Each week we chronicle how Seattle represents in the show's tenth season.
Previously, on Top Chef: Bears! Salmon! Unnecessary bacon!
Morning. Josh, Brooke, and Sheldon pile in the Toyota to head to Eaglecrest for the next quickfire. Somehow Sheldon ends up driving; I would have guessed Josh.
What's this? They encounter a helicopter blocking the road. Brooke's face is one big spasm of terror. Between this and her fear of boats, she has a lot of transportation-based issues to work through. She tells herself, “Just wait five minutes until the Xanax kicks in.” She’s not kidding; the next shot shows her zoned out and draped on Josh’s shoulder. Breathtaking mountain and glacier scenery rolls by. Seriously, does someone at the Alaska tourism board have compromising photos of Padma or something?
They land on Norris Glacier. “There’s dogs everywhere,” says Sheldon. “I would die for some good reefer.” Are those two thoughts related? The chefs pile on a dogsled; finally, a form of transportation that doesn’t freak Brooke out. Please tell me this challenge doesn't involve cooking mush. Or a dog food product placement. Tom and Padma await amidst the majestic scenery; did she get that weird fur-lined parka thingie at a local gift shop?
The judges welcome Josh, Brooke, and Sheldon to an Iditarod training camp. As you can imagine, the food ain’t great. The chefs have 30 minutes to create a dish based on whatever they find in the training camp’s kitchen. That kitchen has a suspiciously ample supply of Reynolds Wrap
Padma and Tom sit down with some badass Iditarod racers. Padma asks them about training: “Who eats more, you or the dogs?” Sounds like the plot of a winning Top Chef spinoff to me.
Brooke serves up a halibut with panzanella salad. Really, all that stuff was just sitting around the camp kitchen? Having sworn off bacon, Josh instead uses Canadian bacon with his corn meal cake. For Josh, breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day; he cooks it for just about every challenge. The altitude messes with his eggs. Sheldon also prepared halibut, but the judges are obsessed with Brooke’s version and its crunchy croutons. Padma eyes the breakfast dish and says, "I'm going to guess you made this, Josh?" Passive aggressiveness? Huskies? Reefer? We should totally be in Seattle right now. Brooke wins the quickfire, a karmic reward for her panicky helicopter ride.
Indeed, Brooke seems way more mellow on the ride back down the mountain. Back at the house, the chefs find Emeril and Roy Choi in their kitchen, making lunch. No big whoop. Over braised short ribs, Roy Choi tells the group that he was a “scumbag” until age 25, and part of his redemption into LA superchef came from watching Emeril on TV. Emeril's all, "aw, shucks."
Padma seizes this tender moment to remind the chefs that this lunch is nothing more than an intro to the next elimination challenge: Make a dish that represents the moment when you knew you wanted to be a chef. Brooke muses that she was 4 years old when this happened. So…Cheerios? The chefs will be serving their dishes to the governor of Alaska and his wife—in the governor’s mansion. So…not Cheerios.
That night Josh’s phone goes off. Only when your wife is going into labor does Top Chef let you carry a cell phone. She is headed to the hospital.
Brooke asks Josh, “do you want to go home?” “No,” he replies, then quickly adds, “eventually yes, just not right now,” so his wife will not kick his ass when she sees this episode.
The chefs start prepping their dishes, but Brooke still doesn’t know what she is going to cook. Sheldon is inspired by Hawaiian chef Sam Choy and is making pan-roasted rockfish with spot prawns. Josh’s defining chef moment happened in a sauna. On a stationary bicycle. Reading Food and Wine magazine. C’mon, now you are just sucking up to the show’s sponsors, dude. No, seriously, says Josh. He was working out to make weight back in his wrestling days and read a magazine article about foie gras. He’s going to attempt to make a torchon—usually an elaborate three-day process—in an hour or so.
Tom arrives to inspire/interrogate everyone and Brooke finally figures out what she is going to cook. She’s braising a chicken, in honor of her mom, and cooking quail to represent the chef she has become today.
That night Josh's wife calls, emotional and in the throes of labor pains. He sits downstairs in a Top Chef sweatshirt and broods over not witnessing the birth of his child. His much calmer wife later introduces him to baby Georgia (named for his dad), via Skype. A baby born during the final episodes? The producers have to be doing cartwheels off camera.
Morning. Off to the governor's mansion. Sheldon says, “all I can hear in my head is chef Tom saying, ‘don’t cook your fish too early.’” Oh, Sheldon. Must we trot out CJ to remind you what happens when you start having imaginary conversations with Tom? Yep, Sheldon over-reduces his dashi so it’s way too salty, but runs out of time before he can regroup.
The judges arrive, and at no point in the episode does anyone mention the governor's actual name. Sheldon is up first with his salty-sauced rockfish, then Brooke brings her chicken and quail. The room falls quiet as everyone devours her dish. Roy Choi vouches that Brooke is considered a prodigy back in LA. Next is Josh with a trio of foie gras—the torchon, a profiterole, and seared on a cornbread puree. Yep, his torchon totally didn’t set, even after an emergency visit to the freezer. Alaska Governor Sean Parnell McNotSarahPalin doesn't dig all the soft textures, and wishes there was something to actually chew on.
Brooke is the unanimous winner and is going on to the finale. Let’s just call this show Top Brooke. The judges conclude that crappy foie gras is worse than overseasoning. Josh is booted. Ouch, going from having a baby to getting kicked off Top Chef in 24 hours? Maybe Brooke has an extra Xanax.
Next week: Sheldon and Brooke head to the finals in LA to cook against either Kristen or Lizzie. And hopefully we learn the answers to such pressing questions as, Is Brooke afraid of escalators? What vanquished contestants will randomly return as sous chefs? Will Sheldon be lonely without Josh?
Line of the night: While frolicking with sled dogs, Sheldon notes that he and Josh represent “the heavier guys on Top Chef” and dubbed themselves “Team Husky.”