata olive vinaigrette epitomized the choice many of these chefs made this week—rather than risking criticism for serving a piece that was too fatty, she took the guesswork out of it, artificially raising her own floor but lowering her ceiling. She stands by it, prompting another smart insight from the veteran Richard: There’s a difference between standing behind your dish and being honest about its shortcomings. Tom’s charge is even more clear𠅍o what’s good for the food, even if it comes at a risk.
Ultimately, though, Rebecca’s snooze-inducing dish (Richard called it “mediocre room service”) means she joins James in the packing of the knives and going. Both seemed like fine people and cooks, and we know their names now, at least. But given their old-school technique, their food just wasn’t made for these culinary times. Neither was ever going to be a real threat.
While even Gregory showed his mortality this week and a few chefs impressed, for the most part, the group cooked unspectacular, safe food and worked to avoid mistakes rather than try to win. It’s still early enough that there are plenty of pretenders hiding in the middle is a strategy while the fat gets trimmed. But isn’t the goal to make a name for yourself?
Top Chef recap: Iceberg (Lettuce), Straight Ahead!
Cruises: Love 𠆞m or hate 𠆞m? On some level it makes total sense that Top Chef boarded a Celebrity Cruise ship because cruises are 80 percent eating, 15 percent watching depressingly bad Broadway revues by the same people who serve you electric blue cocktails, and 5 percent physical activity (and that includes pulling the lever on a slot machine). The food passes as fine dining mostly because it comes under a silver cloche, but it’s mostly about quantity. Want the rack of lamb and the lobster macaroni, plus a hot dog afterwards in your cabin? No problem!
It’s no surprise that the very posh and bird-boned Brooke dreaded the cruise to Alaska due to her fear of boats, but she bravely boarded the ship with the other contestants, where Curtis Stone — a true vision in his rugged dude-sweater — was waiting for them. He announced that for the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs would be cooking for the Celebrity Cruises Welcome Aboard Party, and they had two hours to make 200 portions. And the unexciting, flavorless twist? They had to work with iceberg lettuce! Aside from serving as an obvious pun (which apparently Josh didn’t get), the Diet Sprite of leafy vegetables posed a serious challenge to making a striking dish.
The landlubbers quickly found that cooking on a ship was far different from cooking on dry land, between the motion of the ocean, non-gas heat, and the special locks on the doors and appliances.
The real shocker of the season: Stefan claimed to love iceberg lettuce. Come on, how do you love iceberg lettuce? With that and his love of potatoes and chicken cordon bleu, I’m now thoroughly confused by Stefan’s schizophrenic palate.
NEXT: What am I, chopped iceberg lettuce?
As guest judge, Curtis seemed to enjoy pretty much all the Quickfire dishes, which further supports my theory that the average diner would think everything the Top Chef contestants make is completely fine and that the regular judges just have unusually high standards. Curtis liked the intense flavors of Stefan‘s pastrami and roasted fingerling potatoes with braised iceberg lettuce with bacon and pastrami in it, all with a blue cheese sauce.
Lizzie impressed Curtis with her iceberg salad with crispy bacon, shallots, and an anchovy vinaigrette, but he thought it was somewhere in that undesirable netherworld between being big enough one and two bites. Josh‘s wedge salad-inspired iceberg roll with apple cider vinaigrette, bacon jam, and blue cheese 𠇎levated a classic dish. Brooke‘s bacon, lettuce, and tomato wrap with caramelized onions and crispy quinoa was perfectly cooked, but again, Padma thought it was a bit hard to eat.
That left Sheldon with the win for his Vietnamese lettuce wrap with pork and shrimp, cooked in coconut milk and pickled iceberg lettuce hearts, which Curtis said gave the dish 𠇌omplex flavor.”
After that, the chefs got to let their hair down and go wild on the floating fun-village known as a cruise ship. Sheldon and Lizzie took a break from the group and got manicures, while Josh muttered some predictably hetero-normative comments about men not getting manicures. Watch out, because one day his wife might demand that he do something with those gnarly nails of his.
