Real Time Web Analytics Foodie Gossip: Top Chef Seattle Recap Episode 12: "Wolfgang Cluck."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Top Chef Seattle Recap Episode 12: "Wolfgang Cluck."

On week 12 of Top Chef Season 10 in Seattle...

I don’t know about you guys, but it’s taken me a week to get over Kristen’s shocking departure. 

***SPoiler Alert***

Luckily, she prevailed against CJ in Last Chance Kitchen and we’ll be seeing more of her. 

Apparently, I’m not the only one since Brooke is also pretty shook up about it. “Had I ever in a million years thought that it would have gone that way, I would have said something.”

Meanwhile, Josie’s feeling like the stinky kid in class. And poor Lizzie had to listen to her talk away her guilty conscience, “I don’t care what anyone thinks. I know I didn’t get here the pretty way...I’m not here to lose, you know.*tears*”  

Zen Master
I concur Lizzie. Awkward indeed.

Quickfire time.

This week our Quickfire guest judge is Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi. Chef Uechi owns 5 restaurants in the L.A. area and he is the head of the Sushi Institute of America. So yeah, he’s a bad ass in the sushi world.

So that can only mean one thing. Sushi challenge!

It’s simple. Just come up with a sushi dish and impress a sushi master.  (yea.. it’s just that easy...)

30 minutes. No immunity. Winner gets 5 grand.

Chef Uechi gives everyone this advice:

“Sushi is very simple. Rice. Fish. I don’t want you guys to touch too much. Don’t mix up too much ingredients. Always think how to make people who eat, happy. That is most important.” #ProTip

My god. Even his words are like poetry. I can only imagine what his food must taste like.  

Also, if you are at all interested in the art of sushi, do yourself a favor and check out “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” a documentary about the greatest sushi chef in the world. It’s out on Netflix. 

Let’s cook.

Living in L.A. Brooke eats a lot of sushi. Not surprisingly, Oklahoma Josh does not. 

Sushi rice McMuffin. No thanks.
He’s making “sushi” with tempura bacon, egg omelette, salmon belly, yuzu kosho aioli. 

Um. What is your major malfunction?? DID YOU NOT JUST HEAR WHAT THE MASTER SUSHI CHEF SAID?!?!  *Deep breath*

Talk about crime against food.

Stefan agrees. He suggests yubitsume. I agree.

Everyone assumes Sheldon knows sushi because he’s Asian, he does not. However, he is making this lemon charcoal powder by grilling a lemon rind then pulverizing it in a blender. Very interesting technique. A smokey citrusy powder.

Of course Josie’s catered sushi parties and served sushi on naked bodies. It’s all about the show with her.

I gotta say. For a Top Chef competition there is certainly a lot of bitching and moaning about, “I don’t DO that” when it comes to different types of cuisine this season. 

Lizzie recognizes that sushi is an art but it’s not “her” art. Josh prefers bacon over sushi. What the hell people? You guys are supposed to be the best of the best, adept in all aspects of cooking, and here you are telling me you don’t “do” that? 

You think Michael Voltaggio ever even contemplated not being able to do something cooking wise? C’mon now! (Michael if you ever wanna hang, call me. I’m buying) #ProTipoftheHat 

Time’s up. Let’s see who managed impressed the master sushi chef.

Aliens 5: Josie's Revenge
Yellowtail with Grilled Shitake & Raw Lobster with Seaweed & Unagi

Halibut with Yuzu & Bacon Aioli

Lobster, Micro Greens & Pickled Ginger with Yuzu-Sake Broth

Octopus with Yuzu & Grated Wasabi

Tempura Bacon, Omelette, Salmon Belly & Yuzu Kosho Aioli

Hamachi Sashmi with Fresh Ponzu, Mitsuba & Lemon Charcoal

Judging by the way these dishes looked. You’d think some of the chefs have never had sushi. Josie’s dish literally was a giant log of rice with flimsy slices of halibut on top. Josh’s “pressed” sushi was a sushi rice sandwich with two slabs of rice. Lizzie, for some reason, made soup.

