The Food and Wine Hedonist

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Top Chef Seattle Episode 2: A Shock at the Space Needle

Episode 1         Episode 3

It’s episode two and I’m really kind of confused on how to approach this.  On one hand, it’s early in the season and I’m trying to give people a fair shake personality-wise.  On the other hand, just writing about the food is pretty damn boring and I’m sure it’d be just as boring to read about.  On another hand, I’d rather not just focus on their looks as that was SO last year.  See how befuddled I am?  I grew a third arm.  Then again, it could be the chocolate milkshake and, later, the shot of Bourbon swirling around my belly.


Quickfire Challenge

The contestants had to split into five groups of three and make a dish that highlights the local shellfish.  They only had 20 minutest to do so and one person from the winning team gets immunity.

They usually try to bring in a local celeb chef as a judge. This time, they brought in three former contestants from previous seasons.  As last season was the first I’ve ever seen of the show, I didn’t know who they were.  But I did notice that they were referred to as “contestants” not “winners.”  I thought that was a little weird having a bunch of nobodies as judges.  They were:

– Josie, Season 2

– CJ, Season 3

– Stefan , Season 5

Here’s what they made:

– Yellow Team  (Eliza, Danyele, Hipster Stached Josh)  – Razor clam & grilled corn chowder, with Fresno chili & grilled lime

– Gray Team  (Overgrown Van Damme, Jeffrey, Brooke) – Crawfish with pickled red chili, fennel, crawfish cream

– Orange Team (Lizzie, Carla the Italian Cougar, Chrissy) – Oven roasted crawfish with fennel & herb salad

– Green Team  (Micah, Kristen, Tyler) – fried & sashimi geoduck, radish & bokchoy salad, yuzu chili vinaigrette

– Blue Team (Sheldon, Kuniko, John) – Geoduck sashimi, ponzu, apple & cucumber

Least Favorite: Yellow Team– not seasoned well, not enough acid

Winner: Blue Team.  Each of them drew knives and John got the immunity.


Elimination Challenge – Space Needle Meal

Twist time!  The three judges are now contestants for the whole season.  Something felt fishy about their presence there and it wasn’t the geoduck.

Pronounced “Gooey duck” (

They kept the same lineups and the three former contestants formed a red team.  The challenge was to make a dish in 47 minutes using local regional ingredients.  The 47 minutes was chosen as that’s how long it takes for the restaurant at the Space Needle make a compelete rotation.  The judges were Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, Emeril Lagasse, Padma, and famous  local chef Tim Douglas.

– Blue Team – Chili Oil poached cod with Dashi, spot prawn shabu shabu.

– Red Team – Quail Breast with confit spot prawn, cherries, and porcini.  Described as overcooked with some bitterness.   The original plan was to use a fish, but they went with Quail to set themselves apart.

– Orange Team – Poached Salmon with seasonal vegetables & beurre blanc.  Self-described as simple.  (aka fucking boring)  Well executed but a little bland.

– Gray Team – Pan roasted halibut, mushrooms, English peas, wheat beer with herb sabayon.  Halibut is overcooked and sabayon had no flavor.

– Green Team – Crispy seared salmon, local vegetables, & spot prawn butter sauce.  Same dish as Orange Team’s, which itself was really boring.  But still perfectly done.

– Yellow Team – Pan roasted cod, mushrooms, fava beans, pickled green apple, and garlic scape pistou.  Not enough pistou, but the apple was praised.


Judges Table

Winners: Blue Team, as it “captured the essence of Seattle.” Having been to Seattle many times, I can say that’s right on.  There’s a strong Asian influence there.  Surprisingly, people can drive there.

Individual Winner: Kuniko for her innovative poaching of the fish in chili oil.

Question – All last year, winners of elimination challenges got cash or some kind of prize – cash or some crappy minivan.  Did I miss what Kuniko got?

Bottom two teams: Red and Gray – Both dishes were disappointments.

Gone: Jeffrey, who grossly overcooked the fish.


Random Thoughts

– Having the three former competitors join the mix is a complete gimmick.  It’s not as awful as having them ride around on bikes in the Texas heat, but it’s still a gimmick.  I’m with Josh on this – it’s BS.  They had their chance.

– As a relative TC newbie, I have not history with these three.  Anyone want to give me a rundown on them?

– I’ve been to Seattle nearly a dozen times, but have had no interest in going up into the Space Needle.  How’s that for random?

– Is it too early to start predicting who’s going to be there near the end?   With the blue team winning both challenges, there’s some talent there.  And it’s not like one of them really stood out – all three made strong contributions.

– They’re all holed up in a hotel in Seattle.  Last year, I observed that them being in a mansion with a hot tub was classic reality TV fodder.  Not this time.  They’re really getting down to business.  Bummer, there’s a few I’d like to see in a hot tub.

– Is it kinda weird that they have all these good chefs with really cool, innovative, high-quality dishes and two of your biggest advertisers are Healthy Choice and Red Fucking Lobster?

Carla – She’s sexy and she knows it. (

–  And she is not above talking about how she knows it with her references to being pretty and her sexy ass.  I’m cool with all that.  It’d be one thing if she wasn’t hot and talked like she was.  And though I’d probably tire of the accent pretty quickly, I can overlook that, too.  But what’s really driving me crazy is that she won’t STFU!!!   There’s a classic Milton Berle quote swimming through my head right now.  I’ll have to unleash it in coming weeks.

Brooke (

– Not a great picture of her with those heinous shoes, but she’s also pretty darn good-looking.  She seems very humble and I think that may be her downfall.  On two occasions she mentioned that she didn’t agree with the direction of their dishes.  She obviously has some ability, but she’s gotta start speaking up in these group competitions.

– Douche alert – It seemed John would have the inside track for douchiest award given his history as a chef who pissed off a lot of people.  But he mentioned he’s no longer “self-medicating,” so maybe he’s turning over a new leaf?  Micah’s really, really cocky so may be it’ll be him.  I’m thinking  Tyler may be a runner-up as well.

– As I had hoped, Overgrown van Damme is also flexing his Knighthood of the Brewers’ Guild muscles by using wheat beer in the sabayon. He blamed its failure on the beer not being right.  Wonder if he tried to use Seattle’s Red Hook.  It’s not bad, but it’s no St. Bernardus Abt 12.

About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

8 comments on “Top Chef Seattle Episode 2: A Shock at the Space Needle

  1. Peggy Isaacs
    November 15, 2012

    A) I love these posts – glad they are back. B) Geoduck pic = ewww. C) If I remember correctly Stephan from season five is a bit of a diva. He caused a lot of drama during his run. Good for ratings, though.

  2. Pingback: Top Chef Seattle Episode 1: Season Premiere « The Food and Wine Hedonist

  3. yoonanimous
    November 15, 2012

    red fucking lobster makes a mean cheese biscuit man

  4. Marian Green
    November 15, 2012

    At first glance I thought you were posting dirty pics! : )

  5. Pingback: Top Chef Seattle Episode 3 – Tom vs Emeril: Turkeypocalypse « The Food and Wine Hedonist

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This entry was posted on November 15, 2012 by in Television and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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