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Nov 28, 2012 07:37 PM

Top Chef Seattle - Ep. #4 - 11/28/12 (Spoilers)

We rejoin the Stew Room with the argument that CJ and John were having. Josh calls John out about his lack of tact, saying there's a reason John's the most hated chef, because he's a pr*ck. John retaliates saying Josh has no balls. Lovely. So it looks as if there are several people not liking Tesar.

The next morning, several chefs watch John walk through the suite, and no one says anything. John calls Josh a redneck in a camera aside (based on the argument the night before). Stefan notes the tension in the suite because of the catfight in the Stew Room, but says he loves that John pushes everyone's buttons. He calls it "Housewives of Seattle." LOL Kristen also gets a foot rub from Stefan out on the deck.

Back into the TC Kitchen, and Padma is there with Top Chef Masters alum Naomi Pomeroy, chef/owner of Beast. The Quickfire ingredient is behind a curtain, and Padma removes it to reveal two primal cuts of beef. They have 1 hour to create a dish with their favorite cut. Naomi says butchering skills are going to be part of the judging, but to use the sides of beef as a blank canvas. Padma notes safety first--only two cheftestants allowed to cut on one side of beef at a time.

One group is unable to get their beef off the hook, wasting a lot of time. CJ is going with steak tartare, John and Micah are both going for the oxtail, Kristen cuts herself, Tyler is going with Spanish-style crudo, hoping that Naomi and Padma see he's thinking outside the box. Stefan looks to be doing a meat-filled ravioli, and needs an aspirin dealing with Carla. Lizzie's concerned her pressure cooker isn't working well.

Eliza - Grilled Flank Steak with Cherry Cognac Reduction, Asparagus & Potato Cake - Padma was surprised at the asparagus with cherry reduction.

John - Braised Oxtail, Potato Gnocchi with Roasted Veggies & Celery (isn't celery also a veggie?) - Naomi is surprised he was able to get it tender enough in the time allowed.

Josh - Beef Metaballs with Creamy Polenta & Pickled Shallots - nice acidity

Sheldon - Kalbi Round Steak with Tomato Cardamom Broth & Fennel Salad - Naomi liked the flavors, but prefers is closer to a medium doneness.

Brooke - Grilled Hanger Steak with Smoked Onion Figs & Cauliflower Puree - a tiny bit on the rare side, but it's Naomi's favorite cut of beef.

Tyler - Hsipanic Crudo with Charred Tomato Sauce & Cilantro Radish Slaw - Padma asked how he cooked it - flash-grilled it.

Kristen - Top Sirloin Tartare with Mustard Sabayon & Carpaccio Salad - Naomi asked if she got the cut she wanted; Kristen said she went for what she saw first so she could get cooking.

Micah - Oxtail Polenta with Truffled Romanesco Cauliflower - Naomi thought he did a great job in his butchering.

Carla - Sirloin Medallions Wrapped in Bacon, Asiago Risotto with Marsala Sauce - Naomi liked the flavor - the sauce was nice.

Stefan - Braised Top Round Ravioli with Marjoram & Aged Parmesan - Naomi liked the flavors.

CJ - Top Round Tartare, Raw Juniper & Kohlrabi - Padma says "very nice!"

Chrissy - Grilled Hanger Steak with Brown Butter, Parsley & Radish Salad - no comments heard, but a couple of approving nods.

Lizzie - Briased Foreshank with Turnips & Dill - Naomi thought it needed a bit more time in the pressure cooker but appreciated the risk.

Bottom group - Lizzie, Eliza, and Tyler
Top group - CJ, John, and Josh

The Quickfire winner? John Tesar. Both CJ and Josh looked a bit disgruntled at his win. He gets immunity at the next challenge.

The Elimination Challenge is a Time Traveling one. Mark & Brian Canlis join Padma and Naomi. They are the owners of Canlis Restaurant in Seattle. Their grandfather opened the restaurant in 1950, and for one night only, the cheftestants will revive the original Canlis menu from 1950. The winner of the challenge will win $10,000. AND Padma announces that two of the cheftestants will be eliminated.

They get copies of the menus, and divide out who's making what. Looks to be Stefan is assigning dishes - Kristen is ticked off she gets sauteed mushrooms and fried onions to do. Carla's not happy with the squab and doesn't like being told what to do. Chrissy gets the Canlis special salad that is *still* on the menu from when it opened.

John will expedite, since he has immunity. He and Josh discuss french onion soup - John tells Josh he'll jump back and help Josh, as that was his first job in a French restaurant at his first job in 1975. Josh rolls his eyes.

Back at the suite, Sheldon wonders if LCK is happening. Josie asks how it works and when the LCK winner comes back into the TC kitchen.

The next morning, they're off to Canlis to begin prep. Carla tries to figure out what to do with the squab - leave in the rib cage? She notes the grill room is tiny - only Sheldon and Bart can get in there, so she tells them how she wants the squab done. Just before service, John starts telling the cheftestants how side dishes are to be delivered with the entree. And tells everyone no yelling at each other.

Diners arrive, and Hugh Acheson is joining them, along with Emeril and Naomi. John seems to be a bit confused as to how to expedite and call out the tickets.

First the appetizers:

Tyler - Fresh Crab Leg Cocktail
Lizzie - Marinated Herring
Josh - French Onion Soup
John - Steamed Clams Bordelaise
Chrissy - Canlis' Special Salad
Brooke - Seafood Salad a la Louis

Tyler's crab cocktail was well received. Josh's soup was too salty, cold (per Hugh), no bubbling cheese, per Naomi, and not guest-friendly, per one of the Canlis brothers. They needed a spoon, a fork, and a knife to cut the crouton. Too much work. Brooke's seafood salad was just as if it came out of a Time-Life Cookbook back in the day, and Tom C. said the seafood was perfectly cooked.

Chrissy's salad was way over-dressed, croutons were very soggy. Padma said if there was more mint in it, she'd have been OK with it. Lizzzie's herring is Naomi's favorite dish - well marinated, and Emeril loved the crackers. Tom C. loved John's clam dish.

