‘Top Chef: Seattle’ recap: ‘Battle Before the War’

01.09.13 5 years ago 10 Comments

So, Dallas John is gone and that leaves the title of resident jerk to Stefan. I actually like Stefan in all his sexist crankiness (I ate at Stefan’s at L.A. Farm and have to say the food was wonderful, so I’m biased). Of course, Stefan misses Dallas John. He was his morning friend! I like the idea that Stefan has friends assigned to certain times of day. Perhaps that’s as long as he can stand someone. 

Wolfgang Puck joins Padma for the Quickfire Challenge. The chefs will be working with one of the most refreshing ingredients in the world — ginger! I thought this might be a product crossover and Padma was going to say, “Diet Coke!” but not this week. Oh, wait, this is the Canada Dry Quickfire Challenge — I was JOKING about the Diet Coke, people! Egads!

Luckily, the chefs get to use real ginger and don’t have to slop sticky, sugary soda all over otherwise decent food. I have had a perfectly lovely cake with ginger ale, but it was a cake. With frosting. I just wouldn’t necessarily like a ginger ale treatment on, say, salmon. They have just fifteen minutes to cook. 

Everyone promptly freaks out. They have to cook for Wolfgang Puck! Oh, no! That didn’t happen last week or anything!

Josh – White chocolate & ginger soup with peaches & tarragon

Wolfgang thinks Josh was very restrained on the ginger. 

Josie – Seared scallop with ginger-honey yogurt & miso-ginger sauce

Wolfgang thinks the scallops are nicely cooked. I’m always a little skeptical of Josie’s food. Like, I would expect her to actually add some Canada Dry.

Brooke – Ginger-caramel squid with fresh lime & chili powder

I’m sure this is delightful, but the words ginger-caramel-squid kind of make me want to hurl. 

Wolfgang thinks it sounds inventive. He thinks it’s surprising. Could mean anything, really, but I think he liked it.

Lizzie – Watermelon & ginger soup with fresh mint

Lizzie actually used Canada Dry! Way to suck up to the sponsor, Lizzie! Wolfgang thinks it would be a nice soup on a summer day. Really, he can’t say anything else without causing the show to lose an advertiser.

Micah – Ginger shrimp salad with radish, plum, ponzu vinaigrette & fried crispy ginger

Padma thinks it’s refreshing. Wolfgang wonders if fifteen minutes was enough time, and Micah says he made it work.

Kristen – Fennel-ginger salad with brie & tomatoes

Wolfgang thinks her infusing idea is a new idea. 

Sheldon – Wok fried ginger skirt steak with ginger & oranges

Wolfgang thinks it could use some sweetness, but the flavor is good. Hmm, the first minor negative

Stefan – Ahi tuna with lemongrass & ginger vinaigrette

Wolfgang thinks it’s nice — delicate, not overpowering. He asks Stefan if he’s German, and Stefan responds in  German that he was born in Finland but grew up in Germany. Wolfgang likes this. Oh, Stefan, you suck up!

The bad news is first. Wolfgang thought Sheldon’s tasted like pedestrian Chinese food. He thinks Josh’s dessert tacked flavor. He was underwhelmed. 

On to the good news! He thought Brooke’s was inventive and he could put it on the menu at Chinois. He thought Stefan’s tuna was wonderful. He thought Lizzie made a wonderful watermelon soup. 

The winner is… Brooke. Poor Stefan. He even chef-flirted!

Elimination Challenge! Danny Meyer is a master restauranteur whose chefs have earned 25 James Beard awards. And you know what that means — it’s time for Restaurant Wars! Each chef must come up with a complete restaurant concept and a dish that represents it, then present to the judges at Bite of Seattle. Danny Meyer urges them to do it from their hearts. There will be four sous chefs to help them make food for 200 people, and there will be two winners. These two will be the executive chefs who will get to open their restaurants in the second half of Restaurant Wars. 

The chefs hit the market, then return to meet their sous chefs. There’s Carla, Kuniko, Krisyan and… Eliza? Haven’t seen her in so long it’s hard to tell. 

Stefan wanted to strangle Carla while she was still on the show, but he likes the idea of having her as a sous chef because she’s fast and her butt is cute. 

Micah is doing a raw food restaurant. At the other end of the spectrum, Josh is doing a heart attack on a plate restaurant to honor his dead dad, who may be dead from eating like this. Josie is doing a Cuban restaurant, Lizzie is doing a Northeastern Italian restaurant, and Sheldon is doing a modern Filipino thing. 

Tom drops in to visit. Stefan is making a Thai lobster bisque because he has a Thai-German concept. Tom seems to doubt the concept, but Stefan has to win this. He’s been sloppy seconds for too many Quickfire Challenges! Tom laughs. I think Stefan doesn’t know what sloppy seconds means, or he doesn’t care that he’s using the phrase incorrectly. 

Brooke is making an elevated matzo ball soup. Her concept is un-kosher food, Jewish food gone awry — challah ham sandwiches, for example. This would be huge in New York, I think. 

Kristen is going for French food. Tom seems fine with that. I hope she has fried onions as part of her concept!

Sheldon calls home. It’s his 30th birthday. The other chefs even get him a grocery store cake. Pfft, no one could make some fancy pants dessert?

It’s time for Bite of Seattle, and the judges arrive. Danny and Tom reminisce about the good old days — the days when Tom had hair. He is completely unrecognizable with hair. Danny wanted to meet him because he cooked sea urchin with crab meat and mashed potatoes. 

Tom Colicchio, Danny Meyer and Gail Simmons are our judges.

