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Jan 2, 2013 07:36 PM

Top Chef Seattle - Ep. #9 - 01/02/13 (Spoilers)

Nine chefs remain. Back at the suite, Sheldon sharpens his knives; Stefan puts wrinkle cream on his face. :-)

In the TC Kitchen, Padma is there with Master Bladesmith, Bob Kramer. He makes custom carbon-steel knives that sell for $500 an inch. He demonstrates cutting through a 1" sisal knife with one slash. Sheldon's looking good with sharpening his knives every day! He says "Can I hug you right now?"

The Quickfire will take part in 3 rounds, and they'll be grouped in 3 teams of 3 cheftestants.

1. Sharpening skills - turn dull knives into razor sharp. Top two teams will move on.

2. Precision - tourne 50 potatoes to all look exactly the same. Whichever team wins, those 3 cheftestants will move on to compete against each other in the final round.

3. Break down and french the rack of two rabbits.

The winner will receive immunity and take home a Bob Kramer knife. Padma also notes that if *anyone* nicks themselves, that person will be disqualified and the team continues without them.


Red - Josie, John, Kristen
Green - Brooke, Stefan, Lizzie
Blue - Josh, Sheldon, Micah

Green Team calls check first, and Stefan and Lizzie's knives are sharp, but Brooke's is not - she has to go back and continue sharpening. Then John calls check early for the Red Team, and Kristen doesn't think she's ready, but it's John whose knife doesn't go through the paper, but Kristen and Josie do. He resharpens, recalls check, and he gets through.

Blue Team calls check, and they get through. Brooke's poor sharpening skills doesn't allow the Green Team to move on.

Next - tourneing the potatoes with the chef's knives they just sharpened. They are each to have 7 sides and be uniform in size, and Sheldon's potatoes are looking like poop, per Micah. John goes into double-time, and he tournes the potatoes very quickly. Blue Team calls check, and their potatoes are good - Red Team loses by 2 potatoes.

So Micah, Josh and Sheldon are the final three. Sheldon's never broken down a rabbit before. Josh is having problems frenching the rack as the rack bones are easily separated from the actual muscle. Micah says that for some reason, breaking down little bunnies is a zen moment for him - and he calls Check first and ends up winning the Quickfire!

Padma says in honor of Season 10, they're taking a trip down Memory Lane. Each chef will be assigned a memorable moment from a previous season, and they will cook a dish related to that moment. The winning dish will "inspire a new Healthy Choice Cafe Steamer" - so they have to make healthier versions of the original dish. They'll get 2.5 hours to prep and cook at the Palace Ballroom before some Top Chef superfans arrive to sample the dishes. The winner will get $15,000.

Padma tells them there are Kindle Fires under their stations, each loaded with a memorable moment from a past season. Padma holds the Kindle Fire with the Season 10 Memorable Moment and they'll learn about that later.

The judges arrive - Wolfgang Puck, Wylie Dufresne, Chris Cosentino, and Jonathan Waxman join Padma and Tom Colicchio.

Josie, Stefan and John are up first for Seasons 1-3.

Josie (Season 1/Dave Martin) Herb-Roasted Chicken with Parsnip Puree and Steamed Root Vegetables. Nicely roasted chicken; Waxman said it wasn't exciting - it's a standard roasted chicken at a standard restaurant.

Stefan (Season 2/Betty Fraser) - Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Bacon and Grilled Mimolette Cheese Sandwich on Spelt Bread. Wylie and Wolfgang like the soup with it's spiciness, but the sandwich is greasy.

John (Season 3/Howie Kleinberg) - Umami Risotto with Chicken, Salmon Roe, Burdock Root and Carrot Emulsion. Padma doesn't like the risotto; Wylie said some of the rice is undercooked; and then Wolfgang says some is overcooked as well. The risotto curse continues!

Sheldon (Season 4/Zoi Antonitsas) - Beef Carpaccio with Poi Aioli, Mizuna and Mushroom Salad & Silken Tofu Foam with Miso-Candied Salmon. Chris said it is not eye-appealing; they meat looks like it went through the grinder. Wylie likes the candied salmon, but the tofu was a throwaway. Wylie says it's a buzzword for healthy, but there was really nothing to it.

