Bravotv.com: So, now we’re in Alaska.
Gail Simmons: Alaska, wow. Alaska blew my mind. It was one of the most beautiful, lonely places I have ever been. I’m from Canada, so that’s saying a lot in terms of arctic tundra. Let me just say, a lot of crazy stuff went down for all of us in Alaska.
Bravotv.com: We have Sean Brock as guest judge.
GS: Yes, I’m a huge Sean Brock fan. He’s such a talent. He’s a really loyal Southern boy who was brought to the most northern point of the United States.
Anyway, I loved the first challenge; we ate lunch at that crab shack there every single day. There are only a few places we could really eat in Juneau; we ate breakfast at a diner, lunch at the crab shack, and dinner at our hotel every day. The whole crew. We ate so much Alaskan King crab. And you just can’t get it in the rest of the country the way you get it there. I thought all four chefs did really outstanding job in the Quickfire; they were creative, it was beautiful, and I’m sure it was hard for Sean to choose.
Bravotv.com: Moving on to the Elimination Challenge: Salmon and Sourdough!
GS: The day before this challenge, Emeril, Hugh, Tom, and I went fishing, and it was on a salmon run and it was spawning season, but we weren’t fishing for salmon. It was this amazing river, and it really was one of the most beautiful days I’ve ever spent on Top Chef. Tom caught a lot of fish, just for the record. And the girl of the group caught almost more fish than anyone else. Apparently in fly fishing, women are better at it than men because they have a more gentle wrist because they’re not used to throwing footballs. I had a nice fish-catching day.
As for the sourdough, they had a 30-year-old starter, and I think they did a really good job with the sourdough. It is not necessarily the most challenging bread, but making any bread is difficult because it’s dependent on the humidity and the temperature and the pan that you’re making it in. I think that they all actually did a pretty good job with their bread. This is the first time I can ever remember that we’ve asked the chefs to make bread. Besides just on the show, and it really is kind of treacherous. Making bread can be very therapeutic. Meanwhile, Josh's wife is almost ready to give birth, which made me so nervous the whole time. I can’t imagine how anxious he was and the stress he was under, and the thoughts that were racing through his mind, not being able to be with his wife. But, he was doing it for the cause.
Just watched my first episode of Top Chef France and what a difference- first off, it's 3 hours long! MUCH more cooking than judgment times. The 'last chance' is done quite differently. First, there are 3 teams. One team wins. Of the other 2 teams, they draw knives to see which team is going into the elimination cookoff where the team members cook against each other. The tasting for that elimination is done blind- a host reads the dish components, the 4 judges taste it and discuss. They vote for a winner (who is safe and moves to the next week) and a loser (who is eliminated). Last night, it was painful to watch when they all found out who created the dish they voted the loser. They were all like, "We're so sorry- we really wanted to see more from you." But, it was fair- the dish was judged on its merits, not what the chef may have been capable of on another day. I guess that's where the decision should be made- does the *person* need to be taken into account at all? In the US, the answer on all these shows is a resounding 'yes'. Is that good? Is it bad? I can see both sides...
I don't particularly care for Josh but I do think he has attempted to do more with his cooking than Lizzie and is why I am happy Lizzie is gone. I try to go back and think of something she makes that is memorable but I think her last dish and last quick fire pretty much somes up her time with TC. (I think she comes off as very nice but this is TC not TC nice chef)She doesn't make big mistakes but she doesn't make anything of much note or is ground breaking which in my opinion has been her time to go for 3 or 4 episodes. But then again if I had my way brooke would be have been gone and this episode would have had stefan and kirsten in their place.
Gail, can I have some information on the blue and black dress you wore on 2/13? I love it!
I really feel that Sheldon has gotten some pretty sweet passes. I think the TC producers are pushing for him and to somehow take credit for Filipino food taking off. I think he is a talented chef and a really nice guy but BOTH of his components were flawed. Josh also had no bala nce in his dish, but the judges looked at his components separately. Too bad Lizzie wasn't judged in that manner!
I really feel that Sheldon has gotten some pretty sweet passes. I think the TC producers are pushing for him and to somehow take credit for Filipino food taking off. I think he is a talented chef and a really nice guy but BOTH of his components were flawed. Josh also had no balance in his dish, but the judges looked at his components separately. Too bad Lizzie wasn't judged in that manner!
LOL, your description of Lizzies' sandwich reminds me of a Parisienne hotdog...a lonely little sausage with a tiny strip of cheese lost in a whole bagguette
Alaskans' old timers locations in fact like at Cafe into remote Talkeetna. Restaurants that at a cruiser boat ,and wasn't just to be left off by Josie ,for only two more females along too or is it a point to be ? Lizzie's set onto gourmet recipes as a sous cooks notice all along in attitudes to keep final circles as winner ! Brookes now to face up these few remainders to be that one!!
I honestly don't get why Josh is still there but Lizzie went home. Too many flavors and ingredients drowning out the fish is OK while not enough is not? I am not so convinced that his food is so endearingly "rustic" when his main strategy is to throw bacon at almost everything. Yawn, really. Lizzie has more creativity in her pinky than he has in both hands.