Time for the second course - Stefan and Carla start to get into it, as Stefan can't hear anything because Carla's too loud. Squab has already come back from the diners, as it was too rare. Someone else didn't want a squab, and the waiter said they didn't want it, to fire mahi. A *third* squab comes back, and it's also too rare. Carla thinks it's supposed to be medium-rare, but she she tells Sheldon to cook them further so they're cooked more.

Sheldon - Mahi Mahi with Beurre Blanc
Carla - Squab with Red Wine Reduction with a side of....
Micah - Mixed Vegetables
Stefan - Calves Liver served with....
Kristen - French-fried Onions
Bart - Double-Cut New York Steak
Josie - Gargantuan Baked Potato
CJ - Shish Kebab with Pilaf with...
Kristen - Sauteed Mushrooms

Sheldon's mahi mahi was well received. Tom did receive a dish with part of the bloodline still in, but said the fish was perfectly cooked. One of the Canlis brothers notes that their grandfather used to pack the mahi mahi in the Pan Am flight attendants' suitcases (packed in ice) to get the fish to Seattle.

Hugh notes Micah's carrots are way underdone, the turnips are overdone; a mish-mash. But Naomi said it was the perfect blend of vegetables to signify the 1950s. Carla's squab wasn't boned properly, per Tom, Hugh said it should have been cut in half, and Naomi said she's never seen squab cooked that much (contrary to what other diners were sending back!). Stefan's liver dish probably looked and tasted exactly as it was back in 1950. Emeril said he respected the product and *finally* - he left something alone. Kristen's fried onions were *very* well received by the Canlis brothers.

CJ's shish kebab was underseasoned; Hugh said the lamb seemed very mealy, and Tom noted he thinks it was cooked via sous-vide. There wasn't really enough rice in the rice pilaf, and it was sort of soggy. Bart's steak was only fairly received. It was sliced with the grain, not against the grain. Josie' s potato was beautiful, but one fo the Canlis brothers would have preferred to have cut it himself to see the steam come out of it and Padma thought that oil on the skin would have allowed them to crisp up. And again, Kristen's sauteed mushrooms were very well received - one of Tom's favorite dishes.

Time for dessert!

Danyele - Vanilla Ice Cream
Danyele - Royal Hawaiian Supreme
Eliza - Mint Sherbet
Eliza - Frozen Hawaiian Pineapple Parfait

Padma said the desserts, out of all of the courses, smacked of the 1950s. Tom said Eliza's parfait was "good" - fruit was fine, ice cream was fine, had a bit of a crunch - what else do you want from a parfait? One of the Canlis brothers liked Danyele's ice cream with the salty brittle on top (although when someone tried it - Hugh? - it looks like mint soup). Naomi liked Danyele's Hawaiian Supreme because of the marshmallows.

The table discusses the dishes - Chrissy's Canlis salad was very poor, as was Carla's squab, CJ's Shish Kebab and Josh's onion soup.

Padma comes into the kitchen and asks to see Lizzie, Kristen, Tyler, and Stefan. They had the winning dishes. Hugh announces the winner - and it's Kristen! She gets $10,000. And Stefan was very happy for her for winning!

They want to see Carla, Chrissy, CJ and Josh for preparing the worst dishes. Remember - TWO of them will be going home. The onion soup was too salty, per Tom (which another cheftestant had teasingly said to Josh in the kitchen) and Tom received a cold soup. Hugh asked how it was expedited, and Josh said everyone thought John had a plan, but he didn't, and he was "like a monkey". Chrissy's salad didn't have the flavor in the vinaigrette, and it was soggy. Carla' s squab wasn't cooked; the judges were astonished to hear she didn't check the squab on a regular basis as they were going out to the diners. She got to try the *last* squab but not enough of them beforehand. CJ also noted that the lamb kebabs were slightly mealy; Tom asked why, when preparing a dish from the 1950s, was he sous-viding the lamb? CJ said in hindsight he wouldn't have done it at all. (Like, DUH!) Emeril also didn't get the flavor of the marinade and didn't want to eat the lamb at all.

Who's leaving Top Chef? It's Chrissy for her salad and Carla for her squab. I'm sorry to see Chrissy go; have to say I'm *not* all that sad to see Carla gone.

And YES! Last Chance Kitchen is back online! Jeffrey, Kuniko, Carla, and Chrissy all get a chance to battle.

Previews show an ENTIRE TEAM going home next week! (Oh wait - a "team" seems to be 2 people.)

NOTE - I think what we did during the last regular season of Top Chef was an entirely separate thread for Last Chance Kitchen, rather than here. So someone else can start a separate thread if they want. Either way, I personally don't want to do LCK here. :-)

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  1. Count me in as someone who doesn't like Tesar. I'm sure some of it is editing but I really can't stand people like that. It's one thing to be able to speak your mind etc, but another to just be totally rude about it.

    I enjoyed the quickfire challenge, it let each chef just do their thing in their own style. I thought the EC was a bit lame, as people got stuck doing things they wouldn't normally do, with no creativity involved. I was not disappointed with the eliminations though, Chrissy never stood out to me, and Carla was just really f'n annoying and spent more time yelling at other people instead of tending to her food.

    10 Replies
    1. re: juliejulez

      I used to think that editing was a big factor created by the Elves to hype drama, but let's face it, they can't create drama or highlight bad manners or ill behavior unless a contestant provides it for them. As someone who used to media train spokepersons, one of the primary rules of the road was "if you don't say it or do it, they can't use it against you." And folks have a hard time with that one, believing they were "quoted out of context." Nonsense. If you behave badly, you'll look bad.

      1. re: chicgail

        That's very true. I also think some of the contestants get a little crazy in that setting. My best friend knows Heather Terhune very well (also Tyler Wiard from this season), and she said that Heather is not nearly as crazy and bitchy as she was on the show. She has her moments I guess but not nearly as bad as she was on the show.

        1. re: juliejulez

          Heather could be one quarter that crazy and nasty and still be a nightmare. :-)

          1. re: mcf

            Oh yes, my friend didn't deny that she isn't... difficult. She just isn't as bad as she looked on the show :)

            1. re: juliejulez

              Yannow, character is revealed under challenging circumstances more than in every day life. :-)

        2. re: chicgail

          I remember a few years ago when Charles Barkley claimed he was misquoted in his autobiography.

