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Top Chef Seattle - Ep. #13 - 01/30/13 (Spoilers)

We're cruising with the Final 5, folks. Cruising to Alaska, that is!

Back in Stew, the 5 of them are talking Josie leaving, and how lucky Brooke and Stefan are to have made it through.

Padma and Tom walk in to tell them they're packing to leave Seattle - they're going on a cruise. Tom tells them, however, that they're not going to be sightseeing. They head home to pack. Stefan says in confessional about how his mother signed him up for the Finnish Army, and booze cruises are all he's been on. Brooke, meanwhile, is not fond of boats and is concerned about being on the water.

They get on the Celebrity Infinity cruise ship. Stefan and Brooke do some weird dancing on deck. They are in their TC blue chef coats, and meet Padma and Curtis Stone in the ship's galley. For the Quickfire, they'll be cooking for the Welcome Aboard party. They have 2 hours, but have to make 200 portions for the guests. They'll be working with a "non-foody member of the lettuce family" - and it's iceberg lettuce that they need to highlight in one bite.

Brooke notes that being on board the ship, there is no gas - everything is electric. Lizzie finds it frustrating to deal with the different locks on the oven doors. Stefan says he loves iceberg lettuce, and since they're freezing on deck, he thinks Padma should have something warm in her mouth. Jaysus, Stefan. :-/

Stefan looks for a place to plug in an electrical appliance, and Josh notes there are some by Lizzie's station. Stefan drags the appliance cord through her prep area, messing things up, and she takes him to task for it. He said people underestimate her. Sheldon ends up boiling over a sauce, starting a small fire on the flat top. But he has enough sauce for his dish. Brooke notes that 2 hours to prepare 200 portions without any help is not easy, and she's just throwing ingredients into her lettuce cups. It ends up not looking the way she wanted, but it tastes good, and she hopes that is what counts.

STEFAN - Braised Iceberg Lettuce, Pastrami, Fingerling Potato & Blue Cheese Sauce - Curtis said it's an intense flavor. Other guests say it's comfort food and they enjoy it a lot.

SHELDON - Vietnamese Lettuce Wrap with Pork, Shrimp & Pickled Iceberg Hearts & Green Mango - Padma said it has a lot of flavor. Curtis asks if he was worried about serving it as one bite as it is usually served as a lettuce cup. Sheldon was worried it was too much for one bite, which is why he cut down the lettuce a bit. One guest say it's bright, fresh and she'd eat a dozen of them.

LIZZIE - Iceberg Salad with Crispy Bacon, Shallots & Anchovy Vinaigrette - Curtis asks if the petite salad is something that would be served in Traci Des Jardins' restaurant, where Lizzie works (or has worked?). Lizzie said perhaps, although what she's served to Curtis and Padma are a bit bigger than she would choose. Guests liked it for the bacon.

JOSH - Iceberg Roll with Apple Cider Vinaigrette, Bacon Jam & Blue Cheese - Curtis intently watches Josh as he walks away "He walks like a chef." LOL Guests like the flavors as there was a good punch to it.

BROOKE - Iceberg Wrap with Bacon, Scallop, Caramelized Onion & Crispy Quinoa - Padma asks how to eat it, and Brookie said you could make it a two-biter. Guests like the scallop as perfectly cooked.

Curtis tells all chefs that he loved all the dishes. He liked Stefan's dish in that he cooked the lettuce but kept the texture. Josh's dish, he felt he played it safe, but did a brilliant job of it and Padma notes he took a classic dish and elevated it. Sheldon's Vietnamese wrap was very creative with the sweet, the salty, the pickled flavors. Brooke's scallop was perfectly cooked, and Padma liked the quinoa with it, but thought it was difficult to eat. Lizzie's salad was tasty, but the one-bite dish was not quite there.

Curtis announces the winner of this Quickfire as Sheldon! (I knew it!) Padma says he'll have an advantage in the Elimination Challenge. Padma then says she's made reservations for the 5 of them at Qsine, but they're sent off to explore the ship and relax. Sheldon and Lizzie head off to get a manicure, and Sheldon loves it and hopes he doesn't get judged on his masculinity. Brooke, Josh and Stefan are having drinks topside (Stefan said "Yay! Finally some liquor!" Uh-huh. Like you've not seen any liquor yet on the show, Stefan!)

Back at the manicurists, Sheldon tells Lizzie that his manicurist is from South Africa, so they exchange local information. Lizzie notes that her father has recently passed, and they had packed up her parents' home. Her father used to love to fish, so she finds it fitting that they're on a ship to Alaska.

Josh notes that this day is the due date for his baby, and he doesn't know how it's going with his wife. He also said that he wants to see Sheldon's manicure. "Where I come from, men don't get manicures." (I think you'd be surprised, Josh!)

They cheftestants arrive at Qsine, and they're handed tablets with the menus on them. Stefan looks around, and sees the lamps hanging from the ceiling - they're upside down. Lizzie says "Alice in Wonderland" (Huh. I immediately thought "The Poseidon Adventure!") Josh said "I told you about them forever ago!" Brooke says "That must be when I stopped listen to you." Josh replied "You just continue not listening to me....fried chicken. That worked out well for you, didn't it?" Ouch. Stefan says "Be nice!" and Josh said "You're going to talk?" They start trading barbs about how many challenges they've won and which were the worst dishes.

The dishes start to come out, and the presentation is amazing! Sushi lollipops, disco shrimp, and an "open grid suitcase" separated into 9 or 12 boxes with various small plate dishes in each box.

