So, I’ve had a very “Top Chef” kind of week. First I got to interview season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio (and eat very tasty sandwiches from his ink.sack restaurant), and now I’m watching the final three (well, final three before the winner of “Last Chance Kitchen” is dumped back into the mix) duking it out for the title of season ten winner. I won’t lie — I’m rooting for Brooke, though I wouldn’t complain too much if Sheldon or Kristen (via “Last Chance”) took the prize. The only chef I would be a little sad to see win is, honestly, Josh. He seems like a nice guy, but his reliance on bacon and breakfast just makes me wonder if he has the breadth of skills to make him a worthy winner.
Speaking of Josh, his wife is now a week overdue. Maybe she’ll give birth just as he’s getting sent home. I consider that a win-win — less boring bacon dishes in the finale, plus he gets to hold his kid. I realize that being on the show was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I have to wonder if his wife assumed she’d be late, or was betting on him getting sent home a lot sooner.
Go time! The chefs discover they have to take a helicopter ride, which isn’t a big hit with everyone. Brooke is afraid of heights, of tight spaces, and of course, helicopters. The trip will only take 15 minutes, the pilot says. She thinks she’s being reassuring, but she might as well say, we’re only going to ask you to walk in lava for a quarter mile or you only have to bury yourself in a fire ant hill up to your waist! Just relax!
Well, it all works out, because eventually Brooke opens her eyes and she lets Josh get some circulation back in his arm, and she’s blown away by how gorgeous everything is. Then, they land and go dogsledding. Hey, isn’t time we had a dog food challenge? Kidding.
They reach a camp, where Padma and Tom wait for them. Only two will survive to make it to the finale. Which Brooke will win.
For the Quickfire Challenge, they learn the camp they’re standing next to is Iditarod training camp. So, they will be making warm, comforting food for huskies. Not really. No, they must create a dish in 30 minutes using whatever they find in the camp. It’s the last Quickfire before the finale, so they’re encouraged to do their best, albeit in a kitchen the size of an armpit with lots of frozen food. Yay?
Guess what? Josh is making breakfast. Again. Brooke thinks it’s the only thing he can cook, and for crying out loud, she’s not wrong.
So, after running around and panicking, it’s time to dish it up.
Brooke – Pan-roasted halibut, panzanella salad with red currant & beet vinaigrette
Tom likes the flavor and the arugula. The dog sled racers seem happy enough, but they seem happy with everything. Really, their opinion doesn’t count, as I think they’re just relieved not to be eating macaroni and cheese or stew from a can.
Josh – Cornmeal cake with Canadian bacon, scrambled eggs & smoked salmon
Because it’s another breakfast dish, Padma guesses it’s Josh’s. Josh, that’s a hint — stop with the breakfast shtick! Tom does not seem to love the eggs.
Sheldon – Pan-roasted halibut with tomato sauce, sesame bok choy & pickled radish
Tom thinks the fish is nicely cooked, but the sauce is salty.
Tom thinks they all did a pretty good job. He likes Brooke’s dish, but he thinks Josh’s eggs were weird and Sheldon’s sauce was one-note. So the winner is Brooke, I’m guessing. And it is. And she gets… nothing. No car? No vacation? Eh, I guess they used up all the fun prizes a few weeks ago.
Padma drives the chefs home. Really? I keep expecting her to do something surprising, like rear end someone and pluck challenge instructions out of an air bag. But no, Padma gets them back to the bed and breakfast safely, and there they find Roy Choi (co-founder of Kogi and A-Frame in L.A.) and Emeril. Brooke and Roy have worked together, so she has a slight edge, methinks.
Roy and Emeril made the chefs lunch, then talk about what inspired them to become cooks. It turns out that Roy was a scumbag (his word) until he saw Emeril on TV and decided to become a chef. Emeril looks shocked. It’s a strangely heartwarming moment, though both of the men involved are being too macho to hug or cry or anything wussy like that.
