You know what’s not appealing at all when you’re sick? Food. Also unappealing? Watching a boat lurch up and down in choppy water. So, I am REALLY excited for this episode of “Top Chef,” which follows our last five fine chefs onto… a boat. Where they will cook. Let’s just hope they don’t hit rough water, because I really don’t need to see puking chefs, either.
Anyway, Padma has good news (for now). The chefs must pack their bags for… a cruise to Alaska! Oh, that means very little choppy water, so that’s good. The chefs head back to their shared apartment to pack. And drink. Mostly drink, it seems. Those are big wine glasses.
Stefan, we discover, learned to cook in the army. It turns out your family can just drop you off at basic training in Finland, which seems a little strange. But hey, I guess I’d get creative in finding ways to kick Stefan out of my house, too.
Brooke is afraid of boats. Uh-oh. I am remembering that ferry challenge a few seasons back in which they had to make tiny little dishes with hot dogs, off-brand chips and candy. Please, let’s not do that again. I think the judges felt unwell afterwards and it had nothing to do with sea sickness.
The chefs board the Celebrity Cruises’ Infinity (plug, plug). They toast one another with fruity drinks, and Brooke has to tell Stefan he’s dancing too close to her. That’s our Stefan!
Curtis Stone, the host of “Top Chef Masters,” joins the final five for the Quickfire Challenge. They will be getting two hours to complete enough food for one bite for 200 guests. And they have to use iceberg lettuce. Stefan gets the joke — Iceberg? Cruise ship? — but Josh does not.
I forgot to mention, the other thing that’s unappealing when you’re sick? Iceberg lettuce. But at least I’m not alone on this. All the chefs seem singularly uninspired by their core ingredient. Core, get it?
As the chefs get to it, we learn about how a cruise ship kitchen is different than a regular kitchen. Everything’s electric, there are no open flames, and everything locks shut. At least they’re not cooking with a hot dog steamer and a hot plate.
Stefan is going to braise his lettuce, because “Padma should have something warm in her mouth.” No comment.
A lot of people using bacon or pork. I think everyone might be using bacon or pork, actually.
Stefan – Braised iceberg lettuce, pastrami, fingerling potato & blue cheese sauce
Sheldon – Vietnamese lettuce wrap with pork, shrimp & pickled iceberg hearts
Lizzie – Iceberg salad with crispy bacon, shallots & anchovy vinaigrette
Curtis asks her if she’d serve this at the restaurant where she works. What’s she supposed to say? No?
Josh – Iceberg lettuce roll with apple cider vinaigrette, bacon jam & blue cheese
This better taste better than it looks.
Brooke – Iceberg wrap with bacon, scallop, caramelized onion & crispy onion
Curtis asks about the size of her food. Hmmm… I guess he’s serious about the one bite rule.
Curtis LOVED all the dishes. Well, that’s not helpful. He liked the fact Stefan cooked his lettuce. He felt Josh played it safe but did it well. He thought Sheldon’s had complex flavor. Brooke’s scallop was perfectly cooked. Still, Padma thought ti was hard to eat. He also didn’t think Lizzie got the one bite thing.
And the win goes to… Sheldon. He will have an “advantage” in the Elimination Challenge.
Lizzie and Sheldon go to get a manicure. Sheldon actually loves getting manicure, because chefs need to take care of their hands. I think this is kind of brilliant of him, actually. It’s not a question of his manhood — he’s just smart and understands the value of his most important tools, so to speak.
It’s the due date for Josh’s baby. Yikes! Well, he won’t be distracted or anything.
The chefs all go out to dinner. Brooke thinks it’s a nice night out with her friends. Yes, five friends who insult one another. But seriously, if there’s a camera crew and they’re “relaxing,” they had better be remembering everything they’re eating and preparing for some sort of themed challenge relating to dinner.
The theme of the evening is wacky, it seems. They eat sushi lollipops and food in drawers. The drawer thing is not working for Stefan, as he has OCD and wants to move everything around. I’m just wondering if the food is any good, honestly. Putting sushi on a stick does not in any way make it better.
