'Top Chef: Seattle' recap: 'Tom vs. Emeril: Turkeypocalypse'
I'm curious to know what a turkeypocalypse might be, and not just because it's making the autocorrect on my computer short out. But yes, it's a Thanksgiving-themed episode just in time for our Thanksgiving, so everyone who's cooking anything tomorrow can know beyond a doubt that their food is not as good as what these people are serving up. But first, we start with that grand old Thanksgiving tradition -- a dumpling challenge! Because when I think Thanksgiving, I think dumplings, don't you?
Judging the Quickfire Challenge will be DanaCowin, Editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine. She knows her dumplings, so everyone better be on their best dumpling behavior. Or something. Anyway, the challenge is that each chef must pick a country, and then make the dumplings associated with that country. Pay attention, because apparently the producers of "Top Chef" don't know their countries from their continents. But we'll get to that shortly. For anyone who doesn't know the traditional dumpling of, say, Khazakhstan, the good news is that they'll be getting five minutes with a Kindle to research. So that's a thing, now? Every chef has to show off their Wikipedia skills? Isn't a dislike of sitting on the computer a likely reason for not becoming a chef?
Klopse - Germany
Ground lamb, mashed potatoes & capers
Dana thinks it would be really good for a day of harvest. Stefan was so excited about this, because he grew up eating these. He's probably feeling pretty sure he can win, and who wouldn't?
Szolvas Gomboc - Hungary
Plum & cinnamon filling in a potato pastry
This doesn't get much of a reaction, but I'm sure it's good. Lizzie doesn't usually make crap.
Fufu - Africa
Chicken & lamb with red sauce
The producers know Africa isn't a country, right? Carla admits she didn't read the recipe, so I'm not sure how well she'll do with this. But Dana is going to put aside the question of authenticity, not that it matters. Carla seems to suspect it tastes like crap.
Pierogi - Poland
Veal & pork filling with demi-glace
Dana thinks it's very pretty. Hmm.
Kuniko didn't plate anything. She just spaced out. Oh, Kuniko! You just know it was probably good, too.
Mandu - Korea
Pork, tofu, shiitake mushroom filling
Hey, Korea isn't a country, either, producers. North Korea or South Korea. Pick. This is the most geographically challenged episode of "Top Chef" ever. Josie is sure kimchi is traditionally served with this, but by Dana's expression I'm guessing not.
Potetball - Norway
Potato ball with lamb & fried spaghetti
Dana asks about the fried hair. I don't think she liked it if she called it fried hair.
Momo - Nepal
Pork & chicken liver with ginger & cumin
No comment from the judges. Looks nice, though.
Kroppkaka - Sweden
Potato dumpling with béchamel sauce
Dana has never had it with béchamel before. I think this would be a ding against it. Besides the fact it looks insanely dull.
Jiaozi - China
Pork & shrimp filling with shiitake mushrooms
Dana is so excited to meet Sheldon! He was Food & Wine's best new chef! And he got China! That's a gimme, I swear. Dana likes the filling.
Siomay - Indonesia
Chicken & shrimp with peanut sauce & daikon
Brooke tells Padma and Dana she didn't have any floor. Not wheat, not AP, not rice. Nothing, So it's a nudie dumpling, and her teammates are pigs. It looks good anyway. Dana thinks she did a great job with the wrappers.
Manti - Kazakhstan
Ground lamb with dates, curry & cinnamon
Dana thinks he went bold, and that's usually a good thing. Micah thinks this could be his first win.
Dana, who struggled? Brooke didn't have her wrapper. Carla's dish came to Africa via Italy. She liked Josie's dish, as it seemed complete. She felt Stefan invited her into his grandma's house. She liked Micah's flavor. The winner is… Josie. Stefan looks pissed, which is a little understandable. He probably did make his grandma's dumplings.
Time for the elimination challenge! They'll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the organization Farestart, which teaches homeless and underprivileged people how to work in kitchens. The chefs are divided into the Gray Team and the Red Team. And guess who will be leading the teams? Emeril Lagasse will be the team leader for Gray Team, and Tom Colicchio will lead Red Team.
The teams split up. Emeril explains to his team he wants to create a New Orleans Thanksgiving, while Tom wants an Italian twist on Turkey Day.
