Thursday, February 7, 2013

Top Chef 2/6/13--"Kings of Alaska" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: the remaining chefs went on a cruise. They were supposed to make “appetizer” bites using iceberg lettuce. Sheldon won, and was given an advantage on the Elimination Challenge. This challenge was to make surf and turf, but to update it. He got first pick, and then picked filet mignon and lobster tail, which is…kind of not updated. Brooke won with frog legs and mussels. Although Sheldon was not inspired by the proteins he picked out, Stefan finally went home. (click for more)

On Last Chance Kitchen, Stefan and Kristen had to cook outside, and Kristen won handily. She should be about to come back to the competition right?

Josh makes a weird joke about how he’s going to tell his wife not to have a baby. She’s due about now so he’s I guess going to tell her to wait until he gets home? I’m not sure.

The final four get off the cruise ship in Alaska. Cue stereotypical shots of a dog sled, a bald eagle, and mountains. Sheldon says he’s going to put on extra underwear to keep the “package” warm. They all wander over to “Tracy’s King Crab Shack” where Padma and chef Sean Brock are waiting for them. She says some stuff about crab and they must make a dish using king crab. They can’t just cook it and serve it with butter. Sheldon’s never cooked crab before, or at least not Alaskan crab. Winner gets $5000.

30 minutes. There is a big metal pot that says “Crab Only”. I guess you’re only supposed to steam crab but you can’t do like a seafood boil with like, corn and potatoes and sausages? It looks like most people are going to be simple. Or at least simpler. Sheldon is going to be creative, though, because he’s feeling his near-elimination. He’s smoking asparagus on pine needles.

Lizzie: crab frittata with cherry tomato, garlic oil, and fried capers. Sheldon: king crab, Dungeness crab “miso” (made from the eggs), pine-smoked asparagus, and charred corn. Brooke: king crab, sweet corn and leek salad on toast with Dungeness crab butter. Josh: butter poached king crab with succotash and bacon.

Sean puts Lizzie on the bottom, because the eggs were a little overcooked and there were too many capers. Josh “served succotash to a succotash snob”. Also pointless bacon and a broken sauce. Sheldon used the innards and was simple. Brooke’s dish was also easy but delicious. The winner is Sheldon.

Elimination Challenge: Loaves and Fishes. Well, that’s not really the title. But that is the point. Sourdough dates back to “the first pioneers of the gold rush”, and the fishing industry is obviously very important. Salmon mostly. They must make a dish using salmon and sourdough for “the people of Juneau”. 3 hours to cook. It sounds like a local festival or something. Or they just told the locals to show up somewhere. I’d show up. Padma reminds them the locals probably cook salmon and sourdough a lot, and then she rubs it in that Josh served succotash to a Southerner. Burn. A local baker has dropped off some starter for them. Winner gets a trip to Costa Rica.

In the car, Josh gives Brooke crap for being the baker, except that she just baked a couple of times and isn’t a “baker” per se. She gets him right back with a crack about bacon. Their digs are really nice. As they look at some pictures on a wall Sheldon jumps out from behind a curtain and scares the shit out of Brooke. Hee. They go to the kitchen to find huge tubs of sourdough starter for them. It’s 31 years old which is pretty impressive. Everyone makes dough tonight so it can rise overnight. Sheldon grinds up green tea so his bread can be Asian. Josh has olives for some of his bread, and some of the bread will thicken a soup. Lizzie is making individual rolls, and each one will be hand rolled and stuffed with salmon. Josh encourages her to make extra. Yeah, that seems like a good idea. When everything is sitting they all sit around waiting for it to rise.

In the morning Sheldon plays his ukulele and discuss how Josh’s wife was due three days ago but he hasn’t heard anything yet. They go out to the fishing boat (although they don’t actually have to get on a boat or anything) and pick out their fish. There are different kinds so they’re all pretty excited. Both Sheldon and Lizzie are reminded of childhood and fishing.

They arrive at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake to cook. Josh decided last night to put raw starter into his soup. Sheldon is also making soup, pea soup, with a seafood broth base. He says this is not how he usually cooks so he’s worried about that. Brooke is poaching her salmon and grilling her dill bread.

Tom time! Josh’s soup is roasted garlic. He tells Tom his wife is having contractions. Tom asks if that’s a distraction, and Josh is like, yes, actually, thanks for reminding me about it Tom. Heh. When Sheldon tells Tom he’s making pea soup and salmon, Tom laughs and swears that yesterday someone asked him what he was thinking about and he said he felt like pea soup and salmon. Nice. Lizzie is cooking her salmon filets whole, and then I guess cutting portions later, and Tom is pleased to hear it. Brooke seems very flustered. Also she’s poaching her salmon to order. Tom appears skeptical, but maybe just to those of us who have been watching him for a long time and know what skeptical looks like. Lots of frantic running around.