          1. re: chicgail

            I think that changes more than a little when there's no video. The way they create sentences from fragments makes it possible to put anything together. Unless I get to see the conversation with both sides in one camera shot with no cuts, I always assume there some editing at play.

            1. re: chicgail

              What I've read from people in reality shows is that the alcohol is free flowing and they're exhausted. They're repeatedly asked questions until they get something close to the response they want. I can't remember what contestant said this but he was quoted as calling another contestant an asshole but then followed it up w/ "but, we're all assholes." They edited out the second part. He said when he heard it, he immediately called up that contestant to explain and that they had a good laugh about it. So, while poor actions can come across, I take things w/ a grain of salt.

              1. re: chowser

                That was Tre talking about Marcel on All Stars.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Good memory. I was sure someone would remember it.

          2. Random thoughts:

            - The argument at the beginning of the show was one of those affairs where everyone arguing came off worse for it. At least Tesar doesn't have a good reputation in the first place to ruin via squabbling on TV. Never fails to surprise me how little self awareness (or awareness of the camera crew, anyway) some contestants demonstrate.

            - Anyone pumped to watch a Stefan and Kristen love affair develop? Anyone?

            - I feel a little bad for Chrissy. She went out early for a fairly arbitrary dish without any major theatrics, and as such she didn't get to make any real impression. I'd root for her on LCK on principle, except I'm already kinda pulling for Kuniko.

            - The playing field seems very level so far, with no one consistently dominating or bringing up the bottom. That tends to favor people who just don't make obvious technical mistakes in their cooking. Offhand, Tesar seems to fit that bill. Hard to handicap a lot of the other contestants. Though there have been a lot of bafflingly avoidable technical errors - Josie's turkey last week, Josh's choice of bowl for his french onion soup, Bart cutting steak with the grain rather than across it, CJ... well, see below for more about CJ.

            - A note on CJ's shish kabob. The edit seemed to imply that his lamb was mealy because he cooked it sous vide. That's not quite true. Almost certainly, his lamb was mealy because he cooked it sous vide for WAAAYYY too long. Probably 2.5 hours minimum, when it would have been cooked through (and not at all mealy) in 25 minutes. That's what happens when tender cuts of meat are held in a sous vide bath for too long. Why was CJ baffled? Because he doesn't know the technique very well.

            His mistake was worse than that though. As pointed out by the judges, there was no reason at all to cook shish kabobs sous vide if you're going to grill them afterwards. By the time you grill it on all sides, it's going to be cooked through. If you hold back on the grill to try to preserve the evenness of the sous vide cooking, you're just killing the great flavor from the grill. It was a textbook example of someone using a new technique without purpose or mastery of the technique. Makes me think all of CJ's talk about upping his game was a lot of bluster and a few simple tricks, not real growth as a cook. I found myself hoping he'd get the boot this episode, because it's this kind of thing that makes people hate sous vide, one of my favorite cooking techniques (if that's not already obvious).

            - While I'm sure many people might be happy that Carla is leaving, I suggest we take a solemn moment to empathize with those eliminated chefs who will be stuck with her in the Top Chef evictee house for the next month or two, without even the promise of TV stardom or maybe winning a Prius to console them.

            42 Replies
            1. re: cowboyardee

              while i don't want to turn this thread into a sous vide symposium, do you really think sous vide is a de facto no-no for cooking kebabs?
              it's my understanding, and i'm happy to be corrected, sous vide allows you to hold the product at any temperature you want for an infinite amount of time -- assuming the kitchen had a means (immersion circulator or equivalent) of precise temperature control.
              thus, perhaps c.j.'s intention, if, say, he wanted to serve the kebabs at medium rare, was to cook and then hold the kebabs at a temp somewhat below medium rare, and then finish them on the grill to get the grill marks and crust and achieve a pleasing final temp or degree of doneness.
              don't many cooks sous vide meats and then get a char or crust by finishing them with conventional cooking methods?
              don't many cooks sous vide meats because of the texture achieved by holding them at a temp for extended periods of time? does a piece of steak, for example, turn mealy if you hold it at 120 degrees for 120 hours?
              is there a marked difference in texture of a piece of steak held at, say, 125 degrees for twenty minutes and a piece held at 125 degrees for twenty hours?
              i don't know the answer to this.

              i'm pretty ignorant of this stuff, so i'm happy to be corrected and informed. c.j. seems reasonably accomplished to me, and i think it may be premature to label him ignorant of a technique because he screwed up once in a high pressure situation.
              for example, i think josie probably knows how to cook a turkey, but just screwed up the one she cooked last week. stuff happens.
              unfortunately, because this is a "competition," you only get one shot per week and the consequences can be "dire."
              i would contrast c.j., who i think (but i certainly may be wrong) knows how to sous vide meat and messed it up, with carla, who seemed to not know how to cook a squab.

              1. re: linus

                "while i don't want to turn this thread into a sous vide symposium..."
                *Shrug* I always kinda like it when the discussions/arguments/whatever in these threads turn toward the cooking techniques. Bring it.

                "it's my understanding, and i'm happy to be corrected, sous vide allows you to hold the product at any temperature you want for an infinite amount of time"
                Not quite, but that's a common misunderstanding. Sous vide breaks down connective tissue in meat. That's why you can use sous vide to make braising cuts (short ribs, pork shoulder, pork belly, oxtail, etc) extremely tender. But it also slowly breaks down connective tissue in tender cuts. And when too much of the connective tissue in these cuts breaks down, you get an unappealing mealy texture, rather than the luscious gelatin-rich texture of the braising cuts.

                You have a large window of time to remove tender cuts from the heat - much larger than with other cooking methods. There is little difference between cooking an hour vs 90 minutes (depending on thickness). But that window isn't indefinite. You can 'overcook' meat using sous vide - you just can't overheat it (unless you pick the wrong temp). If CJ got a mealy texture, he left his lamb in the bath for several hours, when less than one hour would have sufficed and not hurt the texture.