Lizzie (Season 5/Jamie Lauren) - Seared Scallops with Roasted Fennel, Garlic Puree, Orange & Olive Salad. Wolfgang said the scallops' quality were dubious. Wylie is shown taking a very deep smell of one of the scallops.

Josh (Season 6/Michael Voltaggio & Mike Isabella) - Soy-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Smoked Cashew Puree & Heirloom Peaches. Wolfgang liked how the pork was cooked perfectly; Wylie liked the cashews and peaches working with the pork. Padma asks Tom if he remembers Michael V. getting a standing ovation for the braised pork belly; Tom said yes, he remembers, but says that Padma also got an ovation for her "jumpsuit" at the military base...they show a shot of Padma from that season getting out of a Jeep in very high heels and a leopard-print mini dress. :-)

Brooke (Season 7/Alex Reznik) - Smoked Salmon, Forbidden Black Rice with English Pea & Parsnip Puree. Wolfgang said the salmon perfectly cooked; Tom said both the salmon and the rice were well cooked.

Kristen (Season 8/Carla Hall) - Poached Chicken Breast, Carrot Puree with Garlic & Tofu Emulsion. Tom liked the dish; he said it was light but flavorful. Jonathan thinks it was a great version of what he thought would be a pot pie, but Chris didn't have the sauce that others did.

Micah (Season 9/Beverly Kim & Heather Terhune) - Five-Spiced Duck Breast with Miso Polenta & Pickled Cherries. Tom liked the duck breast and the idea of the pickled cherries. Jonathan, however, doesn't think the miso and polenta worked well together.

Padma comes into the Palace Ballroom's "Stew Room" and asks to see Josh, John, Kristen, Lizzie, and Brooke. Those left in Stew note that that was a lot of people to call in. ::::Whooshing close-up camera shots:::: These 5 served both the best and worst dishes.

Josh, Brooke and Kristen served the best dishes, putting John and Lizzie in the bottom. The winner? It's Kristen - yay!

The judges then review the worst dishes. Chris noted that his rice wasn't well cooked; John notes he had to deal with a non-level bottomed pot, but Josh said the pot he used for his stock was just fine. John said equipment was an issue, regardless of what anyone says, and that to ask someone who doesn't want him in the competition anymore (Josh) is a little jaded. They ask Lizzie if she had tasted her scallops; she had but realizes they must have been off as she couldn't get a good sear. Tom said he was surprised at her dish, as she's always been thoughtful in how she prepares her dish.

Padma says one of them will be going home...but then pulls out the 10th Kindle Fire. They have a chance to save themselves. It has a memorable moment from the current season. The moment is? CJ's burger and spicy dill pickles. They have 45 minutes to make a healthier version of CJ's burger. The other 3 go back to the Stew Room and explain that the other two are cooking for their lives; saying John's making excuses the whole time.

Back in the kitchen, John goes for the ground lamb, and Lizzie takes ground chicken. John asks for *some* of Lizzie's dill, but he ends up using *all* of the dill. Chops some of it, but then puts the rest into a blender. Lizzie's pissed he took it all, and then John starts leaving the oven door open. John says in the confessional saying he was tired of Lizzie pushing him around and bitching and moaning, and he *shared* the pickles - he could have taken them all and said "You know what? Welcome to Top Chef, because if you don't have a pickle on your dish, you're going home. I shared the pickles. Because that's who I am."

Yes, John - but Lizzie shared the dill with you - and YOU TOOK IT ALL. *Big* difference.

John - Lamb Burger with Fried Egg & Spicy Pickle, Tomato & Pomegranate Salad with Dill and Cream Cheese Aioli. Chris asked why he added a fried egg - John said for the fat, but it still had low calories. Wolfgang said his burger was a bit more overcooked for his taste. Chris did like the salad with the burger.

Lizzie - Chicken Burger with Goat Cheese Ricotta Cream & Dill Pickle Roasted Red Pepper Salad. Wolfgang asked if she used white or dark meat; Lizzie replied white meat. Wolfgang said the burger was very moist and flavorful. Chris noted that the salad was very refreshing, but he would have liked a whisp of salt.