At dinner time they all sat down to enjoy a nice dinner at Qsine, a vaguely Alice in Wonderland-themed restaurant where up was down and down was up, and the menus were saved on fussy tablets. The five chefs were enjoying their time, even paying tribute to Zach Galifianakis with the song, “We’re the five best friends that anybody ever had,” when all of a sudden the conversation turned nasty, and Josh brought up Brooke and Stefan’s worst dishes, and they fired right back. Oh Josh, you’re always looking for a fight, aren’t you? But really, everyone seemed used to the group dysfunction and continued to have a ball.
NEXT: Be careful what proteins you wish for.
But breaking up the family squabbling were Curtis and Padma, and the chefs realized with some dread that a challenge was on the horizon. The Qsine staff began serving their dishes, which included an assortment of tapas arranged in something that reminded me of a dollhouse, and things like sushi lollipops. What delight and fancy and wonder! Curtis said their Elimination Challenge would have them serve dinner the next night at Qsine, and they𠆝 have to present surf and turf in an innovative, out-of-the-box way. Because Sheldon won the Quickfire, he𠆝 get first pick at his proteins, and none of the other chefs could choose them.
The other chefs joked that Sheldon should choose canned tuna and Spam and other undesirables. But instead of reaching for the emu meat and live sea cucumber, he went for the most standard proteins available: beef tenderloin and lobster. Of course, Josh got his hands on the pork, and Brooke did the opposite and went out on a limb with frog legs and mussels. Ooh, good luck with those.
The work in the kitchen this week really showed how much more of a level playing field there is now that Josie’s gone. All the remaining chefs worked with urgency and displayable skill. I mean, look at Lizzie take apart that pig! I didn’t know whether to be disgusted or turned on. Josh flubbed his scallop pasta and instead turned it into a scallop scramble, which shouldn’t make sense, but it was a creative recovery, even if it did attract some additional 𠇋reakfast food” taunts from Stefan.
Brooke went right down to the wire in plating her extremely elaborate dish of poached mussel, frog legs with a beet glaze, papadum with shallot chutney, and a bed of celery root and fennel puree. Tom loved that she brought the earthiness out of the frog legs with the beet flavor, although he thought the papadum was greasy.
Stefan‘s ultra-crispy pork belly split the judges on the issue of pork crispiness. Tom and Hugh almost cracked their teeth, although Curtis thought that in some cultures you𠆝 want the pork skin to be that crunchy. Padma appreciated that Stefan pushed the envelope with the eel and parsnip ravioli, but Hugh couldn’t taste any of the eel.
Much to many of the judges’ surprise, Josh‘s scallop scramble went over well. While Padma thought the turf of the pork belly overpowered the surf, Tom thought the seafood taste of the scramble packed a flavorful punch.
Ever since getting his pick of the proteins, Sheldon was in an immediate funk and didn’t seem to care much about the challenge. His Korean barbecue filet mignon and tempura lobster with dynamite sauce seemed like something you could get at a Benihana. Sheldon tried for tempura again after failing at the roller derby challenge, but he wasn’t any more successful this time. Hugh wondered, “Why do people continually think tempura is a good idea?” All the judges agreed that there was no harmony between the surf and turf.
While she destroyed that pig with skill and elegance, Lizzie had a harder time with steaming her cabbage rolls, and she was in a rush to plate the cabbage stuffed with suckling pig and seared bay scallops with mustard sour cream and pickled shallots and apple. Everyone agreed that the dish was hard to eat because the cabbage split apart upon touch, but Tom enjoyed the pickles and the flavor.
Despite her fear of boats, Brooke managed to win the challenge, and she even won a seven-night Caribbean vacation for two. “That’s ironic,” she said. In the bottom were Sheldon and Stefan Sheldon, for making such an uninspired dish, and Stefan for the overly crispy pork and the grease-heavy sauce and lack of marriage between the two proteins. In the end, they ended up eliminating Stefan, who really didn’t have the momentum Sheldon did. For the most part, I really enjoyed Stefan this season, and he was the only one of the returning chefs I cared about. Now he’ll face off against his “wife” in Last Chance Kitchen …
Was it Stefan’s time to go? Which contestants do you think will return?