                "do you really think sous vide is a de facto no-no for cooking kebabs?"
                There are certain situations where sous vide might be used for kebabs, but they don't apply here. If you wanted to make kebabs out of a meat that is normally considered too tough for kebabs, you might cook the meat sous vide for a long time, chill the meat, and then grill. I've done this with short rib chunks, for example. But CJ didn't have time to do that.

                Another example - if you wanted to use chunks of meat substantially thicker than you would normally use for kebabs, then sous vide might be useful to make sure they're cooked through uniformly, since cooking large chunks on the grill might tend to either burn the outside or make for uneven doneness. Of course, then the chunks wouldn't be bite-sized. And this didn't apply to CJ in this challenge either.

                If you had no intention of grilling the meat after cooking - say you wanted to finish the chunks with a thick flavorful glaze instead, then sous vide might be appropriate. Again, not the case here. Or if CJ was grilling in the exhaust of a jet engine, then sous vide might be a good idea. But we'd be talking about 15 seconds per side on the grill - stupendously hot, even for a professional model. You could also sear with a blowtorch, but you'll get much better flavor searing traditionally on a grill, IMO.

                "don't many cooks sous vide meats and then get a char or crust by finishing them with conventional cooking methods?"
                Yes. But realize that sous vide either limits how much of a sear you can put on a piece of meat while still retaining the evenness of cooking obtained from sous vide, or else requires that you use a thick cut of meat to get a good sear and still retain some of sous vide's benefits. The problem in CJ's case - he was using kebab-sized hunks of meat which weren't thick enough. And to get ideal flavor on a grill, he'd have to sear em on all sides. This would have cooked the lamb through and killed the evenness of the sous vide cooking. It also made it very possible for him to overcook the meat on the grill if he didn't let the lamb cool off after the sous vide bath (though it seems he was not guilty of this, at least).

                If he hadn't left the lamb in the bath for too long, cooking it sous vide wouldn't have hurt anything, but it wouldn't have helped either.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Wonderful explanation, cowboyardee - thanks!

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    My thought with CJ and the sous vide was his attempt to make sure his meat was tender, then put some grill marks on it to appear that was how it was prepared. He simply blew the technique... badly, and was called out for it.

                    1. re: bobbert

                      It's certainly possible to superheat some grill grates, cook meat sous vide, and then give it ~30 seconds/side on the grates to put some marks on it without much changing the way the interior is cooked. But that's just such bad technique in its own right. Using the grill for markings but not for flavor completely sets up the dish to disappoint. Better to finish another way entirely, if you're dead-set on cooking the lamb sous vide. Either that or grill em properly to develop all the flavor those marks normally promise, in which case sous vide isn't necessary.

                    2. re: cowboyardee

                      well, i'm a hypocrite, 'cos here comes some more symposia.

                      is not the breaking down the connective tissue a product of temperature, not time? that is, (if you'll indulge me getting my harold mcgee on), if connective tissue breaks down at temperature x, then, if the temp never goes near or above x, the breaking down of the tissue does NOT occur?

                      thus, when cooking tenderer cuts of meat, like c.j.'s kebabs: he sous vides them until they reach, say, 115. and holds them there indefinitely. you're saying, even if the temp doesn't rise above 115, breakdown of connective tissue occurs? or does breakdown of muscle fibers themselves occur given enough TIME?

                      so in a perfect world, c.j. holds his kebabs at 115, and gets a really hot fire going, sears them on two sides, properly rests them, and the temp climbs to 125-135 or so, medium rare.
                      if no connective tissue is involved, (say, what would be in a tender cut of steak, be it lamb, beef, dik dik, whatever), is the REMAINING tissue affected by TIME as well as TEMP?

                      sorry if if this is redundant. i just want to get a handle on whether or not c.j.'s method was poor, or his execution.

                      1. re: linus

                        "is not the breaking down the connective tissue a product of temperature, not time?"
                        It's a function of temperature AND time. That's why you get completely different textural effects cooking sous vide short rib 20 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours, even if you use the same temperature in each case. If it was a function of temp only, all you would have to do is cook em through to your desired temp - which would take maybe 40 minutes, not the 40-72 hour cook times you often see listed for sous vide short ribs.

                        "he sous vides them until they reach, say, 115. and holds them there indefinitely. you're saying, even if the temp doesn't rise above 115, breakdown of connective tissue occurs? or does breakdown of muscle fibers themselves occur given enough TIME?"
                        Short answer: the tissues in the meat break down as a function of time and give tender cuts an unappealing mealy texture when you cook em too long. It happens quicker at higher temperatures, but it happens either way.

                        Longer answer: this starts getting complicated. For one, I'm claiming that connective tissue breaks down as a function of time and temp (which is certainly true), but I'm not at all certain that connective tissues are the ONLY proteins that break down, or that it is this break down of connective tissue specifically that is responsible for the mealy texture. I just know that the texture gets mealy.

                        Complicating things further, you actually have different processes happening at different temperatures. I know that connective tissue starts breaking down at a temperature as low as 130 f. Could be lower - I'm not sure. And as I mentioned above, tissues break down more quickly the higher the temperature. Which is why you're more likely to cook short ribs for 72 hours at 131 degrees and 48 hours at 140 degrees. And also why tender cuts cooked to medium sous vide will get mealy a little bit sooner than the same cut cooked sous vide to medium rare.

                        But interestingly, at temperatures between about 100 deg f and 125 f (I'm not certain on the exact numbers), a different process causes breakdown of meat tissue - that temperature range increases the activity of the meat's own enzymes, and the meat digests itself, in a sense. The end result in either case winds up being mealy-textured meat if it's held at those temperatures for too long. Hypothetically, I've read you can deactivate/denature meat's own enzymes by bringing the temperature above about 140 (again, inexact figures), and so I don't really know what would happen if you raise the meats temp fully but briefly to 140 f and then hold it in a bath at 115 for a few hours - you might not get the textural breakdown (though this is perhaps problematic from a microbial point of view). But in any case, these are experiments that I have not yet tried.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            Excellent review. Thanks for the education!

