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‘Top Chef Seattle,’ Ep. 15: Special delivery

By Carol Blymire,

Brooke, Josh and Sheldon climb into a wee little helicopter to be delivered to the Quickfire Challenge. Brooke has a bit of a meltdown about getting into the chopper. Sheldon wants to spend some time with his friend, Mary Jane. They land, and the chefs mush their way to the Quickfire via dogsled to the Iditarod Training Camp. Tom and Padma greet and tell them that one of them will be eliminated in this episode.

For the Quickfire, they have to prepare a meal for the dog trainers, using only what they can find in the training camp’s mess tent and outdoor coolers. There’s no electrical equipment onsite; just a few burners. Here’s what they made:

Brooke: Pan-roasted halibut, panzanella salad with a red currant and beet vinaigrette;

Josh: Cornmeal cake with Canadian bacon, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon;

Sheldon: Pan-roasted halibut with tomato sauce, sesame bok choy and pickled radish.

Brooke wins the Quickfire! Tom thought Sheldon’s sauce was one-note and that Josh’s eggs were really disappointing.

They get back into the helicopter, with Padma this time, and head back to their bed and breakfast in Juneau, only to find Emeril and Los Angeles gourmet food truck expert Roy Choi in the dining room, where they will cook and serve lunch to the cheftestants. Roy makes braised shortribs — a dish he saw Emeril make on TV, which inspired him to leave his “scumbag” life behind and go to culinary school. [NOTE: I smell where this next challenge is headed, do you?] Emeril makes cornbread because his first food job, when he was 10, was washing dishes in a Portuguese bakery. [Oh yeah, I definitely see where this is going.]

Cue Padma in 5. . .4. . .3. . .2. . .: “Chef, these stories bring us to your Elimination Challenge. We want you to make a dish that represents the moment you knew you wanted to be a chef for the rest of your life.”

To quote the great NeNe Leakes: “BLOOP.”

They’ll cook those inspired dishes for the Alaskan governor and his wife at the governor’s mansion. They have two and a half hours to shop and prep that day, then an hour and a half to cook and finish the next day. Predictably, Josh’s wife calls: She’s in labor and headed to the hospital.

The chefs prep and cook; Brooke won’t talk about what she’s making; and they all seem to be a little challenged for time. We finally see Josh without his dumb hat, but the soundtrack to that visual is Josh’s wife sobbing on the phone, having contractions and missing him. Gives me a small case of the sads. He video-chats with her a few hours later, early in the morning, with the newborn baby, Georgia, in her arms.

The next day, the chefs cook and serve their food in the governor’s mansion. Tom, Padma, Emeril, Wolfgang, Gail and Choi sit down with Gov. Sean Parnell and his wife, Sandy. Here’s what they ate:

Sheldon: Pan-roasted rockfish, spot prawns, baby vegetables, dashi;

Brooke: Braised chicken, grilled quail with carrot barley, kale and pickled vegetables;

Josh: Foie gras three ways (eye roll) — torchon, pan-seared and profiterole.

Overall, everyone seemed to enjoy the food with the following caveats: Sheldon over-salted his broth; Brooke’s quail was slightly overcooked; and Josh’s foie gras torchon didn’t set.

They stand before Judges’ Table. Padma tells them the finale is in Los Angeles and only two of them will be going. They talk about Josh’s torchon and how it just didn’t come together; Emeril really liked the cornbread puree. Wolfgang tells Brooke her dish was fantastic, but that her quail was slightly overcooked. Tom tells her that, despite the complexity, the dish worked. Wolfgang asks Sheldon how he could cook his fish so perfectly but over-salt the broth. The other judges agree.

So, who wins? Brooke. [I may have cheered out loud just now.]

Who’s not going to the finale? Josh. But he gets a chance to compete against reigning champ, Kristen, and text-to-save-a-chef Lizzie in Bravo’s Last Chance Kitchen. The online episode reveals that Josh doesn’t fare well, and that it’s down to Kristen and Lizzie for the finale — but we won’t find out until we tune in next week.

Up Next Week: Sheldon and Brooke in the finale; the cheftestants cook at Tom’s L.A. resto, Craft; f-bombs; John Besh; and Padma’s having a Chico’s kind of day.

More from Food: ‘Top Chef Seattle,’ Ep. 14: Bread and jeez ‘Top Chef Seattle,’ Ep. 13: Cruising for a bruising

Recipes:

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