Some of the motifs that make Canlis as impressive a restaurant as it is were the very things that made this week’s challenge as good a challenge as it was.
Peter Canlis, grandfather of current owners Mark and Brian Canlis, was extremely forward-thinking (and his children and grandchildren have shown that same progressiveness). Despite his limited budget, he had the vision to enlist architect Roland Terry, one of the pillars of the post-WWII-era regional approach to Modern architecture, who created a stunning structure with Frank Lloyd Wright sensibilities, right on a hill’s edge, with a design that fairly invites the vista into the dining space.
The restaurant had a great menu from the get-go and was also a true gathering place in the Seattle area, with devoted regulars. The owners implemented a lovely custom there that I believe endures till this day, in which they confer a wine glass with a customer’s initials upon someone they deem to be a special customer. The glass is not necessarily awarded for frequency of visits, nor can one be purchased -- it’s the relationship that is forged with the customer that determines whether and when a monogrammed glass is gifted to someone. A fun story about the restaurant, by the way: men are required to wear jackets and encouraged to wear ties; women are required to wear dresses. An actress once arrived wearing pants, and when she was told that she couldn’t wear pants at the restaurant, she said “OK”…and took them off right at the door!
While it started out with a sense of modernity for its time, the restaurant itself has been updated through the ages, and so has the food. Regulars would be up in arms if they couldn’t get the Canlis Special Salad, but aside from that, the food has been steadily rethought throughout the years and is very, very modern. In fact, Jason Franey, who is the current chef, came out of Eleven Madison’s kitchen, in New York. Most restaurants do not survive transfer from generation to generation, but Canlis has adapted smartly and gracefully and has stayed relevant, which is a very impressive feat. Throughout the restaurant’s changes, however, its owners have maintained their sense that this is a family business. Whimsically, there is one special table that still boasts an old-school telephone -- apparently this is where Peter Canlis would sit back in the day, observing the goings on, and when he’d note something he needed to address, he’d just pick up the phone.
Similarly, this week’s challenge required skill married to creativity, it required a vision for the visuals as well as the flavors, and, as the Canlis family has preserved, a sense of whimsy and fun as well. The chefs needed to understand what the original menu was suggesting about the dishes offered and extrapolate as to the ingredients and method of cooking, in order to skillfully create their vision of what had come before. This challenge reminds me of a period film or piece of theatre, in which the director, designers, and actors pull together to recreate an era. Knowledge of the era must be combined with a hefty dose of imagination and, of course, the skill at one’s craft necessary to pull the whole thing off.
Nicest remarks onto the CANLIS families place as for a establishment to favorites on areas and next places stop onto plans public market place isn't to be ignored either! Lower into Ritzy presentations, but of a few elegant dinning rooms! For cooks to compare may try sometimes at lower places in less styles, your announcement on FARE START is fair! 'Casa Latina' workers did share day jobs and add for they found jobs to work too!
Nicest kindness on remarks for place at there Canlis Family decades long establishment ,but sometimes every area can't be covered by only these figures alone. Next at local public market place can be describing on areas careers cooks as assortments.
I, for one, am glad to see Carla go. I would not want her cooking anything for me with all that hair flopping aound. It just looked so unsanitary. But I love Top Chef and look forward to each episode.
I completely enjoyed this episode. Hopefully, the contestants can stay away from the infighting and just try to cook good food. That is why I watch. Thanks.
Tom - I think it's been a great season so far, heads above last season's gimmicks. It feels like a return to foundational elements of being a chef. I am loving the season and feeling my favorite show is back! Plus, I love that Kristen won. It really illustrates the point that often gets lost in the competition: excellent execution of simplicity trumps dazzle. Too many contestants ache to pull out the stops (CJs use of sous vide showed a real lack of restraint) instead of doing simple things well.
DCGal Frankly the use of sous vide should have been an automatic go-home for failing the challenge.
LOLA-B DCGal And had some responsibility for how his food was cooked! Unlike poor Carla! He also knew how his food was intended to taste, unlike poor Chrissy!
swell_swell DCGal If Emeril says he didn't want to eat it - that's beyond bad. CJ should have been axed. He seemed stupid to do a sous vide - (it was remnants from his season when Hung did it successfully all the time). What a BIG fool. But, he shouldn't have been pardoned. His offense was greater than an overdressed salad.
Tom, I must tell you that I won't be watching Last Chance Kitchen. I believe when a cook is dismissed, that's it. There is no need to prolong the process of getting down to the finale. I discovered last season that watching it is a lesson in futility because only the last challenge matters. The rest of the side show is a waste of time.
Lynda58 I don't know that I'll actually watch Last Chance Kitchen (okay, maybe if Sheldon lands there) but I like the idea of it. So many times we've watched a chef who has consistently put out excellent product all season go down in flames because of one inferior dish. So I really like the idea of having a chance at redemption, so to speak.
Lynda58 I do hope the producers ignore your input. You're welcome to your opinion, of course, but I disagree with the entire premise that one failure proves that you're not Top Chef. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a successful chef who never failed at anything. The best learn from their mistakes.
You are so completely full of it Tom.
