'Top Chef: Seattle,' Episode 13

Lettuce, surf and turf, and crunchy pigskin

Top Chef Seattle

With Josie, the unofficial weakest link, eliminated last week after some exceptionally greasy fried chicken, we really entered the home stretch with this week’s episode. It was now down to the final five, and still anyone’s game.

The episode unexpectedly resumed right where the previous episode had left off, with the chefs still in the stew room making heads and tails of Josie’s loss. Padma and Tom walked in to give them some news: they’d be taking a cruise up to Alaska, but obviously not for pleasure. They went home and packed their bags, and the next morning they set off on the Celebrity Infinity.

The ship set sail (or something close to it), and soon afterward the chefs made their way into the ship’s galley, where Lakshmi and Curtis Stone were waiting for them. For the Quickfire, they were given two hours to prepare a one-bite dish featuring iceberg lettuce for 200 people. If two hours seems like a long time, keep in mind that a ship’s kitchen is completely different from a standard restaurant’s, with all-electric stoves and equipment designed to withstand some severe waves. Also, as Brooke pointed out, they had nothing prepped and nobody helping them.

Here were their Quickfire dishes:

Stefan: Braised iceberg lettuce, pastrami, fingerling potato, and blue cheese
Sheldon: Vietnamese lettuce wrap with pork, shrimp, and pickled iceberg hearts
Lizzie: Iceberg salad with crispy bacon, shallots, and anchovy vinaigrette
Josh: Iceberg roll with apple cider vinaigrette, bacon jam, and blue cheese
Brooke: Iceberg wrap with bacon, scallop, caramelized onion, and crispy quinoa

While Stone seemed to appreciate everyone’s dish, he chose Sheldon’s lettuce wrap for the win. He won an unspecified "advantage" in the elimination round, and celebrated by getting a manicure.

While enjoying a rather interestingly composed dish at one of the onboard restaurants, Qsine, Lakshmi and Stone showed up again and let them know that the following night they would be running dinner service for the restaurant. The challenge: surf and turf. Because Sheldon won the Quickfire, he would have first access to the proteins. They all were given 30 minutes to choose their ingredients and explore the kitchen, and two and a half hours to cook. Sheldon, attempting to capitalize on his advantage, ended up choosing the obvious: lobster tail and beef tenderloin. The rest of the chefs’ choices were a bit more interesting.

High Acheson, Stone, and executives from Celebrity were brought on board to judge.

Here were their dishes (the "surf" and "turf" in each dish are in bold):

Brooke: Mussels and frog legs with celery root and fennel purée, papadums, and shallot chutney
Stefan: Braised pork belly with beer sauce, parsnip and eel ravioli
Josh: Scrambled scallops with pork belly and bacon
Sheldon: Korean BBQ filet mignon, tempura lobster, sesame cabbage, kimchi, and teriyaki sauce
Lizzie: Cabbage stuffed with suckling pig and scallops with mustard sour cream

The Judges’ Table:

Brooke: Lakshmi thought that she "pushed the boundaries of surf and turf," and Stone agreed. Colicchio thought that the papadum was greasy, but that the flavors were great overall.
Sheldon: Stone thought that "there were a couple of things that were inedible on the plate," and Acheson didn’t think that he reimagined the dish, even though that’s what the challenge called for.
Josh: Stone loved the texture, and while Acheson thought that the scallop was strange, it all worked really well together.
Stefan: Stone "couldn’t taste the eel at all," and Colicchio thought that the sauce was way too greasy. He also felt that "the skin got really hard, like you’d break a tooth." That was definitely some crunchy pork skin, even though Stone didn’t seem to mind it.
Lizzie: While Colicchio thought the flavors worked well together, all the judges agreed that it could have steamed for a bit longer.

The winning dish "was imaginative and combined the surf and turf really well," Stone announced. Brooke took the win, and won a cruise. Lakshmi announced that Lizzie and Josh were also safe, leaving Stefan and Sheldon up for elimination.

In the end, Stefan got the boot. His pork belly was just too crunchy, the eel got lost, the sauce was too greasy, and his surf and turf just didn’t come together into one cohesive dish.

Next week: Onwards to Juneau.

Related Stories
Recap: 'Top Chef: Seattle,' Episode 12Recap: Top Chef: Seattle, Episode 11Recap: 'Top Chef: Seattle,' Episode 10

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