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Top Chef Seattle - Ep. #2 - 11/14/12 (Spoilers)

OK, we're finally off to Seattle. Let the games begin!

The chefs check out the TC kitchen *and* each other. Padma arrives with previous cheftestants Josie (TC2), Stefan (TC5) and CJ (TC3). They'll be the judges for the first Quickfire. The cheftestants are to divide into 5 groups of 3, and they are to make a dish highlighting local shellfish (crabs, mussels, live crawfish, razor clams and geoduck). They only have 20 minutes to complete the dish.

As Padma is still explaining the rules, John starts talking to Kuniko about how to prepare the geoduck, and Padma interrupts John and calls out "Excuse me! I'm not finished!" to get him to stop talking, and then finishes what she needed to say.

Two teams take the geoduck, leaving another who wanted geoduck to have to go with razor clams. The all-women team (Carla, Chrissy, and Lizzie) are a mess. Carla's going to be a problem - completely all over the place and *constantly* talking ("I want to be a James Beard; but I also want a nice ass!").

John and Sheldon seem to be working well with Kuniko and getting their point across as to what the team needs to be doing. Other teams come very close to *not* getting their two plates up to the serving area, but manage to do so. So no one is auto-eliminated because they didn't finish on time.

Gray Team (Bart, Jeffrey, & Brooke): Crawfish with Pickled Red Chili, Fennel, and Crawfish Cream - CJ said "old school" and Stefan said the crawfish were cooked very well.

Orange Team (Lizzie, Carla, & Chrissy): Oven-Roasted Crawfish with Fennel & Herb Salad - Lizzie knows it's a messy dish. CJ said he would have preferred more acid, and Josie said the flavors are nice and it was seasoned well.

Green Team (Micah, Kristen, & Tyler): Fried & Sashimi Geoduck, Radish & Bok Choy Salad with a Yuzu Chili Vinaigrette - Josie said she liked seeing the Geoduck prepared two ways to see the contrast; CJ would have liked to have seen the sashimi cut more thinly.

Blue Team (Sheldon, Kuniko & John): Geoduck Sashimi, Ponzu, Apple & Cucumber - CJ loved the texture and liked the apple with it; both Padma and Stefan thought it could use a tiny bit of salt.

Yellow Team (Eliza, Danyele & Josh): Razor Clam & Grilled Corn Chowder with Fresno Chili & Grilled LIme - CJ liked the grilled lime, but Stefan thought it also needed some more seasoning with salt. Josh said in an aside saying "Stefan is kind of a dick!" He didn't like hearing the criticism from him.

The least successful - was the Yellow Team's Razor Clam chowder.
The most successful was the Blue Team's Geoduck with Ponzu and Apple.

Next up - those three each get to draw knives to see who gets immunity. And who pulls it? John Tesar.

WHOA!!! Padma announces that Stefan, CJ and Josie are rejoining the ranks of the cheftestants as contestants. And *every* one of the original TC10 cheftestants are pissed off. And in the camera aside? Stefan is STILL a jerk! LOL It seems he drives a GT3 Porsche, and has 8 restaurants. @@ And CJ has just gotten back from a stage at Noma, rated the best restaurant in the world, so he's confident.

Each team stays as a team for the Elimination Challenge - which means CJ, Josie and Stefan are now a team. Tomorrow they'll be cooking at the top of the Seattle Space Needle at the Sky City Restaurant. Each team will serve one dish to the judges and legendary Seattle chef, Tom Douglas. They'll use regional ingredients, and will have 47 minutes to prep and cook their dish, as that's the time it takes for the Needle to go around once. They have 30 minutes to shop in the TC pantry before they head to their evening home at Olive 8.

They go "shopping" and Stefan suggests taking 8 quails "just to have it". The Yellow Team doesn't know what kind of fish they are taking, as there's no head.

The suite they're in at Olive 8 is gorgeous. Stefan goes right to the kitchen and opens the wine. They go around to say who's married or not, and it's noticed that Jeffrey is wearing a ring, but he says he's engaged. His father didn't have an issue with Jeffrey being gay when he came out at age 25, but his mother did. She eventually got over it and they both love his fiancé.