Padma and Curtis walk in, and Lizzie gets a wave of panic. Padma says she hopes that they liked what they had a Qsine, as they'll be running dinner service tomorrow night. Padma said they want the cheftestants to take a classic dish and turn it on its head for the Elimination Challenge. They'll be making "Surf & Turf." Padma said the seafood and meat should work together as one single dish, and Curtis told them to be creative and think outside the box. Stefan said Surf & Turf seems old to him, but he's creative, so he's not worried. (Does this foretell anything?)

They'll get to explore the pantry and refrigerator tomorrow morning. Sheldon's advantage is that he'll get first pick of the proteins, and whatever he chooses will be off limits to the other cheftestants. It means it'll be a lot harder for the remaining 4 since they can't decide what to make, since they don't know what Sheldon will pick.

The next morning, they have 30 minutes to choose their ingredients. Sheldon chooses beef tenderloin and lobster tail. Stefan ends up with pork belly and eel; Josh takes pork belly, scallops, and bacon. Lizzie takes half the bacon and the whole pig. Brooke wants to set herself apart, so she goes with frog's legs and mussels.

They then head into the warehouse pantry in the bowels of the ship, which is huge. They then run into the galley for serving vessels for the presentation.

They start prep, and Lizzie goes to town on the whole pig. She's very used to doing this, and Josh is impressed with her butchering skills. Josh is going to make pasta with scallops, Stefan is ravioli with eel, and a beer-braised pork belly. Brooke's wondering if her frog's legs are going to be considered "turf", but she hopes it'll go over well. She asks Sheldon how he's going to make his dish playful, and he says "I'm not." His dish is going to be very straightforward, and now he's nervous that he's not being creative enough. Josh's scallop pasta hasn't set and is way too soft, and he's freaking out inside.

In the in-between blurb, they're shown moving into their staterooms, and Sheldon and Stefan are roommates. Lizzie and Brooke are right next door, and they meet out on their mini decks. Lizzie asks "Hello cheeky boy! What are you doing over in this part of town?" Stefan responds "We're on a gay cruise - this is my boyfriend, Jonathan. Party Pants!" Goofball.

They're back in the galley, finishing the prep work. Josh's pasta didn't work, so he's making scallops scrambled eggs. Stefan says "Come on - breakfast again?"

The guests arrive, as do the judges. Padma, Curtis, Tom, Hugh, John Suley, the head chef of Celebrity Cruises, Caissie Stafford, Cruise Director for Celebrity Cruises, and Sheldon Thompson, Hotel Director for Celebrity Cruises. Tom said getting into the Final 4 is big - you don't want to get to the last 5 cheftestants and then not make it to the Final 4.

Brooke's scrambling trying to get 7 different elements of her dish for all of the 200 dishes.

BROOKE - Mussels & Frog Legs with Celery Root & Fennel Puree, Papadums & Shallot Chutney - Caissie said "I didn't even know we had frog's legs on board! Tom and Curtis both say before even tasting it, it's very inventive, and then Tom said the flavors are really good. The frog's leg isn't the most earthy dish, but adding the beet glaze made it more earthy. Hugh said it all married well and was very modern view of it. Caissie liked the presentation. Tom noted that the papadum was the only negative - too greasy.

STEFAN - Braised Pork Belly with Beer Sauce, Parsnip & Eel Ravioli - Tom said it's the greasiest looking sauce he's ever seen. He takes a bite and says "Oh my God!" All we hear is a lot of crunching. LOUD crunching. Padma asks if that's a tooth. Curtis, however, said he loves the crunchy pork. He said it's a cultural thing - people in Australia or Great Britain, they expect the very crunchy cracklings. Hugh said "Well, there's the difference between beautiful people like Curtis with fluoride teeth, or the guy with two teeth gnawing on it in the corner. It's England, so it's different." Padma said she thinks Stefan pushed the envelope with the eel and parsnip ravioli, but Hugh said he can only taste the parsnip.

JOSH - Scrambled Scallops with Braised Pork Belly & Bacon - Tom said that if Josh hadn't said it was scallops, he wouldn't know - but he can taste the sea flavor. He thinks it's packing a lot of punch. Padma thinks there's not enough scallop flavor, but Sheldon Johnson said he likes the presentation. Everyone thinks he was very inventive and the flavors were good. Tom was surprised he was able to recover from the mishap with the pasta.

SHELDON - Korean BBQ Filet Mignon, Tempura Lobster, Sesame Cabbage, Kimchi & Teriyaki Sauce - Tom likes his presentation, but Hugh asks why people think tempura is a good idea, and he's getting "the softie again". Tom notes that the tempura had to have come out of the fryer 10 minutes before plating. Hugh and Sheldon like the kimchi beef. Hugh says, however, that the dish hearkens back to the origins of Surf and Turf - that people wanted 2 different items on the plate - and they weren't married. Tom agrees and says "I don't even think they were dating." Caissie says "We had a singles night the first night; they missed it." (It's not looking good for Sheldon!)

LIZZIE - Cabbage Stuffed with Suckling Pig & Scallops with Mustard Sour Cream with Pickled Shallots & Apples - Tom said the cabbage isn't cooked enough, and it's hard to eat. Curtis said the scallop is overpowered by the rest of the dish. Tom loves the pickled items, and overall, he enjoys the dish. Guests note that it's difficult to eat.

The judges talk about who could win - The Celebrity Cruises head chef says Brooke was inventive. Hugh also thinks that Josh put out a great dish. Curtis thought Lizzie's dish was good, but Tom thinks it needed one more element. Meanwhile, Hugh thinks Lizzie could be included in the bottom group - it wasn't new and modern - it was more traditional. Caissie thought Stefan's dish didn't capture the flavors of surf & turf, and Hugh said not taking off the skin on the belly made it difficult to eat. Sheldon Johnson, Hotel Director, said he wouldn't eat Stefan's dish again. Meanwhile, Sheldon's dish was a failure with the tempura, per the Celebrity Cruises head chef, and Curtis said he chose the worst proteins and executed them badly.

