Our semifinal episode begins in Alaska, whose state bird is the Willow Ptarmigan. Two chefs remain, and they have mushed, cooked, flown, boated, and smoked their way into this near-end of the competition. Josh has left the state to join his family and his newly-minted daughter, Georgia.
Juneau at sundown and Sheldon and Brooke are dancing and jamming on the ukulele. Brooke is not entering a freestyle rap competition anytime soon. Sheldon, powered by Pre-98 Bubba Kush, is just coming up with hooks and lines left and right.
Hold up -- we are fast-forwarding to a future time in some island nation. It’s like Lost with Sheldon. I am hoping that he is allowed to bring Ben Linus on as a sous and that they will cook on the wreckage of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815. Alas, he is back at his restaurant in training and has been stage-ing at the Dharma Initiative in his free time, learning how to handle tweezers, Xanthum gum, and anti-griddles. Back at his noodle joint, he does seem like a very calm leader as his legion of cooks crumbles under the bright lights of fame. Spoons are dropped, tostadas and buns are made, signatures are signed, shirts are sold. Off to a family BBQ with his family of super-cute Hawaiians. Vittles and brews beachside. Keepin’ the Menehune spirit going.
To L.A. where Brooke is homesteading Cali’-style. She is raising a family and their robots, plus she’s a chef and restaurateur. She pays the bills and gets the pig ear salad prepped, cooked, and socially-documented. She hints to the cameras that pig ears for the finale would be handy. When would pig ears not be handy? Brooke narrowly averted a lawsuit by marrying her sous chef. They decide to celebrate life with Sang Yoon and Roy Choi at A-Frame, Roy’s kickass restaurant in Culver City. Y’all should go there. Great food.
I have two things to say, first, you kind of act like a teenager still trying to get it together. Your antics, commentary, and sometimes speech let alone facial expressions are quite adolescent at times. I will say I understand your a great dad and family man.
I feel your judging is fair. And as for "brook", KK didnt win "brook" lost.
OK can I start by saying YAN CAN COOK!!!!!! I love that guy! I was already a foodie when I first found him, but his love of food and how he made it fun closed the deal for me! I watched him and Jeff Smith-3 Ancient Cuisines (whatever happened to him?)
This was a fun show! Someone wrote below something about Kristin wants to be what Brooke already is....Brooke said in this episode that the downside to the responsibilities of owning restaurants, family, etc.is that the time to play and create diminishes. Good point! Same in every field. You have to respect the younger talent! That said, her experience is what got her this far. There's something about Boston and food.....it's not the only great food city, but it's definitely one of them!
The winner wasn't really figured as 'Kristen' immunity off scenes, but regular viewers will known this fact ! 'Brooke' as a great spirited contestant, finally almost had won ! Sheldon now can return he's specially fresher in tropical recipes!
You favored Brooke yet you voted for Kristen. Top Chef is the only TV show I watch and now I see it is just as corrupt as everything else is these days. Of course it makes better TV to have the underdog fight back and win. I would expect nothing less of you to let the producers tell you how to vote.
Mr Hugh of all the panel of judges, you seem to be the smart@$$ .... why poke fun at someones food? Tell them it was just not to your liking and move on..why torture someone over a burger and a pickle.....do you actually cook?
FlutterBy no, I have no idea how to cook. I am inclined to make light of some food ideas because I think food needs to be taken a little less seriously.
HughAcheson The most fun with food on TV right now (Top Chef not included) has to be Pitchin' In with Lynn Crawford. I'm guessing you know the show, but in case you don't or other readers are interested, it's on the Cooking Channel. I just discovered it for the first time about 4 or 5 weeks ago andevery week I say it's the best episode yet, but this week really is-foraging mushrooms? Great show!
@HughAcheson Are you kidding, you really don't cook?? Ok...well I get it now..you just have a pure palette....and don't have a problem telling someone when they assault it.....however, don't you agree the show is too intense?? There is way too much formality, had I known that going to culinary school would title me....I would have ... and my culinary precision would have been directed to the many ways of preparing Nutella....
