Real Time Web Analytics Foodie Gossip: Top Chef Seattle Recap Episode 13: "Chefs at Sea."

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Top Chef Seattle Recap Episode 13: "Chefs at Sea."

On week 13 of Top Chef Season 10 in Seattle...

Group hugs everyone!

The remaining five chefs are totally relieved that Brooke and her “Apprentice” chicken cutlet didn’t get sent packing.

Frankly even though there shouldn’t be a cumulative effect on judging, Tom just got fed up with Josie’s incompetence. Because I think David Chang and Padma really wanted to sent Brooke home.

Just when the chef are sitting around feeling good about surviving another day, in walks Padma and Tom.

Don’t worry. It’s not a surprise challenge. 

Usually at this point of the season, it’s time to take the show on the road.

Curtis decided to cut his own hair.
The chefs pack for the trip, and we get some gratuitous moments of nostalgia and self reflection. Hey, we gotta fill the show somehow right?

So Stefan’s mom tricked him into thinking they were going on a vacation and then dropped him off at an army boot camp?! Wow. Them Scandinavians are some cold blooded people! Damn Vikings!

Alright. So Brooke is nervous because she gets seasick. Um...sweetheart, you’re going to be on a cruise ship. Those things are like floating cities! You won’t feel a thing!

Time to cook.

Hey look! It’s Top Chef Master’s host and culinary heartthrob Curtis Stone! He once hosted a show called Take Home Chef where he literally stalked grocery stores to pick up girls! Ah get your mind out of the gutter. He was there to teach them how to cook, and usually for their husband or boyfriend. Still, imagine coming home and seeing this guy cooking with your girlfriend?!
Hey girl. Wanna learn how to cook?

Quick Fire.

The chefs will have 2 hours to make two hundred portions featuring iceberg lettuce. Get it? Iceberg lettuce on a cruise ship? Yeah I didn’t think it was that funny either.

The only good news is these only needs to be one bite portions. So there’s that.

Here we go.

The difficulty has been stepped up because since they’re cooking on a ship, everything is electric. There are no flames allowed. Which is odd because when you think about it, there is plenty of water around to put out a fire! (Yes silly I know.)

Iceberg lettuce. Wow now that’s a stretch. What the hell can you do to elevate that??

Let’s ask our guest judge, Curtis Stone!

“You can do all sorts of stuff with lettuce. You can caramelize it, you can serve (it) fresh of course, there’s a million things you can do with it.”

Um..thanks for nothing Curtis. A million things and you name two. One of which it just leaving it alone and served fresh. 

Guess what. Josh is using bacon again. We get it. You’re the pig guy, but maybe show some versatility? 

Brooke is also using bacon, but at least she’s being clever about it. She’s doing a riff on BLT using a scallop instead of the tomato. A BLS if you will.

Well Lizzy’s using bacon as well. It’s an epidemic!

Then Sheldon makes a great point. It’s all about respecting the product. Anyone can serve up some caviar (or bacon) and make things taste good. The art comes when you can elevate the most basic ingredient, like iceberg lettuce. 

He’s gonna do a Vietnamese lettuce wrap. However, he’s pickling the lettuce core and serving that as well to give his dish some crunch. That’s just freaking brilliant!

Time's up. Let’s see how the chefs did with the bacon, um I mean iceberg lettuce challenge.

“I’m just hoping the only iceberg we see is on the plate and not in the water...” *rimshot*

There it is. Thanks Curtis for that gratuitous lame joke.

Side note: Bravo decided not to upload pictures of the quick fire dishes. So I'll post pictures of my own pork belly.

Braised Iceberg Lettuce, Pastrami, Fingerling Potato & Blue Cheese Sauce.

Vietnamese Lettuce Wrap with Pork, Shrimp & Pickled Iceberg Hearts.

Pork Belly. That's all they cook. (This one's mine.)
Iceberg Salad with Crispy Bacon, Shallots & Anchovy Vinaigrette.

Iceberg Lettuce Roll with Apple Cider Vinaigrette, Bacon Jam & Blue Cheese.

Iceberg Wrap with Bacon, Scallop, Caramelized Onion & Crispy Quinoa.

Padma, “Am I supposed to put this whole thing in my mouth?”

Congrats Padma! That sound bite will be looped all over the interwebs by press time!

Hm. Apparently everyone did well. Curtis and Padma liked all five dishes. No bottoms today.


Sheldon. Definitely. I mean, to served pickled lettuce heart for the crunch? Just brilliant.

