As we came off last week’s surprising Restaurant Wars elimination of Kristen, six chefs remained as Top Chef: Seattle officially headed into the home stretch. Sheldon was riding high after two wins in a row, and just about every other remaining chef made no bones about their lack of satisfaction with last episode’s turnout. with Josie sensing the sentiment growing against her.
Master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi dropped in for the Quickfire challenge, in which the chefs were tasked with a seemingly simple job: make sushi, or something close to it. The winner would win $5,000, and there would be no more immunity from here on out.
Uechi wasn’t a fan of the hot soup over cold fish technique Lizzie used for her lobster soup, or Josh’s greasy, awkward bacon tempura omelette, but he did like Brooke’s octopus with yuzu and Stefan’s yellowtail and lobster duo. Stefan ended up getting the win, which was surprisingly his first so far this season.
David Chang, of Momofuku fame, trotted out with a casually dressed Tom Colicchio, who informed the chefs that he had some friends coming over for dinner that night, and was in the mood for fried chicken. While the dish might sound easy, Chang assured them that it’s far more difficult than it may seem to get right. Padma let them know that the winner would receive a year’s supply of wine, which Stefan guessed might last him three months. On board to guest-judge were John Shook and Vinny Dotolo (the chefs behind Los Angeles’ Animal and Son of a Gun), Emeril Lagasse, Wolfgang Puck, and Miami chef Michelle Bernstein, and they all seemed to be in a particularly giddy mood throughout the tasting.
Here were the dishes:
Sheldon: Umami drumsticks and thighs, wings with usukuchi, rice vinegar, and grapeseed oil
Lizzie: Chicken with coriander, black pepper, and brown sugar rub with peach-cabbage slaw
Josie: Chicken with black garlic, cayenne, thyme, and hot sauce with daikon salad
Stefan: Chicken cordon bleu with garlic aioli and lemon
Josh: Smoked fried chicken with hot sauce and blue cheese
Brooke: Dukkah-crusted chicken breast with wilted escarole and tomato salad
Judge's table was pushed back to the following morning, most likely because the judges were just having too good of a time with each other to be pulled away.
On the top:
Lizzie: Puck thought that her chicken was fried really well, but not anyone’s traditional idea of fried chicken. Colicchio thought that her cabbage slaw was "really good."
Josh: Chang and Lagasse were big fans of his smoked chicken.
Sheldon: The judges’ biggest qualm was that there just wasn’t enough of it.
Josh ended up taking the win, as well as 365 bottles of wine.
On the bottom:
Brooke: Nobody was sure why she decided to take the chicken off the bone, and Puck thought that she "overthought the whole process to try to make something to impress us, and what you got was the exact opposite."
Josie: "It was a gut bomb, and not in a good way," said Chang. Colicchio was clearly exasperated with her at this point, constantly reminding her that time management is a major issue here, and has been for her all season long.
Stefan: His straightforward chicken cordon bleu was considered a "twist" by him, but all the judges agreed that it was a cop-out, and not even a particularly good cordon bleu.
In the end, Josie was told to pack her knives and go for her greasy mess. She had been on thin ice for what seemed like many episodes now, and the other chefs seemed glad to see her go.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.