Top Chef – Recap & Review – Kings of Alaska

top chef 10.14Top Chef
Kings of Alaska

Original Air Date: Feb 6, 2013

Ryan O – Associate Staff Writer

The last four chefs (not including Kristen looming in Last Chance Kitchen) leave the luxury of the cruise ship. In Juneau, they first stop at a local institution: a crab shack.

Then, it’s time to cook for another local institution: a salmon bake. And there are bears in trees!

Sheldon says Stefan was the frontrunner in his mind. Oh, my. No, it’s still Kristen, Last Chance Kitchen or not. Then Brooke. Stefan was third or fourth.

They get off the ship in Juneau. Sheldon tells us it’s cold and he put on extra underwear to keep “the package” warm. Thanks for that, Sheldon.


Padma is standing with chef Sean Brock in front of a crab shack.

The chefs have to create a dish with king crab in 30 minutes. The winner gets $5,000.

Here’s what they made.

Lizzie: Crab frittata with cherry tomato, garlic oil, and fried capers

Sheldon: King crab, Dungeness crab “miso,” pine-smoked asparagus, and charred corn

Brooke: King crab, sweet corn, and leek salad on toast with Dungeness crab butter

Josh: Butter-poached king crab with succotash and bacon


Lizzie: a bit overcooked, too many capers, and too many flavors
Josh: bacon was unnecessary and covered the crab flavor and the sauce broke


Sheldon: simple and highlighted the crab
Brooke: delicious despite being very simple

Sheldon wins!

Elimination Challenge

The chefs have to create a dish using salmon and sourdough for the people of Juneau.

Hmm. A baking challenge this late in the game, I’m not sure about that. Baking can be tough. They do get to use a local baker’s 30-year-old sourdough starter, which is really cool.

They get to work on the bread that evening and bake it the next day.

OOOh, the Northern Lights. I’ve never seen them but that’s on the list of things I want to see before I die.

They head to the docks to pick out their fish right from the boat. Lizzie is reminded of her dad, who used to take her fishing all the time when she was young. She gets a little teary as she tells us how she misses her dad after he passed away recently.

The judges show up and Emeril asks Tom something that sounds like either, “Did you bring the beers?” or “Did you bring the bears?” Either way, present and accounted for with bears hanging out in the forest just beyond where the salmon bake is happening. Padma, Gail, and Hugh are the other judges along with Sean Brock from the Quickfire.

Here’s what they made.

Brooke: Sockeye salmon and seafood broth with mustard seed caviar and dill sourdough

Tom likes the broth and thinks that the mustard works really well with it. Emeril thought her bread was perfect. Gail thought using dill in the bread was a good idea and ties the bread to the salmon.

Sheldon: Green tea and chive sourdough with smoked salmon and pea soup

Padma does not like the combination of green tea and chives in the bread. Emeril thought the bread’s crust was good but the bread lacked salt. Gail thought the salmon was cooked well but it had a charred flavor. Hugh thought the soup was too thick. Sean thought Sheldon was abusing the salmon by mashing it around with tongs as he served it. It did look like he was serving pulled pork instead of a nicely cooked piece of salmon.

Sheldon learns from the locals that one variety of salmon, chum, isn’t eaten that often. Well, Sheldon, come on. It’s called, “chum.” You’re either eating what you throw in the water to attract good fish or you’re eating your buddy. Do you want either one on your plate?

Emeril tells the other judges about how during Katrina, one of his chefs took the starter with him when he evacuated and fed it regularly. That’s devotion.

Josh: Roasted garlic sourdough soup with sockeye salmon and black olive croutons

Hugh says the salmon is well-cooked and Tom agrees. Tom also thinks the soup has a lot of flavor. He’s just not sure the two go together. Gail likes that Josh made croutons and put them in the soup instead of just putting a piece of bread next to the soup, which is what Brooke and Sheldon did.

Lizzie: Citrus and beet glazed salmon slider with poppy seed butter and pickles

Gail likes the pickle and Hugh likes the roll. He says she had by far the best crust. No one gets the glaze. Tom isn’t sure why she didn’t marinate it in beet and citrus before cooking it. Emeril thinks she could’ve been a little more daring.

Judges Table

Tom loved Lizzie’s roll and that she hand-rolled 200 rolls. Her salmon was nicely cooked but not seasoned. She says she tasted all of the components but not the finished dish. Padma tells her that’s a mistake.

Gail doesn’t know if Sheldon’s green tea and chive bread worked. Padma tells him that locals feed their dogs with chum, one of the two kinds Sheldon used. However, they thought it was good. Sean thought his dish had too much smoke flavor.

Gail thought Brooke did a great job, especially the broth. She does say that the salmon was a little overcooked. Sean loved the bread, especially dunked in the broth.

Emeril loved Josh’s soup. Hugh thought Josh’s salmon was well-cooked but had too many flavors covering the flavor of the salmon. Tom tells him that a garlicky soup is great and poaching salmon is great but not together. He didn’t balance his flavors.

Brooke wins! She wins a trip to Costa Rica.

The judges run through all of the previously mentioned criticisms.

(I’m guessing Lizzie is going home.)

Oh, dear. I’m right. There’s no way she’ll beat Kristen in Last Chance Kitchen.

Aww. Lizzie just seems like such a lovely person.

Last Chance Kitchen

Lizzie is not surprised to see Kristen enter the outdoor kitchen that’s been set up. Tom tells them one more Last Chance Kitchen after this one.

The challenge is to make a dish with fish over a campfire. Kristen is a bit nervous since she can’t remember the last time she’s cooked on a campfire.

Here’s what they made.

Kristen: Cod with coconut broth, clam juice, lime, chili-marinated tomato, corn, and petite herbs

Lizzie: Poached salmon stew with fennel, leek, Hungarian paprika, and sweet pepper flakes

Tom says Kristen has great, well-developed flavors and the coconut wasn’t too sweet, which often happens.

Tom says Lizzie’s salmon dish would’ve won her the Elimination Challenge.

Tom says it was close but Kristen wins. Lizzie says thanks to Tom and congratulates Kristen.

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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