Padma and Curtis come in and inform the chefs that tomorrow night, they’ll be running dinner service at the restaurant where they’re eating. The challenge? They must reinvent surf and turf, and get creative. You know, wacky creative. Put everything on a stick, people! Beef lollipops! Blech. During the day, they get to explore the ship’s pantries, and Sheldon gets first pick for proteins — and whatever he picks is off limits for everyone else. Good advantage!
Sheldon picks beef and lobster tails. Huh. Wasn’t this supposed to be a… creative challenge? He starts having buyer’s remorse, and I’m not surprised. Brooke is making frog legs and mussels, for crying out loud.
Josh, when he isn’t marveling at Lizzie butchering a pig, is making scallop pasta. He doesn’t know how to make scallop pasta, however. I think I know who’s going home. Oh, wait. He’s not making pasta anymore. He’s doing scrambled scallop eggs. Oh, eww.
The judges arrive. Curtis and Padma are joined by John Suley, Sheldon Thompson and Caissie Stafford (Celebrity Cruises) along with Tom Colicchio and Hugh Acheson.
Brooke – Mussels & frog legs with celery root & fennel puree, papadums & shallot chutney
Curtis thinks, before he even tastes it, that she was really creative. Tom thinks the flavors are really good. Hugh thinks it’s a very modern take on surf and turf. Cassie talks, but she doesn’t really matter. Still, Tom adds that it’s very greasy. Oh.
Stefan – Braised pork belly with beer sauce, parsnip & eel ravioli
Tom thinks he’s cracked a tooth on the pork. Uh-oh. Curtis loves that crunchy pork, though! He points out that this is a cultural thing. Padma thinks he pushed the envelope. But all Hugh can taste is parsnip.
Josh – Scrambled scallops with braised pork belly & bacon
Guess what? He’s doing ANOTHER play on breakfast! Tom thinks, flavor wise, it’s packing a good punch. But Padma isn’t getting enough scallop. Curtis is pleasantly surprised. Curtis loves everyone, I think.
Sheldon – Korean BBQ filet mignon, tempura lobster, sesame cabbage, kimchi & teriyaki sauce
Well, it looks good. Hugh doesn’t know why anyone ever tries to do tempura on this show. Still, he could eat the kimchi all day. Tom doesn’t know if the ingredients are dating, much less married.
Lizzie – Cabbage stuffed with suckling pig & scallops with mustard sour cream
Her cabbage rolls aren’t steamed because the steamer isn’t working! Tom thinks it’s hard to eat. Curtis thinks the scallop is overpowered, but it’s still tasty. Tom loves the pickle.
I think Stefan’s in trouble. I don’t know if they’ll send Sheldon home based on how strong he’s been in previous weeks. I know, I know, this is all about the challenge, but that’s what kept Josie in this for so long. I think. That, or she had naked pictures of somebody.
The judges yak. Brooke is a front runner. They also liked Josh’s food. Curtis liked Lizzie’s approach, but Tom thought it was one note. Hugh thinks she should be on the bottom, as it was not modern. They don’t like Stefan’s dish and they seem very unhappy with Sheldon’s dish.
The chefs come out. Praise for Brooke, of course. Sheldon admits his ingredients didn’t speak to him. Tom points out he got to pick his ingredients. Josh is delighted that everyone is giving him a walk for screwing up his dish. Stefan rubs his head over his crispy pork. Lizzie looks worried, but she shouldn’t.
The winner is… Brooke. She will be getting a 7-night Caribbean vacation for two! So, her four-year-old son will have to be smuggled on in carry-on luggage.
So, it’s down to Sheldon and Stefan for the bottom two. We get LOTS of slo-mo zoom shots of Sheldon and Stefan. Yes, this is what happens when you stretch a show with five contestants to 1:15, Bravo.
Padma tells Stefan to pack his knives and go. He’s sad! He doesn’t want to go home. He emerges from the experience feeling creative, however, so it’s not all bad. And as he says, “See you in ‘Last Chance Kitchen,’ mother f—ers!” But he has to cook against Kristen, his “Top Chef” wife! Oh, the drama!
Do you think Stefan will beat Kristen or the other way around? Do you think Sheldon deserved to stay despite making soggy tempura again? And were you surprised Brooke won with frog legs?