SURE, it's the same thing for your paid employees to "cook your food" as it is for a competitor on this show to cook THEIR COMPETITOR's dish.
Why even cast women on this show? They are nothing but fodder.
Marti_W And TWO went home, one that wasn't even allowed to cook her own food.
3 in a row...so far.
LOLA-B Marti_W There is NO WAY in a competition like this that I would let someone else cook my food - unless I had immunity. The risk is just too high. How many chefs have been sent home for not supervising the cooking of their food during Restaurant Wars or other team challenges?
LOLA-B Marti_W Bunk. The first eliminated cheftestant was male, and as Marti points out, a woman won the challenge.
LOLA-B I agree that it's doesn't seem fair. Men seem to get to slide a little more on certain things than women do - how well you actually meet the challenge, and how your dish is presented. If a dish is truly poorly cooked, any cook will go home, but if it is a toss-up, then nine times out of ten, it seems a woman goes home. When I look at the winner's list, I don't think men are really that much better than the women in the kitchen.
swell_swell LOLA-B Tom has addressed this question before. Whether or not race or gender comes into consideration. The answer is no. If you question his integrity, why bother following the show? I'm not into pro wrestling for the same reason.
Also, don't forget that Padma -- most definitely a woman -- is a judge, as well as Gail when she's on the show. It's difficult for me to believe that Tom could convince both to go against a woman simply because she is a woman.
I'm hoping that this year, Kuniko or Lizzie or Brooke will make it. All three comport themselves very well, and are clearly well-trained. In fact, they all have the calmness exhibited by Stepanie Izard. Which is one of the reasons I think it's realistic to think any of these three can do it.
singingscallops swell_swell Gosh, OK then! I just won't watch the show anymore.
I stopped a while ago, but each year, come back and give it a try. I stuck out a whole season when Ripert was part of the judging, and will always watch when the important chefs are on the show, because Tom will actually defer to their opinion, and has.
As far as Padma and Gail? Get serious. What Tom says goes.
Unless you've actually run a kitchen in a top notch restaurant, you are not qualified to challenge Chef Colicchio's explanation of how a chef manages his/her kitchen. Period. The women who went home deserved to do so. Gender bias is a reality, but you have to look at the whole picture and have a measure of common sense. Carla was an accident waiting to happen, and did not work well with anyone in any of the challenges; including the one she won. Chrissy did not do badly in LCK, but did not show the mastery of her ingredients that Kuniko did.
The "old school" telephone apparently isn't the only thing that hasn't evolved. "Charming" as the old ways may be, requiring women customers to wear dresses is decidedly UN-relevant in these days. Instead of stripping, I'd be taking my business elsewhere. Guess the food isn't the only thing that's retro-modern.
Top Chef & Tom - Here's a suggestion I hope you take up. Before a Quick Fire that involves a protein that can be cooked to different temperatures/doneness, the chefs should be told how well done the judge (e.g., Naomi) prefers the protein to be cooked. There's always an impression that a dish is not successful when the judge says, "I prefer my steak to be medium rare (or rare or medium, etc.)." That's not fair if the chef has no clue what the judge prefers. Why keep that a secret? If the chefs know what the preference is, this also adds an element that can be judged (i.e., did the chefs cook the protein to the correct doneness.)
Love Top Chef and the fact that Last Chance Kitchen is back!
@BostonSingle that's actually a great suggestion, 'fancy' chefs always seem to lean towards the rare meat, but when a surprise 'normal pallet' guest is there the dish is often scrutinized. I for one only like my meat medium well or better. Idc if its a lil overdone I like that too and better than undercooked. Don't hand me a pink raw feather less pigeon or a leathery one... Even well done can go wrong I.e the lamb shanks that just looked like they came from a cheap Gyro's drive-thru
Kristen first roasted the mushrooms, beginning the caramelization process and the release of their water content. She finished them in a pan, furthering the browning effect and probably imbuing them with the flavors of whatever fat she used to baste them. Always good to learn something in cooking.
And I'm glad to know my hunch wasn't incorrect regarding the serving bowl for the French-onion soup. I thought it looked odd, for that soup. The beef-stock element that saved it: interesting, because I've always thought that the most traditional way to make the soup is with water. No other flavor should shine but that of the onions. But if you have to rescue it ... Now I know ...
singingscallops I've always had French Onion soup made from a beef stock base - often fortified with some red wine. I can't imagine how thin an onion-only broth would be.
swell_swell I should study more soup recipes, including those for French Onion. I've always used one of the first ones for it that I learned: using water, after deeply caramelizing onions, then adding fresher cuts of onion during the simmering of the water.
But hey, beef stock with fortified red wine sounds good in almost any setting. So you won't get any arguments from here! Thanks!
singingscallops It looked like he also over-toasted the Gruyere. The cheese shouldn't turn the crouton into a hockey puck.
Tom, Thanks for your insightful comments. Even after you explain in depth who made the greater errors, CJ's inedible lamb seems like a worse offense than an over-dressed salad. Those mushrooms made me crave them. I wanted to eat them all. Kristen's side dishes looked amazing. I'm hungry now.