They should have passed out them Kindle Fires again so these guys can google “sushi.” Oy.

I think Chef Uechi agrees with me. When Padma asked how did the chefs do? The reply from the master was a wry, “You guys worked very hard. Thank you.”

I don’t know about you, but I read that as “You’ve brought dishonor to my art. You should all leave in shame.”

Lizzie’s soup is on the bottom. Note to self. Don’t pour hot soup onto cold fish. It’ll make the fish more “fishy.” #ProTip

To no one’s surprise, Josh’s dish was a dud. I think Chef Uechi was embarrassed for him. Greasy bacon has no place in sushi.

On a brighter note. Brooke’s octopus dish was nice. Clean flavors. 

Stefan’s yellowtail also landed on top. Good combination with yellowtail and shitake mushrooms.

The winner? Stefan. 
Yeah! 1 for 27! That's a dismal winning %!!

It’s his FIRST win of any kind this season. Apparently it took him 27 challenges. How the mighty have fallen. By episode 11 of season 5, his original season, he’d won 7 challenges. 

Time for Elimination Challenge.

We have a very special guest this week. One of my personal heroes and daily inspiration, Mr. David Chang!!! #ProTipoftheHat

Alongside David is our head judge, Tom Colicchio. (Did you know that David once worked for Tom at Craft? However, apparently David wasn’t allowed to be on the line because he was too slow. Hehe) 

Ok. Tom has rented a house here in Seattle and has invited a few friends over for dinner, the cheftestants will have to do the cooking.

What Tom in the mood for? That’s right. Fried Chicken. 

David explains that fried chicken is “deliciously simple but deceivingly complex.” He would know. His fried chicken drumstick is coated with a "127-spice Momofuku concoction of dredge.” The secret?  “Just regular flour, some seasoning, and a bunch of don't-worry-about-it." #ProTip

Wanna know who’s coming to dinner? 
In Chang We Trust

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo from Animal and Son of Gun.
James Beard Award winner Michelle Bernstein of Michy’s.
Some guy name Wolfgang Puck.
Oh and a little cook from New Orleans that goes by the name Emeril.
Don’t forget about David Chang!

Ok, THIS is a scary group to cook for, especially if you’re talking fried chicken. 

It’s great watching Tom list this Pantheon of Fried Chicken Gods. Because clearly he knows with this group judging, it's going to be a fun night. 

Much like sushi. Just keep it simple and delicious. 

Winner gets a year’s worth of Terlato wines

Ha. Stefan says 365 bottle will only last him 3 months. I agree.

30 minutes to prep. Go.

Josh is getting all flustered and chubby over this challenge. Finally it's something in his wheelhouse. He’s going to draw inspiration from his grandfather’s fried chicken. He’s brought out a syringe and injecting the brine directly into the chicken. 

Brilliant plan. With limited time allowed, injecting the brine will bring out the flavor and keep the bird moist. 

Josie thinks she’s got this in the bag, “Down South, we eat fried chicken all the time!”

Um. I don’t think Miami is considered “the South.” Apparently Josh agrees. Wait. Did he just bust out the ole Arsenio Hall “Things that makes you go hmmmm” bit??

Way to reference a 23-year-old show dude. *golf clap*

You wanna see somebody digging a hole? Watch Brooke as she describes her plan of attack for this challenge.

She’s going to debone the breast, remove the skin, fried the skin and include the fried skin into the breading, then fry the whole thing together. Basically a fancy chicken cutlet. 

Girl. You’re serving fancy chicken cutlet to the likes of David Chang and Emeril Legasse? What are you thinking?!

Time to go to Tom’s house.

