Top Chef – Recap & Review – Chefs at Sea

top chef 10.13Top Chef
Chefs at Sea

Original Air Date: Jan 30, 2013

Ryan O – Associate Staff Writer

Competition heads out to sea as the show puts the cheftestants on a cruise to Alaska. The final five chefs have to cook onboard a cruise ship for the Quickfire and Elimination challenges.

I never understand why the show changes venues for the last few episodes but at least in this case, the change makes some sense. Cruising from Seattle to Alaska is a dream vacation for a lot of people. I just hope that in changing locations no one will have to cook on a ski lift, chop their food out of an ice block or ski and shoot.

Brooke expresses relief at staying and Josie going home. Padma shows up to the Stew Room after Josie has gone and tells the chefs they’re going on a cruise to Alaska. Good grief, being stuck on a cruise ship with Josie doesn’t seem like fun, so that was a well-timed elimination.

Brooke is a bit nervous about being on a ship. In fact, she’s really scared but she’s trying to stay calm and overcome her fear.


Curtis Stone, the host of Top Chef Masters, is the guest judge. The chefs have two hours to make 200 portions for the Welcome Aboard party. They have to work with iceberg lettuce. See what they did there? Cruise to Alaska, iceberg lettuce? Get it? GET IT? Okay, moving on.

The portion has to be one bite.

The chefs aren’t used to the ship’s kitchen, which includes electric stove and oven instead of gas and special latches on the doors to help keep them shut in rough seas.

Here’s what they made.

Stefan: Braised iceberg lettuce, pastrami, fingerling potato, and blue cheese sauce
Curtis thought he did a nice job keeping the texture of the cooked lettuce.

Sheldon: Vietnamese lettuce wrap with pork, shrimp, and pickled iceberg hearts
Curtis thought it was very creative with a nice balance of sweet and salty and the pickling was delicious.

Lizzie: Iceberg salad with crispy bacon, shallots, and anchovy vinaigrette
A very tasty salad. The flavors worked really well.

Josh: Iceberg roll with apple cider vinaigrette, bacon jam, and blue cheese
Curtis thought Josh played it safe but did a good job of elevating the dish.

Brooke: Iceberg wrap with bacon, scallop, and caramelized onion, and crispy quinoa
The scallop was perfectly cooked. The crispy quinoa brought a nice crunch. But it was difficult to eat.

Sheldon is declared the winner. He’ll get an advantage in the elimination challenge.

By the way, the scenery is gorgeous. We even get footage of a whale.

Josh tells us that where he comes from men don’t get manicures (ugh). Meanwhile, Sheldon gets a manicure.

They all go to dinner at one of the restaurants on board. At the end of dinner, Padma and Curtis come to their table. Padma tells them they’ll be running dinner the next night.

Elimination Challenge

Take Surf and Turf and turn it on its head. Be innovative and creative. Since he won the Quickfire, Sheldon will get first pick of the proteins and those proteins will off-limits to everyone else.

Sheldon picks lobster tail and beef tenderloin. That’s a little predictable and unimaginative.

Stefan is taking pork belly and eel. Josh is taking pork belly (surprise!) and scallops. Lizzie is taking scallops and a whole pig. Brooke takes frog legs and mussels in an effort to set herself apart.

Lizzie butchers her pig very smoothly.

You know how you go into the kitchen when someone pulls something out of the oven and you just want to try a piece? Top Chefs do that, too. Josh just wants a small piece of Stefan’s pork belly but Stefan just slaps his hand away.

Along with Padma and Tom are Hugh and Curtis Stone and some people from the cruise line but who cares.

Here’s what they made.

Brooke: Mussels and frog legs with celery root and fennel puree and shallot chutney

Tom is impressed with the way the beet (I don’t know why the show’s description of the dish left out beet) makes the frog leg earthier. Hugh thinks the two proteins married well.

Stefan: Braised pork belly with beer sauce, parsnip and eel ravioli

Tom’s portion of pork belly is beyond crispy and maybe even beyond crunchy. He calls it not pleasant. Hugh doesn’t like it, either. Padma liked the ravioli. Hugh could only taste the parsnip in it though.

Josh: Scrambled scallops with braised pork belly and bacon

Tom is impressed with the sea flavor the scrambled scallops pack. Padma isn’t getting enough scallop. She thinks the turf is overpowering the surf. Curtis and Tom are surprised by the inventiveness of scrambling the scallops.

Sheldon: Korean BBQ filet mignon, tempura lobster, sesame cabbage, kimchi, and teriyaki sauce

Hugh thinks the kimchi is really good but the tempura? Not so much. It’s cold. Hugh and Tom think the two proteins aren’t married on the plate.

Lizzie: Cabbage stuffed with suckling pig and scallops with mustard sour cream

Everyone likes the presentation but Tom says the cabbage isn’t cooked enough (Lizzie had problems with the steamer) and that makes it chewy and hard to eat. Curtis says the scallop is overpowered by the rest of the dish. Tom loves the pickle with everything and ultimately really enjoys Lizzie’s dish.

Judges Table

Brooke gets praise for her dish. Sheldon says he found the ingredients uninspiring. Tom points out he got to choose his ingredients. He chose filet mignon and lobster because he felt he could execute them well. Hugh says he made surf and turf instead of reimagining it. Curtis was impressed by Josh’s scrambled scallop. He integrated the flavors well. Curtis could taste the eel in the ravioli. Tom comments on how much grease was sitting on top of the little containers of the sauce Stefan served. Tom also tells Stefan that he thought he was going to break a tooth on the pork skin. Tom liked Lizzie’s dish except that it fell apart when it was cut into. Hugh loved the ambition of the dish.

The winner is: Brooke. She wins a seven-night Caribbean cruise for two.

Lizzie and Josh are safe.

It’s down to Sheldon and Stefan. Stefan is out.


Sheldon is a better chef whose personality I like more.

Last Chance Kitchen

Kristen vs. Stefan.

The challenge is to cook with offal in 30 minutes. Also, they’re cooking outside in a forest. It’s actually a really nice setting.

Here’s what they made.

Kristen: Chicken livers with garlic and mustard caramel, pickled fruit and herb salad

Stefan: Beuscherl (a German dish of innards that also has a dumpling) of innards with cream sauce, bread gallete, liver, and parsely salad

Tom liked both dishes. He thinks that Kristen’s dish had nice balance and her sauce didn’t get too sweet. Her chicken livers were perfectly cooked. Stefan’s dumpling was very good.

Kristen wins!

What did you find to be tasty in this episode? Did you think anything was overdone? Give us your Two Cents below!

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One Response to Top Chef – Recap & Review – Chefs at Sea

  1. Jim-Steve says:

    Bummer…Stefan was my favorite. I guess as long as Josh doesn’t win I’ll be happy.

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