It's hard to back Brooke - she already has everything going on. She is married to a great guy, has a kid and restaurant. I would prefer to eat Kristen's food and she is looking for what Brooke already has. Doesn't seen quite fair to let Brooke compete on this show.
SusanCoyote Never thought of it that way, you're right, Brooke is already an accomplished Chef.
@SusanCoyote I was not aware the show was called Almost Top Chef....I thought it was a test of survival skills in the kitchen that utilized experience and knowledge, while taking risks with educated guesses to outwit, outlast and dazzle a panel of judges with polished taste buds, unlike us, who eats our salsa out of a jar, and pour bottled salad dressing on our fish......This show ain't no pity party...we don't give a crown to the ugliest contestant and a pulitzer to the worst writer......This show is called TOP CHEF..... keywod...Toppppp
Not to nitpick...BUT...Boston's South End and South Boston ("Southie") are NOT the same. At all. Kristin's restaurant is in the South End.
@DangleParticiple For some reason, maybe your name.....but I don't think I would want you in my kitchen without an apron...
I think these chefs were the most likeable and supportive of one another that I can remember in any past season. It was a pleasure to watch all of them compete. I think maybe all of them suffered by not having competed for several months. They all seemed to have some unexpected difficulties. I know everyone tries to plan a killer menu for the finale, but I am surprised that they don't have more dishes/concepts at the ready when they come back. Everyone seemed a little muted in this episode. That said, the preview for the final episode looks really exciting. Can't wait to see it!
As always Hugh, you gave viewers a fun filled blog. I enjoy your writing and relaying the show events in your special way. That said, I loathe LCK. It enables a chef to be sequestered away from the other chefs. LCK chefs don't have to deal with group dynamics, team challenges and fighting for space/ingredients/utensils. LCK chefs just have to perform another quickfire challenge each week with one judge in a non-blind tasting. It was clear that Kristin would be coming back to compete in the finale. This has been a poor season of TC. It's my favorite show. This season there were few surprises. LCK just made it all the more confusing, especially when it appeared that Stefan and Lizzie out-cooked beautiful, young Kristin. Please continue with your witty blogs. They add fun plus your insight. It makes me committed to watch another season regardless of my disappointment with this entire season. So sad, because I love Seattle and the State of Alaska.
Hugh, love the blog, and I appreciate that you don't feel the need to drop a Rothko & Rauschenberg reference to sound erudite (looking at you, Blue Eyes), but please, for god's sake man, you wrote:
"Martin Yan and John Besh have joined Padma, Emeril, and I for dinner."
You're a product of the Canadian school system, surely they must have taught you that it should be "Martin Yan and John Besh have joined Padma, Emeril, and *me* for dinner."
Other than that, the brow is in fine fettle and I dug the sport coat. Keep up the good work.
ruddy Problem is, no one is taught about subjective and objective cases any more—nor do they even know what a case is.
Hi - just a couple of comments: first, Hugh,regarding your comment about Stefan growing on you - I know what you mean; he's growing on me too! I didn't care for him in his original TC season, but now I think he's a riot. Second, (not at all Stefan related) - this season has really seemed to fly by_way way too fast.
Hugh you sure gave some confusing input at judges table at the end of the first part of the final show. You really reamed Sheldon for going outside the box and not sticking to what has worked in the past but you reamed Kristen for playing it safe. I like most of your commets as a former Chef I usually agree but on this day it seems like the Cheftestents had no way to win this show seems hard enough without having to cater to a judge that is going to be creating a Catch 22 standard. Be risky but dont be risky, play it safe but dont play it safe.
Hugh, you crack me UP! I feel so sorry for the poor folks that don't or can't get your humor. Keep bringing it, and hope to see you often in future TC episodes.
I think........and please let it be known that this is only my opinion but Hugh sounds very conceited...............
michaeljustinwhiteI think . . . you sound a little full of yourself. Hugh is all about fun, and more than a little witty.