Tom found nothing to criticize on either dish and said it was a tough decision. ::::Whooshing camera shots again::: Chris said Lizzie's dish was best for him; Wolfgang said Lizzie's dish was better; Tom said that Lizzie deserves to stay, and Padma agreed. So John is asked to PYKAG. In the confessional, John said he got the shaft and said he's not bitter, but thinks it's b*llshit. (Umm, that's called being bitter, John.) He continues with a bit more in the confessional that he could have been more of a pr*ck, but he wasn't.

Previews - a new spin on Restaurant Wars. Each of them will have to come up with their own idea of a restaurant. They'l present them at Bite of Seattle. And Danny Meyer is a guest judge. The previews showing them cooking at Bite of Seattle shows a complete mess - it's going to be an interesting episode next week!

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  1. Yikes. Perhaps people haven't finished watching yet, but it seems strange that no one has commented yet.

    At any rate, I just wanted to say that when the chefs were sitting around talking about the memorable moments and wondering what their moment would be, the first thing that came to mind was,

    'Nothing, you people are boring!'

    And thank you for doing the recap, Linda..

    1 Reply
    1. A few notes about the quickfire:

      - Initially I was a little surprised that more chefs didn't struggle with sharpening. IME, it's common for many chefs not to sharpen their own knives. On the other hand, it's not like they can just drop their knives off with a professional mid-season. If they don't know how to sharpen, they might run into problems toward the end of the competition.

      - It was hard to tell who was good or bad at sharpening, since most of the shots of the chefs sharpening were quick jump cuts of their hands and I couldn't tell who was who. That said, here is what I can tell you: Josie is good at sharpening. Sheldon is good at sharpening. Kristen obviously sharpens, but I don't really like her technique (and strictly speaking, you don't have to use the same number of strokes on each side, though that's common advice). John has tried sharpening before but doesn't really do it much - he used some pretty janky techniques. Brooke does not sharpen and does not really know how - she was sharpening at what looked like 45 degrees.

      - The rope cut Bob Kramer did - it's not really that hard. Swinging at a slight downward angle is important. The knife has to be relatively sharp, but nothing crazy. Kramer does make nice blades though. An appearance on Top Chef will probably add even more to his astronomical asking prices and waiting lists.

      - It was an interesting quickfire, but it tested skills that I wouldn't necessarily expect all the chefs to have practiced much. Unless you frequent classic French fine dining restaurants, how many tournees do you see nowadays?

      A few notes on the elimination challenge:

      - I'm glad that Josh finally made pork well. Whether or not I like the guy, I still like seeing a little personal redemption.

      - It always annoys me when "make it healthy" is interpreted mainly as "make it low-fat." Almost no one ever increases the proportion of vegetables on the plate when the challenge is to make it healthy. Why?

      - In fairness to John, he was complaining about the pans while cooking the risotto - not just at the judges' table. In fairness to reality as I see it, blaming bad risotto on a rounded pan sounds like a cop-out (except on an electric stove, cause rounded pans are awful on electric stoves). Stir it more.

      - I was kind of looking forward to seeing what John would make if he got to the end. Failing that, I was looking forward to watching him stir up a massive shit storm and going down in flames during restaurant wars. He was/is a good cook, but his focus was too often not on the food. And so it goes.

      - Using all the dill was a dick move, btw. No, sharing the pickles does not qualify you for sainthood.

      - My money is still on Kristen for the win. Big surprise.

      48 Replies
      1. re: cowboyardee

        I agree on the healthy - they use that term far too generically and amongst a profession where that's not necessarily a skill that they're trained to have.

        I think in the past a better version of a "restriction" challenge was on TCM when they did the Zoe Deschanel challenge that had to be vegan and had some other rules. Kosher is challenge they've never done before. Or, if they want to play in the "healthy" arena - pick a diet that focuses on cutting out food groups (aka Atkins inspired). Then have a pantry that has all the foods they can use, and none of the foods they can't.

        Challenges like that make sence, put up limitations and see how the chefs adapt. However just asking for "healthy", kinda feels like asking a set of Project Runway contestants to make a hat. Sure, it's all fashion (or all food), but there are non-overlaping skill sets that are important to making hats (or healthy food) that I wouldn't expect appearal designers (chefs) to automatically have.

        1. re: cresyd

          There was something a bit like that a while back with the dinosaur challenge, where they were either herbivore or carnivore, and the latter group got only meat or animal products. Not the same, but I recall it was very interesting to see what they were able to create.