Is this Iowa? No. It's Tom's house.
Once there, they’ll have one hour to fry up them chickens. Note: Judges did not asked for a side dish or salad. They just wanted fried chicken. #ProTipoftheHat

Not to pick on her, but Josie’s gonna do a daikon slaw with chicken wings in an asian style, then her southern fried chicken with a biscuit. Ok. Good luck with that.

Sheldon’s watched one too many gangster movies. He’s pouring the oil double-fisted like a couple’a 40s saying, it’s “for his homies...” Ok this brave soul is also doing two kinds, an umami fried chicken and a “Momofuku” style chicken. Talk about gutsy. You’re gonna serve David Chang a chicken named for David Chang's own restaurant? G-U-T-S

Lizzie’s also going rogue by doing a version of chicken cutlet. She’s crusting it with brown sugar, black pepper and coriander with a side of peach cabbage slaw. 

Here comes another head scratcher. Stefan is going with a chicken stuffed with french cheese and german ham. A chicken cordon blue, if you will. 

You know, sometimes you just have to trust Tom. You can tell when he’s asking you to “put a spin” on something and this is not one of those occasions. He said, “However you do it, just make it crispy and make it delicious.” Sounds pretty straight forward to me.

Seems like some of the chefs totally misread the memo.

Not Josh though. Dude is (finally) cooking like Michael Phelps swimming. He’s giving his already brined drumsticks a smoke treatment. Talk about layering on the flavors.

Almost time to eat. Judges arrive and gather around a beautiful outdoor dining area ready to feast on some chicken.
Fried Chicken Sandwich at Son of A Gun.

Wolfgang feeling particularly Puckish tonight. Offering Emeril a seat first with a “Hey Ladies first!”  Oh oh. Think it’s gonna be one of those zinger-filled nights!

Then there’s a debate amongst the judges on the preference between dark/white meat. I’m a dark meat man myself. But I can totally see the finesse it requires to make breast meat juicy and crispy. Hell, I just like fried chicken. Ha. David is right. “If you don’t like fried chicken, I don’t know if I can trust you!” #ProTip

Here we go. You can just tell that everyone’s having a great time hanging out. The atmosphere’s loose. Tom just suggested Wolfgang to open up a chain of chicken joints called “Wolfgang Cluck.” Ha. Look out KooKooRoos!

Tom tells us that growing up, his mom made salt and pepper fried chicken with only the legs and the wings. And since his dad hated chicken, Tom knew his dad was working late when mom was frying up chicken. 

I don’t know why but I love it when Tom shares tidbits of his past with us. I guess because I always see him as such a authoritative figure that knowing things which are more personal makes me a little less scared of him. (Just kidding! Um...wanna play catch? - Field of Dreams people!!)

Baseball Tom. Baseball.
Back in the kitchen. Brooke doesn’t have time to fry up her chicken skin. Now she’s going to serve up plain ole pedestrian chicken cutlet, made up of skinless breast meat. God help her.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record...

Guess what. Josie’s in trouble again. One of her fryers went down so she’s down to one. Lizzie’s a sweetheart and offers Josie her fryers. Regardless, once again, time is not on her side. There will be no Asian chicken wings. And um, what happened to the biscuits? 

Sheldon’s also hit a snag. His oil was too hot so the first batch got scorched on the outside but still raw on the inside. Those gotta go, so he’s not sure if everyone will get a piece. 

Chicken time.

Ok. When he’s presenting to the judges Sheldon looks like he’s about to hyperventilate. He actually had a brain freeze for second trying to remember which style the drumsticks are. I don’t blame you buddy. I’d probably pass out if I had to serve fried chicken to this group.

Can you tell which is which? Neither can Sheldon.

Umami Drumsticks & Thighs, Wings with Usukuchi (Momofuku style) & Grapeseed Oil. 

Chicken with Coriander, Black Pepper & Brown Sugar Rub with Peach-Cabbage Slaw.

Chicken with Black Garlic, Cayenne, Thyme & Hot Sauce with Daikon Salad.