At Judges Table ::::whooshing camera::: Padma and Curtis note that Brooke cooked outside the box and they were impressed. Padma asked Sheldon what he thought of the challenge, and Sheldon said it was uninspiring to him, and the ingredients just didn't to speak to him. Tom notes that HE was the first to pick his ingredients, so why did he choose filet and lobster? He replies that he thought he could execute those items. Curtis said there were a couple of items that were inedible on the plate. Hugh notes he didn't re-imagine the surf & turf.

For Josh, Curtis was nervous about the scrambled scallops, but said it worked and it was fabulous. Hugh said the pork belly was spot on, but the scallop was strange. Tom said he was probably the first person ever to scramble scallops. Hugh said the nice sea flavor worked around the pork and they were well integrated.

Padma said she was excited to hear Stefan was working with eel, as she remembered his last season on TC, and he had had a deft hand with the eel. Curtis asked if he had tasted the parsnip and eel together; Stefan replied he had and that it tasted fine to him. Curtis said you couldn't taste the eel. Tom noted the sauce had a half inch of grease on top. Stefan said he skimmed the pork fat off, but there's only 45 minutes to plate up....Hugh notes "You guys have to conceptualize dishes that work under the pressures of the challenge." Tom also notes that the skin was so hard he thought he could have broken a tooth. Curtis said while he likes crispy pork, this was right on the verge of going over. He could hear Tom chewing on the other side of the table loud and clear.

For Lizzie, Tom said he liked the idea of the dish, and it tasted good, but when you cut into the cabbage, it fell apart. Curtis also loved the dish and thought it was presented beautifully.

Curtis announces the winner - and it is Brooke! Padma tells her she'll get a 7 night Caribbean vacation for 2. She laughs and says "That's ironic!" She realizes that, after spending time on the cruise ship, maybe her fear of boats was in her head. Meanwhile, Lizzie and Josh are also both safe, and they can return with Brooke to the galley. That leaves Stefan and Sheldon.

(Another in-between is HYSTERICAL! The #SaveChefCJ and #SaveChefJosie - it's 94% for CJ, and 6% for Josie! LOL!!!)

Back at JT - Tom notes the issues with both of their dishes, and says he hates to see either of them go. Padma asks Stefan to PYKAG. I *REALLY* thought Sheldon was going to go home. Stefan has a really nice farewell in the confessional, but realizes he has LCK to redeem himself. (They show him saying "Of course it's Wifey!")

Previews for next week show them in Juneau, dog sleds, fresh fish, and some bears.

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  1. Thanks yet again Linda.
    1st thoughts:
    For some reason I found this episode boring even though there were some interesting dishes. I guess iceberg lettuce IS boring.

    Brooke: gutsy move. Frogs legs and mussels. Both ingredients can easily be overcooked. Very unforgiving. Looked great.

    Lizzy: Interesting dish. Chef I'd probably least like to go out with for a good time (the most dour looking face ever) although when she smiles I think she is transformed.

    Sheldon: Sheldon, Sheldon, Sheldon. You're bumming me out man. What were you thinking dude? You lucked out on this one. (Slapping him across the face) Get it together man!

    Josh: Talk about lucking out. His ill-conceived pasta led to an un-conceived scrambled scallop that by accident tasted good. Even a blind dog finds a bone once in a while.

    Stefan: I never liked that they brought back the chefs from past seasons but Stefan started to grow on me - kinda like a staph infection. Seriously, I really started to like him a lot but he failed big time with that pork belly. Tom, in his blog describes nicely where he went wrong. It's one of Tom's best reads and educational (Hugh's, as usual, is just a great read).

    It's nice that one particular person is gone. No drama. Good cooking and these guys all seem to genuinely like each other.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bobbert

      Lizzy and Sheldon both have impressed me as two of the most down to earth and genuine of the competitors. Lizzy's agonizing doesn't strike me as drama-queening, but a fairly true reflection of how difficult some of the challenges have been -- the time demands combined with the huge volume they're required to produce. despite the problems she had with execution, the judges probably recognized what an accomplishment it was to properly prepare the whole suckling pig with the limited time and unfamiliar equipment. Sheldon has probably had the least formal or conventional apprenticeship training in classical techniques and repertoire of them all, and in this instance his qualms about execution dampened his creativity.

      1. re: moto

        Watching Lizzy butcher that pig was pretty impressive. Even the bacon guy was impressed. Sheldon is just such a cool guy - he knew he blew it. I'm glad it didn't send him home.

    2. I noticed the "Save a Chef" graphic, too--I think the 6% was higher than I would have expected.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Skippy1414

        I was wondering if the 6% were jokesters or people who just really hate CJ. Does Josie watch this and realize what a jerk she has come off as?

        1. re: chowser

          I think Josie has a small (very small) contingent of supporters. Hell, Don King has come out in support of her and wants to "promote her".

          As for Josie? No. She has absolutely NO self-knowledge about herself or her surroundings. I think Hugh's first paragraph puts its best:

          "Kristen is still reigning champ in Last Chance Kitchen and Josie is napping off the hangover of defeat. Did you notice the very awkward exit when Josie got her pink slip? Missed hugs, avoided high-fives, skulking walk of shame back to the Stew Room, but always sporting that trademark smile. The world could be imploding into itself and Josie would be like, “Dudes, let’s party!” "

          1. re: chowser

            I was thinking CJ must have some really bitter exes ;->

        2. I liked this episode. Both challenges had a curve but still let the chefs show their own creativity and skills. This episode also reminded me why I like Stefan. He can be such a goof-ball and genuine at the same time.

          It did feel like the episode was longer so they could include a celebrity cruise infomercial.

