Top Chef: Seattle Recap

By Kim Hollis and David Mumpower

December 4, 2012

Welcome to Loserville, population you two.

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Sheldon’s mahi mahi is a big hit other than a slight bloodline on Tom’s dish. He still says that it’s cooked perfectly. In fact, this dish inspires an entire anecdote about how mahi mahi was originally delivered to Seattle illegally via Pan Am flight attendants. I guess if your dish encourages your customers to tell stories, you’re doing all right.

Hugh comments that Micah’s vegetables are just blah, but Naomi likes the combination of veggies that thinks that their look is just right. Apparently, Texas Roadhouse is stuck in the 1950s.

We come to Carla’s squab, and while Padma likes the sauce, almost everyone else criticizes it. Hugh doesn’t like the way it’s been cut, while Naomi and others believe it’s been cooked too long. It’s possible that Carla had made the right call about cooking the squabs medium rare, but overcompensated for the judges’ dishes once she realized that they were too raw for most customers.


Stefan receives some of the rosiest commendations of the evening. Everyone agrees that his dish is effectively a time capsule from 1950s. Emeril Lagasse delivers a backhanded but apt compliment when he states, "Finally he left something alone." Porsche or not, Emeril clearly does not think much of Stefan's culinary skills.

The surprise of the evening is that Kristen receives the "my hat's off" treatment from the Canlis brothers. This is an aspect of Top Chef that occurs infrequently. If a participant is stuck with a food such as onion rings, they had better get it right. The responsibilities for this meal are uneven. Kristen could have grown frustrated by the cooking assignment that the kids get while the grown-ups do the real cooking. Instead, she took onion rings seriously and appears likely to finish at the top.

CJ, on the other hand, suffers the inverse fate. His shish kabob dish is a mess. Hugh Acheson confirms our suspicion that the meat is mealy. Ordinarily, this is code for failure on Top Chef. While we love CJ, he has struggled in two out of three elimination challenges thus far. Similarly, Bart's reputation is not matching his performance. Once again, the chefs are disappointed by the plate of food he serves. Does Belgium ever retroactively retract knighthood?

The final two servers are Eliza and Danyele. The former woman is concerned because the sherbet is not cold enough. The instant we see her dishes, we appreciate that her worries are unfounded. Her mint sherbet is menu picture perfect while her fresh frozen Hawaiian pineapple parfait only needs to be in black and white to seem perfectly at home in the 1950s. Danyele's dessert is equally appetizing. The royal Hawaiian supreme is magnificent.

The judges rush to judgment and the judgment is, "We love sugary desserts!" This is why we lead the world in diabetes per capita but if loving ice cream is wrong, we will never be right. Oddly, there is very little discussion of the judges beyond "Yum!"

While sitting at the table, the judges quickly discuss the dishes that will comprise the best and worst dishes. There isn't much back and forth here; instead, the consensus is clear. Everyone knows who knocked this challenge out of the park and who failed miserably.

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