                            I can see the connection between time and temp. Anyone who has braised a roast should. But I never really thought about how the lower temps would have the same effect, basically, over time. Very interesting.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              This is why I love this site. I never knew any of this stuff. Thanks for giving the tutorial.

                        1. re: linus

                          The biggest problem with CJ's kebobs was that in 1950 at the Canlis Restaurant they were not cooking anything sous vide.

                          1. re: John E.

                            I do think there are ways you can use sous vide well in updating some classic dishes while staying true to what's essential about the dish. But this wasn't one of them.

                            1. re: John E.

                              They weren't using snazzy table top electric ice cream makers either.

                              1. re: NonnieMuss

                                I was wondering why they were using those ice cream makers. Maybe Canlis only has a Paco Jet and not a batch freezer? Surely they have something better than those little Cuisinart things.

                          2. re: cowboyardee

                            I didn't understand the reason behind the sous vide either if they were grilled. They're small chunks of meat. Grill them and they're done in about 5-7 minutes, max!

                            And I LOL'd at your last paragraph. Last night after I finished the recap, I went to Bravo's website to see if LCK was up there. Wasn't yet at 11:45 pm EST. But I did see videos for "After the Knife" - the eliminated Cheftestant House videos. Will have to watch them tonight. ;-)

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              'I feel a little bad for Chrissy. She went out early for a fairly arbitrary dish without any major theatrics, and as such she didn't get to make any real impression."

                              CowboyRdee - Just so you know - in Seattle, that salad is FAMOUS! Iconic! Everyone who is a foodie knows that salad, and it is a pretty big crime to screw it up. If you can't be careful enough to make a good version of a salad that you know has 60 years of history behind it - and then double the crime by overdressing it - that is certainly a reason to be sent packing. Just a native's opinion:)

                              And - I am with you on the silent prayer for everyone stuck in the LCK with Carla!

                              1. re: gingershelley

                                Too bad Chrissy wasn't a native. Or hadn't had better direction on what it even is.

                                1. re: Leepa

                                  Yes, especially when she was apparently mislead by one of the Canlis brothers when she *asked* what it was supposed to be like.

                                  If you are a native of Seattle AND have eaten at Canlis several times then I agree it would be expected that you should know what that salad is. Even then, I wonder how many "foodies" in Seattle are really cognizant of that salad. Are ALL folks in Seattle *expected* to know what that particular salad is? How long does one have to have been in Seattle before it becomes an "acid test" of what that salad is?

                                  I think it a reasonable supposition that Chrissy Camba had never seen that salad before nor known what it was supposed to be like. Yet she was judged by those who knew what it was supposed to be like when she *did not* know what it was really supposed to be like nor had gotten correct or useful info from the Canlis brothers when she asked them about it.

                                  Even her rival cheftestants realized that her challenge was the hardest, because she was going to be judged against a standard that people OTHER than herself knew about in the current time frame but which she did not. Certainly we heard her cheftestants comment about it. To me, it was an unfair comparison.

                                  1. re: huiray

                                    I think if you live or travel to Seattle and are into food then yes you are going Canlis. I lived there only 8 months and went three times, once with a local and twice with folks visiting.

                                    1. re: tjinsf

                                      Really? Wow. I had no idea it was that special. Now I want to go!


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        I don't know if it's that "special". I eat out 5-7 times a week and Canlis is an institution. The food is good especially since the chef from EMP took over.

                                  2. re: Leepa

                                    I thought that about Chrissy at first, that she was at a disadvantage because she didn't know what the salad was but I started wondering if any/all of the contestants knew the Canlis version of their dishes? I wonder if she just asked the wrong question. She said she asked if the dressing was "thick." That's so subjective for salad dressing. Caesar is thick compared to a vinaigrette but not to mayo. Had she asked if it were like a Caesar, they could have told her no, it's much lighter, more lemony, etc. and how it was different. That would have been much more helpful. Overall, I'm also thinking if she had made a great salad, whether it was like Canlis' or not, she might have stood a chance. The dishes that did well tasted good, They weren't necessarily closest to Canlis's.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      I completely agree. I don't care what "era" we're in. That salad she created did not look appetizing.

                                      1. re: DGresh

                                        Yes, was she the one to dress the salads? It looked overly gloopy and I'm surprised it was sent out like that.

                                      2. re: chowser

                                        So what is the big deal about having her see and taste the salad before she went out and tried to duplicate it. Having her taste and see the thing makes better sense in terms of testing her culinary abilities and taste better than guessing blindly.

                                        1. re: Phaedrus

                                          Exactly. That could be said for all the contestants and their dishes. Having seen/tasted the dishes would have been helpful for all so she's not the only one w/ that disadvantage.

                                          1. re: chowser

                                            But... her dish is the only one still on the menu. She had to recreate a dish that everyone at the table had actually tasted. With all the other dishes, they had to "imagine" how they must have tasted on the original menu. Therefore the comments on the other dishes were along the lines of "this is just how it would have looked in 1950" or "the cheese on the onion soup would be bubbly and gooey", etc. With the salad there was no having to imagine anything - it didn't look or taste how it's supposed to. Big difference and pretty unfair IMO. BUT, if it were at least a GOOD salad, I think she would have stayed. Appeared that it was not only a poor version of the famous salad, it was a poor version of ANY salad.

                                            1. re: bobbert

                                              I must have been half asleep when I watched it because I thought they said it was the one dish that was no longer on the menu. The comments are much more consistent w/ what you're saying. I agree that it is unfair if everyone had the real salad and not the other dishes. Yes, I also agree that tasty food doesn't get sent home. There have been cases where the person ignores the rules/constraints, makes good food and stays. It just looked like a bad salad!

                                              1. re: chowser


                                                The other cheftestants in this episode were saying that Camba had the hardest task *because* the salad was a current item. The Canlis brothers did say the salad was the only thing from 1950 that was still on the menu.

                                                1. re: huiray

                                                  They also have mushrooms on the menu.

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    Yes, that's true. I had either the appetizers or main dishes in mind, though. Even so, I wonder if "Forest Mushrooms" means those button mushrooms/normal white mushrooms that Kristen Kish used. After all, the Canlis brother at the "introduction" to the EC did say that all the dishes except ONE (the salad) had "fallen off" the (1950) menu going through the years into present times.

