City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Top Chef Seattle recap, Episode 11: What just happened?

Credit: Bravo

Credit: Bravo

I really hate being right sometimes.

I have some conspiracy theories about this week’s elimination, but more on that later.

We pick up with part 2 of Restaurant Wars, and the teams are ramping up to create Sheldon and Kristen’s winning concepts from last week. Team Kristen (Josie, Brooke, and Lizzie) will do Atelier Kwan, her semi-fancy, mostly French concept, while Team Sheldon (Josh and Stefan) start setting up his Filipino restaurant, Urbano.

In addition to having lopsided teams due to Micah’s elimination last week, this year has yet another twist. In addition to having to buy all of the table setting and set up the dining area, the teams must also construct their own outdoor kitchens. As if they didn’t have enough to do already.

From early on, no one wants Josie involved in anything they are doing. Kristen can’t wait to kick her out of the kitchen, so she sends her off with Brooke to pick the decorations. Brooke knows that Josie’s…sensibilities…are not as classy as the image that Atelier Kwan should project, so she spends half the trip with her eyes rolled back in her head. And you know what? They are both right. I wouldn’t want her making any of those decisions, but Kristen should have forced Josie to stay behind and actually start her prep work.

This brings us to the first major misstep for the ladies: Allowing Josie to prep on her own stupid schedule. Have we not noticed that every time she has to cook for a large group, she winds up way behind with a massive line at her table? If I were Kristen, I would have pulled rank and made her prep much further in advance.

Best quote of the night: “I would prefer one of the dishwashers in place of Josie.”

Over on team Urbano, things seem to be going more smoothly. Stefan takes the front of house, and is loving the flower shopping (Don’t worry Stefan, straight guys can like “vases and little pebbles and stuff” too.) You can really see Sheldon’s passion for his native cuisine just in the way he talks about it, and seeing his dishes made me want to look for the closest Filipino restaurant in town to check out (feel free to send suggestions).

At this point in the game, I’m not sure if we are getting the “bait and switch” edit, where all signs point towards Kristen’s team blowing this and the guys are all smooth sailing, or the “transparent” edit where everything is as it seems. Kristen seems bitter in her interviews, Josie is super defensive, and Sheldon just seems happy to be there.

Back over at Atelier Kwan, Kristen’s control-freakiness is getting the best of her psychologically, but it was the areas that she wasn’t controlling that caused more problems. Namely, she allows Josie to plod through cooking; something that Josie did knowing full well that Kristen would likely take the blame. I won’t use the word “sabotage”, but I do think that Josie took it a little easy knowing that most of the pressure was really on someone else. Case in point: Josie is behind, which means that 30 minutes before serving, she still hadn’t added gelatin to her sauce, which completely destroys Kristen’s plan for the dish. Kristen improvises and adds cream instead of the sauce.

Service begins and Stefan and Brooke are leading their respective front-of-houses. Brooke, aside from allowing anyone that asked to go gawk at her team in their makeshift kitchen, runs a smooth operation. Stefan, on the other hand, nearly loses the entire challenge just on his rudeness and ineptitude out front. Nothing like insulting the judges to win bonus points. Maybe they just didn’t get his European sense of humor.

Lizzie’s hot-soup rabbit charcuteries dish really impressed the judges, showing them a take on rabbit rillettes that they were not expecting. Then it is time for Josie’s bouillabaisse, and things stop looking so good. Plating is way behind, mostly because of the improvising necessary because Josie screwed up the plan for the sauce. When it finally makes it to the judges, nothing is right. The halibut is over-cooked, the scallop is nearly raw, the brother was under-developed, and the improvised sauce was a flop.

The food at Urbano, on the other hand, all goes over very well. Stefan’s raw-fish kilawin brought a nice contrast of acidity and sourness. Even though it isn’t very Filipino, Josh’s tamer version of balut – usually un-hatched duck embryo – using a soft-poached egg, duck confit, and foie gras mousse, had a great flavor, despite being off-concept. And Sheldon’s adobo pork belly was far and away the most popular dish of the night.

Ok, so here is where things got ugly. As soon as the criticism of Josie’s bouillabaisse begins, she immediately starts pinning it on Kristen. And hats off to Kristen for keeping it classy by falling on the sword and taking the high road but…ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?!? Stand up for yourself!

And here is where the judge’s failed miserably. They KNEW that Kristen was being noble, and they knew that Josie was the real reason the dish failed (remember…botched fish and weak broth, the sauce wasn’t the only problem.) You could almost see them begging Kristen to step up and fight back. But Padma was ready to crucify Kristen. Even though all four of them KNEW that Josie should have gone home, Kristen is sent packing.

Here is my conspiracy theory that I mentioned: Last Chance Kitchen.

I’ve avoided LCK all season, because frankly, I think it is sort of lame. But, this was the first one I’ve watched all season, and I doubt I’m the only person in that boat.

What would make for better drama than the unjustly eliminated Kristen fighting her way back into the finals in Last Chance Kitchen? And guess what…despite an over-use of saffron in her dish Kristen lives to fight another day. Curious? Hmmm.

Oh yeah, Sheldon won a Toyota.

NEXT WEEK: No clue what happens, but I hope it involves Josie being grabbed by the headband and forcefully dragged off the show.