          I loved the presentation of the dishes and love that they got be creative. I love crackling too and am always disappointed to not get in the US.

          The thought of breaking down a scallop like that doesn't seem appealing to me and I would think not being even able to identify one of the proteins would be a mark against him. It must have tasted great but I still wouldn't cook it like that.

          "making whimsical fun food isn't something I do."-seriously Snidely Josh what exactly do you cook.

          Lizzie's dish just seemed so uninspired compared to the other presentations.

          2 Replies
          1. re: tjinsf

            Regarding Josh, and "I don't make fun food," I'm shocked he's made it to the final four. I predicted Sheldon, Brooke, Kristen, Stefan. I guess I'm only hitting 50%, but still, the guy cooks bacon in EVERY SINGLE CHALLENGE. That's not interesting. That's a crutch.

            1. re: davis_sq_pro

              Every episode, he comes up with something else he "doesn't do," which is a terrible attitude for a chef. And except for the fried chicken, even the food he does do tends to turn out mediocre.

          2. Thanks Linda! My cable started doing that jerky stacatto mosaic thing during the judging. :-[

            13 Replies
            1. re: Shrinkrap

              And my cable went weirdly bonkers. I was hitting the 'guide' button to record the 2nd half of TC when the screen went out and I couldn't change channels. Unplugged and when it came back on, I then had no sound. The menu wouldn't reload in time when I was on the phone w/ them so I just went to bed and got it going this morning, but figured I'd read this anyway. I have to watch just to see these cute Stefan moments, he really can be a fun goofball, sorry to see him go.

              Note: I don't see LCK up on the site yet at 7:15AM Thurs. That's odd.

              1. re: Joanie

                LCK was up right away. I think it's one of the best yet.

                1. re: bobbert

                  Weird cuz on the 2nd page of Tom's blog, I clicked 'Last Chance Kitchen' and get a "Sorry, it seems the page you are looking for isn't here right now." And on the Bravo Top Chef page I see last week's David Chang ep even after refreshing etc. Whatever, I'll find it eventually.

                  1. re: bobbert

                    Yup, I stayed up to watch it last night as well. (Although I wasn't watching it until around 12:15 until after I finished writing up the recap!)

                    1. re: bobbert

                      Can you post the link since I'm not having any luck? Thanks.

                      1. re: Joanie

                        OK, this is VERY interesting. The Bravo site seems to have reverted to Ep. #12 with the "latest videos". There's just Stefan's exit interview and "BravoTV.com Exclusives" for Ep. #13. Then they have two previews for Ep. #14. Hmmm....

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          I can see the LCK on this end. Watched it last night; one of the best LCKs yet in my opinion.

                        2. re: Joanie

                          http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/seaso...

                          Try this. I had a hard time last week and had to keep going round and round the houses. This week I got straight to it.

                          As others have said, it's a great one.

                          1. re: Chatsworth

                            I have to confess that I have to read the comments before I watch so I can see who won before watching.

                      2. re: Joanie

                        I missed it last night, too, but couldn't wait until Saturday to read Linda's recap. Thanks Linda! I'm just relieved that Sheldon is still in the running! Last Chance Kitchen was really good, as were the blogs. Now to wait for Max to get his up on Eater...

                          1. re: momjamin

                            There's a LCK spoiler in the Eater recap, for anyone who hasn't seen LCK yet.

                            1. re: LurkerDan

                              As someone who doesn't think Curtis is esp. cute, I liked this:

                              Lizzie gets all flustered by him. "He's really cute," she says. In South Africa, obnoxious sweater detailing like toggles and shawl collars are a sign of a man's virility, so it makes sense that Curtis is extremely attractive to her.

                              That's so cute that Max met Kristin after his gig in Boston. I wish I'd known he was in town (actually I wasn't). Will keep a lookout for next time.

                    2. Thanks for the recap, Linda!

                      I was sorry to see Stefan go, but it just seemed to me that a lot of his cooking has been poorly conceived and half-hearted. Would he send hard, inedible pork belly and a grease-laden sauce out to a customer in a restaurant? The only time it seemed as if he was engaged was during judging. Although Sheldon was lucky to have skated with, once again, a terrible tempura, something virtually inedible--i.e. the pork belly-- will always trump something that's poorly made.

                      Josh was incredibly lucky to have turned the intended scallop pasta into a scallop scramble and to have had it be, not only edible, but tasty. For my money, he is the one who shouldn't go to the finals. I don't feel he is the equal of the others as a chef, both in terms of technique or conception of dishes, although this one was a real leap forward for him.

                      I know everyone liked Brooke's dish, but what was it exactly? With all these bits and pieces of the serving dishes, it was difficult to tell. I'm glad she won, however, and if Kristin wins TCK, my money is on one of the two of them to win the whole thing.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: roxlet

                        Interesting that you think Josh *shouldn't* go to the finals with the Final 4. Right now, LIzzie is the *only* cheftestant without a QF or EC win. However....she *does* have 6 "Highs" in the EC challenges, so she's always *right there* and just misses out. I actually see all four of these cheftestants as pretty equal.

                        Now, if Kristen comes back, all bets are off. :-)

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          Yes, you're right: all bets are off if Kristin comes back. I believe that she would win for sure. Although Lizzie hasn't won a QF or EC, Josh's win EC win was for a basic, homey dish as opposed to interesting cooking. For me, his making bacon and egg sushi in last week's QF, for example, displayed a real lack of imagination and a narrowness of expertise. Though Lizzie hasn't hit any true highs, her food has been more consistent. However, factoring in the LCK, clearly the final three should be Brooke, Sheldon, and Kristin, with Kristin for the win. Right now, both Sheldon and Brooke should be hoping that Stefan beats Kristin in LCK!