What does he win? Money? Car? Nope. All he gets is an advantage during the elimination challenge. Which frankly at this point is worth more than the measly five grand they usually throw out during quick fires.

It’s a long ways to Alaska, so the chefs get some down time to explore the ship. Time for some non-cooking related filler material. Bear with me here.

Sheldon and Lizzie head to the spa for a manicure! How exciting! Aw Sheldon confesses that he loves manicures. “I hope I don’t get judged on my masculinity,” he says.

Judged on your masculinity because of a manicure? Who would do that thing like that this day and age? Why Josh of course! 
They need to fill time. I need to fill space.

“Where I come from men don’t get manicures. *wink*”

Right. They just like to wax mustaches into curls. *rolleyes*

What are the rest of the chefs doing? Drinking of course! Actually, Josh is drinking a Diet Coke. Weak. Meanwhile Stefan’s double-fisting and over-sharing his previous sexual escapades on ships. 

More filler time.

The remaining five go to dinner at this gimmicky place called QSine. Get it? Q-sine? (That’s a take on Cui-sine for you slower folks) Let’s put it this way, Le Bernardin has nothing to worry about. This place uses an iPad for its menu, hangs lamps upside down for decor, and serves things like “goat cheese cigars,” and “sushi lollipops” out of a drawer. 

What is this? A lesson in how NOT to win Top Chef? 

Oh oh. Here come Padma and Curtis. Impromptu challenge?

Nope. Padma’s here simply to reveal the elimination challenge. The chefs will serve dinner here tomorrow night. The objective? Make an innovative “Surf and Turf” dish.

Remember Sheldon’s quickfire prize of having an advantage? He gets first pick at the ship’s pantry and fridge. Oh and whatever protein he picks is off-limits to everyone else. He should pick pork just to screw with Josh. Ha.

Here we go again. It’s a ritual now for at least one person to begin challenges with “this isn’t what I do.”

Josh goes, “Making whimsical creative kinda fun food like that is not really something that I do.”

We get it Josh. You do chicken, bacon, and (sometimes) other pork products. Ok. I just looked at his restaurant’s menu. He aint kidding. That is LITERALLY the only things on his menu (and a burger.) Wow.

Game day.

The Sixty-Four Thousand dollar question, what will Sheldon pick?

After wandering around he goes with lobster tail and beef tenderloin. *Yawn* Really Sheldon? That’s probably the most boring and unoriginal pairing of a “surf and turf” imaginable. 

Stefan picks pork belly and packaged sushi style eel. 

Josh goes with (yes, again) pork belly, scallops, and bacon.

Brooke jumps off the deep end with frog legs and mussels. Hey, gotta give the girl credit for thinking outside the box here. Plus, frogs being amphibious, it’s kinda like surf and turf on it’s own! Clever girl!

Lizzie choses a whole sucking pig and scallops. 

What would Top Chef contestants do without me?
Like Jeff Houck, food writer of the Tampa Tribune suggested on Twitter, they need to have a season of Top Chef and ban pork belly, bacon, and scallops and see what happens. Seriously.

The other part of this challenge is they have to use QSine’s funky serving vessels like glass cups on a wired frame and ceramic painters palette. 

Oh hey. Josh is actually going to attempt something that requires technique! He’s planning on making a pasta out of scallops! Brooke’s not convinced. Neither am I.

“Do you know how to do it?” Brooke asked mockingly. Haha.

Stefan’s gonna take these previous frozen, already cooked Japanese eel and put it in a ravioli. Hm. Seems dubious.

Sheldon’s playing it too safe. He’s preparing exactly what the Padma and Curtis told them not to do. Steak with lobster tempura. No creativity or whimsy at all. Hm.

Josh’s scallop “pasta” is of course, not turning out like pasta. You know why? Because he’s not Michael Voltaggio, that’s why. Michael Voltaggio makes squid into pasta that’s how much of a bad ass he is. (Gratuitous mention of the week.)

Squid Spaghetti. Not pork belly.
Ok so Josh is changing it up and just gonna turn this scallop mush into some sort of scrambled egg mush. Good luck with that.

Time to eat.

The judges this week, funny man Hugh Acheson, head man Tom Coliccio, handsome man Curtis Stone, not a man Padma Lakshmi, and a few Celebrity Cruise flacks.

Here we go.

I can't see frog legs either
Brooke: Mussels & Frog Legs
Mussels & Frog legs with Celery Root & Fennel Puree,’ Papadums & Shallot Chutney.

