Besides a few beauty shots of Chihuly glass, there wasn’t a whole lot of Seattle on Wednesday night’s ‘Top Chef Seattle.’ Producers started by bringing in a food critic to judge the quickfire challenge. Nancy Leson? Sharp Seattle voices like a disguised Providence Cicero or Hanna Raskin or Allecia Vermillion or Allison Austin Scheff? Leslie Kelly? Nah. They flew (we assume) in Marilyn Hagerty of North Dakota, the 80-something critic for the Grand Forks Herald who drew national fame after giving a rave to that city’s new Olive Garden restaurant. In a wince-inducing product placement, the cheftestants were challenged to create a holiday dish based on family lineage, using Truvia sweetener.
Micah, preparing a tamale, asked himself “Do you really think Marilyn is even going to know what a tamale is?” (“I have not seen it before,” she said, and later critiqued his “taco” as being dry.) And Brooke, who second-guessed herself for making an overly simple, homey, apple crostada with cheddar, won the challenge for its simple, homey appeal. (“Thirty seconds ago, I thought I had put out one of the most embarrassing dishes in the room,” she mused.)
The Seattle-ish sorta-stars of the evening were actress-director Anna Faris, and actor husband Chris Pratt. The challenge was to cook a family reunion dinner for the couple at the new Chihuly Garden and Glass museum at Seattle Center.
“Seattle Food Geek” Scott Heimendinger joked that he would serve “live blowfish seasoned with LSD” given that venue. The cheftestants weren’t so creative. Josh, who seasoned an enormous hunk of pork only with salt and pepper, won the un-compliment from Pratt that “it might not be great, but there’s a lot of it.” Eliza sliced her elk meat too thin and served carrots that weren’t cooked through. On the brighter side, John’s seafood chowder was dubbed “like a hug from the ocean,” and Brooke shone with a daring lamb-stuffed squid, taking risks even though she had won immunity earlier in the evening. Brooke got a new Toyota Prius for her troubles.
In the end, Eliza — who thanked the judges for the “wonderfully humbling” feedback and experience in a tone that suggested it was not so wonderful — was asked to pack her knives and leave. She told the judges that, as she was fighting a cold, she wouldn’t shake their hands goodbye.
“Wait, Eliza wouldn’t shake the judges’ hands, but she made food for hundreds? #typhoidtopchef,” noted Raskin. And as the final local critic, Seattle’s Surly Gourmand, put it, “I hate to say this you guys but this really is a pretty boring Top Chef episode.”
Agree? Disagree? Hoping for a tastier look at our city next week, or satisfied with this? (I did like Padma Lakshmi’s ode to Pike Place Market, online over here.)
Photo courtesy of David Moir/Bravo TV