Top Chef Season 10 Recap: Episode 10 – Restaurant Wars!
It is time for one of the fan’s favorites challenges on Top Chef Season 10 as the final eight chefs take place in Restaurant Wars for a chance of winning $10,000 on Top Chef Seattle. It will be an intense night of cooking on Top Chef 2013, as the chefs will be responsible for designing the menu for a restaurant, but in one day? Sometimes I wonder how the contestants on shows like these manage to do everything in short amount of times, but that is why they are on Top Chef Season 10, right? Come watch Top Chef Seattle with and find out who was eliminated on Top Chef Season 10!
Last week on Top Chef 2013, the final nine chefs took some time to reminisce as Top Chef celebrates it’s tenth season. The chefs all were responsible for recreating a dish from one of the memorable moments from each of the first nine seasons. They may have been dishes that wowed that judges or dishes that made the judges question what the chefs were thinking. John and Lizzie both struggled with the challenge and found themselves in the bottom two. That was when the memorable moment from Season 10 was told and both chefs had a cook-off to see who would go home. In a shocker, John was sent home and Lizzie survived for another week.
Tonight, it looks like the chefs will be preparing one of Wolfgang Puck’s favorite ingredients in the Quickfire Challenge and then on to Restaurant Wars in the Elimination Challenge. Two chefs will win $10,000, so make sure to come back for my Top Chef Season 10 recap and find out together who was eliminated on Top Chef Seattle.
For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs will be working with ginger, which is Wolfgang Puck’s favorite ingredients. They have 15 minutes to create a dish highlighting ginger! Rush, rush, rush for the chefs as they try to cook and plate in 15 minutes.
Padma and Wolfgang go around and taste the dishes. They were impressed with how Josie cooked her scallops. Josh’s soup is good. The good news continued for them all, as all eight chefs seemed to get good critiques. In the end, Wolf gang was not impressed by Sheldon and Josh’s dishes and he enjoyed Brooke, Stefan and Lizzie. Brooke wins the Quickfire Challenge and has immunity for the Elimination Challenge!
For the Elimination Challenge, they are joined by Danny Meyer. The chefs are blown away when he comes in. It is time for Restaurant Wars and they must each come up with a complete restaurant concept and create one dish to represent that concept and present it at the Bite of Seattle for 200 people and there will be two winners that get $10,000.
The chefs head out to do some shopping and it looks like Micah is going with a raw menu and Sheldon is going with a Filipino menu. The four sous chefs to help out the chefs on Top Chef Seattle are Chrissy, Carla, Eliza and Kuniko.
The chefs are joined by Tom Colicchio for a critique and Stefan is making a Thai concept and Tom does not seem impressed. Kristen is going with a French contemporary theme and wants to add some more money to all her winnings this season!
It is Sheldon’s 30th birthday and he seems to be shown a lot on this episode, so does that mean he is going home? The chefs arrive at Bite of Seattle and it is time to get their dishes together. Josie’s stuff is not done as the time runs out and she wants to shoot herself in the head. Time runs out and they start serving the dishes.
For this challenge, the judges are Padma, Tom, Danny Meyer and Gail Simmons. Josh’s concept is Bistro George and he made Seared Eye of Rib Eye with Cauliflower Puree and Mushroom Red Wine Sauce. Lizzie’s concept is Mia Filino and she made Mustard Green Canederli with Fonduta and Crispy Speck. For Josh, Danny said the mushrooms are well-seasoned. Gail said it tastes good. For Lizzie, Tom said the flavor is great, but a little heavy.
Sheldon’s concept is Urbano and he made Sour Tamarind Soup with Pork Belly, Shrimp and Snapper. Stefan’s concept is Bangkok Via Munich and he made Thai Lobster Bisque with Shrimp Dumplings, Potatoes and Radishes. For Stefan, Danny said the lollipop doesn’t hold up to the taste of the soup and it makes him forget how great the soup is. For Sheldon, Danny said it is clear he is cooking from his heart. Padma said he kept it elegant.
