A lot of emotion came forward on Wednesday night’s episode of the show that is still technically labeled ‘Top Chef Seattle.’ In the third straight episode set in Alaska, contestant Josh must compete while his wife is in labor far away, celeb judges prepare lunch and share inspiring words with the remaining three candidates, and chef Brooke’s low-key cover is blown as former boss Roy Choi outs her as a kitchen prodigy who “blew up the scene” when they cooked together in L.A. Oh, and the contestants get to mush on sled dogs through the breathtaking Alaskan landscape. Here’s our weekly roundup of the show’s highlights and lowlights:
“I just want you to be here”: Even those of us who never warmed to Josh felt bad for him as his tearful wife called him in distress in the middle of her labor pains. He still told Brooke and Sheldon that he didn’t want to go home, though.
Pledge: After baby Georgia was born far away (and introduced via Skype), Josh was more determined than ever that he had to win – now, for his wife’s sake. “I don’t want any of that to be in vain.”
The quickfire: A helicopter ride and then a dogsled ride before cooking for the crew at an iditarod training camp. Brooke not only conquered her claustrophobia, but won for her pan-roasted halibut with panzanella salad and red currant vinaigrette.
High point: The aerial views of glaciers and mountains were as breathtaking as the awed contestants said. Anyone watching would want to visit Alaska.
Low point: Wasn’t this show called ‘Top Chef Seattle?’
Elimination challenge: An unusually contemplative one, asking contestants to cook a meal from the time they first realized they wanted to become chefs. It was a tough one for Brooke, who said she grew up watching Julia Child instead of cartoons, and doesn’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. Josh talked about bulking up for wrestling, sitting in a sauna on an exercise bike and reading about foie gras in Food and Wine. Sheldon said seeing Sam Choy cooking his native cuisine on TV “kind of validated what i wanted to do in life.” (I bet some kid is watching him now and getting some inspiration too.) The meals were served in the governor’s mansion, and the governor turned out to have rather strong opinions about food.
Clear winner: Brooke, who combined chicken and quail to represent her mother’s teachings and her evolution to a polished chef. “This is Brooke on a plate,” said Choi, who called her cunningly simple-looking dish “almost like an origami.” Brooke, who had been underestimated early in the season, remarked politely after her win that “I’m not here to gloat.” Then she giggled. “Although it feels good.”
Unclear loser: The judges had an unusually long debate about whether to sack Sheldon for the salty broth on his otherwise perfectly prepared fish, or Josh for his ambitious stretch of trying to prepare a foie gras torchon without time for it to properly set. “You cannot make a foie gras torchon in one day,” judge Tom Colicchio said. “This has nothing to do with how good a chef you are. You just can’t do it.”
Packing his knives: Josh was asked to go home. “I came here to be Top Chef. Anything short of that is a failure,” he said. Mixed blessing: He doesn’t actually get to go home to baby Georgia just yet, because he gets a shot at coming back to the game in Last Chance Kitchen.
Next week: Part one of a two-part finale. Judging from the preview, it looks like it’s in L.A.
Photo by David Moir/Bravo TV