Kudos all around. Talk about being inventive. I wonder how the mussels and frog legs were cooked though. The only negative was the greasy papadums. 

Stefan: Pork Belly & Eel
Braised Pork Belly with Beer Sauce, Parsnip & Eel Ravioli.


Um. Apparently the crispy skin on the pork belly is a little TOO crispy. You can hear everyone crunching away. So much so Padma and Hugh are making jokes about Tom breaking a tooth. Not good.

Wanna break a tooth? 
Curtis is defending the crispy skin. He says that it’s a cultural thing and people in Europe and Great Britain loves the crackling. Still, that seems like it was a little too much.

Josh: Scallops & Pork Belly.
Scrambled Scallops with Braised Pork Belly & Bacon.

Well, looks like his creativity and willingness to go out on a limb really impressed the judges. Tom thought flavorwise it packed a punch, and Hugh says that for Josh, this leap of faith was a good move. Huh. *scratches head*

Sheldon: Lobster & Filet Mignon
Korean BBQ Filet Mignon, Tempura Lobster, Sesame Cabbage, Kimchi & Teriyaki Sauce.

Sheldon knows he’s in trouble. He admits that his food was uninspired AND his tempura’s soggy. Finger’s crossed.
Scallop mush and bacon bits.

Yup. Judges didn’t like it. The tempura is soft, the sauces lacked punch, but most importantly this was exactly the style of “surf and turf” they didn’t want - two separate dishes on the same plate. Judge expected more of an integration. He could be in trouble here.

Lizzie: Pork & Scallops
Cabbage Stuffed with Suckling Pig & Scallops with Mustard Cream Sauce.

Wow. Stuffed cabbage. That’s ballsy.

Mixed reviews. Since the cabbage wasn’t cooked all the way through, the “roll” sorta fell apart right away. Also the suckling pig is overpowering the scallops. However, Tom thought once you get all of the components together it’s a very flavorful bite. 

There you have it. 

I don’t know. Just really seems like the level of the food is just not up to par as some of the other seasons. I mean, we’re down to the final five and all we see are pork bellies and scallops? 

The judges seem to disagree with me. Tom thought for two and an half hours, they all did a pretty decent job being creative. Well hell, what do I know.

Judges’ Table.

Now that there’s only five on them, everybody gets to stand before the judges.

Let's all make the same hand gesture, shall we?
Some of the highlights were Brooke’s frog legs. It was out there creatively and still tasty. Hugh actually says that Josh had one of the better dishes today. In concept and execution, he knocked it out of the park. 

Really. Scallop goo with sprinkled bacon on top is innovative? Guess you gotta give the dude credit for changing his game plan and turning a mistake into something delicious. Hey some of the tastiest foods came by accident. Remember how potato chips were invented?

On the bottom we’ve got Lizzie, Stefan, and Sheldon.

Lizzie’s stuffed cabbage was too simple and lacked something to bring it all together. Stefan pork was simply difficult to eat, not to mention his ravioli didn’t bring out the flavor of the eel. Sheldon’s limp tempura is pretty much inexcusable and the whole thing was just uninspired. 

The winner?

Brooke’s out there frog legs. Yeah if you can combine mussels with frog legs you deserve to win.

She gets a 7 nights vacation on.....Celebrity Cruise in the Caribbean! What a great prize for someone who gets seasick!

Lizzie and Josh are both safe, so it’s down to Stefan and Sheldon.

Oh btw you know they’re doing the Save a Chef hashtag thingy on twitter right? Yeah this week it’s between CJ and Josie. The score is 94% to 6%. I don’t have to tell you who’s in the lead...

In the end, Stefan gets the cut. 

Bye Stefan. Go be smarmy somewhere else!
You can sorta tell that this wasn’t the same Stefan as Season 5. He struggled the entire time, only winning one quickfire in the process. I don’t know if it’s because he’s more successful now and thus less hungry and inventive? Oh well, slight creepiness aside, he’ll be missed.

Down to four. It’s almost finals time!

Thanks for stopping by and we’ll see you next week in Juneau!!

As always, any comments and a follow @ChezWu would be appreciated!


  1. I agree, a bit uninspired.
    I'd like to know what you might cook...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I'd make a uni risotto with blood sausage. I believe that's what Michael Voltaggio would do too.

  4. Spike made lobster noodles in lobster laksa on Next Iron Chef. Although he was eliminated, he got generally good reviews and was edged out. I suspect Spike's lobster noodles were a successful version of what Josh failed to do with his scallops.