          Good idea!

          1. re: Pylon

            They also had a challenge once where they had to stay below a certain number of calories per serving for a school lunch. (Or am I thinking of some other show?)

            I think one of the greatest disservices they do on TC is set criteria in describing the challenge, and then ignoring it when judging the winner/loser.

            1. re: hambone

              Based on the descriptions alone, Stefan's reinterpretation of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich may have been made less "healthy" (again, depending on how you describe that) by the addition of bacon (an element not in the original version of the dish).

              Also, anyone who's ever tried to lose weight, one of the big generic bits of advice is eat more at home/less at restaurants. The reason is that it's really hard to control the amounts of fats (oils, butter, animal fat, etc) used to cook something. The episode where they worked with the dieticians for the healthy school lunch challenge - no one went home, because the dieticians weren't in the kitchen during the final cooking (just the prep) and the claims of cheating were in chefs adding oil willy nilly to dishes and thus changing the calorie counts of their originally planned meals.

              And this isn't even mentioning the essential bizarreness of the ultimate prize (becoming a Healthy Choice Cafe Steamer) was essentially impossible for a number of assigned themes such as "soup/sandwich" entree, scallops, or duck. Bah! Not to mention "make a healthy burger" - seriously, what was the point of that. Either make a burger, or make a healthy meal - talk about a pointless marriage.

              Clearly, I hate the "healthy" challenges. After that school lunch challenge, they've always used to concept of healthy in really really vague ways. And in fairness to the chefs they're not necessarily trained in "healthy" beyond "deep fat frying and covered in chocolate probably isn't healthy". And I do not blame them for not knowing, because unless someone chooses a highly niche path (usually followed by private chefs more than restaurant chefs) it's not of standard training.

              So STOP THESE!

              Ok....rant finished.....

        2. re: cowboyardee

          Agree on Josh finally doing something write with pork.

          Re: John - I think that's what the others were pointing out in the Stew Room - he kept using the pans as an excuse vs. saying he knew he didn't make the risotto correctly. And I woke up thinking about John's comment re: sharing the pickles and how magnanimous he was. Baloney. He was just a jerk.

          I'm glad to see Lizzie stay - I think she's a dark horse and could make it to the Final 3. But I agree - Kristen's the front runner right now.

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Cosentino announced Kristen the "unanimous" winner for a dish he didn't even get sauce for. Must have been one hell of a plate of food.

            1. re: ennuisans

              I think what happened is that her food tasted really good and was the best at being 'healthy' while tasting good.

              It was a challenge to make the dish healthier and John puts a fired egg on top. How is that going to make it into a frozen Healthy Choice frozen dinner? Stefan put olive oil on his grilled cheese. (Did he do that AFTER grilling it?) They said his grilled cheese was greasy.

              1. re: John E.

                Not arguing with your logic, but I just want to point out:
                Eggs and olive oil *are* healthy. They're just not very Healthy Choice (TM).

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  I understand that. It's just that the extra fat from the egg when it is not really needed is just additional fat. The whole eggs and cholesterol thing is still out there. I remember eating breakfast at a diner once with a guy who ordered an Eggbeater omelet with a side of bacon.

                  1. re: John E.

                    If I had to give something up, it might be the eggs. Don't take away my bacon! ;)

                2. re: acgold7

                  It was a separate "challenge" but not really. They were supposed to make a healthier version of CJ's burger. The fried egg was a terrible choice.

                  1. re: John E.

                    Beyond "healthy" (which I have major issues that I've mentioned above) - I think that Kristen's dish was most designed to be a Healthy Choice Steamer. Poached chicken/reheated steamed chicken - easy match. And none of her other components relied on being crispy or crunchy.

                    Someone like Stefan who basically was assigned soup/sandwich was screwed (how on earth would that become a steamer meal?) or assigned a meat not found in the Healthy Choice family. Healthy choice duck and scallops anyone?

                  2. re: ennuisans

                    The cynic in me wonders what would have happened if it wasn't the "pretty one" who made that mistake?

                    Maybe nothing, but it sure seemed strange that the winning dish was served incomplete to one judge yet was still named the best.