Right away Jon Shook from Son of A Gun refers to Lizzie’s dish as “Shake and Bake.” Though delicious, Tom thought Lizzie doesn’t quite understand “fried chicken” because given a whole chicken, she only used boneless chicken breast.

"Gut bomb. Not in a good way." - David Chang
Vinny Votolo is appalled, “Come now. People were given a whole chicken?! And you only gave us the breast? That’s just wrong!’ Everyone’s cracking up. #ProTip

Still though. Tom thought her salad was really good and David thought the chicken itself was delicious. I think despite serving a cutlet, she’s going to be safe.

Josie’s confused people by serving “Southern” style chicken on a banana leaf with daikon salad. On top of that, everyone found it greasy, Michelle Bernstein couldn’t even finish her piece. Ironically, Michelle was the guest judge that send Josie home last time around. And they’re both Miami chefs. Awkward.

Sheldon’s chicken was loved by all. However, one problem. Not everybody got a piece. Wolfgang’s blaming Tom and Emeril for taking too many pieces. Still. The flavor’s there and that’s the important thing. Funny though, not once did we see David talk about his resto's namesake wings. Wonder if he gave Sheldon his personal stamp of approval.

Just in time for the Superbowl!
Chicken Cordon Bleu with Garlic Aioli & Lemon.

Smoked Fried Chicken with Hot Sauce & Blue Cheese.

Dukkah-Crusted Chicken Breast with Wilted Escarole & Tomato Salad.

Here comes the bombshell of the day.

Apparently Jon Shook and Vinny Votolo once interviewed for a job to work for Brooke. And guess what? She didn’t hire them. Now they’re bad asses in the culinary world and are here to decide her fate. Talk about a Jerry Springer “guess who we’ve got backstage” moment.

Well, the embarrassment didn’t stop there. Wolfgang picks up her chicken and asks, “What is this show called here? (Padma: Top Chef) I wouldn’t even call it The Apprentice.” OUCH.

Yeah. She cooked her chicken too early. About 15 minutes too early. By the time of service her chicken albeit juicy, will no longer had any crunch. So she kept it warm in the oven then refried it to get the crisp back. The result was dry chicken cutlet. Not looking good...

Josh knocked it out of the park. The whole smoked and buffaloed concept totally came across. Tom said it was the tastiest chicken on the table. Josh might get himself a chicken dinner here.

See. Sometimes chefs are like comedians. When you get a bunch of them together and feed them lots of wine, the one-upmanship sets in and the jokes start to fly, often at the expense of others.

When asked about Stefan’s chicken cordon bleu, Emeril says, “I have the blues. *pause* the chicken cordon blues...” *rimshot*

“Wasn’t he already on Top Chef?” Vinny asks mockingly, “You get another chance and you do cordon f*cking blue?” Brutal Stefan. Brutal.

Jon’s embarrassed that all of the L.A. chefs just rolled out the breasts and Wolfgang, without missing a beat, “It’s L.A.! Plastic surgery's everywhere.”*rimshot*

Ah a good time was had by all...of the judges.

Not so much some of the chefs.

Judging isn’t till the NEXT day. So the chefs also have a whole night to stew about how their dishes were received.

In the evening Sheldon plays a ukulele. They hand them out in Hawaii when you turn 13. (ok, they don’t) #ProTip

Everyone’s nervous. Josie’s going around looking for validation by asking if people liked her chicken. Even calm collected Brooke is fidgety. 

Morning comes. Let’s do this.

In walks Padma. I’ll tell you one thing. I wouldn’t want to play poker against her. She NEVER gives anything away. 

Judges want to see Josh, Lizzie, and Sheldon.

Wow. 5 judges at the table today. Don’t recall the last time that’s ever happened! 

Imagine having David Chang, Wolfgang Puck, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, and Emeril Legasse all staring at you. Can’t even. I think I would just stare solely at Padma and try to zen out. 

The good news is, these guys are the judges' favorites. 