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

17 comments Add your comment


January 17th, 2013
7:36 am

Great recap. For the first time since I have been watching, this is the first time I hae felt really really let down by this show. On top of that, Padma was on Live with Andy Cohen last night, and Padma is the only one of the judges not regrettng their decision after seeing the whole episode. Kristen calls in, still classy as before, and the last thing Padma says to her is my money is on you as “fan favorite.” Remember the twist this year with LCK is one cooks to get back in, and one is kept alive by votes each week. She wins against CJ, so why is she in the running for LCK fan favorite? So, did she just spill it that Kristen doesn’t remain for very long as the reigning chef in LCK? WTF? Just not even sure I care anymore about Top Chef this season.


January 17th, 2013
7:45 am

When did Emeril switch bodies with Supreme Court Justice Nino Scalia?


January 17th, 2013
10:45 am

dsm: Fan favorite is different from that weekly LCK voting. Remember, Carla won fan favorite on her season. It’s always announced at the reunion.

I can’t believe Kristen didn’t stand up for herself in judging, and literally told herself “bite my tongue.” Why?? Telling the truth about what happened is not sacrificing your integrity! Sigh.


January 17th, 2013
11:56 am

Best quote of the night — LOL!!! I completely agree that Kristen should’ve made Josie prep her bouillabaisse the day before. As noble as it was for Kristen taking responsibility for everything, however, the judges should’ve held Josie accountable for her own mistakes — complete lack of time-management, and not executing her dish properly whether it was Kristen’s vision or not. Don’t the judges playback videos? Josie was clearly taking a back seat so she can throw Kristen under the bus!!! Btw, I cringed everytime Stefan mispronounced “kilawin.” The accent is on the second syllable! Aside from that pet peeve, I was really excited about Urbano’s menu. Sheldon did his heritage proud! I wish they had ALL of the recipes on because I LOVE Filipino food and I’m looking for new ways to give traditional dishes a twist. I don’t know about the selection of Filipino restaurants in your area, but I live very close to Union, NJ and would even drive 1/2 hr to Jersey City or up to 45 mins to New Brunswick just to get my “Flip fix.” I definitely encourage you to try Filipino food — pork adobo, lechon, kare-kare, chicken curry, ginataan, okoy, BBQ on a stick, empanadas, halo-halo, leche flan, ube, turon, etc. I never liked balut growing up, but I wouldn’t mind trying Josh’s version. Tiny hole-in-the-wall type of restaurants have the most authentic home-cooked meals, then there’s the fast-food chains like Jollibee or Max’s, but I wish they had more modern Filipino restaurants similar to Urbano.


January 17th, 2013
3:33 pm

I can’t freakin believe Josie is still on this dang show!!!!!! UGH!!!


January 17th, 2013
4:25 pm

No, the judges don’t watch playback videos…it’s the same night.


January 17th, 2013
5:27 pm

i cannot bear to watch this show any longer. i have not watched since Top Chef All Stars when Richard Blais won. I have tried to watch each subsequent season and i just can’t make it through an entire episode. I can’t even stand watching the commercials.


January 17th, 2013
7:11 pm

J: Fan favorite is changed this year, now it’s last chance kitchen reigning winner, and highest # of eliminated chef votes will apparently cook against each other for a chance back, or either it’s the last standing in LCK and the eliminated chef with highest votes back into contest. still unclear on that. Kuniko has highest so far, and it’s between 2 each week, the current highest and most recent LCK lser. That’s the reason for Padmas’ comment on fan favorite to get back into the contest in the end.


January 17th, 2013
9:07 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you, I heartily agree and couldn’t have said it as well.


January 18th, 2013
12:06 pm

We’re being played by the producers. Although, in this particular instance, I think they may have gambled and lost. A lot of people turned off Top Chef last night for the last time.


January 18th, 2013
12:18 pm

Kristen did indeed fall on her own sword . What to me is or was the real question is should it really be about the episode challenge or about the overall body of work through the season . Padma was on the Andy Cowen show afterword and a) made it clear that Kristen was the better cook & b) had no choice but to vote against her .


January 18th, 2013
1:47 pm

There are only two Filipino restaurants in town (that I know of), Fil-Am Star and Kuya’s. Of the two, I prefer Kuya’s. Rico’s Kitchen has a Filipino chef, though. You could probably get something out of him.


January 18th, 2013
3:35 pm

It’s simply amazing to watch how Padma runs the entire judges table. She is obviously intimidated and threatened by any woman who is attractive or smart. She was practically salivating in her mission to eliminate Kristen, even acting as if this was an easy decision. Tom had no balls and did not stand up to


January 18th, 2013
3:37 pm

Padma clearly manipulates the judges on the show the exact same way she manipulates billionaires in her real life. Her insecurity is sad.


January 18th, 2013
3:48 pm

Here is the karma-infused ending I’d like to see … Kristen makes it through LCK and returns for the finals. In the process of selecting their brigades from previously eliminated chefs, Kristen ends up stuck with Josie and then either (a) just tells her to clean up or (b) does what Kevin did a few years ago and just prep but don’t cook.


January 18th, 2013
4:53 pm

Padma gets the blame for throwing Kirsten out but Kirsten said it was her responsibility and she refused to defend herself against Josie. Besides, the judges didn’t like Kirsten’s dessert or her beef bourgignon. They had no choice but to get rid of Kirsten.


January 18th, 2013
8:43 pm

I just watched the episode this evening. That effing cow Josie still lives???? I have never had so much dislike for someone I don’t know as I do for that …. well, I won’t write what I’d like to say, this is a family website. ;-) Thankfully, there is LCK, where Kristen still lives on and next week she can eviscerate (figuratively, of course) Josie once and for all time.