'Top Chef: Seattle,' Episode 16

The finale, part 1

Top Chef: Seattle

So it’s come down to this: the finale.

Part one, to be exact, but the finale, nonetheless.

We met up with Sheldon and Brooke six months after the previous episode, after learning a little about what they’ve been up to since we last saw them. They got a ride to Tom Colicchio’s Craft in Los Angeles, where they were re-introduced to the winner of Last Chance Kitchen, who will be competing with them for the title: Kristen.

We went right into the Elimination Challenge: Colicchio let them know that they would each be responsible for an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert at Craft, and they’d be opening for service in three hours. Colicchio would be expediting, and Emeril Lagasse and Hugh Acheson would be in the kitchen checking up on them.

After an overwhelming walk-in experience, they commit to their courses, and set to work. Chefs Martin Yan and John Besh were brought in to guest judge.

Here were their dishes:

Appetizer: Sashimi spot prawns, court bouillon, radish, and Asian herbs
Entrée: Roasted quail, pine nut purée, garam masala, and tangerine
Dessert: White chocolate mousse with apple and fennel

Chestnut velouté, duck rillette, and Brussels sprouts
Entrée: Seared ahi tuna with veal mustard jus and Meyer lemon purée
Dessert: Curry chocolate with cashews

Appetizer: Crispy veal sweetbread salad with kumquat, beets, and mustard
Entrée: Braised shortribs, Parmesan sauce, nettle purée, and squash dumplings
Dessert: Brown butter cake, whipped goat cheese, and blackberry sauce

While several dishes certainly impressed, others were major disappointments: One thing was for certain, though: there was still no major front-runner heading to the judges’ table.

The Judges’ Table:

His spot prawn was "cooked perfectly," according to Lagasse.
Entrée: While Colicchio thought his quail was seasoned nicely, he found the pine nuts, which weren’t roasted, to be "a little chalky." The quail wasn’t what Acheson "expected" from him.
Dessert: As his fennel was raw, Colicchio found it to be "an incomplete dish."

Colicchio thought her soup was velvety and overall a "really nice soup," but Acheson found it "safe" and "one-note."
Entrée: Her fish was perfectly cooked, but the judges found it to be bitter
Dessert: Not even Kristen was happy with the result, and Lagasse didn’t care for it at all.

Colicchio though that the sweetbreads were crispy, and that the kumquat added a "nice bright note." Acheson, however, would have liked if they were better-cleaned.
Entrée: Lagasse liked her shortribs, and Lakshmi loved her sauce. It was clear that this was the dish of the evening.
Dessert: "The cake was perfectly moist and beautiful," according to Acheson, and Lagasse found it "pretty damn good." Colicchio, however, found it to be "unfinished," and "not a restaurant dessert."

While each chef’s offerings "had their high points and their low points," according to Colicchio, in the end some analysis revealed that one chef needed to go home. And that chef was Sheldon, who changed up his game too much heading into the episode.

In next week’s finale: Kristen and Brooke. Stephanie Izard has been the only female Top Chef winner, so far. But not after next week.

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