Micah’s concept is Raw and he made Salmon, Snapper, Himachi, Squid, Scallop and Mackerel with Raw Vegetables. Kristen’s concept is Atelier Kwan and she made Onsen Egg with Camembert-Mustard Sauce and Buttered Radishes. For Kristen, Tom said it is nicely done. They loved the poached egg. For Micah, Tom didn’t like his presentation. Danny thought we didn’t need his concept.
Another challenge on Top Chef Season 10 and Josie has a backed up line and is trying to entertain to keep her patrons happy. Josie is behind schedule yet again and the line is way backed up. Brooke’s concept is Unkosher and she made Matzo Ball Soup with Duck Confit and Toasted Black Rye Bread. Josie’s concept is Home 305 and she made Puerco Asado, Black Bean Chorizo Croquette, Pickles and Mojo Sauce. For Brooke, Tom said she could have pushed the concept further. For Josie, Gail said the pork is dry and flavorless.
The judges discuss the dishes and it looks like Micah, Stefan or Josie may be in trouble! It is Judges’ Table time and Padma Lakshmi calls in Kristen, Sheldon and Josh. They had the best dishes tonight, but the two winners tonight are Kristen and Sheldon (so a nice birthday present for him)!
Sheldon and Kristen will now face off in Restaurant Wars and it will open in 48 hours. They get to staff their own restaurant, but also will chose from the eliminated chef. The winner gets a Toyota Avalon. Kristen picks Brooke, Lizzie and Josie. Sheldon picks Josh, Stefan and Micah, so it works out to be guys against girls.
Padma comes back in and asks to see Micah, Josie and Lizzie. Micah had too many types of fish on the plate. Lizzie didn’t explain her concept well enough tot he judges. Josie overcooked her pork and she always puts on a show. Time to find out who was eliminated on Top Chef Season 10. The losing chef tonight is Micah! Do you agree with the decision?
Meanwhile in Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen, Micah is determined to win it for his daughter, so he goes in fighting, but can he take down the five-time champion CJ?
Top Chef 2013 Season 10 Finale: Who Won Top Chef Seattle!
Weeks of challenges, trips to Alaska and cooking on cruise ships has all boiled down to this tonight on the Top Chef 2013 Season 10 Finale, as either Kristen Kish and Brooke Williamson will put their talents to the test in hopes of winning $125,000 and the title of Top Chef Seattle winner. You can watch the Top Chef 2013 Season 10 Finale with us during our Live Recap tonight and see who won Top Chef Seattle with us!
Winning that $125,000 would be a nice prize for these two ladies, so I am sure we will see an all-out battle in the all-woman finale. It will be a huge battle, as they will cook the five best dishes they have to offer in front of a live audience! That audience will not only include their friends and families, but it will also include the first nine winners of Top Chef! That is a lot of pressure for these women, but they will have the help of some of the cheftestants that were eliminated during this season.
Things will get intense and heated during the finale, but it all comes down to the Top Chef judges to see who will be crowned the winner. Tonight’s judges will be Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Emeril Lagasse, Hugh Acheson and Gail Simmons. The big dogs will be in attendance, so you won’t want to miss a thing. We’ll keep you up=to-date on everything that goes down on Top Chef 2013 Season 10 tonight!
Things kick off and the chefs are working on their first dishes, of five, so we are getting right into it tonight! For their sous chefs, Brooke chose CJ, Stefan and Kuniko. Kristen chose Josh, Lizzie and Sheldon. The first chef to win three dishes will win Top Chef 2013 Season 10.
Brooke is feeling overwhelmed with cooking in front of everyone. Kristen is worried about cooking for so many people, since she normally cooks for ten people. CJ is burning the pig’s ears for Brooke! The time runs out and the first dish is being served.
For Kristen, Emeril said he loved the mousse and very simple and classic and enjoyed it. Tom said it was well-seasoned and balanced. Gail said it was perfect. For Brooke, Tom said it has great flavor. Emeril loved the dish. Padma loved the dish. Hugh said the salad dressing was awesome and she knows her dressings.
