Recap: 'Top Chef: Seattle,' Episode 15

Helicopters, sled dogs, and a governor’s mansion

Top Chef Seattle

It was the penultimate episode of the season last night, and heading into it there was still no clear front-runner. As the $125,000 prize began to become a real possibility in the contenders’ eyes, though, the three remaining chefs put the pedal to the medal and cooked some truly impressive dishes.

They ate a quick breakfast before making their way to an awaiting helicopter. Brooke proceeded to freak out over the height, but they made it to an awaiting dogsled, and finally Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi, alive. They told the chefs that they happened to be at the Iditarod training camp, and that for their Quickfire they would have 30 minutes to create a dish, using whatever they found in the camp. They didn’t have an easy go of it, considering the fact that the kitchen was tiny and just about everything was frozen, but in the end they turned out some solid-looking dishes.

Brooke: Pan-roasted halibut, panzanella salad with red currant and beet vinaigrette
Josh: Cornmeal cake with Canadian bacon, scrambled eggs, and smoked salmon
Sheldon: Pan-roasted halibut with tomato sauce, sesame bok choy, and pickled radish

With such a limited pantry, Colicchio thought they "did pretty good." He liked Brooke’s halibut (he thought the croutons made it), thought Josh’s unevenly scrambled eggs were "a little weird," and while he liked Sheldon’s dish, he thought the sauce was one-note. Brooke took the win.

They climbed back aboard the helicopter with Lakshmi, then into a car (which she drove!), and then into a kitchen with Kogi’s Roy Choi and Emeril Lagasse, who preceded to serve up a delicious-looking meal to the grateful contestants. These dishes (braised shortrib and cornbread, respectively) each meant something very important to Choi and Lagasse, which was a good segue into our Elimination Challenge: Look back to the moment in which they realized that they wanted to be a chef, and then cook up a dish for the governor of Alaska inspired by that moment.

Off to the Governor’s Mansion they went (but not before Josh learned that his wife was in labor); where they had 2 1/2 hours to prep a sumptuous feast. The next day (after the birth of baby Georgia), they had an hour and a half in which to cook.  

Here were their dishes:
Sheldon: Pan-roasted rockfish, spot prawns, baby vegetables, and dashi
Brooke: Braised chicken, grilled quail with carrot barley, kale, pickled vegetables, mushrooms, and pearl onions
Josh: Foie gras three ways: torchon with pineapple, pan-seared with apricot, and profiterole with foie gras mousse

Judges’ Table:
Josh: Lakshmi was surprised that he made foie gras as opposed to his usual style of comfort food, and nobody was quite sure as to why he decided to do a torchon, which wasn’t cooked through and usually requires days to prepare. Other than that, though, the judges loved his dish (and made it clear that it was a good thing it had three separate components).
Brooke: Wolfgang Puck  thought that the quail was a little overcooked, but everyone else thought that it was excellent, multi-layered, and above all, delicious. "It all just worked," according to Colicchio.
Sheldon: While the fish and prawns were cooked perfectly, his broth was just too salty.

Brooke took the win, and with that a spot in the finale.

Sheldon overseasoned, and Josh worked with an ingredient "he didn’t completely understand," according to Colicchio. Emeril felt that "Josh wouldn’t be in the discussion right now" if he just stuck with one component instead of three.

In the end, Josh was told to pack his knives and go; Sheldon and Brooke (as well as the to-be-announced winner of the Last Chance Kitchen finale, either Kristen or Lizzie) will be heading back to Los Angeles for the finale.


Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.