Each week we chronicle how Seattle represents in the show's tenth season.
Previously, on Top Chef: Fried chicken party palace! Unsuccessful bacon sushi! Lots of famous chefs who aren’t from Seattle!
Sniff. Here’s some of our last B-roll footage of our beloved city. The five remaining chefs exult over their almost-finalist status, as well as Josie’s long-overdue departure. Now it’s time to pack their bags, since they are going on a cruise…to Alaska.
Back in the Olive 8 Penthouse of Product Placement, the Quickfire wine is a-flowing “What’s your favorite moment or memorable moment up to this point?” asks Sheldon in a manner that is totally not canned and awkward. For the record, Stefan liked the berry farm. Lizzie liked the oysters.
Stefan says he’s more of a booze cruise guy, and segues into memories of how his mom apparently signed him up for the military? Whatever the specifics, we are treated to lots of photos of America’s favorite thumb lookalike sporting camouflage and a giant rifle.
Everyone hightails it to the waterfront to board a Celebrity Cruises ship that resembles a super posh hotel. The chefs stand on deck and toast to their adventure with fruity umbrella’d boat drinks. They look cold.
Awaiting them in the cruise ship kitchen: Padma and Top Chef Masters host Curtis Stone, who sports a betoggled fisherman’s sweater. Between him and Lizzie, there are a lot of delightful accents floating around. The challenge: Make a bite-sized dish for 200 guests at the ship’s welcome aboard party that features iceberg lettuce. Stefan smirks—he totally got the joke, guys.
Swanky cruise music plays as Curtis and Padma rhapsodize about iceberg’s flavor and texture. He pronounces her name “Powdma.” Is there some sort of shadowy iceberg lettuce council sponsoring this episode? Sheldon calls it like it is: “crappy filling for a taco, a lame salad.”
The chefs get to work in the ship’s limited kitchen. Sheldon has plans for a Vietnamese-style wrap. Josh is working with bacon jam (sadly his own, not Skillet’s) and promises a dish that will taste “like wet salad in your mouth.”
Curtis and Powdma bundle up to hang out on deck and make dumb iceberg jokes while each chef brings his or her dish. Sheldon takes the win and earns a mysterious advantage in the next elimination challenge. Oh, and Powdma has booked everyone a table at the ship’s Qsine restaurant. She tells the chefs to explore and relax.
For Sheldon and Lizzie, relaxation means getting a manicure. Aww, Sheldon is grinning like a little kid about his impending pampering. Meanwhile, Stefan, Josh, and Brooke pamper themselves with liquor. Josh wishes he had a fishing pole, but Stefan has another pole on his mind. “I got laid for the first time on a cruise,” he says, an admission which would be creepy even if it didn’t happen on national television. Josh makes some obvious jokes about a dude getting a manicure (French tips are mentioned) but the bright purple sweater he dons for dinner isn’t exactly the height of manliness. He ribs Brooke about her fried chicken and all the chefs start trading affectionate digs like siblings at Thanksgiving. A Thanksgiving where sushi lollipops are on the menu. The dream of the ’90s is definitely alive on this table. Most of the dishes arrive in what appears to be a tiny version of the set from Hollywood Squares.
Whoa! Where did Curtis and Powdma appear from? That was creepy. “I hope you like what you tasted,” she says. Because “tomorrow night you are running dinner service here.” Literally everyone at the table responds, “hmmmm.” They will be cooking surf and turf, and Sheldon gets to pick his proteins first.
The next day, his ingredient selection in the kitchen walk-in has all the pomp and circumstance of an NFL draft. Despite instructions to be innovative, Sheldon stays traditional and picks lobster tail and beef tenderloin. Josh of course wants pork belly. And bacon. Neither of those things is a surf, Josh. He adds some scallops. Stefan and Brooke go balls out with eel and pork belly and frog legs and mussels, respectively. Lizzie opts for the prawn and pig, which is probably the name of gastropub somewhere in Chicago. Josh gets unsuitably revved up watching Lizzie’s flair for breaking down a pig. I love this woman.
Cooking time. Sheldon regrets his noncreative proteins, while Josh regrets making a scallop pasta that is somehow turning out overly soft. He decides to scramble his soft pasta like eggs. He adds bacon. Bacon is to Josh as scallops are to Jamie from season five.
The judges arrive at Qsine. Powdma, Curtis, Tom, and Hugh Acheson are joined by some execs from the Celebrity Cruises line. Where is Gail these days?
Brooke is first up with mussels and frog legs that please the group. Tom pauses the proceedings to remark, “nice weather…if you’re a whale.” Powdma exclaims that she actually saw a whale the day before. Tom replies that he is “still waiting for the narwhal.” If he is referring to Renee Erickson’s long-promised oyster truck, I am, too.
Back to the food. Stefan’s braised pork belly with eel and parsnip ravioli comes with the greasiest-looking sauce that Tom has ever seen. The judges wince at his extremely crunchy pork. Now here comes Josh with his scrambled scallop pasta-eggs “and bacon you sprinkle on yourself.” Everyone is impressed with his creativity.
Sheldon puts on a game face to serve his soggy tempura. Lizzie has some issues with the steamer so her suckling pig-and-scallop-stuffed cabbage rolls are undercooked. The judges nitpick everyone’s dish and it’s not clear who is on the bottom.
All five chefs line up for judgment so the camera can swipe dramatically across their faces. Brooke’s frog legs take the win. Her prize is a seven-day Caribbean cruise, presumably one where she will not be forced to mass-produce lettuce cups. Lizzie and Josh are also safe.
Sheldon and Stefan await their fate. Curtis says he could hear Tom chewing on Stefan’s overly crunchy pork all the way across the table. Powdma’s voice sounds meek and sad as she bids Stefan adieu. Sheldon gets to join the other contestants for the finals in Juneau.
Next week: The chefs meet some sled dogs and Josh might become a dad. And, perchance, the answer to pressing questions like: Will Lizzie get a pedicure? What will Josh put bacon on next? And why did Sheldon stop wearing his knit cap now that it’s actually cold?
Coolest Seattle moment: We live in a city where Alaskan cruise ships depart from the downtown waterfront.
Lamest Seattle moment: Bidding farewell to our fair city. Seattle, Top Chef viewers hardly knew ye.