Original Air Date: Jan 23, 2013
Ryan O – Associate Staff Writer
Simple things aren’t always simple. Fried chicken, for example, seems simple, but it can be very difficult to execute well. Who will it take down as six cheftestants remain?
As a viewer, I could really feel Kristen’s absence in this episode. It felt as something was missing. It felt disconcerting.
Brooke was surprised that Kristen went and says she would’ve said something if she thought it was a possibility. It seemed like she was in the room while the judges were talking to Josie and Kristen.
Meanwhile, Josie tells Lizzie, who doesn’t seem interested in listening but is trying to be polite, that she didn’t want to go home without everyone knowing what was going on. What does that mean? What does Josie think happened? Josie continues on, dabbing her eyes with a tissue, saying she’s emotional. Lizzie tells us it was awkward.
Waiting for the cheftestants is Padma and master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi. The Quickfire is to make a dish that impresses him. They have 30 minutes. There’s no immunity but the winner gets $5,000. Fortunately the rice is already made.
Here’s what they made.
Stefan: Yellowtail with grilled shiitake and raw lobster with seaweed and unagi
Josie: Halibut with yuzu and bacon aioli
Lizzie: Lobster, micro greens and pickled ginger with yuzu-sake broth
Brooke: Octopus with yuzu and grated wasabi
Josh: Tempura bacon, omelette, salmon belly, and yuzu kosho aioli
Sheldon: Hamachi sashimi with fresh ponzu, mitsuba, and lemon charcoal (yes, “lemon charcoal”)
Lizzie: tempura was a bit chewy and pouring hot broth onto cold soup made the fish “fishier.”
Josh: the bacon was too greasy
Brooke: Nice, clean, easy to eat pieces
Stefan: good combination of flavors
Stefan is the winner.
David Chang, the owner of Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Tom walk into the kitchen. Tom says that a number of chefs are going to his place for dinner and the cheftestants will make them fried chicken for dinner.
Josh is thrilled. He think he’s a fried chicken expert.
Josie tells us she has “this one in the bag.”
Brooke is a bit worried. She knows it’s easy to mess it up.
The judges sit down. Tom decides that they should start a chain of fried chicken restaurants and call them “Wolfgang Cluck.”
Brooke tells us she didn’t have a chance to fry the chicken skins, which she wanted to do separately. She calls it the worst day she’s had so far.
Lizzie is worried about not making a classic version of fried chicken.
Here’s what they made.
Sheldon: Umami drumsticks and thighs, wings with usukuchi (a light soy sauce) and grapeseed oil
Lizzie: Chicken with coriander, black pepper, and brown sugar rub with peach-cabbage slaw
Josie: Chicken with black garlic, cayenne, thyme, and hot sauce with daikon salad
Lizzie’s chicken is called delicious and really crispy and moist. However, Tom points out she only used the breast. Tom does enjoy her salad.
Josie is knocked down for calling her chicken “Southern” when it is nothing like that plus it’s served on a banana leaf, which isn’t Southern. Wolfgang says her chicken is very oily and the skin is flabby. Michelle Bernstein had to stop eating it. Someone else said there was no spice to it.
Emeril had one of Sheldon’s legs and really liked it. Tom liked it and liked that Sheldon thought differently about the challenge. He does get dinged for not having enough wings to go around (the oil was too hot for the first batch and he had to toss it).
Brooke’s chicken is done very early. She decides to keep it warm in the oven and then dip it back in the fryer to get it crispy again. Oh, this won’t go well.
Stefan: Chicken cordon bleu with garlic aioli and lemon
Josh: Smoked fried chicken with hot sauce and blue cheese
Brooke: Dukkah-crusted chicken breast with wilted escarole and tomato salad (dukkah is an Egyptian side dish of nuts and spices)
Wolfgang rips Brooke’s chicken, saying it wouldn’t even be good on the show “Apprentice Chef.” Tom says it’s unfortunate and dried out.
Michelle loved Josh’s chicken and its smokiness and the combination of the Buffalo wing accompaniments. Tom says smoked fried chicken is a great idea and it had a lot of flavor. It wasn’t that crispy though.
Emeril says Stefan’s gave him the “chicken cordon blues.” Ha! Everyone else thinks it’s a little weird. No one seems to like it or have anything good to say.
If Sheldon doesn’t win this challenge, I’ll be very surprised.
Josh, Sheldon, and Lizzie.
Wolfgang praises Lizzie’s chicken for being crispy, tasty, and not greasy, even if it wasn’t the fried chicken he expected. Lizzie says she’s not very familiar with American fried chicken. Tom praises her cabbage and peach salad.
Josh gets praised for smoking his fried chicken.
Tom says he didn’t get enough of Sheldon’s chicken and that was the only problem with it. Wolfgang says he thought Top Chef didn’t have enough money to give him more chicken. Emeril says the leg was really delicious and well-seasoned.
Josh is the winner. Wow. I am very surprised.
Stefan, Josie, and Brooke.
Brooke says it was her most difficult challenge. She says got into her own head a bit. She cut the chicken off the bone partly because of the time factor. Tom says that was a mistake.
David Chang says there was a pool of grease on the banana leaf from Josie’s chicken. Josie talks about how one of her fryers didn’t work, which we saw. She also says she didn’t have enough time. Tom doesn’t understand how she couldn’t fry chicken in an hour and mentions her previous time-management problems including last week’s.
No one understood why Stefan made chicken cordon bleu. My DVR hiccuped and didn’t catch the rest of Stefan’s critique.
Tom says he’d rather eat Brooke’s dried out chicken than Josie’s greasy chicken. Padma sticks up for Josie, saying it was fried chicken and it was flavorful. What is going on? Why is Padma sticking for Josie again? Emeril compares Stefan’s chicken to airplane food. Padma says she could send Stefan home for lying: “I don’t know anything about fried chicken.”
The chefs return.
Josie is sent home. Finally. FINALLY.
So, we have Josie vs. Kristen in Last Chance Kitchen.
Last Chance Kitchen
Josie vs. Kristen.
They go to Pike Place Market and bring back whole salmon. The challenge is to break down the salmon into 10 identical pieces and make 10 composed plates.
They have 30 minutes.
Tom is not impressed with their filleting techniques.
With about 45 seconds left, Josie realizes she dropped one of the 10 pieces of salmon on the floor. She cooks another piece in the remaining time.
Here’s what they made.
Kristen: Crispy salmon with pickled pineapple, raisins, shaved cauliflower, and creme fraiche
Josie: Fennel pollen dusted salmon with fennel, radish, and tarragon salad
Tom says that Kristen cooked her salmon well and uniformly. Her raisins didn’t plump and didn’t seem like a good choice.
Josie’s flavors were great and she cooked her fish consistently, but consistently overcooked it according to Tom.
Kristen wins. Josie is completely done.
What did you find to be tasty in this episode? Did you think anything was overdone? Give us your Two Cents below!