They arrive at the Space Needle the next morning and Jeffrey explains that two teams will work at a time. The Blue and Orange teams start first. Blue team seems organized; the Orange one? Not so much. Meanwhile, the veteran Red team are seeing that everyone is doing seafood - and they *might* do the quail instead of seafood.

The judges arrive, and Tom Douglas asks "What do you want me to set up for you while you're here?" Gail Simmons wants to go fishing and Emeril notes that he was introduced to pink (singing) scallops by Tom Douglas.

Kuniko burns the poaching chili oil and has to start over. The Orange team seems discombulated because Carla will NOT stop talking. ALL of the other chefs are watching and saying "I would *not* want to be on her team!" LOL

Blue Team: Chili Oil-Poached Ling Cod with Dashi, Spot Prawn Shabu Shabu
Orange Team: Courtbouillon-Poached Salmon with Seasonal Vegetables & Beurre Blanc

As both teams go back to the kitchen, Carla cuts her hand after reaching into her knife bag. The medic says no nerves were cut.

The judges try the Blue Team's dish. They were concerned that it was going to be spicy-hot, but it wasn't. The dashi was nice and smoky, and the spot prawns were perfectly done. Gail said "As the first thing to put in my mouth in Seattle? Not bad. :::::a bit of a pause:::: And *that* came out wrong!"

They then try the Orange Team's dish. Tom notes the salmon isn't seasoned at all, but Padma notes that the beurre blanc was so flavorful.

Next up are the Red and the Gray teams. The Red team doesn't like the cherry emulsion, so Josie's going to try and come up with something else. Brooke on the Gray team is concerned that the halibut is overcooked.

Red Team: Quail Breast with Confit Spot Prawn, Cherries & Porcini
Gray Team: Pan-Roasted Halibut, Mushrooms and English Peas, Wheat Beer with Herb Sabayon

The judges try the Red team's dish first. Tom immediately said that the quail is overcooked, and Emeril said the Spot Prawn is overcooked, and he's getting some bitterness with the broth. Tom Douglas said "Wow! You guys are tough!" He thought it was a pretty well-developed dish.

They try the Gray team's dish - Tom Douglas said he likes the pickled radish on top, and that you don't get the wheat beer flavor at all...Gail said it tastes like nutmeg. Padma notes her halibut is overcooked, and it LOOKS overcooked. She calls it "hockey puck" and she's right.

Next up - Yellow and Green Teams. Both teams seem to be well organized, until the Yellow team seems to lose their mushrooms...but they find them.

Green Team: Crispy-Seared Salmon, Local Vegetables (Morels, Fava Beans and Sea Beans glazed in Sherry Vinegar) and Spot Prawn Butter Sauce
Yellow Team: Pan-Roasted Cod, Mushrooms, Fava Beans, Pickled Green Apple and Garlic Scape Pistou

They try the Yellow team's dish, and Tom Douglas notes there's not enough pistou. Emeril said he loves the apple, and Tom C. said it was the best part of the dish, as the pistou is overloaded with raw garlic. The Green team's dish seems to be received better, as Tom Douglas liked the Spot Prawn butter sauce, and Tom C. said the salmon was perfectly cooked. Gail thinks the Spot Prawn's texture was lost.

In the Stew Room, the vets explain what it's like being in the competition and the Stew Room. Josie said they'll second guess themselves over and over and over again while they sit and wait for Padma to walk in. And then Padma walks in and asks to see the Blue Team. And they have the best dish of the day! Kuniko gets raves for the chili-poached ling cod, John gets praise for the Spot Prawn, and Sheldon said the dashi worked very well with the other flavors.

Emeril announces the winner - and it's Kuniko! They go back to the Stew Room and tell the Red and Gray teams are to both go see the judges. (I'm thinking the Gray team is going to be the losing team overall.) The judges skewer the Red team, and Tom C. really gives it to Stefan re: the quail being overcooked. Stefan says "But the quail was so small..." and Tom C. grimaces. Stefan realizes he's being an idiot with his excuses and apologizes.

The Gray team seemed to not be cohesive in how they conceived their dish. Bart and Brooke's styles of cooking are very different (classic French and rustic, respectively). Emeril called out Jeffrey for starting the fish too early in the time frame he had to cook (14-1/2 minutes) and then it sat under a heat lamp. The teams head back to the Stew Room during deliberation. Gail said she didn't want to hear from Stefan that the quail was too small and that's the reason they were overcooked. Tom C. said the halibut was just too overcooked.