It would be interesting if Bravo could do a "behind the scenes of top chef" or "the making of top chef" I bet there is a ton of edits and bloopers that would be great, This season has been great they did a nice job with the cast albeit I wish I was one of them. tried for the "Texas" season but kinda glad i didn't make that season. wasn't very memorable imo. Maybe they will give me a call for next season? ;) It's going to be a great finally. two great chefs battling in kitchen stadium.
"To L.A. where Brooke is homesteading Cali’-style. She is raising a family and their robots, plus she’s a chef and restaurateur."
"They pick proteins and Sheldon counts spot prawns, a popular skit on Sesame Street in Hawaii."
"The Craft kitchen is a beauty, but to find a sheet pan you must make up a song, and then the sheet pans appear."
I don't know how you come up with this stuff, but you crack me up! Great blog.
It's great to have Hugh interpreting the language of cuisine for us through his wry, Hunter Thompson-esque lense. We need people like Tom who look completely shocked and dismayed that someone forgot to candy a fennel sprig, because he's such a pro and all, but to an average viewer like me who microwaves more than she sous vides, it's a little comical. (Not toasting the pine nuts? Padma is justly scandalized. An uncandied fennel sprig? Discordant, unprecedented, we're through the looking glass here! My husband walks in and rolls his eyes.) Sheldon's sexist comments are worth blogging about, and Hugh never misses a thing. I don't know what he's talking about half the time and I love it anyway. Fear and loathing in Alaska.
I would confirm the comments of others: the best two chefs will be in the finals. I really liked Sheldon and Josh, saddened by both of their departures. But Brooke and Sheldon are money. Not sure how I feel about Last Chance but it's clealy providing a show down between the two most talented. I will be interested to see the finale.
Hugh, you are one of my favorites on the show and enjoy your humor. It has been a good mixture of personalities within the judges. Bet it has been a good time.
Hugh may come off a bit aloof on camera, but he sure cooks up a good blog. Go Kristen and Brooke! Sheldon also deserved to participate and I'd love to try his food some day, but I've been at Stir and know Kristen kills it (and I mean that in the best possible way). My two favorites compete in the finale. Yippee!
Just have to say Hugh,, I really don't care for your tone, in general. The condescending delivery is not funny and tiresome. You might be a good cook, but you come across as a donkey.
mellowyellow I think that would ONLY be your opinion....don't speak for us all. Take a chill pill man
Holycrap Not speaking for anyone other than myself. Last time I checked, this was America and we all had rights to our opinions...and thanks, I'm totally chilled.
mellowyellow Wow I totally disagree. I enjoy his whimsical tone and his observations. I do wonder why if he bothers you so much you do not simply choose not to read his posts. But then we would be denied your oh so articulate criticism. Calling someone a name is so very educational and grown up.
It's nice to see Hugh looking to the food - one can understand Tom C objecting to the disorganization and anxiety that Brooke was going through, but that's probably because (i) he clearly runs a tight ship (or, rather, several), albeit one in which a chef would never be formulating and serving a new menu all in three hours; and (ii) he clearly sees good kitchen management as such a necessary precursor to good food that the subjective experience of every other judge (and most other diners) doesn't matter - everyone seemed to enjoy each of Brooke's courses in a way that no-one enjoyed any of Kristen's. Sure, Kristen is probably more likely to run a similarly slick operation to Craft: but Brooke's food was evidently better.
MaxG I had the same thought. Tom's opinion on the food both in the broadcast and on his blog seems very tied to Brooke's failures in the kitchen. I guess the moral is do not mess up service at Craft, or Tom will make you pay.
I thought the brow looked particularly expressive tonight, Hugh. Have you been coaching it in the mirror?
This is the best possible finale, period. We knew this back in January. The two best chefs this year are Kristen and Brooke. No one was ever really close to them.
Vic2012 Actually, I think we knew Stefan was the best "cheftestant" back then, but the real Stefan never materialized. Instead we got a guy that spent the past couple of years being a restauranteur and not a chef, as well as a guy that used this 2nd opportunity more for fraternizing than completing a mission. Had he taken the "Richard Blais approach," he'd likely be in the final right now.