Josh is pretty psyched to make a crab dish for Sean, and to prove their fraternal bond is going to feed Sean succotash. Let’s remind everyone that the South does not include Oklahoma and most of Florida, but I will give in to the Panhandle being part of the South. Succotash is Josh’s choice of dowry for Sean, and we’ll see how this goes, but Sean has created a whole chapter of his own in the tome of Southern food, so I’d be a little apprehensive about feeding him a Southern staple.
Sheldon is pushing himself to be creative in this challenge and makes the only dish that takes the crab out of its usual comfort zone. Crab with crab miso, pine-smoked asparagus, and charred corn. I mean, who is doing “pine-smoked asparagus” on this show? He seems to have ramped up his game and is cooking on a different level in the past few episodes, except for last week’s surf and turf catastrophe.
I don’t think a completely novel dish was a necessity to win the challenge, but it can’t hurt. Another reminder: simple is difficult, and if you are told to push the boundaries, you need to show a new idea on a plate. No one said it was easy.
Brooke serves crabby toast with Dungeness crab butter that looks pretty tasty, but maybe failed to bust out of the “same old crab dish” mold. Lizzie gets a crab frittata onto the plate which is just not going to win points for originality. Sure, I love crab and eggs together; it’s just not novel. It’s not what the challenge dictated.
Josh has gone all Ol’ Keller on us with a butter-poached “Southern” variation involving succotash.
Padma and Sean do not like the frittata; they enjoy Sheldon’s smoky delights; they ho-hum to Brooke’s crabby toast, and get really sad for Josh’s succotash. C’est la vie. Sean does say that the succotash “…tastes like home” and hypes Josh up before knocking him out with a bottom ranking. Ouchie.
The Elimination Challenge is to use salmon and sourdough -- both important staple of the region. Cool. I am down with that.
I have never even heard of the term chum related to salmon. However, I recall the Montauk fishing challenge a couple of seasons ago. The chefs had to prepare whatever they caught, and Kerry Heffernan commented that although porgie was not considered a "noble" fish, it was used very effectively in one of the better dishes. I think it takes creativity and skill to make something tasty when you don't have foie gras, truffles, and the like. One of my absolute favorite challenges was at Le Bernardin. After butchering several fish, the chefs had to take the leftovers (head, fins, etc.) and make a delicious dish.
Hugh, as a long long resident of Juneau, I am ROFL about your description of the Lucky Lady. I am definitely going to steal it. But thank the powers that be you did not go into The Arctic Bar - it makes the Lady look high class! BTW, no all locals dislike chum salmons (or dog salmon as it was lovingly referred to by my commercial fisherman Dad in my youth). The oil makes it great for smoking. But really, any type of salmon you catch that day and cook that night - ain't nothing better in the whole world!
I was so sad to Lizzie go. She is a sweetheart AND a clearly talented chef. Why is Josh still there? Except for Brooke, all the cheftestants had mistakes. Several guest and judges remarked that Lizzie's salmon needed stronger seasoning, but that her bread was the best, and, as one judge put it, the contest was to do bread and salmon. Sheldon had problems with his bread AND his salmon. I like Sheldon, but I think the judges are partial to him, and they seem to read his Asian approach to all the challenges as "creative" instead of what it is - the way he always cooks . If the others always did French or Southern, I think they would get called on it. Lizzie I'll miss your lovely voice and spirit.
Misspearltaylor Well, let's see...a review of the recipes posted on bravo.com shows that Sheldon Simeon has cooked dishes with influences from the cuisines of Thailand, Korea, Southern USA, China [disregarding the vast regionality], Hawaii, Japan, Philippines/Pinoy, Italy, USA-Western, Vietnam, France... That's quite a wide range. That's FAR BROADER than someone who might cook just French (as Kristen Kish mostly does, in fact) or "Southern" (what sort of Southern? Do you mean USA Southern? or (wink, wink) South African?(Lizzie Binder is from there, remember)) Brooke Williamson cooks FAR MORE limited kinds of food by comparison, in fact - and if one said she cooked "European", that would mean an awful lot of different cuisines, which she does not do.
So - what DO you mean by "Asian"? Do you mean Chinese? Filipino? If so, why not say so? After all, Asia is a very large place and Turkish, Tamil, Punjabi, Persian, Siberian-Steppe, Indonesian, etc etc etc cuisines are all also encompassed by the adjective "Asian" which would be descriptive of cuisines from Asia.