                          1. re: roxlet

                            Agree that Josh has been off on creativity. This week was *the* most out-of-the-box he's been. At least FINALLY he's won something for cooking breakfast. :-D

                            Agree on your Final 3.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              ...and you know it was complete luck that he ended up with something good after the debacle that was supposed to be scallop pasta. Was it just me or did anyone else notice when Brooke asks him what he was making? He tells her scallop pasta. She then asks if he knows how to do it and he says no but in such a way as in "...no, I don't need your help..." I think Brooke was going to offer up some well intentioned and well needed advice but got turned down. Anyway, that's how I saw it. I will cut him a little slack with his wife about to give birth ans he's basically on a cruise. It really shows just how much these chefs are willing to sacrifice to be top chef.

                              1. re: bobbert

                                Maybe prerequisite for Top Chef contestants should be to watch the full backlog of Iron Chef episodes. Not only would this give them some hints for quickly prepping stuff under pressure, they'd also get some idea of how to do things like make fish noodles... (I think it's been done 10+ times on the show -- extrude the damn things into simmering water, not onto a sheet pan! And it's probably wise to use a bit of meat glue to make sure everything stays in shape.)

                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                  Tom talks about a couple of ways to do it on his blog this week. One is just as you say....

                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                    I love when Hounds have seen methods in which to make a dish that the cheftestants haven't figured out. :-)

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      I was thinking scallop spaetzle idea, too. When it didn't work, I thought he could turn it into mousse.

                                    2. re: bobbert

                                      My interpretation of their exchange was that she was curious, not offering help. And his reponse was more on the lines of, "No -- thanks for pointing that out," as in "I know I don't know what I'm doing, don't distract me with reality."

                                  2. re: roxlet

                                    LCK may be the way to go this season. I can't imagine Kristin not taking the whole thing.

                                  3. re: LindaWhit

                                    I think I would want Lizzie over Josh because Josh seems both afraid and unskilled at cooking out of what he keeps on saying is his wheelhouse. While Lizzie's dish this week wasn't the most inspiring, it's clear from how she is often in the top that it is because of her cooking skills where as Josh gets up there with either happy accidents (the scallops this week) or his type of food (fried chicken). Did he not know he was going on top chef and would have to cook outside his norms?

                                2. I meant to mention it last night, but did anyone else notice how much camera and talking time Curtis Stone got? During both the service *and* at Judges Table, Curtis seemed to be doing Padma's job by explaining to the chefs what was good/bad about their dish.

                                  42 Replies
                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    It's so hard for Padma to remember what she's supposed to say (listen for the poorly mixed audio drop off when they cut away from her), that she was probably highly relived to have another pretty face to take over for her.

                                    1. re: roxlet

                                      Yeah, it's always *very* noticeable when Padma has re-done her off-camera lines in the studio.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        Every single episode has several of her edited lines. Most of those lines are just the standard stuff too. Just once I'd like to hear Padma say "utensils down, hands up."

                                        1. re: John E.

                                          I'm hoping for a complete editing screw up where Tom walks in but it's Padma's voice saying "utensils down". And the lips and sound will have to be off like in an old Godzilla movie. Now that would be fun.

                                          1. re: John E.

                                            I know. That irks me as well. And it's been talked about all over the blogosphere. You'd think it would have gotten back to Padma and/or the producers and she'd correct it. But it's not going to happen.

                                            1. re: John E.

                                              I just want all of the contestants to start raising their hands and then dropping their utensils from overhead.

                                              1. re: John E.

                                                I guess I've totally missed this.

                                                What does Padma say? Utensils up, hands down?

                                                1. re: Bart Hound

                                                  Nope. She says "Hands up, utensils down." Needs to be reversed.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    i would rather hear padma say, "hand up, utensils down" over and over again than watch colicchio handle his fork like a three year old whose arm has fallen asleep.

                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                This may get deleted right quick, but why must Padma continually dress like a high class hooker? I mean, really...did we need the boobs hanging out on the table for this challenge?

                                                I can't say that she's earned my respect on this show as a judge or a host (and this has nothing to do with her clothes). Dressing like a bimbo at every opportunity just makes it worse.

                                                1. re: Christina D

                                                  Here's a line from David Rees recap on grubstreet.com

                                                  (Can I say something a bit gauche? When I saw the cut of Padma’s dress, I almost yelled, “Men overboard!” because of the suicidal enthusiasm with which her breasts were leaping out of their vessel.)

                                                  Here's a link to the recap:
                                                  http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2013/01...

                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                    Oh my goodness...my keyboard is thanking it's lucky stars that I wasn't drinking anything when I read this post. ;o)

                                                  2. re: Christina D

                                                    I always thought the whole purpose of Padma being on the show was for eye candy. Whenever she talks all I hear is the sound of the adults in a Charlie Brown movie.

                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                        sometimes, when i hear criticism of padma, all i hear is the sound of "i could do her job, i could do her job, i could do her job."

                                                        1. re: linus

                                                          But I could never look so good doing it. Actually I think she does a pretty good job but clearly (and for obvious and legitimate reasons as this is after all t.v.) she is there for reasons other than her keen sense of taste for food. Even the Bravo site has a link to "pictures of Padma" and not "great food quotes from Padma". I often watch at work with the sound off which happened the other night so we couldn't tell what was happening but when she walked in wearing that black number. .. well we didn't need sound to want to stay on that channel. As the episode repeats several times during the night I do get the opportunity to watch with sound more than once. Not much else on at 2 am.

                                                          1. re: bobbert

                                                            oh, i don't think there's any doubt her looks had a great deal to do with her getting the gig.
                                                            however, not that many folks who look like that have a working knowledge of food, so it all seems win-win to me.
                                                            i think it would also be naive to think that gail's and tom's looks didn't also play some kind of role in getting them hired and keeping them on.