John Tesar asked the Red Team how they feel, having been here before. Stefan said it's throwing up time.

They're back in front of the judges. And Padma tells Jeffrey Jew to pack his knives and go. The overcooked fish was just too much to overcome. Padma seems upset to see him go.

Previews look interesting - Emeril and Tom Colicchio are in the kitchen cooking with the cheftestants? Looks like they're making a Thanksgiving dinner.

Whew. This was a long one, trying to get everything in. But it's done for this week. :-)

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  1. Wow! Episode 2 and the season is already almost ruined for me. I don't want to see veterans of the show competing against newbies regardless of who the returning competitors are. I hope they get booted off quickly.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chimayo Joe

      Yeah, that was a bit of a surprise. And I *really* want Stefan to go home earlier than he did in his season. What a surprise - his food (when prepared individually) might look good, but I still don't like him.

      1. re: Chimayo Joe

        Yeah, that shocked me too. I don't know what to make of it, though -- on the one hand, the veterans do have an unfair advantage. On the other hand, it's also their chance for redemption. They're also not recent vets. If they were, I'd be more inclined to be irritated.

        1. re: Chimayo Joe

          Ugh, bringing back the vets a la Survivor is foolish (the same goes for the TC version of Redemption Island from the previous season). If they want to bring them back why can't it be during All Stars?

          1. re: Chimayo Joe

            This season is high on the douchebag scale...Carla and the mustache guy can leave on the next plane out of Seattle as far as I'm concerned.

          2. Wonderful recap as always, Linda!

            1. I thought Stefan snidely commented that he currently ran 8 restaurants and owned a Porsche GT3. Hmmmmm.

              Not sure why he is there then if he is doing so well. But I do I expect a serious dose of Schadenfreude to occur as he fails along the way, If only for his ironic and totally unecessary return.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenf...

              The elves are in full force though.
              BTW, recycling is for plastic items, so I guess the 3 returnees qualify. Right?

              Oh Bravo, you continue to parade out the oh-so-lame scripting and same old Shtick So sad.

              Even though I watched, thanks for the recap Linda.

              4 Replies
              1. re: jjjrfoodie

                Yup - note my @@ eyeroll in the original post re: Stefan. Based on the preview for next week, it looks as if he gets bent out of shape at one of the original TC10ers. I vaguely remember a "Then just get OUT of here!" being yelled by Stefan at another cheftestant. So it'll be interesting to see how he does.

                Re: the other two. Don't remember much of Josie from TC2 (Ilan's season), but CJ I remember as being OK. Will be interesting to see how he's improved (if he has) as he wants to show Tom C. "what he has". Looks like everyone looks to Tom Colicchio as the Papa Bear and want so much to impress him. :-)

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  IIRC, Josie was a fairly early boot in TC2, which had a pretty lame group to start with. I don't know why they brought her back because I don't remember her being any good. Stefan is really stuck on himself but at least he's a good chef. The guy with the handlebar mustache needs to chill out.

                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                    I don't get the whole Josie thing. She was incredulous that they let go somebody with "so much talent" during her Season 2 departure. I also recall she was brought on during one of those holiday specials and was booted off early as well. She was also on an episode of Top Chef Season 5 where she was considered an "all-star." To her credit, she did win her challenge against Jeff who ended up being kicked off.

                    Now they bring her on Season 10? Maybe she's super talented but just doesn't do well on these types of shows. But my feeling is that she's got a friend that works for Magical Elves.

                2. re: jjjrfoodie

                  I wonder which 8 restaurants those are. It does not jibe with those listed on his website (3 active [LA Farm is on the Lantana campus], 2 "in progress/coming", plus his catering business which appears to operate out of LA Farm)

                3. Just came on here, but bookmarking with " looks like a thumb".

                  Linda, so glad you are doing this. Thanks!

                  1. 1. It's too bad Carla didn't cut the nerve to her mouth. She's like Charo on crack in an apron.

                    2. I think it's unfair that the previous cheftestants are back. If you bring any back, bring back Mikey and that NJ lady or Betty!