People mob everyone and get food. The place is gorgeous. Also there are shots of bears in trees but I’m not sure that’s legit. However, then Tom starts talking about the bears and Hugh looks up into a tree with a dubious look, so maybe there are bears in the trees. Gail says something about the bears not being invited to the salmon bake, and Tom says he invited them as they are his fan base. Hee! We have Hugh, Emeril, Gail, and Sean is back. Brooke: sockeye salmon and seafood broth with mustard seed caviar and grilled dill sourdough. The broth is very nice, although maybe not the prettiest. The bread is great. Sheldon: green tea and chive sourdough with smoked salmon and pea soup. Padma makes faces at the bread. Emeril says it needs salt. Sean bitches about how Sheldon was tearing the salmon with the tongs and not treating it properly, which to me seems pretty picky. Hugh says the soup is like baby food. “Well flavored baby”. Weird. Sheldon talks to locals and discovers he used sockeye salmon but also chum, which no one actually eats. Oops.

Commercial interlude: Emeril says when Hurricane Katrina hit, one of his chefs took their starter home and fed it for three months until they could open again.

Josh: roasted garlic sourdough soup with sockeye salmon and black olive croutons. The salmon is well cooked and the soup is flavorful, but maybe they don’t go together. The garlic soup is pretty strong. Lizzie: citrus and beet glazed salmon slider with poppy seed butter and pickles. She didn’t want to make soup, because everyone else was. Good idea, and it seems to have paid off at first. They like the pickles, and Hugh raves about the bread. They don’t understand the glaze though, and why she didn’t marinate it, because the glaze doesn't have as strong a flavor as a marinade would have. Tom and Emeril find some “random” guests who love Brooke’s bread. Some other people rat out Sheldon for using chum salmon, although the guy says he doesn’t know why no one does, because it’s amazing.

Judges’ Table. Which looks to be outside in the same place they had Last Chance Kitchen last week. You couldn’t let the judges be inside? Come on. Tom praises Lizzie’s rolls, but he says the salmon wasn’t seasoned. She tasted the components, but not a whole slider all at once, and Gail thinks there was too much bread. They don’t know if Sheldon’s bread worked, and Padma tells him that chum salmon is used for the dogs, but it was delicious. Sean cautions him about the smoke, because there was a lot. Gail loved Brooke’s broth, although her fish was overcooked. She seems to get extra points for cooking to order. She also gets a bunch of praise for her bread, especially the bread when dipped into her broth. Josh cooked his salmon perfectly, but his soup was so bold it got lost. He thought the bread and the roasting would cut the strong garlic flavor. Tom says he shouldn’t have poached the salmon. The winner is Brooke. She’s thrilled for her trip.

Tom doesn’t think the chefs are thinking through the dishes. They don’t like how simple Lizzie’s dish was, and that she never tasted it together. Gail wants to give her points for the bread. Sheldon had problems with both his bread and his salmon. Josh’s flavors weren’t balanced.

Tom says details are important at this stage and then Padma sends Lizzie home. Aww. She says she knows she should have made a really great dish. She’s upset, I want to give her a hug.

Next time: helicopter ride, dogsled, cooking outside? Maybe? Cooking for the governor, Josh’s wife finally goes into labor.

Last Chance Kitchen: Lizzie is not surprised to see Kristen. Tom gives them whole fish, 30 minutes, and a fire. No burners or ovens. Kristen is nervous. Lizzie is going for salmon and fish stew. Kristen is also going for soup, but with cod. Tom wanders about and discovers everyone has stew. They both seem pretty excited. Kristen: cod with coconut broth, clam juice, lime, chili marinated tomato, corn and petite herbs. Lizzie: poached salmon stew with fennel, leek, Hungarian paprika and sweet pepper flakes. Kristen worries that Tom ate more of Lizzie’s dish than hers. Tom thinks he’s getting better food here than in the regular competition. Kristen did a fantastic job, and Tom says to Lizzie that if she had made that dish yesterday, she would have won. But Kristen wins again. Tom says Kristen has one more to go, so I assume they’ll eliminate someone next time, then bring back the winner to the final three.


Anonymous said...

Kristen and Brooke are my favorites. I think both are better than the Baconator and Sheldon...but who knows who might underseason a dish and get chopped.

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh at the 31 year old starter. In San Fr5ancisco some bakeries have starters dating back to the Gold Rush days.