More than once in last night’s episode of Top Chef: Seattle, judge Tom Colicchio praised a dish for being "right out of the 1950s." In any other episode of this series, that would be a fatal flaw. Not last night, though, as the remaining contestants were challenged to faithfully recreate dishes from the original menu at Seattle’s famed restaurant Canlis, which opened in 1950 and is known as "the birthplace of Northwest Cuisine."
Cooking for current owners (and the founder’s grandsons) Mark and Brian Canlis, the chefs had three hours to prepare throwback dishes like crab cocktail, liver and onions, marinated herring, French onion soup, and the famous Canlis Special Salad, which is the only item that’s still on the menu today.
While Brooke’s seafood salad à la Louis was hailed by Colicchio as being "right out of the Time-Life cookbook from 1950," (again, a grievous offense in any other episode), and Stefan’s liver was just about flawless, Kristen took the win for her simple preparation of vegetables: crispy fried onions to go atop the liver, and sautéed mushrooms.
While faithfulness to the time period ruled the day, several chefs just couldn’t measure up. Carla’s squab was improperly cooked and had too many bones, and she didn’t check in often enough to make sure it was going out right. Krissy’s Special Salad was soggy and overdressed, and the mint and lemon didn’t come through. C.J.’s lamb kebab was mealy and didn’t take on any marinade, and the judges couldn’t comprehend why he decided to cook them sous-vide, a technique that certainly didn’t exist in 1950. Josh’s French onion soup was salty, cold, and required a knife and fork to eat. At the end of the day, as this was a double elimination, Carla and Krissy ended up getting the ax.
Next week’s episode looks especially intriguing. Colicchio is visibly angry about something in the promo, and informs the group that an entire team might be heading home.