All three delivered a good dish, but Josh’s traditional Buffalo fried chicken came out on top. He gave what the judges wanted. A crispy, delicious, lip smacking goodness piece of fried chicken. Grandpa would be proud.

You can see how this was Josh’s challenge from the get go. The problem will come for him, in the end when judges start to look for a bit more of a range in the repertoire. But we’ll see. I’m sure Josh looks at Kevin Gillespie as his idol. Newsflash Josh, we've watched Kevin saute. We watched Kevin simmer. You, sir, are no Kevin Gillespie. 

Here comes the sadness.

Keep it simple stupid!
Brooke, Josie, and Stefan face the chopping block.

There will be no throwing people under the bus, no one else to blame but themselves, so let’s see what they have to say.

Brooke knew she screwed up. She got into her own head and over-thought the whole process. Instead of impressing, she disappointed the judges.

Here we go back into the Josie show. It’s the same absurd excuses with Josie. Her fryer was down, she didn’t have enough time...blah blah blah.

Tom’s having a migraine. You know that look the principal has after she gives you detention for the umpteenth time? Yeah that’s Tom right now. 

“This seems to be happening a lot now, you running out of time. You ran out of time on the last challenge with hour for fried chicken is plenty of time, so I don’t understand how you could even say I ran out time and I couldn’t put it on paper towel.”

When Josie tried to reply back Tom stopped her abruptly. 

“Exactly. You’re wasting time.”

Wow. Pulled the words out of our collective mouths huh? She’s been wasting EVERYONE’s time all season long. Can’t help feel like Tom’s finally had enough.

The nail in the coffin though? 

Josie tries to validate to Tom that she “(ate) had a piece and it was delicious and Lizzie and everyone else thought it was delicious."

Yeah good luck with that.

Tom, sarcastically,  “So I guess Dave and Wolf and you know Emeril and Jonny and Vinny and Michelle, Padma and um me um we don’t know um we have no idea what we’re talking about?”

The most terrify thing about this exchange is that NO OTHER JUDGES chimed in. Silence is golden. #ProTip

Moving on to Stefan.

Stefan’s excuse, he grew up in Europe and there isn’t fried chicken there like in America. Heh. Drive that one out and you can fertilize the lawn.

Unfortunately Stefan failed to do his research. Wolfgang himself has a traditional recipe for “wiener backhendl,” Viennese-style fried chicken. 


Well, after getting pummeled about making the damn chicken cordon blue, Emeril really drops the hammer by letting him know that it wasn’t even a good chicken cordon blue. 

Yeah. Serving the judges bad banquet food is asking for it. 

Padma is furious. “Such a bullsh*tter!”

During the deliberation it’s pretty clear that Brooke is safe. I don’t care what they say about past dishes doesn’t take into account and there are no prejudices, unless you’re gonna start tasting the dishes blind like that “other” new will come into play.

But much like last week, for some reason Padma’s defending Josie again, stating that at least Josie gave them an actual fried chicken.

There’s no arguing this week. I think Tom’s finally had enough. I think he had enough last week but Kristen’s insistence on taking all of the blame was something he couldn’t just outright veto and not come across biased.

This week Josie once again presented a poor dish and cited time as a problem. AND she tried to chat her way out of it. Now, she’s finally out of excuses.

To the collective cheer of Top Chef viewers who’re not relatives or close personal friends of Josie, she is told to pack her knives and go. *Crowd roars*

Bitter to the end. Josie thought it was stupid to get send home for her fried chicken. 

Here comes the hugs and kisses...between the chefs AFTER Josie leaves. Man. I feel their pain. Last time I waited this long for someone to leave was Thanksgiving.

Well. There is it. Josie’s finally gone. Off to Last Chance Kitchen you go where you will face Kristen. I highly recommend everyone to go watch it right now. 

With the albatross off our shoulders. We can focus and concentrate more on the food!

Thanks stopping by and I’ll see you next week!

As always any feedback and a follow @ChezWu would be highly appreciated!


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