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Top Chef Seattle recap, Episode 15: So close, yet so far

padma inuitThe end is nigh.

We are down to the final three (or, the first final three before we get the triumphant return of someone from LCK.) Josh, Sheldon, and Brooke start things off by jumping into what is apparently Brooke’s living nightmare – a helicopter ride. Apparently, small spaces, lack of control, and heights aren’t really her thing. Thankfully, she is given enough off-camera time to pop a Xanax and calm down enough to enjoy the views of the massive glacier they are about to step onto.

For this week’s Quickfire, the chefs land at the Iditarod training ground to find Tom and Padma’s Inuit cousin waiting on them. They must create a dish in 30 minutes with whatever provisions are at the remote camp.

Before I go any further…did Sheldon SERIOUSLY say, after seeing all of the dogs, that “[he] would die for some good reefer”? I think I rewound that 7 times, because I must have heard that wrong. If I didn’t, I think Sheldon may have missed an opportunity by not hitting up Jeremiah, the dog racer-in-training.

Brooke and Sheldon both grab for the halibut and Josh surprises no one by whipping up another pork-laden breakfast dish. Now, I love me some breakfast food, and lord knows I like bacon, but mix it up there big guy. Perhaps he is too distracted by the fact that is wife is past-due and will be giving birth to their daughter at any second.

Brook wants to make her halibut stand out, so she adds a red currant and beet vinaigrette, while Sheldon goes with tomato, bok choi, and smoked salmon. Running around in the freezing snow and ice on a glacier, as well as cooking in a tent on glorified camp stoves, takes its toll on a few of the contestants. I was sure that Brooke was going to serve raw fish, as the cold air (and probably the cookware/stove combo) sucked all of the heat out of her pan as soon as the fish went down, making the perfect crust hard to attain.

And Josh, bless his heart, is running around like crazy and doesn’t have time to properly fry his egg for his corn cake, Canadian bacon, egg, and smoked salmon breakfast dish. He winds up having to poorly scramble his egg instead. For the record, he basically just made an open face corn McMuffin with salmon on it. Top Chef material? Meh.

Shockingly enough, Tom says that Brooke’s halibut was perfectly cooked, despite the freezing conditions, and she walks away with yet another win. If you have not pegged her as the one to beat at this point, you aren’t paying attention.

Padma says that she has a surprise for the chefs, and after a return helicopter ride, Padma chauffeurs the chefs back to their bed and breakfast where they find Emeril and L.A. food truck icon Roy Choi cooking lunch. They all have a nice lunch together, sharing stories about the moment that they decided to dedicate their lives to cooking, and Choi reveals that it was actually seeing Emeril on television was what made him abandon the thug life and enroll in culinary school.

This was all a good segue into this week’s Elimination Challenge – They must create a dish that represents the moment that they realized they wanted to become chefs.

Brooke struggles with this assignment the most, as she had always known she wanted to be a chef and didn’t really have an “Ah ha!” moment. Josh realized that food would be his life after his first taste of foie gras torchon, and Sheldon wants to pay homage to Sam Choy, the TV chef and pioneer in Hawaiian cuisine.

Josh’s call to make foie gras torchon is a ballsy one, considering that takes days to create properly. Tom cranks the pressure up a notch by letting Josh know that his inspirational first taste of foie was very likely Tom’s recipe. Tom’s skepticism is obvious. To make things even harder for him, Josh gets the call that his wife’s water has broken and that she is officially going into labor. And he is missing it. Talk about a mind-screw.

At Judge’s table, Sheldon loses major points on an otherwise outstanding dish by serving an overly salty broth. You could hear the shock in the judge’s voices that Sheldon would do something so heavy handed, and Tom thinks that could be the one mistake that sends Sheldon home. Josh gets reamed for his foie gras three ways, being immediately reminded that it is literally impossible to properly make that dish in a few hours. It didn’t help that others thought their foie was too veiny…something that you would never expect in a well-made torchon.

But, once again, Brooke wins the day with her braised chicken and grilled quail. Roy, who knows Brooke from cooking in LA, says that her dish is “Brooke on a plate,” and mentions that she is regarded as a prodigy in the L.A. cooking scene.

That leaves it down to the boys for who is going home, and I have to say, the judges got this one completely right. Even without the personal distractions, I think that Sheldon and Brooke are cooking at just a notch higher than Josh is ready for yet, and he packs his knives.

But instead of going home, he bolts down to Los Angeles, where he competes in the Last Chance Kitchen finale against Kristen and the Last Last chance fan-voted Lizzie for the coveted spot in the finale. Obviously, Bravo leaves the winner of LCK a mystery until next week.

One more week guys…are you sad to see this season go, or ready to move on?

By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

3 comments Add your comment

1164mgc

February 14th, 2013
10:11 am

I am soooo ready to move on. Both Josh and Brooke have become unbearably annoying to me, so much so that I had to mute the tv while either of them is on. It really bugs me that josh would leave his pregnant wife to do this show, and I think it is a decision he will regret, especially since he didn’t win. And I was thinking the same thing about his egg mcmuffin. I cheered out loud when Sheldon beat him out at the end. I only hope that Sheldon, Lizzie or Kristen win the whole thing.

[...] Top Chef Seattle recap, Episode 15: So close, yet so far [...]

Stan Drulia

February 18th, 2013
9:25 am

Nice weird plug by Wilma??