                                                            1. re: linus

                                                              I guess I'll have to come to grips with the fact that I'll never have a t.v. show of my own.

                                                          2. re: linus

                                                            hearing totally different words than what people are actually saying is a serious issue. You should get that checked out.

                                                        2. re: Christina D

                                                          I also thought her cleavage had a starring role in this episode.

                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                            Now I'm gonna have to be sure to catch a rerun sometime ; )

                                                            1. re: DGresh

                                                              Funny!

                                                              This is from the Washington Post's food blog:

                                                              The judges — Tom, Padma, Padma’s cleavage, Curtis, Hugh Acheson and three execs from the cruise line — sit down to taste the cheftestants’ interpretations of surf and turf.

                                                        3. re: LindaWhit

                                                          Just read this in Hugh's blog - this is *exactly* how I saw Padma last night - she was just barely there....

                                                          "Qsine has iPad menus and upside-down lamps. This sells well to cruisers. Cause it’s crazy! They quibble over their win-loss records and eat disco shrimp and lollipops of sushi. A doll house of small bites comes out. Curtis and his little friend come in and ruin the meal."

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            "Qsine has iPad menus and upside-down lamps. This sells well to cruisers. Cause it’s crazy!"
                                                            That seemed like the most annoying restaurant ever, unless you were on a cruise and drunk 24/7. Also, like you LindaWhit, the lamps nailed to the ceiling instantly made me think of The Poseidon Adventure - exactly what you want to be reminded of when you've out at sea. Oh, that and ICEBERGS of course. Bless Stefan for catching that one.

                                                            1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                              I would find all those compartments incredibly annoying.

                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                              And did you notice how much of a better job Curtis did? Not my type but I totally have a bro crush on him. Not the best cook although at least he does have professional culinary training and experience.

                                                              1. re: tjinsf

                                                                Face it, though Padma has some modest culinary creds, she's really just a spokesmodel.

                                                                1. re: roxlet

                                                                  padma sounds much more articulate and knowledgeable about food than curtis ever will.
                                                                  curtis may have more training, but i don't find his comments any more insightful than padma's.

                                                                  1. re: linus

                                                                    So you think stilted voice overs are a sign of being knowledgeable about food......

                                                                    1. re: tjinsf

                                                                      the voiceovers are dubbed in later in post production. there are many reasons for this, among them are technical issues, talent error, and the producers feeling more information is required to explain the situation.

                                                                      the reason they often sound "stilted" is because they are recorded in a studio at a later time.

                                                                      1. re: linus

                                                                        Having worked in TV for 30 years as both a network executive and a producer, and having spent many, many hours in many sound suites doing ADR and sweetening, I can say definitively that voices recorded in a studio at a later time do not sound stilted unless the actor delivers a line that way. There are many, many tools available to the sound engineer that can help everything from sound drop-off to a change in the relative warmth and coolness of a room. Her voice is stilted. It has nothing whatsoever to do with ADR. If it were, every thing you see on TV would have that same quality since there is not a show -- or movie -- that you have ever seen that hasn't had some re-recording.

                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                          i can tell which lines from padma are looped in later in post. they have a different sound quality.
                                                                          it is often easy to detect which lines are dubbed in later in movies and t.v. shows because of this.
                                                                          some actors are good at looping, or dubbing in lines, later, and some have trouble with it.
                                                                          some productions have lots of time and money to spend on multiple takes in the dubbing suite, others do not.

                                                                          i don't hold padma's inability to loop well against her, nor do i think it has anything to do with her knowledge of food.

                                                                          1. re: linus

                                                                            The number of times it is necessary for Padma to record voiceover in a studio is not a reflection of her knowledge of food, but it is a reflection on her abililty to deliver her lines. I read a story some time ago with some quotes from past contestants and they (I can't remember who it was) basically said that Padma flubbed her lines with some frequency.

                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                              Speaking of Padma, it seemed like in past seasons she made fairly innocuous statements about the food that weren't terribly insightful, but no harm done. This season she seems to be trying to be more of an "expert" and it's coming out mean and snarky most of the time. I prefer the old Padma.

                                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                                i agree she seems to be speaking up more this season. i find it refreshing to hear her point of view, and don't find it any snarkier than the rest of the judges.

                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                  As some have posted on these threads a while back, I thought Padma's referencing to Stefan as a bullsh*tter was a bit over the top. Of course, we don't really know what Stefan said for her to blurt that out. I don't really care what she has to say at judges table. Tom seems to be consistent with his judging. Some of the guest judges seem to have been all over the place.

                                                                            2. re: roxlet

                                                                              I always notice those drop ins because the volume and sound changes, in a very noticeable way.

                                                                    2. re: tjinsf

                                                                      I was *enjoying* having Curtis on there as the "host".

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        A little bit of Curtis goes a long way ...I have not liked him on Top Chef Masters or Around the World in 80 plates... but perhaps I am not the demographic they are going for there ;-)

                                                                        1. re: cwdonald

                                                                          I've grown to like him on TCM - he's more relaxed there. I think when he's with Cat Cora on ATWI80P, it's a bit more forced.

                                                                          But I *really* liked him last night - he was comfortably in command. Then again, comparing him to semi-wooden Padma (but she's STILL better than Katie Joel!), he's just smoooooooothhhhh. :-)

                                                                  2. I'm sorry to see Stefan go as I liked him and found him hilarous, but his sexual stuff was almost too much. He seemed to be leering at Brooke in every shot they were together, and kept touching her in shot after shot. If I were her husband, I'd probably be pissed. His comment about "something warm for Padma's mouth" was classic.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Bart Hound

                                                                      Well, I'll say this about the guy: he wasn't boring!

                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                        It was good to have him back. He's redeemed himself this season for me.