                                              2. re: bobbert

                                                It's not in question that she *did* make a bad salad.

                                                The larger issue in this case was whether it was so much worse than that inedible soup from Joshua Valentine or those disastrous kebabs from Chris Jacobsen, or even the squab from Carla Pellegrino. Even if gloopy and overdressed and lacking the correct taste profile etc etc, at least Chrissy Camba's salad was edible IMO. Tom Colicchio says in his blog that her salad was much worse - yet their comments at judges' table about the 4 dishes don't bear that out, even though he goes on at length about why he thought it was in his blog.** I can't help but wonder if what you also referred to - her being judged by a dish that was still current, as distinct from dishes that were only imagined, did play a part. And to be misled/given insufficient info about a current menu item by the Canlis brother - she was told that it was a thick dressing, so it seems (as distinct from her asking if it was a thick dressing) - was not helpful. As has already been said elsewhere, even the cheftestants recognized that she (Camba) had the hardest task in that regard.

                                                **Well, he's the judge on that show. Personally, I disagree with his comments about the outer leaves of romaine. I would certainly use them. Not the very outermost ragged leaf or two, but everything else from the 3rd leaf in, say, would be used. I like them. In fact, if I were in one of his restaurants and got a salad with only the inner core romaine leaves I would think it was missing something.

                                                1. re: huiray

                                                  I think the soup was described as either 'almost' or 'nearly' inedible.

                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                    I pretty much agree with everything you've said. I thought the soup was gone for sure along with the squab. I think the soup got a pass because of possible expediting issues. From what I could figure, the kebabs were probably the least bad of the four and the judges took maybe a little glee in being able to knock a "veteran" as they did with Stefan the previous week.
                                                    I've said it before and will have to say it again, that must have been one hell of a bad salad.

                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                      To me, the most problematic part of Chrissy's elimination was that it wasn't the most egregious error by any single judging criteria. If the judges wanted to eliminate the two dishes that were the least enjoyable/edible, then the too-salty and cold onion soup was arguably a better candidate. If the judges wanted to eliminate based on poor technique, then you can make a good case that CJ's lamb showed more egregious and less understandable errors in execution and thought process.

                                                      Ultimately, I think you can make a reasonable case for any of the bottom 4 to have gone this week from what we saw (and just from the comments during dinner, I was surprised that Micah's vegetables got a pass, btw). I mentioned upthread that I felt a little bad for Chrissy, and that's at least partly because she seemed like a nice person. But that's also because she got caught up in a much harder challenge than the other chefs faced this week - trying to faithfully recreate an esoteric dish she'd never tasted after what seemed to be only a description. I also think this challenge wound up being mostly self-imposed - she likely would have been better off making a good salad that freely took liberties with the Canlis version than making too heavy a dressing because she thought that was how it was done.

                                                      1. re: cowboyardee


                                                        Here's the recipe for the "Canlis salad" as first done by Chrissy Camba (when she was told it was a "thick" dressing) versus the "Canlis salad" she put out in LCK after she was told it was "light and fresh":
                                                        She left out the red wine and even the cheese in the LCK iteration (the recipe for which seems to have left out tomatoes) but the main difference is in the technique - in the EC she was clearly going for a thick dressing.

                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                          Exactly. I can't think of one person in the history of Top Chef who was told to PYKAG simply because an otherwise good dish didn't meet the parameters of the challenge. When discussing the dishes they may take that into account, but IIRC is has *never* been the deciding factor.

                                                          The judges know she's never eaten the salad and I don't think they expected her (or anyone) to recreate the dishes faithfully. I think they expected them to produce the dishes faithful *in style/concept* to the original dishes -- as opposed to some challenges where they've been asked to reinterpret or modernize classic dishes.

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            Beverly last season in the episode with Charlize Theron.

                                                            1. re: FoodPopulist

                                                              I wonder if Ruth meant that a contestant was sent PPYKAG for othewise good dish that didn't meet the parameters of the challenge instead of another dish that was not good but met the parameters. As I recall, the episode where Beverly was sent packing had everyone making good dishes but that Beverly's was not 'gruesome' enough in its appearance.

                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                Plus, the likelihood of getting sent home for a good dish that didn't meet the challenge increases as the season goes on and there are fewer chefs left, as was the case with Bev (because of the reason you state, the fewer chefs there are, the greater likelihood that all made good dishes). This early in the season, make something damn tasty and you are safe, regardless of whether you met the challenge or not.

                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  Good point. However, we don't know for sure how good the dish was compared to the others, and as Lurker Dan pointed, out, towards the end there may be all good dishes and they have to start picking nits.

                                                        2. re: huiray

                                                          Do we have to have another discussion about how the judges' comments are edited to make it less obvious what the worst dish is and who is going to be eliminated? The editors will choose comments to emphasize the flaws in okay dishes and downplay the errors in bad dishes.

                                                          I don't know how you can reasonably say that the salad was edible when you didn't taste it or that it wasn't as bad as the other dishes when you didn't taste any of them!

                                          2. Well done Linda, as usual. My D and I likened the catfight to that schoolyard thing where the retort is "No! YOU are! "

                                            John's goofy smile when he won. Ugh. I still wish him, and anyone else in recovery well. Just not on television.

                                            My have done Cornish hen in my youth, but not squab. Anyone want to comment on how hard it is to hit the sweet spot between under and over done? I'm guessing harder in a restaurant.

                                            Also, was the foot rub in EXCHANGE for something?

                                            Happy for Kristen, sad for Chrissy. Perfect timing for LCK. And we dared question t!

                                            21 Replies
                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                              Yeah, I wasn't sure about that foot rub either. Kristen said something like "What do *I* get?", implying that there was an exchange. Along with Stefan's glee at Kristen winning the EC...who knows? Maybe just have turned into good friends?

                                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                                  Like lick them? Just wondering.

                                                  I really don't want to see another soft-core loin-grinding on Top Chef. Stick to the cooking.

                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                    Well, that's a disgusting thought.

                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                      Agreed. Don't need to see another Hosea/Leah showmance. PLEASE.