                    3. Stephan is a ginormous dickhead.

                    4. I was sad to see Jeffrey BHKAG but WTF with cooking that tiny piece of fish with that much time left?

                    5. Their residence is an upgrade from previous seasons.

                    27 Replies
                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        CHARO! Yes, perfect analogy for Carla.

                        And I'm glad Betty's not back. God - can you imagine her and Stefan? LOL Wait. Actually, that might be fun (just for the drama) - a team of Stefan, Carla, and Betty. ::::evil grin::::

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          But the newbies would be utterly "lost" amidst all that yelling and screaming and would be hiding under the tables to get away from the knife-throwing so we won't get to see much of them...except John Tesar, if his reputation is to be believed... :-)

                          I had to look up what or who the heck "Charo" is. Does that person really talk and emote like Carla does?

                          1. re: huiray

                            That was Charo's act back in the 1960s-1970s. Married to Xavier Cugat, and "cuchi-cuchi" was her schtick phrase. She *is* an amazing flamenco guitarist (she studied under Segovia). I suspect her command of the English language was better than she let on.

                            And yes, the chest/breast thumping would be rampant (along with knife throwing) - Tesar would probably get in on the act, saying it looked like fun. ;-)

                        2. re: C. Hamster

                          Stefan should have been brought back for an all-stars if anything, but maybe he was brought back to balance Tesar in relative experience and arrogance.

                          CJ will hopefully get a chance to redeem himself after his infamous broccolini.

                          Josie went home fairly early in S2, but wikipedia reports this on her PYKAG episode: "During deliberation, the judges could not determine whether Marisa or Josie was more responsible for the outcome of their dish. Because both claimed equal responsibility, the judges sent both of them home." I have no concrete memory of Marisa or of how this went down.

                          1. re: momjamin

                            Does anyone think that adding these veterans will make for a better 'tv chemistry' among certain existing contestants in the show? like how momjamin pointed it out, with Stefan and Tesar. I liked the way they included the old contestants... I thought John Tesar was going to prove to be a tough personality to handle, his being older, and labelled "Hated Chef in Dallas", + in hindsight, Carla (coming from something as big as Rao's in her resume, and her loud disposition) and Micah (with his feisty attitude) as well. There seemed no way any one of the other existing contestants would be able to handle them if those three started acting up. The season's barely begun, and Tesar, Carla and Micah already have taken a lot of the screen time with their reputations and 'antics'. I thought including the three veterans in the mix would balance John, Micah and Carla's strong personalities out, both in and off screen. Stefan was actually the perfect choice - he's somewhat abrasive to match the others, Tesar and Carla in particular. Josie and CJ looked like strong, steady personalities. Not sure if the veterans would win, but I think they could stabilize the whole crew and make for an interesting Top Chef Season (assuming they don't get axed early in the show, anyway)

                            It was too bad Jeffrey had to go. I thought he had a lot of potential for interesting flavor combinations, given his background.

                            1. re: silvercord

                              "I thought including the three veterans in the mix would balance John, Micah and Carla's strong personalities out, both in and off screen. Stefan was actually the perfect choice - he's somewhat abrasive to match the others, Tesar and Carla in particular."

                              Right now, if you hadn't heard that Tesar was the most hated chef in Dallas (or if he hadn't mentioned it), you'd think he was a great seasoned chef. He seems pretty mellow so far, no need to match an "abrasive" personality yet.

                              I taped the last half hour and it went a few minutes longer so I only saw up to them all waiting to see who would be called. I too was sad to see Jeffrey go so early.

                              C. Hamster's Charo analogy was a good one. She certainly wins most annoying at this point, even over Stefan who seems to me to be more obnoxious than in his actual season.

                              1. re: Joanie

                                i wonder if the reason tesar is the most hated chef in dallas is because he's so intent on telling people he is.
                                it's kind of sad, in a way, for a talented chef of his age to be reduced to marketing himself in this fashion.

                                1. re: linus

                                  Well that article in the Dallas paper that someone linked certainly showed a not so great side of him. Probably just a matter of time before he does something but then again, it's week 2 so lots of people have time to become dicks.

                                  1. re: Joanie

                                    That Dallas paper article was also not written with a "neutral" tone, it should be said, and as mentioned elsewhere on this thread.