Oh my Lord, I can't believe they kept Sheldon and Josh, WHY?? Because they are men??They eliminated Lizzie, another great women chef yet again robbed the opportunity. Seriously disappointed in Top Chef and can't believe their decision. Sheldon is a great chef but clearly made a bigger mistake than both Josh and Lizzie who seemed to be at the top of all three of them!!!
Gail, your blog is so thoughtful and well-stated. I enjoy the show every time you are a guest judge. You feel like part of the "family" to me. You seem very fair and I can tell, not all decisions are easy ones. I always trust that you and Tom do the right thing, even if it's painful.
I think that Lizzie got the short end of the stick, really and truly. Her bread was by all accounts, great and the salmon was perfectly cooked. Her mistake was in not seasoning enough - not that she didn't season, just that it wasn't enough. You can add salt or pepper to bland but you can't get rid of 'overpowering garlic' like in Josh's dish or get past 'spongy' bread and 'bitter' flavor notes in Sheldon's dish. So SO SO wrong and when Lizzie got to Last Chance Kitchen; Tom had a LOT of her dish and a single bite of Kristen's dish. Then he tells Lizzie that if she had made her LCK stew in the competition she would have won - and then sends her packing!!! WTH?! Kristen is CLEARLY a favorite, and unfortunately Lizzie who has cooked pretty awesomely through the competition is not as high in the judge who clearly matters' esteem. Boo on Top Chef for this decision. I love Kristen but I think Lizzie earned the right to be in the final group. Boo Tom and Boo Top Chef. Lizzie - you are awesome and your dad is beaming with pride. You were truly robbed of the opportunity to be in the final.
You need to try the Yukon sourdough starter from www.sourdo.com. It is so wonderful and makes great flapjacks too!!!
The judges are so critical, I'd like to see them all do one challenge, I bet they couldn't handle the time constraints or the crazy themes.I'd really like to see Gail cook, Ms criticism herself.
R_J I agree, I think it would be better if Tom didn't know who cooked which dish on "last chance kitchen"
R_J I agree as well. There are 2 times I believe her dish was not the best and was given a ticket to the finale to try and qualm fans. Instead TC is making all this worse
I think the elimination was fair. Although Sheldon and Josh both had some pretty big flaws in their dishes, Lizzie's was BLAND, which at the end of the day will trump other issues in cooking.
Sheesh, some of you get nasty in these comments. For the record, y'all: 1) all this yapping about Padma is silly and frankly comes off as kinda catty. Anyone who thinks she is the only or even the primary driver of ANY of the judges' decisions is delusional. Her chef role on the show is as the HOST(ess)' for which she is well qualified (and yeah, her beauty is a relevant qualification). Incessantly blaming her for booting Kristen is utterly misguided. 2) the judges are imho uniformly great. All offer really interesting and insightful comments, and all clearly really CARE about the food they are served - they aren't here just for the cameras and the paycheck. 3) for the record, Josie is a human being, you dolts. With friends, family, and (gasp!) feelings. You may wish Kristen had stayed on (i do too) but these incessant broadsides against Josie are a but much. None of us have tasted her food. And Her personality, while as presented by the producers apparently somewhat annoying, is far Leas offensive than that of others we have seen on the show in the past. Her great offenses are what? Not being the best chef on the show, and failing to volunteer herself for elimination??? Last time i checked, neither of those attributes make her unique. In other words, how about laying off the internet vitriol for ONCE in your mean-spirited little internet lives?
@Rk_nyc I 100% agree with you. Even Kristen tweeted to lay off Josie. She is a human being & does have feelings for cryin out loud.
Rk_nyc Um no Padma is being catty we are the viewers who have to watch it, without whom there would be no show at all. Kristin is classy so I fully expected that. Josie was one of those underhanded competitors we have all had contact with. Don't go on a TV show and act like that if you do not expect to be called out for it.
Rk_nycBy the way it is quite ironic that you call totoal strangers nasty and mean spirited solely by a few written comments, but yet they are only reacting to words and actions of someone they actually saw, and heard. I guess you fall into the same category of mean spirited it seems.
I love this show and I believe you bring a lot of value to this show as a guest judge. However, I'm getting disappointed with how Padma has served as a judge. Her attitude and how condescending she is makes me not enjoy watching the show. I'm a huge foodie and believe you and Tom are very sincere diplomatic judges. I hope you will continue as a judge....
Padma needs to pack her knives and go! You would be such a better permanent judge!!!
What a shame Lizzie was sent home. Really? For slightly underseasoned salmon?
Whereas overwhelmingly OVERseasoned garlic soup (Josh) and bitterfood/tea pairings (Sheldon) get an OK? It does really seem, often, that women are eliminated more readily than men. Not good. :/
On a different note, I love it, Gail, when you're a judge. You're fair, and use your brains as well as your intuition. Todd- unceasingly/joyously critical...eh, not so much.
