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Top Chef – Recap & Review – A Shock at the Space Needle

photo: bravo
Top Chef
A Shock at the Space Needle

Original Air Date: Nov 14, 2012

Ryan O – Associate Staff Writer

15 cheftestants remain after last week’s culling and they’re all in Seattle now. And Padma is here! And Gail! I missed Gail.

But, WAIT! There’s a surprise! And it’s not necessarily a good one! It’s the sort of surprise I find annoying!


Padma is in the kitchen with Josie from Season 2, CJ from Season 3, and Stefan from Season 5 (who I really didn’t like). They’ll be judging the Quickfire.

The cheftestants are asked to divide into five groups of three.

They have to make a dish that highlights one of five kinds of local seafood in 20 minutes.

Here’s what each of the five teams made:

Bart, Jeffrey, and Brooke: Crawfish with pickled red chili (I guess pickling is still en vogue), fennel and crawfish cream

Lizzie, Carla, and Chrissy: Oven-roasted crawfish with fennel and herb salad

Micah, Kristen, and Tyler: Fried and sashimi geoduck, radish and bok choy salad, yuzu chili vinaigrette

Sheldon, Kuniko, and John: Geoduck sashimi, ponzu, apple, and cucumber

Eliza, Danyelle, and Josh: Razor clam and grilled corn chowder with Fresno chile and grilled lime

Worst dish: Eliza, Danyelle, and Josh’s chowder, not seasoned properly

Winner: Sheldon, Kuniko, and John’s geoduck sashimi

The three of them draw knives to see which of them gets immunity and John gets the lucky knife.

John does this thing that I hate. He rests the bottoms of his eyeglasses on his eyebrows while still wearing them on his ears. It is an incredibly stupid look. Take them off or put them on.

Padma then announces that Josie, CJ, and Stefan will also be competing. Oh, Top Chef. Do you always have to steal ideas from Survivor? Returning players. UGH. And STEFAN. SERIOUSLY.

Elimination Challenge

The teams are staying the same and CJ, Josie, and Stefan become a team.

Each team will have 47 minutes to prep and cook a dish at the top of the Space Needle. 47 minutes is how long it takes for the Space Needle to go around once.

Carla cannot stop yelling. She is driving her teammates (and me) nuts. She can’t stop talking and it’s just so loud.

Here’s what each team made for judges Tom, Gail, Emeril, and guest judge Tom Douglas, who is an important Seattle chef.

Sheldon, Kuniko, and John: Chili oil poached cod with dashi, spot prawn shabu shabu
(cooking thinly sliced meat in hot liquid by just dipping it in)

Lizzie, Carla, and Chrissy: Poached salmon with seasonal vegetables and beurre blanc (a sauce made with butter and vinegar or white wine)

The judges like the first dish. Everyone’s pleased that the chili oil isn’t overpowering. It provides a nice flavor. They like the second dish a lot, too. Padma thinks the beurre blanc has a lot of really good flavor.

CJ, Josie, and Stefan: Quail breast with confit spot prawn, cherries, and porcini

Bart, Jeffrey, and Brooke: Pan roasted halibut, mushrooms, English peas, wheat beer with herb sabayon

Tom says the quail is overcooked. Gail can’t taste the cherries enough. Emeril says the spot prawn is overcooked. Padma says her halibut is a bit overcooked. Gail thinks her sabayon tastes like nutmeg.

Micah, Kristen, and Tyler: Crispy seared salmon, local vegetables and spot prawn butter sauce

Eliza, Danyelle, and Josh: Pan roasted cod, mushrooms, fava beans, pickled green apple and garlic scape pistou (a cold sauce using olive oil)

The cod is cooked very nicely. Tom Douglas wanted more pistou on his plate. Emeril and Tom love the apple on the plate. Tom calls it the best thing on the plate and says there needed to be a lot more of it.

Tom says the salmon is perfectly cooked. Gail thinks the texture of the spot prawn is a bit lost.

Judges Table


Sheldon, Kuniko, and John had the best dish. They say they worked well together. Kuniko gets the win for cooking the fish.


CJ, Josie, and Stefan and Bart, Jeffrey, and Brooke had their least favorite dishes.

Tom criticizes the overcooked quail, which Stefan was responsible for.

Gail points outs the fish Jeffrey cooked had a sear on both sides and was dry in the middle. Padma says the sabayon lacked flavor.

The cheftestants leave and the judges talk. Tom and Padma say there are people who could leave from both teams. Gail says the quail could’ve used some acid. They call the chefs back.

Padma tells Jeffrey to pack his knives.

What did you find to be tasty in this episode? Did you think anything was overdone? Give us your Two Cents below!

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