                    1. re: Bart Hound

                      The only thing that seemed odd was that it wasn't discussed or mentioned further (neither on the show or on the blogs). It seemed to me that her dish was the clear winner. It was innovative, different, delicious, and nailed the intent of the challenge. Didn't really look like anyone else came close.

                        1. re: princeofpork3

                          I think Brooke is much hotter.

                          Just putting it out there in case Brooke reads this!

                          1. re: princeofpork3

                            definitely Team Kristen...if I were into girls :)

                          2. re: Bart Hound

                            If this were judged like Chopped and the winning dish was missing sauce on one of the plates I might be suspicious. The judges have much disgretion on this show. (I agree with you about Brooke).

                            1. re: Bart Hound

                              It isn't like chopped where she had to use all the ingredients. Chris must have liked the dish even without the sauce especially since he said it was unanimous. I don't think her look were at play since she has consistently done well in all the challenges. Not to mention the other chefs would be sure to bitch about it if they thought it was unfair.

                              1. re: tjinsf

                                I think she's universally well liked because she seems to be a nice person and doesn't seem to have an agenda against other cheftestants. She keeps her head down and gets the job done.

                        2. re: cowboyardee

                          I've only made risotto a couple of times, both being several years ago. How important is it to use a flat bottomed pan when cooking risotto? It must be stirred frequently anyway. My guess as to why he had some mushy rice and some undercooked rice is because he didn't stir it enough. The mushy rice was on the bottom too long and the undercooked rice was on the top too long.

                          1. re: John E.

                            I make risotto all the time, and I really didn't understand the whole thing about the flat bottomed pan. Did he mean that the pan was uneven on the bottom, i.e. warped? Two things about making the risotto. One, is that it is the kiss of death on TC, and everyone seems to know that. Two is that of all things you could make into a frozen food, risotto is about the last preparation of rice I'd want to try that way. I am surprised that he didn't just make a dish with nicely flavored rice, as opposed to the very specific taste of risotto.

                            1. re: roxlet

                              Am I on the right track as to why some of John's rice was over and some was under?

                              1. re: John E.

                                In my opinion, risotto fails on TC because it really needs to be stirred continuously. You can't stir it a couple of times, turn away, let it cook, and then turn back after a while. The creaminess of risotto comes from stirring it as well as adding the proper amount of liquid. You neither want to drown the rice nor let it dry out, so you add the proper amount of liquid as you go along, while str stir, stirring. If you're stirring continuously, there is no way that some pieces of rice would be hard while others would be mushy. He probably left it to cook while he did other things, came back, and then spread it out on a pan to cool and to be finished later on.

                              2. re: roxlet

                                "Did he mean that the pan was uneven on the bottom, i.e. warped? "

                                Yes the pans were warped. It wouldn't help any that's for sure but it's still a lame excuse.

                                1. re: roxlet

                                  I'm guessing that a flatter bottomed pan lets you get away with stirring it less, which could be semi-important if you have a lot of other components to work on. Still, as I implied in my post above, John was making a mountain out of a molehill.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    No, I don't think that's right. Risotto needs to be stirred continuously in order to obtain the proper consistency; it has nothing to do with whether a pan is flat on the bottom or not. It demands your full attention, which is why it fails on TC all the time. The cheftestants don't have the time to focus all their attention on the risotto, and once you let your attentions slip, your rice can get mushy pretty fast.

                                    1. re: roxlet

                                      I've seen several recipes from pretty decent cooks that call for sporadic or minimal stirring. Even recipes using... a pressure cooker (heresy!) I know that continuous stirring is the tried and true method of Italian grandmothers, but its importance is often exaggerated. Depends as well on the particular rice used (yes, you can make risotto with other short/medium grain rices besides arborio).

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        There are many no stir risotto recipes. I'll be taking a class in Feb from an Italian that advocates it. Paella is cooked no stir and I've had it come out so creamy one guest asked if there was cheese. No cheese. Though I must say I always do the stir risotto. Perhaps after Feb I'll get brave.


                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                          Funny that you mention it, but it occurs to me that if John didn't think he had the proper equipment to make a successful risotto, he maybe should have thought outside the box and done a rice-based dish like a paella instead...and described how that might be healthier. Olive oil vs. butter and cream, etc.