The winner of Round 1 on Top Chef Seattle is Kristen, with the first three judges all voting Kristen and she wins right away.
On to the second dish…this is a dish where both Brooke and Kristen have to cook scallops, which is always difficult for chefs to get done right. To waste some time, we take a look at Brooke’s journey on Top Chef Season 10 and then talk to her parents and husband…blah blah. Time runs out on the second dish and time for the cheftestants to serve to the Top Chef judges.
For Brooke, Tom said he enjoyed the combination and works very nicely and scallop perfectly cooked. Hugh said the flavor is great and well-balanced. Emeril said the combination in this drives it home for him. For Kristen, Tom said the dish is exactly what he expects from her. Padma said she does these scallops really proud. Emeril said it was a great dish.
The winner of Round 2 on Top Chef 2013 Season 10 is Brooke, who wins after a 3-2 vote from the judges. The ladies are tied 1-1 after two dishes on the Top Chef 2013 Finale.
On to the third dish, which can be any dish to showcase their culinary talent. Brooke is making crispy chicken fingers and worried about the judges eating food with their fingers. Kristen has fire under her butt after Brooke won the second dish. Now a chance to look back at Kristen’s journey to the finale, which was a tough journey for her, and a little chat with her family. The time runs out on the third dish and time for service.
For Brooke, Hugh said he was not expecting chicken wings, but she explained that she wanted to redeem herself. Emeril said it was delicious. Tom said he is not sure how it all goes together. For Kristen, Emeril said he loves all the earthy tones of the dish and it’s delicious. Tom wonders why she stewed the mushrooms. Padma wishes it was hot.
The winner of Round 3 on Top Chef Season 10 Finale is Kristen, after another quick three votes from the judges. It is now a 2-1 lead for Kristen, so it is do or die for Brooke on this dish!
On to the fourth dish and Brooke feels it will be a tough dish for Kristen to beat, which they both will be serving dishes of red snapper. As the finalists prepare their fourth dishes, it looks like we are going to take a look at what the previous nine winners of Top Chef have done since they were announced the winner. Do you care? Tonight we will have our second women winner, which is crazy!
As much time as they are wasting on this, I don’t think Brooke can pull out a victory in the fourth dish. We are getting closer and closer to the end of the hour folks! Back to the cheftestants and they are finishing up their dishes as the time is coming to an end and time for service.
For Brooke, Hugh said the snapper is perfectly cooked. Tim likes the combination and nicely put together dish. For Kristen, Tom said the snapper is beautifully cooked and a very nice dish. Gail said the texture is very nice, but the leeks were difficult to cut and eat. Hugh said it was a really good dish.
The winner of Round 4 on Top Chef 2013 Season 10 Finale is…coming up after a commercial break, so we all know what that means right?
Votes: Gail picks Kristen, Emeril picks Kristen and Tom picks Kristen, so Kristen Kish is the winner of Top Chef 2013 Season 10! From Last Chance Kitchen to the victory. Were you surprised.
'It Was Slightly Disturbing, Right?'
This week onTop Chef: Angelo makes love to his short ribs and wins &mdash a lot: both challenges, a Toyota, a trip to Cape Canaveral, and a copy of Anthony Bourdain's newest book Tiffany freezes her mussels and goes home and Eric Ripert and Bourdain duke it out at the judges' table. In this edition of our weekly Top Chef recaps, Ripert talks to us about Wednesday's episode and how he really feels about Bourdain.
ESQUIRE: This week the chefs had to make meals that could be sent into space, where apparently they like spice. What would you have made for the astronauts?
ERIC RIPERT: Maybe something like a chicken paella. I'd make it spicy, it's easy to package, and you can keep a lot of the texture of the dish.
ESQ: Do French kids like astronaut ice cream as much as American kids do?
ER: I never knew about it. Someone told me yesterday, making a joke, and I didn't understand the joke. I don't know what it is. I'm very ignorant about it.
