The cheftestants enter the kitchen checking out the equipment and the competition. Padma arrives with 3 former Top Chef contestants: Josie, S2, CJ, S3 and Stefan from S5. This makes the newbies nervous.
Quick Fire Time: 5 groups of 3 must make a dish that highlights local shellfish in 20 minutes.
Sheldon, from Hawaii, says that this is up his alley. That can be a kiss of death talking head. Or not.
Someone’s talking while Padma is giving the QF instructions and gets admonished. Don’t mess with mama P. She continues the directions. Must say that I’ve never seen that before. Dude must be eager and pingy and forgot to be in awe.
The teams get cracking and Geoduck seems to be what everyone wanted.
Carla Pellegrino wants to be “A James Beard” and wants a nice ass. The diva of the cast. People are getting on each others nerves already, talking over and trying to lead each other. Bart, from Belgium, is cute and has a fabulous accent. He seems confident and take charge in how he approaches the challenge. I’m shallow so these two have caught my attention so far.
So much is going on, it’s hard to follow. This will change as the herd gets thinned. The plates look delicious. “Top Chef” is awesome at making you think you know which plates taste good by just what you see on the screen. The guest chefs get to taste the dishes. Eliza worries that they will be vindictive since they lost in their seasons. Ouch!
Gray team: Bart, Jeffrey and Brooke have made a Crawfish With Pickled Red Chili, Fennel and Crawfish Cream.
“A little old school” is what CJ proclaims.
Orange team: Lizzie, Carla and Chrissy have made an Oven Roasted Crawfish With Fennel and Herb Salad and Chili drizzle.
“Flavors are really nice and seasoned well.” from Josie
Green team: Micha, Kristen and Tyler have made a Fried and Sashimi Geoduck, Radish and Bok Choy Salad with a Yuzu Chili Vinaigrette.
“Tastes pretty good. Maybe a little salt.” from Stefan
Yellow team: Eliza, Danyele and Josh made Razor Clam and Grilled Corn Chowder with Fresno Chili and Grilled Lime.
“Seasoning. Needs salt” from Stefan again.
CJ proclaims the yellow team’s soup as under seasoned. Stefan announces the winner. The Blue Team geoduck! John Tesar, ‘The Most Hated Chef In Dallas’ is pretty stoked. Knives are drawn for immunity and John wins it.
Now that that’s done, Padma drops some information. The QF judges, former cheftestants themselves, are now joining the competition. Yes, I’m groaning about this. “Bullshit” says Tyler in his talking head.
CJ, Josie and Stefan suit up in their red coats and become a team since everyone is staying in their QF teams for the elimination challenge. This will take place at the top of the Seattle Space Needle. They’ll make a dish using regional ingredients for the judges and Seattle’s star chef, Tom Douglas. 47 minutes to prep and cook their meal since that’s the amount of time it takes the Space Needle to go around once.
The teams ‘shop’ in the Top Chef pantry for their meal items and head off to their digs. A gorgeous high rise apartment with a magnificent view of the city. The chefs chill out and get to know each other a bit. Jeffrey Jew gets attention for being engaged to his partner Jim, yet wearing a wedding band. The cheftestants think it’s sweet. Josie gives some good, practical advice to the competitors about how to view the whole thing. She seems like good people with no ego issues.
The next morning, they head to the Space Needle. Blue team gets to cooking and seem to be working well together. John likes to offer advice. He knows his stuff so this isn’t annoying. Orange team takes their term and Carla’s personality is really showing.
Red team, the vets, decide to change their dish. CJ wants to set them apart from the new folks. Josie goes along with it, but says it’s a risky move in her talking head. Sledgehammer moment? We’ll see.
Insert inevitable cooking drama with the teams and it’s time to plate. Judges are introduced. Special guest Tom Douglas, Emeril, Padma, Tom and Gail are there. No Hugh. Blue team made Chili Oil Poached Cod with Dashi, Spot Prawn Shabu Shabu. Orange team made Poached Wild Salmon with Seasonal Vegetables and Beurre Blanc. They retreat to the kitchen and Carla cuts herself. The judges dig in. This is the part where I start craving food like crazy.
Red and Gray teams take the kitchen by storm. Jeffrey has learned his kitchen discipline from being a military brat. Things seemed to go well for both teams and it’s time to serve the judges.
The Red team made Quail Brest with Confit Spot Prawn, Cherries and Porcini. I die just looking at this plate. Gray team made Pan Roasted Halibut, Mushrooms, English Peas, Wheat Beer with Herb Sabayon. The judges find some bitterness and over cooked items in the Red team. Gray team has overcooked Padma’s halibut. The kiss of death on Top Chef is over seasoned and over/under cooked.
Green and Yellow teams take the kitchen. No major issues for either team and it’s time to serve.
Green team made Crispy Seared Salmon, Local Vegetables and Spot Prawn Butter Sauce. Yellow team made Pan Roasted Cod, Mushrooms, Fava Beans, Pickled Green Apple and Garlic Scape Pistou. The judges dig in, loving that they can compare two salmon dishes.
In the stew room, Padma comes and asks for the Blue team. I hear this part takes hours, which is why the talk in there can get interesting after several beers, anxiety and waiting. The stew room has had the best moments in every season of Top Chef.
Blue Team has won! They were very collaborative in their efforts and have a like mindedness about their approach to cooking. Emeril announces the winner is Kuniko. She’s a sweetheart and very humble.
The Red and Gray teams are called to the firing squad. Wow. The veterans swag just went down a few notches. The excuses round begins and Tom does what he does best, cut cheftestants down to size with rapid fire questions that all begin with “Why did you…”
I’ll be upset if Belgium Babe goes home.
The losing chef is our sweetheart, Jeffrey Jew. He of the overcooked fish. It hurts him to have to face his loved ones so soon. I’ll miss his smile and lack of jaded chef ego.
Now I’ll go eat some chocolate.
Follow @tvfishbowl for your Television, Movie, Celebrity, Pop Culture, and Gossip scoop— TVFishBowl (@TVFishBowl) April 9, 2013