                                        2. re: cowboyardee

                                          That may be the case, but I've never tried NOT stirring continuously, nor am I about to! The risotto I get from the traditional method (see the queen of Italian cooks, Marcella Hazan, for more details) is perfect. I have read many things about how it is not necessary to stir continuously, and maybe that's true, but my feeling is that the problems on TC that arise from making risotto are from trying to mess with the proper way of doing it. Risotto is a particular skill, and in many fine Italian restaurants, they have dedicated risotto makers for just this reason!

                                          1. re: roxlet

                                            "in many fine Italian restaurants, they have dedicated risotto makers for just this reason!"

                                            Just a friendly FYI but many high end restaurants par cook the rice for risotto which really shoots the theory of stirring being a requirement for proper risotto right in the bum. ;)
                                            Not that I disagree with you at all about messing with a classic but the method is not nearly as relivant as the result.

                                            1. re: TraderJoe

                                              I only know from my experience eating at high-end Italian restaurants. Clearly, many Italian restaurants don't have the resources to have a dedicated risotto maker, but IMO, the difference is clear, which is why I rarely order risotto and prefer to make it myself.

                                          2. re: cowboyardee

                                            I've seen recipes, I think here on Chowhound, that call for cooking the risotto in the oven in a Le Creuset dutch oven. I must admit I haven't gotten brave and tried it, but in terms of TC it couldn't hurt since everyone knows that making it the traditional way is the kiss of death. I also recall differences of opinion as to whether risotto should be kind of soupy/runny and spread out on a plate (I think that was Tom's idea of perfection) or kind of hold its shape in a mound of creaminess (chiarello?) with rice that has gone beyond al dente but hasn't yet hit mushy.

                                          3. re: roxlet

                                            I've never cooked risotto but I've made gravy in an uneven pan (bubble in the center in this case) and what you do get is uneven cooking no matter how much you stir. The center dries out faster than the outsides and you chase disaster the entire time.

                                            My feeling was that he knew going in that an uneven surface could cause problems, and he either needed to rethink or own up to his choice to use those materials. And he kind of did acknowledge the choice he made screwed him, but not as firmly as he should have.

                                      2. re: John E.

                                        "How important is it to use a flat bottomed pan when cooking risotto? "

                                        Not nearly as important as scamming all the ingredients from the competition....LOL

                                        1. re: TraderJoe

                                          I wanted to shout at the TV when John was saying he could have kept all of the pickles and thus Lizzie would have been SOL and lost the contest. I don't think the producers would have allowed that. And then in the confessional he said more than once how he 'shared' HIS ingredients with Lizzie. She said he could have 'some' of the dill and he took it all. He then left the oven door open more than once. He's a selfish, narcissistic man.

                                          I remember in one of the QFs someone (Brooke) didn't get any flour to make her dumpling. That was a different situation because all the chefs were using flour and they ran out. Heck, I bet they put in a limited amount of flour just in case this situation happened, to make the QF a little more interesting.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            :-) See my link at the bottom re: Tom's blog and keeping all of the pickles.

                                      3. re: cowboyardee

                                        I love your point about the definition of healthy. Imagine if Brooke had done the salad inspired by the scallops but not actually serving them? Would have been a good ploy rather than serving off seafood.

                                        1. re: cwdonald

                                          I wonder how a salad would turn out as a frozen dinner?

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            And the HC product line was Steamers so, steamed frozen scallops? Steamed egg yolk? This EC was kind of a mess really.

                                            1. re: ennuisans

                                              So that brings up an interesting point: what IF something that doesn't lend itself to steaming had won, what the Healthy Choice do with it? Or would they just rig it so that it couldn't happen? Just saying.

                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                That's why they use the word 'inspired'.

                                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                                  I'm not saying they rigged anything, but Lizzie was ultimately NOT asked to PYKAG.

                                                2. re: ennuisans

                                                  Steamed chicken pot pie doesn't enchant me much either

                                            2. re: cowboyardee

                                              Agree about the tournees, and would a chef *really* use such a large knife for doing it? I for sure would feel more comfortable with a much smaller knife.

                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                "would a chef *really* use such a large knife for doing it?"

                                                Yes although a smaller knife would be more common many instructors require students to tourne with a chef knife.

                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                  If a person's skilled in the technique then any knife is going to be okay as long as it's very sharp and the hand and thumb conforms. The longer it takes to do it, obviously, the larger knife is much more tiring for the hand.
                                                  My grandmother taught me many decades ago and I've been doing it since I was small.

