2/14/2013 01:44:00 PM

Top Chef Seattle Episode 15: This Girl Is On Fire

Image via Bravo
The final three wake up to a note to meet at Eagle Crest for the quickfire. "It sounds high up." They get in a car which leads to a helicopter which leads to a dog sled which leads to Padma and Tom on the top of a glacier. Sheldon would die for some good reefer right now. They're at the Alaska Heli-Mush Dog Sled Camp and the quickfire is to make a dish with only the ingredients in the camp pantry in the tiny kitchen with burners and no electrical equipment in 30 minutes. Sheldon thought he and Josh were Team Husky, but now they're with the real Team Husky.

Sheldon and Brooke both make halibut and Josh makes breakfast again.  Brooke's pan-roasted halibut with panzanella salad and red current and beet vinaigrette is great. Tom doesn't love the tomato sauce on Sheldon's pan roasted halibut with sesame bok choy and pickled radish and Josh's eggs aren't mixed enough on his cornmeal cake with Canadian bacon, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Brooke wins. She's on a serious roll.

Padma takes the cheftestants back into the helicopter, back into the car and drives (Sheldon hopes she actually knows how to drive!) to a lovely house where Emeril and LA food truck king Roy Choi are making them lunch. Roy Choi and Brooke are old friends from LA. Roy cooks braised short ribs and tells the story of when he knew he wanted to become a chef. He says he used to be a "scumbag" and when he was 25 Emeril was on TV cooking braised short ribs in red wine and he popped out of the TV and slapped him across the face. Bam!  He's been cooking ever since. Emeril's surprised and touched and this is a very nice moment. Emeril made cornbread (without sugar) because he realized he wanted to be a cook when he learned how to bake bread at a Portuguese bakery where he was working as a dishwasher when he was ten.

All these stories lead to the elimination challenge: make a dish that represents the moment when you knew you wanted to be a chef. They'll be cooking for the governor and first lady of Alaska - along with Tom, Gail, Padma, Emeril, Roy and Wolfgang - at the Governor's mansion.  

Back at the house, Josh's wife goes into labor and he stays up all night and finally meets his baby girl Georgia on video chat in the morning. Congrats, Josh!

Back to the challenge.  Like Roy Choi, Sheldon'a a-ha moment was also a TV moment with the father of Hawaiian regional cuisine, Sam Choy. He felt watching Sam Choy cook on TV validated what he wanted to do and Roy was cooking a version of this dish. Sheldon serves Chinese-style pan roasted rockfish, spot prawns, baby vegetables and dashi. Tom pysched him out in prep and told him to wait until the absolute last minute to cook the fish. He does so and cooks both the rockfish and the prawns perfectly but as he's waiting his broth reduced too much and it's way too salty. Wolfgang tells him he cooked the fish like he was the best chef in the world but the broth seemed like it was made by someone else.

Brooke wanted to be a chef for as long as she can remember and it comes mostly from her mother cooking every night. Her mother made a lot of braised chicken, so she works off of that and serves braised chicken with crispy skin, grilled quail with carrot barley and pickled vegetable. They love it. It's very homey. Roy Choi says it looks so simple until you break it apart and see all the layers. Wolfgang criticizes that the quail is overcooked "but if her mother cooks like that I would come to her house." Tom felt she really accomplished the goal of taking something her mother did and making it much more upscale. Roy Choi's got his girl's back and he adds that Brooke was a prodigy in LA and this is Brooke on a plate.

Josh got interested in food because of wrestling when he had to start watching his weight. You don't think this is going to go in the direction of foie gras…and then it does. He was on a stationary bike in a sauna reading an article about foie gras in Food and Wine magazine (for the image we'd like to know with or without handlebar mustache) and it seemed so opulent and out of his reach. Then this was really solidified when he interned at Alma for Alex Roberts (who used to work for Tom). Tom points out the  torchon recipe Alex Roberts taught him was probably Tom's. Oy. So he serves foie gras three ways: torchon with braised pineapple, pan-seared on cornbread puree with a roasted apricot and a profiterole (filled with foie gras mousse). Roy finishes his plate within seconds, he loved the flavor on all three. Gail likes the profiterole best but the tourchon wasn't set. Tom says you simply cannot make torchon in one day. He was pushing himself to do the impossible.

The winner is unanimous and of course it's Brooke. This girl is on fire! The decision comes down to improper cooking or seasoning, so it's gotta be the cooking and it's Josh. He reached too far.

Next week is the finale in LA. It's Brooke, Sheldon, and the winner of Last Chance Kitchen. Will Josh be back? From the shocked look on Brooke's face in the previews, looks like it's gonna be Kristen.


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