                                                      But I think this is just Stefan being Stefan. Or at least I hope it is, and that Kristen is smarter than that.

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        "...and that Kristen is smarter than that."
                                                        I certainly hope so. I think she recoiled just a bit when her win was announced and Stefan gave her a hug and kiss. I know he's European and all, but I think Stefan is getting a bit creepy. Let's hope Kristen puts a quick end to it or at least uses Stefan and then discards him. I get the feeling he probably has experience doing that with women - it might be fun seeing it the other way.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                          Isn't Kristen gay? I don't mean that in a bad way, it's just that Stefan has a thing about gay women. Just read below that she's now gay.....

                                                          1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                            OK, what did I miss posted below about Kristen *now* being gay? She said on the show that she wasn't.

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                              Yes. She said that very clearly.

                                                              But she does set the dar off.

                                                              The Stephan canoodling creeps me out.

                                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                I assumed she was gay immediately.

                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                  I did, too. I think she meant they weren't *gay* with one another.

                                                                    1. re: Leepa

                                                                      Disagree. She said they weren't lesbians, not that they weren't a couple. It would have been a very different statement if she meant they were gay but not together. (And I will correct myself; Kristen didn't say it, her best friend, the one who got cut said it.)

                                                                          1. re: chicgail

                                                                            It's not important, just a conversation. Ain't no thang.

                                                                            1. re: chicgail

                                                                              Not that there is anything wrong with that ! ( I can never resist a Seinfeld reference).

                                                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                I almost included that in my post. :-)

                                                            2. I got the feeling they kept CJ and mustache hipster guy in for the drama. I get that people don't like John Tesar's personality and he is tactless and harsh but it's pretty clear that he can cook. Also hipster boy's comment about him were pretty harsh considering John was actually saying that he would jump in and help him if he needed it and was trying to help hipster boy with a dish (french onion soup) that he clearly didn't know how to make. Then again he is working as a pasty chef now while John has actually opened up a new restaurant so they really aren't equals anyways. If you are going to talk smack about someone else, you actually have to have the skills yourself. Maybe he can go and stage for John and learn some things.

                                                              CJ is another chef that thinks he know more about cooking than he does. Working for free at famous restaurants doesn't actually make him a better chef especially when he think overcooking in sous vide is a good idea for a 50's style shisk-kebab.

                                                              I liked the elimination challenges aren't ridiculous and they seem to be given enough product and time to cook. It's nice to see that while they are having a Seattle element they are still sticking with real cooking and judges that have decent palates.

                                                              Watching Stefan hit on Kristen was a little gross but I still like his cooking. It's funny how he always hits on the queer girls.

                                                              And like every other human I want to know why John wears his glasses like that and make him stop it.

                                                              39 Replies
                                                              1. re: tjinsf

                                                                I agree with you. I thought that CJ was a goner for sure as well as Josh. Padma really liked Carla's sauce and had fewer problems with the dish than some of the other judges, so I thought that would mitigate against her going home.

                                                                I didn't understand the whole room for grilling though. Everyone's dish that had to be grilled was cooked by someone else? How does that work. And was the squab overdone or underdone? (I understand that the bones were part of the problem, but the degree of doneness seemed to be a big factor.) And that goes for CJ too. Didn't he say that he was expecting that the corners would get charred? So if you're not cooking your own dish, who, exactly, is responsible for it?

                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                  Isn't that due to the constraint of the kitchen? The grilling station is too small and they needed to get the dishes out. I am sure they all would have preferred to grill their own meats but logistics won out.

                                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                                    They all should have spent a few minutes aquainting themselves with the kitchen before they started cooking. Peter Canlis's kitchen and his reputation for producing some of the finest dishes in the world is iconic. ...
                                                                    The entire episode seemed chaotic and disorganized. There just seemed no excuse for the kebabs. The salad? How in the world did she mess that up?

                                                                  2. re: roxlet

                                                                    I think the initial squab sent out to other diners was underdone (according to those diners) and Carla then asked for them to be cooked longer. So the ones the judges got were overdone.

                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                      The person responsible is the executive chef in this case each of the contestants. They are responsible for telling the people working the grill how to cook their meats.

                                                                      1. re: tjinsf

                                                                        But the execution isn't always what the chef intends, as we have seen. And in the heat of service, it's clearly a challenge for the executive cheftestant to assure their element is cooked properly.

                                                                    2. re: tjinsf

                                                                      "And like every other human I want to know why John wears his glasses like that and make him stop it."


                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        +1 - the glasses trick has GOT to stop - does his forhead need to see more than his eyes? If he needs bifocals, then dude - go on and get em!

                                                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                                                          What if he doesn't need bifocals? His forhead (sic) is simply a place to push up the glasses out of the way when they are not needed and yet still handy for when they are needed.

                                                                        2. re: tjinsf

                                                                          By queer do you mean gay? Kristen explicitly said in the first episode that contrary to what everyone assumes about her and her best friend, they are not lesbians.

                                                                          1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                            Thanks for confirming that. I was starting to wonder if it was someone else that said that.

                                                                          2. re: tjinsf

                                                                            I agree completely with your first and second paragraphs. I also note warily the hatred that seems to be building up with various posters here towards Tesar.

                                                                            I'm not sure "hipster boy" (heh, is that the term for that mustachioed brat?) was even born yet when Tesar was making French onion soup in that restaurant. (How old *is* hipster boy?) That "eye-rolling" scene (as LW described it) and his comment about Tesar just bullshitting when he talks (if I heard that correctly) reminded me a lot of some cocky young know-it-all guys who disrespect anything their elders may know or the experience they have. Speaking generally, not of Tesar and hipster boy specifically.

                                                                            ETA: Hipster boy was not born yet when Tesar was making that French onion soup (in 1975). According to this article he is 33 y.o. Interestingly, he did not look like a Snydely Whiplash impersonator until he did Top Chef. :-D

                                                                            1. re: huiray

                                                                              as hard as i try to like john, i'll take joshua's side in this one. there's a way to offer help without being condescending, and john chose the other path.
                                                                              i've found nothing in joshua's behaviour to be remotely brattish or h***ter in attitude.