                                              2. BTW Micah didn't say breaking down the rabbits was "sad", he said "zen"... which I guess explains how he did it so quickly?

                                                I was pleased with the outcome, I keep wanting to kick Tesar in the face, every episode, so I'm glad he's gone. His excuse about the pot was lame. Lizzie had bad scallops but you didn't hear her use it as an excuse. It wasn't really fair for her really... "Here, you need to cook a scallop dish, but you can only buy scallops at this one store, and they happen to only have shite scallops today". If she had served a dish without scallops they would have chastized her for that too.

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                  Interesting. I hit the rewind on my DVR to try and get what Micah said - could have sworn he said "sad".

                                                  Yeah, when Jonathan Waxman said something about leaving off the scallops, I looked at the TV and said "HUH?" They absolutely would have lambasted her if she had no scallops on the plate.

                                                  Scallops and Risotto. It seems they're the two worst dishes to make. Only once can I recall Tom C. saying the risotto was done perfectly, but I can't recall who made it or what season (it was a woman, I believe).

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    I watched it twice last night and I could have sworn he said "sad" too...

                                                    "Breaking down little bunnies" doesn't suggest "zen" much to me ...

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        I also thought I heard sad. He certainly looked sad at the end of butchering the bunny.

                                                        I thought the cat comment was quite funny. A naked cat and a naked rabbit look just about the same. (Not that I have ever been in the presence of a naked ca).

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          My first trip to Europe was in the late 1960s. In Florence, I remember visiting the huge food stalls, and seeing rabbits ready to be sold. They were skinned and gutted, but all had fur left on one hind leg. When I finally found someone who understood my feeble attemps at Italian, he explained that this was a law - during and immediately after WWII, when food was very scarce, cat was often sold as rabbit. With the fur left on, the identification is much easier.

                                                          1. re: judybird

                                                            That reminds me of an Ontario law in which a patch of skin must be left on the fish for identification. (Not in the stores, but when crossing the border after a fishing trip. The mounties/border guards check out your catch). We just butterfly them and leave all of the skin on until we get home.

                                                      2. re: C. Hamster

                                                        i just watched again, and it's "zen."

                                                        breaking down bunnies involves lots of concentration while doing close hand work, trying to achieve something close to perfection.

                                                        makes perfect zen sense to me.

                                                        1. re: linus

                                                          Yes Micah definitely said Zen. Thank goodness for the DVR!
                                                          However I was sad to see Micah win the knife. Sheldon is clearly the knife guru this season.
                                                          Very disappointing to see about half the Chef's didn't have a clue about sharpening and the one that was sent home (finally!) didn't even know he was using a Santoku and not a Chef's knife.
                                                          Sorry to see Lizzie @ the bottom. Two things every Cheftestant should know to avoid by now,
                                                          Watching Kramer destroy that blade on the rope was a sad moment. That's not easy to cut through and doing that is an element of a knifemaker earning a Mastersmith rating from the ABS.

                                                          Maybe Josh can learn a bit of humility when he gets Pork right...Probably not. Either way my top three picks remain;
                                                          Lizzy and a tie between Stefan and Sheldon.

                                                    1. re: juliejulez

                                                      Honestly, the second she said it would be an easy challenge because scallops are already healthy, I thought for sure she was going to be in trouble. But thankfully she rallied at the end, despite John's smarmy and self-righteous behaviour.

                                                    2. It's late and of course I have opinions about tonight's episode but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I will however predict that while the threads for the previous two TC episodes are at a modest 65 - 70 replies, the replies to this thread will easily get into triple digits. (Don't let the door hit you on your a$$ on your way out of the kitchen John).

                                                      1. Thanks Linda! Checking in. Loved the shout outs.

                                                        I'm not your bitch, bitch!


                                                        Curse of the risotto!

                                                        It's not top scallop...

                                                        Pea puree....

                                                        Why didn't the first winners get knives?

                                                        I did cats in anatomy class (and kept them in the fridge; hah! dorm food thieves!)... but is that a "thing" in chef school?

                                                        Daughter pointed out it was a ZEN, moment ( not a sad moment). I'm going with Micah for a bit.No, Kristen. Micah AND Kristen.....Glad John left without a crash and burn.