Stop all that bonding crap! It’s time for the Elimination Challenge! The final three must make a dish that represents the moment they wanted to become a chef. Brooke can’t think of what that could be, because she’s wanted to be a chef as long as she can remember. Maybe she should make corn cakes in the shape of crayons or plate using a toy doll set or, I’ve got it, cook everything in an Easy Bake Oven! Anyway, the meal must be served to the Governor of Alaska, and Emeril tells the chefs not to hold back. Make the Governor of Alaska quake in fear at the weird crap you put in front of him, chefs! Actually, I don’t think that’s what Emeril means.
Josh’s wife’s water broke and she’s heading to the hospital. Josh is sad. He wants to be there! But he wants to win “Top Chef”! He feels so sad for his poor wife! Eh, back in the olden days guys sat in the waiting room and smoked cigars. He should just enjoy the retroness of it all.
Josh, who is making a foie gras torchon, which usually takes days, will be trying to whip it together in a few hours. And, as Tom tells him, it might actually be his recipe. So, might get to see that baby sooner than he expects!
Josh’s wife calls him, sobbing. Then, he gets the Skype call from his wife in the hospital. The baby is born, and he gets to see Georgia and have an emotional moment with a cameraman shoving a lens into his face, willing him to cry. Josh’s wife says it wasn’t so bad, so they can maybe have another one. I think her epidural hasn’t quite worn off yet.
Our judges are Governor Sean Parnell, his wife Sandy, Gail Simmons, Emeril Lagasse, Roy Choi, Wolfgang Puck, Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi. And Gail is rocking Martha Washington hair. I think Gail just wants to be old. I know she’s only 36, but she’s dressed roughly 45 ever since she started doing this show.
Sheldon – Pan-roasted rockfish, spot prawns, baby vegetables & dashi
Wolfgang thinks it smells Japanese, and he likes the way the spot prawns are cooked. Tom thinks the fish is perfectly cooked. Roy thinks the conception of the dish is amazing. But, it’s too salty. Tom thinks this one mistake could be the one that sends him home.
Brooke – Braised chicken, grilled quail with carrot barley & pickled vegetables
Tom says you can tell when a dish is good, because everyone gets quiet. And everyone is quiet. Wolfgang says his quail is overcooked, but if Brooke’s mom cooks like this, he’d go to her house to eat. Tom thinks she took something her mom made an elevated it. Roy tells everyone this is Brooke on a plate, and makes sure they all know that she was known as a cooking prodigy in L.A. I kind of love that Roy is not-so-subtly campaigning for his pal.
Josh – Foie gras three ways: torchon, pan-seared & profiterole
Roy thinks the flavors war really good on all three. Gail liked the profiterole, but the torchon was not set. Tom thinks he overreached trying to make torchon in one day.
Time for the Judges’ Table!
Josh is up first. Tom tells Josh what we already know — torchon just can’t be made in a day, period. Gail thought it was veiny. But she loved the salty apricot. Emeril loved the cornbread.
Brooke’s next. Wolfgang thought it tasted great, but the quail was overcooked. Roy thought it unfolded in layers of complexity like origami, which was fantastic. Tom thought it all just worked.
On to Sheldon. Wolfgang doesn’t understand how he could cook the fish so perfectly, then screw up the broth. Gail thought the saltiness was harsh.
So, who’s going home? Stop talking, Tom. The winner is… unanimously chosen… BROOKE. Yay! I knew it! She is gonna win this thing, I know it.
The judges talk about who goes home. Everyone wishes Josh had just stuck with one dish he can do well. But Sheldon screwed up the broth! Send Josh home! Let him go change diapers and see if he can find a bacon-flavored pacifier.
Josh is sent home. He feels like a failure. Still, he wishes Brooke and Sheldon luck. But hey, he still has “Last Chance Kitchen.” But honestly, I don’t see him beating Kristen.
Did you think it was time for Josh to go? Whose restaurant would you like to visit? And who do you think will win on “Last Chance Kitchen”?