Padma is making me lose interest as a viewer and fan. I used to look forward to TOP CHEF, but it seems to be more about her, and I don't know what qualifies her to be a judge......Not liking it as much.
Again, I find myself dismayed that a talented woman was sent packing. I saw every judge complaining about pretty much every element of Sheldon's dish. The bread wasn't good, the soup was the consistency of baby food, and the dish was bitter. I saw faces that were not happy when they were tasting his dish. Everybody absolutely loved Lizzzie's sourdough, and her salmon was cooked well, but bland. Is the idea of having 2 women in the finals something that Top Chef just cannot handle? Season after season I watch Top Chef thinking that maybe this time a woman will take the title, yet I have been disappointed every season with one excepton. This is getting ridiculous and it has to stop.
borbor Oh I think her paycheck and status as a TV personality means Padma has to like it or lump it in regards to our comments. If she can't handle the heat she needs to get out of the kitchen. pun intended
I love the show and LCK is a great add. I do have one comment that I hope gets passed on. I am in food service and I have to say I would not eat anything Josh prepares until he wears a facial hair net. His beard is disgusting. Sheldon needs a facial hair net. Also if the chefs do not wear their hair back, they should be wearing chef hats or hair nets.
I love you on the show. You bring so much to the show and thats is one of the reasons why i watch it. You and Tom need to take charge. Padma brings NOTHING but a bad attitude.
Hello Gail, It was good to see you back as a judge.... you aren't on often enough, unfortunately. Regrettably, the judges made the right decision in eliminating Lizzie. Throughout the season I always loved watching her --- she is sweet, kind and a good, good soul. You are right that her food, while quiet and unexciting, is always solid and thoughtful. While I'm sorry that she isn't in the final three it is completely understandable why she isn't when her salmon dish is stacked up against the others, regardless of the quality of her sourdough. If her salmon had rocked in flavor she probably would have beaten out either Sheldon or Josh... but appropriate seasoning, or lack thereof, very frequently seems to be chefs' downfall. I'm torn between who I want more to return from LCK.... Kristen or Lizzie. Both are high quality chefs and very likeable (it shouldn't be a consideration, but it is for viewers, I believe) but I want each one back in for different reasons. I still believe that if Kristen hadn't taken the high road and she had revealed Josie's true shortcomings, with the other chefs on her team backing her up, she would be in the final three.... and maybe Lizzie wouldn't have even been a consideration. Who knows. Regardless, I've really enjoyed this season; especially in comparison to the debacle of last season. And again, it's always great to see you as a judge.
Why would you choose to use Afrikaans instead of say, English, Sotho, Swazi, or any of the other seven official languages of South Africa to say good-bye to Lizzie? Just sayin...
XsisyphusX that's the one most people have heard of and associate with it? (the whole Dutch settlement thing...)
30 yr starter?? I guess its good I don't make sour dough bread. I would have killed to have some of that crab. I'm still waiting for the LC from tonight but nothing yet.
mariettaK Some bakeries in San Francisco are working from a sourdough starter whose "mother" is over 100 years old. Doesn't mean the ingredients in the current batch are actually that old, but one keeps adding to the mother to feed it, so it's almost a perpetual motion machine.
Gail, I appreciate your saying you were not 'in the majority' on this vote, but please tell me -- in this case and every other case --> what weight does Padma's opinion have and why should what she have to say matter? She put out a 'best first book' (woohoo) many years ago and stumbled into having her name on a... what? a *vegetarian cookbook* sometime after that. Hardly credentials that would put anyone into a judging position on a show named 'Top Chef'. I'm dismayed that you didn't carry the day on this one. We count on your good taste, palette, and judgement to do the right thing. It's your reputation on the line and your professional obligation to these contestants to stand up and have your voice heard (waaaay above PL's, btw).
Let's look at this scenario... had Josie been let go when she should have been, Kristen would have continued on and CJ would still be reigning in LCK -- leaving Lizzie to battle him, which would have been a fair contest between two equally qualified competitors. Still good TV, Now Lizzie AND CJ are gone and Kristen is fighting to get back in where she should have been all along. Those 3 are the chefs that should have been heading to the finale anyway. Sheldon and Beard Boy are not a match for those three. The fact that those two guys are still in it, with the likes of Kristen, Lizzie and CJ eliminated... well, it's just sad. And it really doesn't make for satisfying television when a show like TC starts looking like The Bachelor. People being kept on for all the wrong reasons. Shame on Bravo. You can turn this around Gail. Speak louder. Bang a shoe on the table. Be bold girl.
I am just curious why every time (and let me assure you I have never missed one top chef show in any season since it's beginning) when it comes down to males or females in elimination...the woman almost ALWAYS lose. Lizzie did a wonderful bread and her salmon was cooked great, just under seasoned,but she lost to a horrible tasting green tea and chive bread with a overly smoked salmon. How does that work? I was really disappointed that she lost to a dish I felt by all of the judges reaction was horrible...pea soup, really?
Mujiebur@aol.com lizzie made a sandwich, under seasoned sandwich. hardly a Top Chef material.