ESQ: Anthony Bourdain gave you a pretty hard time last night. Are you guys friends?
ER: Yes, very good friends. Actually, on Monday night at 9:00 is going to be the 100th episode of No Reservations. And we spent a week together in Paris. So Anthony and I are very good friends and we have this very playful relationship. Sometimes I'm the bad guy, sometimes he's the bad guy. Last night, I became the bad guy.
ESQ: He did call you "The Ripper." Do you have any other nicknames?
ESQ: You said that your favorite dish was from Kelly. What was your favorite thing about her dish?
ER: It was extremely simple in presentation. Almost overly simple. It was very deceiving. Until you taste it, you believe that's going to be the most boring dish of the night, and then she really, really put it together very well. Her cooking was very precise, the flavors were exciting, and she showed technique. She definitely created a beautiful dish.
ESQ: Do you think if Tiffany had managed to get the mussels on her plate that she would have stayed?
ER: No. I think on that challenge she was in the bottom for sure. For my taste. None of the dishes were bad, but she was the weakest of all of them. And her dish was, in terms of presentation, not very precise. It was kind of rustic, actually. And in terms of flavor, it was also rustic. The other ones were definitely complex and refined.
ESQ: Angelo won the Quickfire and the Elimination challenge after being in the bottom the last two weeks. What do you think of his cooking overall?
ER: Well since the beginning of the season he has definitely proven that he is talented and he has done a lot of very good dishes. At one point he was almost on the verge of being eliminated. He got saved by the mediocrity of Alex. But he's one of the most talented cooks of the season. There's no doubt.
ESQ: He said he made love to his short ribs. Would you say that you've ever made love to food?
ER: No. You don't make love. You put love, but you don't make love. It was slightly disturbing, right?
'Top Chef All-Stars': Episode 12 Recap, 'Give Me Your Huddled Masses'
If you watched last night's Top Chef with something in your eye and a lump in your throat, then you know it was the tearjerker family episode.
But first, the quick fire: The final five jump on a ferry and, in a version of the vending machine challenge, have to make something using only food on the boat, without the benefit of a kitchen or equipment. They have until the boat reaches Ellis Island to finish but no one knows how long it takes to reach the island.
Leave it to Richard to, oh, pull out a military-issue MRE from his bag of tricks for an instant saute. The others don't fare as well, and while talking about infusion this and deconstruct that, merely move around ingredients as best they can. The winner, as chosen by Blue Hill's Dan Barber: Carla for her orange salad. (Richard, perhaps rightly, wasn't impressed by cutting up oranges and covering them in juice.)
The elimination challenge is one of my favorites, which I've taken to calling the 'Ratouille' challenge, and which was also seen during the finale of Top Chef Masters season 1. Taking their family history into account, the chefs have to make a dish based on their ancestry. And to deliver genealogy research into their backgrounds. their family members. Out come three sassy moms, Richard's pregnant wife and Carla's glowing husband.
The chefs are given a few private moments to go through their dossiers. Carla discovers a great-great-grandfather who fought in the Civil War and was a small business owner. Richard discovers he is descended from Worcestershire, England. Antonia, peering at a tangled Italian-Jewish family tree spots an interesting paragraph. Turns out that, according to the Top Chef genealogist, she shares a distant family relative with. Mike Isabella. They're cousins! No wonder she wanted to throttle the kid all the time, she tells her mother. (That could have also played out differently, if anyone remembers that '30 Rock' episode when Liz Lemon accidentally dates a lost cousin.)
Top Chef: Texas Episode One Recap
Top Chef is back and according to Bravo’s tagline for the show, “Everything is Bigger in Texas!” Wow, I wonder where they got that idea. Note to producers: We are bigger than France. And our buildings are NOT bigger than those in New York. So there’s one strike. I suggest you change your promotion from bigger to better. On to the show.
After meeting most of the cheftestants last night–not all 29 of them, but most–I think it’s safe to say we have some very talented people on this season. Tom Colicchio appears more aggressive this season and he kicked them off Simon Cowell-style. Grrr. I like this Tom.