                                                                              1. re: linus

                                                                                I don't recall exactly what Josh said but it was pretty harsh.

                                                                            2. re: tjinsf

                                                                              <<<Watching Stefan hit on Kristen was a little gross but I still like his cooking. It's funny how he always hits on the queer girls.>>>>

                                                                              She's gay??? I thought she made of point of mentioning that people always think she and her best friend (the blonde chef eliminated on the first show) were not gay even though everyone thinks they are?

                                                                              1. re: Bart Hound

                                                                                I thought they were just fellow smokers.

                                                                              2. re: tjinsf

                                                                                Because John thinks he is oh so cool....but is not.

                                                                                Unfortunately he seems to be a good chef and will probably be with us to the bitter end. I noticed at one point he had to stop his glasses from falling. My one wish is for them to fall into a pot on the stove and screw up a dish for him,

                                                                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                  i dunno...i've seen no evidence john thinks he's "cool."
                                                                                  is he extremely confident in his cooking skills? yes, he's stated such. but "cool" i have not seen on the show.

                                                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                    Janet, I've been hoping for the same for John and his glasses from the first time they appeared! Can you imagine the "gross out" factor? Sweating in the food is bad enough, but throwing in a bunch of facial oil and dead skin cells? Horrifying!
                                                                                    I wish he would be eliminated. Until his gratuitous, snarky comments about Kuiniko's "inability" to cook the potatoes in 5 hours I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and thinking he might just be totally socially inept. Nope. He's a prick and has earned his rep as the most hated chef. I hope karma comes and gets him soon!

                                                                                    1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                      What bothers me more than John's glasses is when I see someone wearing a knit cap in the kitchen. Commercial kitchens are hot enough and it is not necessary to wear a winter cap. (Are they even available to purchase in Hawaii, if so why?) The snap brim cap of Snidely Whiplash bugs me too, as did Spike's and Brian Malarkey's fedoras in TC 4 & 3.

                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                        Everyone please google Yukon Cornelius. He even appears in a recent Geico ad - holding a bowl of soup. The resemblence is uncanny.

                                                                                        1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                          omgosh... no need to google for me... I was trying to place who he looked like, you've nailed it exactly! :-D

                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                            Apparently those ridiculous knit caps are available in Hawaii because I see young guys wearing them all over the place. It's warm enough all seasons unless you're going up in the mountains or to the volcanoes or somewhere really cold in the winter. Wearing them in the kitchen, or in Hawaii, is just a stupid "fashion statement" that should be put aside in favor of comfort. All those hats bug me, too. They look kind of cool when not in the kitchen, but the knit caps look stupid any time in Hawaii.

                                                                                            1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                              Not to mention just being too hot in the kitchen to wear a knit cap. The only time I wear a hat like that is when it's about 10 above and I'm going to be outside for a while.

                                                                                          2. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                            As a glasses wearer, my glasses have to be VERY clean. I can't see through them if they are dirty; even a micro-speck of dust has me cleaning my glasses. So, I'd like to know how he SEES through those things when you just know they are smeared up with hair/skin oil.


                                                                                            But he can cook.....gosh darned it! Karma is always a b!tch!

                                                                                            1. re: Dee S

                                                                                              but his glasses don't actually touch his skin - only the frames on the nose bridge do. pushing them on to the top of your head, where they will actually come in contact with your hair, which many people do, would actually make them greasier than what he's doing.

                                                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                He must have a massive supraorbital ridge for those glasses to be able to rest in that position. I tried and my glasses fall right off. The thickening of that ridge is common in neanderthal skulls, which could explain a lot about his attitude and lack of social graces.


                                                                                                1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                  That's funny! I tried it too, and no dice. I wonder how many people tried to get their glasses to perch on their forehead like that after watching the show.

                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                    you have to push the ear parts higher too. i'm doing it right now with some cheapo reading glasses! and i have a very normal supraorbital ridge.

                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                      Aha! so there's a technique, is there!

                                                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                        I can do it, too, and I have no noticeable ridge. I think it's also a function of the length and depth of the curve of the temple piece to pull on them and hold glasses in place.

                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                          I can do it without any problem too. I just hook my glasses such that the frame sits on my brow on its pads, "just high enough", with the hooked ends of the side arms digging just slightly (but comfortably) into maybe 3/4 of the way up the junction of my ear flaps and the sides of my head. Easy-peasy.

                                                                                                        2. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                          Too funny. Are you SURE, MC that your 'superorbital' is normal? I have to wonder.... hehe

                                                                                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                          I sometimes rest my sunglasses on my forehead like that and I do not have a massive supraorbital ridge. It's probably more a function of the glasses rather than the forehead. During the human genome sequencing of about a decade ago, it wa discovered that humans do have some Neanderthal DNA.

                                                                                                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                                            Maybe it's like hanging a spoon. It just takes a little moisture and practice.

                                                                                                2. Actually watched this in real time. I thought CJ would join Chrissy leaving last nite. I know no one can stand her, but I think the show will be missing a fun semi-villain with Carla gone (she's kind of plastic looking don't you think?). Stefan's exasperated "I need an aspirin" about her cracked me up.

                                                                                                  I wondered if Josh's comment about John expediting might get him some grief but not yet.

                                                                                                  Knowing what Hugh said about Tyler and wanting to cheer him on with pom poms, I thought he might push for him to win. It was nice to see him do well after being so sad for being in the bottom of the quickfire. We didn't see a few of the chefs' QF dishes right?

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Joanie

                                                                                                    I noted 13 QF dishes in my OP; there were 16 cheftestants left before last night's double-elim. Now down to 14. So we're still dealing with time constraints.

                                                                                                    1. re: Joanie

                                                                                                      I'm glad to see Carla gone. Both her constant yabbering and her greasy hair falling down in her face drove me nuts.

                                                                                                      1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                        And the bracelets while prepping her squab. Looked a bit unsanitary to me. Actually, she always looked a bit unsanitary to me. Like she had a cold and her nose was going to drip in the food.

                                                                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                          She's really annoying, but I was happy to see her on the show after watching the stuff she made at Rao's last year. Was that on TC, when they had a challenge there?