Josh – Neighborhood Bistro – Bistro George

He tells the judges he wants to do bistro food, but very well. And, I guess, with lots of fat and red meat 

Seared eye of rib eye with cauliflower puree & mushroom red wine sauce

Lizzie – Northern Italian Farmhouse Kitchen – Mia Filino

She’s all about Northern Italy, which incorporates a little Hungarian and Eastern European into the mix.

Mustard green canederli with fonduta & crispy speck

Time to eat! Gail thinks Josh’s tastes nice, but Danny thinks the steak isn’t seasoned. Tom thinks it conveys Josh’s comfortable, earthy slant.

Danny says Lizzie’s dish is a very well-known dish from that area, and you have to get it really right to pull it off. Tom thinks it’s heavy. Gail thinks it looks like a slice of American cheese has been plopped on top.

Sheldon – Modern Filipino – Urbano

The concept is that it should taste like something Sheldon’s grandfather would make. 

Sour tamarind soup with pork belly, shrimp & snapper

Stefan – German-Thai – Bangkok via Munich

He’s mixing it up — and to that end, he makes two dishes. The lollipop is meant to cool your palate after the spicy soup.

Thai lobster bisque with shrimp dumplings, potatoes & radishes/ Bavarian creme mango lollipop

Gail likes the coconut broth but really wishes there were some herbs. Danny thinks the lollipop isn’t as good as the soup, and thus his last bite cancels out how good the soup is. Tom thinks the fusion idea is okay, but he didn’t convey it.

Gail thinks Sheldon’s soup is beautiful. Danny thinks it makes you sit up straight — in a good way. It’s very clear to him that he’s cooking from his heart. Padma thinks he kept it elegant and authentic. 

Micah – Raw Food – Raw

Salmon, snapper, himachi, squid, scallop & mackerel with raw vegetables

As a chef in Beverly Hills, he has to think of ways to appeal to the ladies watching their figures. Tom looks totally skeptical. 

Kristen – Classic French – Atelier Kwan

She wants a restaurant that’s a little more formal. I suspect it’s going to be her and Sheldon in Restaurant Wars.

Onsen egg with Camembert-mustard sauce & buttered radishes

Danny thinks Kristen’s radishes are wonderful. Gail thinks her egg is perfect. Tom thinks it’s very well done. Gail loves that her concept is a little formal in an age of cozy bistros.

Tom thinks Micah’s fish is boring. Gail thinks the egg yolk vinaigrette is good but she didn’t get enough. Danny thinks he’s not adding anything to the conversation, as we’ve all had sushi. Good point.

Brooke – Jewish Food – UnKosher

Matzo ball soup with duck confit & toasted black rye bread

Jewish deli meets high cuisine, as Brooke explained to Tom earlier. 

Josie, who will not shut up, can’t get food out. And yet, she babbles. And cackles. And will NOT shut up. I’m really surprised someone hasn’t actually tried to strangle her with an apron or something. 

Josie – Cuban Food – Home 305

Puerco as ado, black bean chorizo croquette, pickles & mojo sauce

This is what she’d cook back home in Miami. For many, many hours and she’d keep everyone sitting at the dining room table, playing with their phones. 

Gail thinks Brooke’s matzo ball is offensive to her people. But she likes the bread. Everyone at the table wishes Brooke had made the matzo ball out of the dark rye bread. Zoinks! 

Gail says that Josie’s pork is dried out and flavorless. Tom thinks the black bean cake is soggy. Danny likes the concept, but it needs to be cooked in a way that he could never do in his own home. Danny is a smart guy, which we already knew.

They were so-so on Stefan’s German-Thai food. Padma and Danny think Micah’s a contender to go home. Gail thinks Josie’s pork was disgusting. Tom thinks the pork was abysmal. So, there’s a bottom three right there. 

Kristen, Sheldon and Josh are called back by the judges. Josh? Seriously? He just made a piece of red meat. Still, they’re the top three. As expected, Kristen and Sheldon win. They both get $10,000. 

The winners can go back and start staffing their restaurants right away — but given that someone is going home, they had better be smart about it. Oh, and the winner of Restaurant Wars gets a Toyota Avalon. 

Kristen picks Brooke.

Sheldon picks Josh.

Kristen picks Lizzie.

Sheldon picks Stefan.

Kristen picks Josie. Errrrrr!

Sheldon picks Micah.

It’s boys against girls! 

Micah, Josie and Lizzie are n the bottom. Kristen realizes her odds aren’t looking too hot. BECAUSE SHE PICKED JOSIE. Duh. 

Gail tells Micah the fish was served in a big wad. Tom didn’t like the pupu platter of fish. Lizzie strikes an attitude. Maybe I wasn’t GRACIOUS enough to EXPLAIN my concept to you, you IDIOTS! Woof, Lizzie. Cool your jets. You weren’t going home a minute ago, but that might change now. Tom thinks the dumpling was undercooked. Danny though there was no relief from a gummy flavor. Gail tells Lizzie God is in the details. 

Danny tells Josie the pork fought back. Gail says all she tasted was grease. Tom thinks Josie keeps screwing up the little things. 

Who’s going home? We’ll find out… after the commercial. 

And it’s… Micah! Wow, really? He was so much stronger than Josie! So, Kristen keeps all her chefs — even the crappy one (Josie). Good god, does Josie have naked pictures of Tom Colicchio or what? 

Micah’s a little pissed, and I don’t blame him. But he’s going to go to Last Chance Kitchen to take on CJ, and he’s still determined to win “Top Chef.” And this season, who knows? If Josie is still in it, Micah should still have a shot. 

Do you think it was Micah’s turn to go? Are you a fan of 

Around The Web