Well, the cast of 29 very excited chefs is certainly large. Last night the enthusiastic contestants congregated in front of the (small) Alamo. Padma shows up to greet them and also inform them that only 16 will continue on to compete. Chris C. is so excited to see her! “Damn, Padma looks hot. I have to stay in this competition just so I can look at her.” (Note to Chris: as a non-participating viewer I will see gobs of Padma. If your main focus is to stare at Padma – go home and turn on the TV. Lord, I already don’t like him.)
Once all the excitement settled, Padma welcomed the cheftestants to San Antonio and, for me, this moment felt a bit like the Travel Channel meets the Food Network. Padma, dressed in a long flowy pink strapless dress, welcomed the group who stood in front of the Alamo. They could have been standing in front of a tree. She made no reference to the significance of the building which, for many of us, represents the brave men who battled Santa Anna’s army. Ozzy Osbourne peed on the Alamo and PeeWee Herman, well, I’m sure they will get to Mr. Herman’s contribution to Texas history in a future episode.
The opening shot dissolves. We reopen in a kitchen!
We meet Group 1 which is comprised of 10 chefs. There are several executive chefs, a couple chefs de cusine, one personal chef/caterer who later introduced himself as a “chef to the celebrities”, one self- taught underdog, and one who is currently “between jobs.” Immediately, we see some clear front runners. Emeril Lagasse is the guest judge for the Quickfire in which the chefs are presented with a whole pig and they must each choose a cut to prepare for the judges. Once the chefs have made their decisions, two volunteers jump forward to butcher the pig. Hilarity ensues.
Well, not really but I was laughing outloud as a vegan chef, who hasn’t worked with meat in 10 years, attempted to slice out the ribs while the “chef to the celebs” attacked the pig, Lord of Flies-style. He wielded a saw and boasted that he never has to butcher his own meat because his clients are wealthy. Fortunately, Chris Jones of Moto, steps in and relieves his vegan friend, Collin. Also fortunate, no one steps in for Stone, Chef Tyler Stone. Tom Colicchio strolls up shortly after Tyler has hacked the tenderloin in half. Horrified by such atrocities, Tom practically donkey kicks the kid out of the kitchen mid-challenge. After putting up a little fight and a final “fair enough” Tyler leaves and I laugh. I like this season’s Tom.
The other 9 chefs are able to finish their dishes and present them for Tom, Padma, and Emeril to judge. Some chefs will get the majority vote and receive a chef’s coat others will be put on “the bubble” and have to compete again later for one of the 16 spots.
Earning a chef’s coat in this group are Heather, Nyesha, Chris J., Richie, and Sarah. Grayson, who is between jobs, and Molly, who claims to be a fine dining chef aboard a cruise ship which is a total oxymoron to me, are sent to “the bubble” while the sweet vegan, Collin and the heart- warming underdog, Simon are sent packing. (Like a vegan chef had a chance at winning this? Not fair.)
Next up is Group two. Wow, you can almost smell the pedigree in the room. Everyone in this group is an executive chef, a restaurant owner, or a chef de cuisine. All have worked with incredibly talented chefs and all brought their A game. All but Nina. Gayle joins us as the judge for this Quickfire where the chefs must choose a main ingredient as a group. (Team building time!) They are presented with several choices but ultimately all decide that rabbit is the most versatile. Everyone flies into action, and when the buzzer goes off, Nina is caught with an un-plated Thumper. Bye Nina. Dakota, Whitney, Chuy, Chris C., Keith, and Ty-lor all receive chef’s coats. Janine, who didn’t get her sauce on the plate, and Edward, whose rabbit was undercooked, are sent to “the bubble” where they remain to fight another day.
Episode one ended with 11 spots filled, four chefs on “the bubble” and 10 cheftestants in group three waiting to compete. With only 4 spots left, the pressure is certainly on for group three.
I think this will be an exciting and fun season and I can already see we will witness some excellent talent in the kitchen. After next week, we’ll have the final sweet 16 but, for now, Keith, Nyesha, Sarah and Heather have my vote. Would love to hear your favs.