                                                                      2. re: Bart Hound

                                                                        When he and Brooke are dancing on the cruise ship, she tells him something like, "You're too close!" and kinda shoves him away. All laughingly, of course, but it seemed like there was some underlying seriousness there.

                                                                        1. re: piccola

                                                                          The Eater has their blog up on this episode and there is a GIF of Brooke and Stephen dancing which is amusing and disturbing all at the same time

                                                                          http://eater.com/archives/2013/01/31/...

                                                                      3. Am I the only who thinks Stefan's English was getting worse with each passing episode?

                                                                        There were times I could barely understand him.

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                          1. re: bobbert

                                                                            On the ship, Stefan made a comment about alcohol, like they had not had any for a while. I thought the producers provided them with plenty of alcohol to keep them lubed up and talking.

                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                              Which is why I wrote: "Stefan said "Yay! Finally some liquor!" Uh-huh. Like you've not seen any liquor yet on the show, Stefan!"

                                                                              Stefan didn't have his sarcasm face on when he said that. :-)

                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                I think he meant hard liquor. They seem to drink only wine and beer otherwise.

                                                                                1. re: lisavf

                                                                                  I remember Stefan, Brooke, and Snidely drinking beer out on the deck, but maybe they had drinks too.

                                                                              2. re: bobbert

                                                                                It appears that he does like to drink a bit.

                                                                            2. I was sad to see Stefan get the PPYKAG. I don't have anything against Lizzie (or any of the contestants for that matter) but I would have rather seen her not make the final four. (Of course will it really be the 'final four'? I don't know when the LCK winner re-enters the fray.)

                                                                              One of Brooke's comments struck me funny, as in funny wierd. Yes, Brooke, your fear of boats is all in your head. All of your fears are all in your head.

                                                                              About the iceberg lettuce QF.If iceberg lettuce were rare, difficult to grow, and expensive, all the top chefs would be serving it in their restaurants. I posted that comment on another thread a long time ago.

                                                                              I like iceberg lettuce in a tossed salad. Sometimes all of the fancier greens lack the crunch that iceberg provides.

                                                                              I wonder why Sheldon was not sent packing. Both Sheldon and Stefan had mistakes in execution, but at least Stefan served something creative in the eel ravioli. It must have come down to which dish the judges would go back to and eat more if they were starving.

                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                IMO, Stefan was sent packing because the pork belly was virtually inedible, they couldn't taste the eel in the ravioli since the parsnips were such a strong flavor, and the sauce that Stefan provided to pour over the ravioli was extremely oily. Sheldon's tempura was soggy, and the whole concept suffered from a lack of imagination, but it appeared to be edible. Also, they particularly seemed to enjoy Sheldon's kimchee.

                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                  On the blogs they talk about Sheldon's failure with the tempura but the kimchee and beef being excellent. They rip apart Stefan's dish quite a bit more. That would be both Tom and Hugh. I think Stefan handled it with grace and although he didn't win, he accomplished a lot of what he set out to. The publicity he has received will help make him a very wealthy man.

                                                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                                                    "The publicity he has received will help make him a very wealthy man"

                                                                                    well, not sure about that, but perhaps if his opportunities beyond just being a chef are included. Despite the sometimes annoying aspects of the sexual innuendos, I found him to be appealing on camera. Could see him growing into some type of hosting gig,perhaps? I definitely can see more TV in his future.

                                                                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                      His restaurants in LA and Finland are already pretty successful and he was guest judge on the Finnish version of TC which a Finn friend of mine said was hilarious. I don't know if his Finnish sense of humour plays for an American audience but I would think he would be fun as part of group like Carla is on her show.

                                                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                        To each their own...that's one show I wouldn't watch at gunpoint. I cheered so loud when he got the PPYKAG, the cats jumped off the sofa and fled in terror.

                                                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                          Agreed on Stefan and a TV gig. He's got a lot of charisma, is very comfortable in front of the camera. He's hilarious at times, I'd definitely watch him.

                                                                                          Plus, who on TV does German food? I'd love to learn more.

                                                                                          1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                            I would like to know more about Stefan. He was born in Finland, he has a house in Finland, he has restaurants in Finland, and yet he lived most of his life in Germany before coming to the U.S. Maybe he has a German father and a Finnish mother (Richter sounds more German that Finnish, not enough vowels to be a Finlander name.)

                                                                                      2. re: John E.

                                                                                        Ditto on the iceberg lettuce. Sometimes it gives the right "heft" to a salad when one is needed. Mache and softer lettuces just aren't right sometimes.

                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                          The first thing tom said was I've never seen such an oily sauce and it seemed like every element had issues where as sheldon's big issue was soggy tempura and being boring. They actually liked the taste of meat.

                                                                                        2. I was so nervous for Sheldon. He really seemed off his game. I notice that this happens fairly regularly - once the contestants get a little down time, someone loses focus. Didn't that happen to Antonia when they brought family members back or something like that? And I know it's happened on Project Runway. It's like they relax, let their guard down, and they lose their competitive edge. I can imagine it is so tempting to just forget about the competition for a while, but as they were having their dinner, I kept thinking, "Don't relax, don't relax, some twist or challenge is going to be right around the corner, and you won't be ready. The game isn't over yet."

                                                                                          I liked Stefan, but he did seem pretty uninspired this season. A lot of his food was old-school and not really inventive. But I would love to hang out with him and have a few drinks!

                                                                                          Brooke is pretty awesome and very low key. She has a real knack with unusual ingredients and combinations. Remember the lamb-stuffed squid? As soon as she picked the frogs' legs, I suspected that she was going to win.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: lisavf

                                                                                            I wonder if there is another curse... you win QF and you get an advantage and it comes back and bites you.... we now have the curse of the rissotto, tempura and the quickfire advantage.

