Top Chef: Seattle Recap
By David Mumpower
January 8, 2013
Previously on Top Chef, Josie irritated everyone. The brash chef relished an opportunity to celebrate girl power thanks to a Roller Derby event. Before, during and after this match, Josie managed to engage in a war of words with no fewer than four of the nine other remaining players. A fifth person, Bart, had reason to dislike her even more.
Bart was stuck with Josie during an elimination challenge. As she always does, Josie imposed her will upon the too-respectful Belgian. Bart and Josie wound up serving the worst dish in the challenge. When the judges queried them on the mistakes of the dish, there was no mistaking the fact that Josie had chosen the food, determined the preparation methodology and failed to deliver a tasty dish. Moments later, Bart was eliminated from the competition. A week later, this is still a mystery to me.
I am reminded of season 4 of Top Chef when Lisa Fernandes narrowly avoided elimination each week. There was speculation at the time that she stayed alive not because of her cooking ability but instead because of the drama she provoked. Josie is similar in that she will not win Top Chef but she provides the flavor in a season of otherwise vanilla contestants. Bart is a polite, quiet man who also was not going to win Top Chef. My suspicion is that Josie’s explosive personality is what has kept her in the competition. I sincerely hope that this changes with tonight’s episode because I find her distracting rather than memorable.
And then there were nine. Well, eight plus Josie. Tonight’s episode starts with a focus on Sheldon and his knife skills. Sheldon has had very little face time during the season. A sudden highlight ordinarily foreshadows his elimination or his domination in the upcoming challenges. Sheldon is shown carving his knives, a task he performs daily because he believes that this is an important for a chef.
Cut to the Top Chef Kitchen. Who is the guest judge today? Why, his name is Bob Kramer and he is a Master Bladesmith, one of only 120 in the United States. His cutlery sells for $500 per inch and I doubt you can buy any of it on Amazon. (Editor’s note: a quick Amazon search reveals that David is wrong: You can find one right here).
Master Bladesmith Kramer demonstrates his craft by using a knife to slice through thick rope. The blade instantly tears the rope, even when he adds a second strand. After the stunning presentation, Sheldon has a simple request. “Can I hug you right now?” It’s always the quiet ones…who become obsessed with sharp knives and wind up having their crimes re-enacted on Law & Order.
There are three phases to the Quickfire challenge. The first two teams who sharpen their knives enough to cut through paper easily advance to round two. The second round requires the teams to tournée a batch of 20 potatoes. The final round sees the remaining team converted into individual players, all of whom are competing for immunity as well as a Bob Kramer blade. Sheldon all but climaxes at this revelation.
The contestants are divided into teams of three. The groupings are Micah, Sheldon and Joshua on the first team followed by John, Josie and Kristen on the second team and Lizzie, Brooke and Stefan are on the third team. I’ll say what we’re all thinking. Poor Kristen. Padma provides a stipulation for the challenge. Any player who suffers a cut during the challenge is automatically eliminated.