Stefan has no room! He yells. Carla loves him, though. He's crazy! Well, she loves him until he gets in her hair, and then she tells him to stop telling her what to do and to stop calling her sweetie. Stefan follows order, because he's heard her ex-husband is in the Mafia and he doesn't want to die. Well, that's probably wise.
Time to eat! Our guest judges will be Dana Cowin, Megan Karch of Farestart and local chef Thierry Rautureau of Rover's & Luc.
Gray Team - Emeril
Triple spice turkey with cayenne & hot sauce
Dana thinks it's a little pink, and so does Tom. But Dana thinks the flavor on the outside is good. Good thing Josie has immunity.
Emeril's mom's dressing - bread stuffing with chorizo & cayenne
Megan loves it, but I'm not sure if we care what she thinks.
Emeril's cornbread stuffing with ground turkey & diced bacon
Tom thinks he nailed it.
Assiette of root vegetables, parsnip truffle puree & creme fraiche
Emeril thinks they were under seasoned, and Tom didn't see the point of the creme fraiche.
Andouille & shrimp gumbo
Emeril thinks it's a little bitter on the finish, and he doesn't think he added the Worsteshire sauce or hot sauce.
Dana says it's raw. Tom thinks it's raw and unseasoned. Whoops.
Braised greens with ham hocks
Dana thinks they need to be cooked more, and so does Tom. But Padma likes the texture.
Sweet potato buttermilk biscuits
Dana thinks it's sweet and tender, and she loves the crunch. Tom thinks it could be a new tradition. Finally, something on the Gray Team side that doesn't suck!
White chocolate & pecan bread pudding
Thierry loves it, and overall it seems to be a hit.
Spiced pumpkin & goat cheese ricotta torte
Megan likes it, but liked the bread pudding more. Thierry liked the flavor.
On to Red Team! Dana thinks Tom's team will have "a tough battle." But why? Everyone hated almost all the food from Emeril's team. They acted like they were forced to eat out of a dumpster behind McDonald's. Come on. As long as nothing's burnt beyond recognition, I think it's Red for the win.
Braised turkey with Tom's stuffing
Tom points out there's three pounds of butter under the skin. Woof.
Carrot sop with turkey meatballs
Dana thinks the meatballs are perfect and the soup is really good.
Fennel, gorgonzola, orange & pumpkin seed salad
Dana thinks Bart did a great job with the greens, and she thinks they're well-dressed. But Padma isn't impressed.
Sweet potato ravioli with pecans
Emeril thinks the ravioli is the weakest thing on the plate. Tom thinks he needed to alter the thickness of the ravioli skin.
Roasted Brussels sprouts with cranberries, bacon & shallots
Thierry wants to have a second serving. Dana thinks they're greasy, and Tom is unimpressed.
Emeril was surprised they made potatoes, but they're really, really good. Dana thinks she did a fantastic job.
Panna cotta with orange cardamom crisp & candied pecans
Thierry thinks the jam isn't working, and Padma thinks the cardamom is too strong.
Chocolate tart with white chocolate & mint syrup
Emeril liked the first bite, but it went downhill from there. Tom felt all the desserts were a letdown.
Emeril and Tom decide to bow out of the judging. So what's the decision? Megan picks Red Team, Thierry picks Red Team, Dana picks Red Team and so does Padma. Duh.
On the block? Tyler, Sheldon, Kuniko, and, well, Tom would love to send Josie home but he can't. Damn immunity! I really don't think they can send Sheldon home. He was Food & Wine's top new chef! Dana would just feel stupid, really.
CJ, Carla and Lizzie are called before the judges. And Carla for the win! I love that she won. She's nuts, but she's clearly talented.
Tyler, Kuniko, Sheldon and Josie are called forward for their beating. Tyler forgot to season after he added roux. Josie didn't realize her turkey was raw. Oops! Josie smiles because she won't be going home anyway. She then jumps to Kuniko's defense, telling the judges she helped everyone else in the kitchen. They don't seem to care. Sheldon admits he'd never made greens before. Who's going home? No idea.
Kuniko is going home. What a shame. She needs to work on time management, though. But she's glad she helped everyone she helped, and she wants to learn more.
Dallas John loves Kuniko, but he thinks it's ridiculous she can't cook potatoes. CJ thinks he's a jerk for saying it, and he's not wrong. That's why he's the most hated chef in Dallas, people!
Did you think it was Kuniko's time to go? Did you find anything you'd like to eat tomorrow?