                                                                                            1. re: cwdonald

                                                                                              I want to see a chef turn down the advantage since they most often come back and haunt them.

                                                                                          2. Also I think Stefan's exit interview was one of the best PYKAG especially since he never really had one in his first season since he made it to the finale. He could have been bitter, thrown others under the bus, talked about how unfair it but instead he was so genuine and honest. Maybe it was just a good edit but overall I liked him more this season.

                                                                                            Also just realized I've eaten at his places in LA and they were good too.

                                                                                            1. "Curtis asks if he was worried ..."

                                                                                              does anyone else find that annoying, or maybe disingenuous?

                                                                                              When a judge asks "were you worried that ....it might be too dry ?". Are they REALLY saying "I think it's too dry, and if you don't, we have different tastes, and I'm the judge, so.....

                                                                                              1. I'll miss Stefan, but I'm actually glad none of the repeat chefs made the finale. Love Stefan's sense of humor, this turn and his first one. Linda, instead of hearing the Top Chef opening jingle, I hear the Rocky theme and see you stretching out your fingers for some quick typing. Your recaps are amazing. Thank you.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: KrumTx

                                                                                                  Awww, you're so sweet - thanks, KrumTx! Yeah, I do some knuckle-cracking before I get started. :-D

                                                                                                  And keep in mind that CJ is still in the running for "Save a Chef" - so he just *might* make it back, if he can beat Kristen or whoever comes up in LCK.

                                                                                                  1. re: KrumTx

                                                                                                    I'm against them bringing the 3 previous contestants back but, I'm glad to have seen Stephan this season without the bromance with Fabio from his previous season. I get his sense of humor. It's never appeared to me that any of the targets of his humor have disapproved.

                                                                                                  2. OK, absolutely the best part of this episode was the Save A Chef voting results.

                                                                                                    The worst part of the episiode, for me, was the preview for upcoming episode(s). Were the dog sleds? Frozen fish? They actually managed to do an entire season without too many gimmicky challenges, and now they're going to introduce them for the finals? Blech.

                                                                                                    And on an unrelated note: Did anyone read the comments on Tom's or Hugh's blogs? Both have remarks from Stefan Richter. As a cynic, I tend to believe it's just someone posing as Stefan. But it would be funny if it was actually him. Like others, Stefan grew on me this season, unlike his original season. Of course, it may have just been the Stefan\Fabio schtick of that season that turned me off both of them.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: gaffk

                                                                                                      LOL, I just stated the same sentiment prior to seeing this. Great minds...

                                                                                                    2. Ok, I just got around to watching this last night; thanks for your recap, Linda, as ever! I'd TiVo'd right past the poll results, love them!

                                                                                                      I thought Sheldon really shot himself in the foot and he's darned lucky that Stefan made steel coated pork belly. He went from being the most imaginative to the most worried and pedestrian in the EC... I think it was a choke, and I hope like heck that he's got it out of his system and starts doing his Sheldon thing again.

                                                                                                      I think Lizzie is a better overall consistent and imaginative performer than Josh, who seems to have a very limited repertoire and skill set. I could see her or Sheldon in the final with Brooke and Kristen.

                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                        I can see how Sheldon might get the yips from having free rein over the pantry - sometimes having restrictions spurs creativity.

                                                                                                        1. re: piccola

                                                                                                          Yep, definitely. Maybe he was trying to shut out the other contestants from having the "traditional ingredients?"

                                                                                                          1. re: charlesbois

                                                                                                            It sounds like he was overwhelmed by the options and just went with the first combo he could think of. Then, because it was so traditional, he couldn't think of anything creative to do with it.

                                                                                                            1. re: piccola

                                                                                                              In TC 4, Evangelos Menselsohn got to choose ingredients for his dish that other contestants could not use. I think he chose chicken, tomatoes, bread, and (They were making boxed lunches.) As I recall, he made a mediocre chicken salad and was in danger of getting the PPYKAG. If a contestant chooses ingredients to keep them away from others instead of choosing ingredients based on what good food they can prepare with the ingredients, I think they will get into trouble.

                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                Took me a bit to realize you were talking about Spike. I don't think I've ever seen his given name. :-)

                                                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                  I think he was channeling the guy who always says everyone's first and last names.

                                                                                                                2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                  It's never a good strategy to focus on what other people are doing.

                                                                                                        2. Loved the idea of pickled lettuce hearts from Sheldon. These are quick refrigerator pickles, right? I'm just getting into these quick pickled veg and have never done them before. Any insights to how I could recreate? I'm guessing a little sugar, a little rice wine vinegar, and let sit in the fridge?

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                              Wow, thank you! I thought they might not do the recipes for the little garnishes, etc.

                                                                                                            2. re: charlesbois

                                                                                                              I've noticed a lot of "quick" pickling this season, and the judges seem to love it every time. Has got me interested in learning more.

                                                                                                              1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                                                Super easy - bring your vinegar of choice, sugar, good amount of salt to the boil.

                                                                                                                Infuse spices if you want: coriander seeds, peppercorns, cardamom, star anise, caraway, cumin, whatever.

                                                                                                                Pour over whatever it is you want to pickle and allow to cool.

                                                                                                                They'll be ready when they're cooled (30 minutes or so) but can also crisp up in the fridge for a few days and keep for a couple of weeks if you put it in a sterilized container.

                                                                                                                For a sweet pickle, 1:1 vinegar to sugar. If you don't want it quite that syrupy, reduce the sugar considerably.

                                                                                                            3. I was very relieved that Sheldon didn't go home this week. Dude, what was that???

                                                                                                              as Stefan was talking about rearranging the entree dishes at Qsine, I was thinking that I'd take them all out of the cabinet and have it removed from the table because it would block you from seeing your dining companions! :)