Brooke Williamson should certainly stop making those snide remarks about Sheldon S. cooking "Asian", if she fancies herself as cooking "European" (haha).
Hugh, as a former resident of Juneau, I agree that the Lucky Lady is absolutely terrible. In fact, "Lysol covering a crime" smells better than how it actually smells. What other bars did you visit?
I'm planning a trip to Alaska this summer...what month did Bravo film this adventure?
also a former Juneauite and that description of the Lucky Lady cracked me up! wonder if they hit The Triangle bar? loved seeing all the scenery, the salmon bake, etc. again. made me smile.
Your recaps are the best thing about Top Chef! I don't always see the show but I always read your recaps!
Loved this eposode, thanks for reconfirming how much I want to go to Alaska! Loved the challanges and the chef's choices! Can't remember the last time I saw King Salmon in the store, I love it! Even in Canada I was surprised at all the salmon choices in restaurants and none were King!
Speaking of salmon choices, these chefs drive me crazy when their choices are based on when they were growing up instead of what they've learned and experienced as a chef, ie., Sheldon's salmon choice!
Hugh, if you want to get into some trout fishing in North Georgia, check out my friend Jimmy Harris at Unicoi Outfitters in Helen. He has a Gilligan Special which is a great way to learn. Also in Atlanta, in Buckhead, is the famous Fish Hawk, one of the best outfitters on the planet. The Chattahoochee in Atlanta, from Morgan Falls Dam to Hwy. 41 host a "delayed harvest" opportunity with trout stocked from Nov. to spring. Strick regulations, catch and release in force but a good time on a river that runs through Atlanta. Enjoy.
Chef, I have very important question for you. I love salmon sushi, what makes salmon "sushi" grade or worthy?
Am I the only one who started laughing as soon as the word "chum" was uttered? C'mon--Sponge Bob, The Chum Bucket restaurant owned by arch villain Plankton. . . . If Sheldon were more cartoon conversant he would have known better than to touch the chum!
@ainsly isn't chum also the term for fish guts and parts thrown into the water as bait for other (better tasting) fish? I was amazed sheldon didn't immediately steer clear based on this alone.
Sheldon got praise for the Chum, so not sure why he should "have known better." Guess dog food for some is fine cuisine for others. Chum isn't a term I ever heard growing up in Hawaii for the bait that gets thrown out to attract fish - used "palu" instead. Not all adults watch Sponge Bob either, although I think the Chum Bucket is a great name, since it refers to fish but can also mean pal.
HadToDoIt ainsly In this country, horse meat is used in dog food; in France, it's a delicacy served in specialized restaurants.
One man's meat …
Umm, yeah. OK is not the South, sorry guys. Neither is most of FLA. Hugh is right on, even if he is Canadian. Btw, Go Dawgs!
The "South" officially starts where you can get grits at Waffle House and sweet tea is on the menu. The "Deep South" is where grits and sweet tea are served automatically (I live in SE Alabama). Oklahoma qualifies as The South. Some parts of Maryland do as well, while some parts of Virginia and even Florida do not.
As usual, great recap. I tend to agree with you about Lizzie wanting to be outta' there several episodes ago. Even so, she was an admirable cheftestant.
Now, Joker, you might want to figure out the whole Mason Dixon Line/North-South thing. I can hear folks already: "What??? Does he not know ANYthing about the south???" Oh, lord...the trouble you'll see.
As a sun-lover have never really wanted to go to Alaska. These episodes and the judge's blogs are making we want to go tomorrow!
I am a huge fan, and I realize that you live in GA now, but we all know you're Canadian.
I am from Oklahoma and I, along the United States Census Bureau, strongly disagree with your statement that OK is not part of the South.
You are still my favorite judge and wittiest,most insightful blogger.
Jason in OKC
j-son Let the great South debate continue...
I'm from "north central" Texas and Okies are about as Southern as Texans. Both very socially conservative areas, but also culturally more where the South meets the Midwest (OK) & the South meets the Southwest (TX). Arid West Texas is not Southern and Oklahoma has more in common with Kansas, which is not Southern.
Sharing some cultural mores in common with the South doesn't make your state Southern.
Love your play-by-play, Hugh. But I must have missed it in the episode and you didn't mention in your recap...who won the quickfire? Was there a prize or advantage?