                                                        What happened with the scallops? I've never tried to buy them to cook at home. If a Top Chef can't, I'm not going to try.

                                                        13 Replies
                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                          "What happened with the scallops? I've never tried to buy them to cook at home. If a Top Chef can't, I'm not going to try."
                                                          They didn't say exactly what the problem was with the scallops. But offhand, I can tell you that many sea scallops are 'wet packed.' This means that they are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, which pumps em full of fluid and also makes it much more difficult to get a good hard sear on em.

                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                            But they seemed to be saying they smelled spoiled. Can you really buy them from a reputable source, and have them smell before a "top chef" in SEATTLE can cook them them? That would break my heart. How long can I expect to keep them? What do you have to know (besides the tripolyphosphate/wet thing)?

                                                            BTW, I'm 50 miles inland from San Francisco, and sometimes see bay scallops, but would have to drive 30 miles, to Napa or Sacramento, for sea scallops. Maybe that's for another thread....

                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                              Could have been a number of other problems. I was just speculating - I thought she said she had a hard time getting a good sear, but I wasn't watching that part too closely.

                                                              You can definitely buy and make good scallops at home. You just might have to search around a bit first. Scallops, like all good, fresh seafood, should smell clean and briny, not foul or 'fishy.' Find the best fishmonger you can and ask for pointers if you're not feeling very confident.

                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                Not specifically to you, but wanted to say, we have no Whole Foods here. We have a decent Asian grocery, and I LOVE it, but don't see sea scallops. Could be a language barrier, but I don't think so. I am 45 minutes east of San Francisco.We have Nugget Market, but no sea scallops. When I see sea scallops, maybe during a trip to Napa for something other than a dinner out, I can't tolerate much room for error. Is that just me?

                                                                1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                  OT but, I just went to a Nugget for the 1st time last week when I was in Davis and boy was I impressed. So much better than Whole Foods or Bristol Farms etc...

                                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                                    Well, that's good to hear! I feel less deprived.

                                                              2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                Searing scallops isn't difficult, at all...
                                                                I can't imagine Top Chef not supplying the freshest fish, especially in Seattle.
                                                                The liquid that's been mentioned is used to keep scallops looking white....this can easily be washed off and proper and complete drying is the key. There should be no water, even drops, left. Otherwise, they can be purchased in a dry pack.
                                                                The pan must be very hot and a very quick sear on both sides is all you'll need.
                                                                I use a small amount of butter and oil.

                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                  We have had some bad luck with scallops ourselves. One thing we have absolutely learned from our experiences is to smell the scallops before buying. That and to make sure they're dry. Personally, smelling your fish before buying is something I was surprised that a professional like Lizzie would do.

                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                    "I can't imagine Top Chef not supplying the freshest fish, especially in Seattle. "

                                                                    Except that every season we see multiple instances of chefs buying meat or fish at the local Whole Foods, getting back to the kitchen and discovering it to be sub-optimal if not worse. It seems like such a poor advertisement for the store that I wonder sometimes why WF continues to be a sponsor.

                                                                    And then of course there were always the frozen scallops that Spike took from the freezer at Tramonto's in the Chicago season - and which Tom Colicchio says were planted there by the show's producers.

                                                                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                      I refuse to purchase either fish or meat at's just not worth the risk....I've been burnt more than once and they lost me.
                                                                      However, even if a scallop is not particularly fresh, it's not going to affect the sear, as long as it's cleaned, the mussel is removed and it's dry. It might taste funky (gross) but there's no reason for Lizzie to come up with that excuse. She simply didn't know how to sear a scallop. She, essentially, blew it and blamed it on the lack of freshness.

                                                                2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  When scallops are treated (wet packed) they tend to taste like soap, whether or not they are "fresh."

                                                                  OTOH, dry packed scallops are not at all difficult to cook. As with all seafood, it's critical not to overcook them.

                                                                3. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                  Shoot. OK, guess it was a zen moment, not a sad moment. Maybe because Micah use the word "bunnies" I thought he was sad about it. :-) I'll ask the Mods to correct it in the original post. Thanks!

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                    I thought he said a sad moment also. I'm not going to re-watch the episode though to double check. Watching it once was enough.