                                    1. re: huiray

                                      it could be argued a "neutral" article is virtually impossible to achieve, but that's for another time and another place.

                                      i don't doubt he may become a dick in later episodes, but i find that less sad than his embracing of it to care for his career, wife and children.

                                      1. re: linus

                                        That's a reasonable point.

                                        Correction: The discussion about the article was in the previous thread, in the sub-thread descending from http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8766... which descended from http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8766... .

                                      2. re: huiray

                                        I did see people's comments about the neutrality but didn't think it seemed like a hatchet job in the least. Whatever, right now he seems like a decent guy. I thought Padma's scolding was kind of dumb too, it's not like she hadn't pretty much said what she was gonna say, maybe they had to find something to make him seem like a dick.

                                        1. re: Joanie

                                          as far as that padma thing goes, it was edited in a way that made it difficult for me to discern what exactly was going on.
                                          i suppose the gist was, the guy was talking too loudly over padma, which she didn't like.
                                          on the other hand, i wouldn't put it past either of them to work this all out beforehand because they thought it would play well onscreen.
                                          and that doesn't bother me a bit.

                                          1. re: linus

                                            I saw two things in this. One he was rude in talking over Padma, and two he was working out strategy for the challenge with Kuniko (I think it was her) before time started, which was an unfair advantage. I'm sure he wasn't meaning to cheat, but that's kind of what he was doing.

                                            1. re: ennuisans

                                              You really think having a strategy is cheating? If that were the case then the majority of the chefs each season would be disqualified. Top Chef may be a "cooking" show, but at it's core, it"s a game show. Strategy is the name of the game, it's not how you cook, it's who you can beat & get sent home so you can stay. The final goal is to win, and we all know that doesn't always go to the best chef.

                                              1. re: jcattles

                                                No no, having a strategy is fine. Talking strategy with a teammate before the time starts is not, any more than wiping a plate after time is up would be. The challenge should be executed in the time allowed, on either end, specifically because it is a game show, not a cooking show.

                                                1. re: ennuisans

                                                  I don't see it that way. We are only shown snippets from the what was recorded. You don't think other chefs have been talking to each other while they were standing there? What about in between when they are trying to form "alliances"? Is that cheating? I liken it to being in PE class and waiting to be called for a team, it's normal to look at your buddy & say we've got to get on the same team & knock out the other team's strongest player. Is that cheating as well?
                                                  I will agree that it is wrong to wipe a plate after time is up, but coming up with a plan beforehand? I just don't see it.

                                                  1. re: ennuisans

                                                    First challenge of the season. Dude was over-eager. I would be too, probably. I understand that it might be against the rules, but to call it 'cheating' or evidence of bad character is making a mountain of a molehill.

                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                      I think that's the source of contention here. I did say "I'm sure he wasn't meaning to cheat" but apparently that wasn't a strong enough modifier for such a loaded word. I never intended the comment to be a comment on the chef's sense of fairness, or to say anything other than, as you said, he was over-eager.

                                                      1. re: ennuisans

                                                        Fair enough. I think it's one of those things that has gotten a lot of attention in this thread not because anyone thought it was a particularly big deal but just because people disagreed about it. That winds up happening a lot on TC threads.

                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                          well, and they made a point of not editing it out, just to create a buzz about it. we're all just their little puppets!

                                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                                        Oh so true. Regardless of the editing there has got be high adrenaline in that first challenge.

                                              2. re: Joanie

                                                While technically rude, it didn't make him look like a dick to me in this case. He appeared anxious to get started in a timed challenge.

                                          2. re: chicgail

                                            LOL.

                                            I was thinking the same thing. My glasses are almost identical to his and I was trying to figure out why he wears them on his forehead. Mine are on top of my head otherwise I'd be wasting time looking for them.

                                    2. re: C. Hamster

                                      God yes to comment 1. If she worked near me I'd have a nervous breakdown.

                                      1. re: DGresh

                                        I would have slapped her. How can anyone focus with all that racket!?!?

                                        I really want to see all the chefs cook their own food. Granted, it's easier to team up early in the competition but I'd rather see individuals.

                                        Nice recap, as always!! I can't read though until I watch, which is usually a day or two behind. :(