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Tesar Speaks the Truth, but Sides Win the Race

Hugh Acheson would like his own "Canlis Restaurant" one day.

By Hugh Acheson

How to Watch

Catch up on Top Chef on Peacock or the Bravo App.

I am on this one. Look for a fine Gucci suit with a nervous man inside. 

It’s getting all tense. The Stew Room has its place and that place is to get people a little on edge. It works here exactly as it’s supposed to. Tesar, the man with no filter, calls out whole states in his vindictiveness. Oklahoma, which really doesn’t need to be maligned like this, has a fired-up defender in Josh. He puts on his chaps and challenges Tesar to a showtunes showdown. 


“We know we belong to the land

And the land we belong to is grand!

And when we say 

Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!

We're only sayin'

You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!

Oklahoma O.K.”


Tesar’s musical response is “Texas” by Soulja Boy. Odd. 

“I'm on that ATL s---, I'm on that MIA s---, 

I'm on that Chi-town s---, that Houston, Texas s---, 

that screwed up s---, that purple s---…” 


He crosses his arms and makes strange gang signs but his is a gang of one. A--holez with a Z: Dallas. 

Tesar zaps us with this explanation: “I am not a prick, I’m truthful.” Wise words bad Yoda. 

Sleepy time. Maybe things will be sunnier with some shut eye? Nope. Pretty much everyone gets out of their wearable blanket all angry at the world. But not Stefan. He loves wartime in the condo and takes advantage of the time to fondle Kristen. Kristen loves it. 

Is CJ taller at breakfast? Does he shrink during the day? Naomi Pomeroy in the house. She has brought animals. Beastly butchery from Portlandia. “Land-roaming animals,” someone says, as opposed to that flying squirrel challenge that never happened. Memories of Naomi screaming at her dad in Top Chef Masters; this type of memory makes every family get-together more memorable.  

“We would like you to think of these slabs of beef as a blank canvas”, says Naomi. Bart begins to paint a picture on the side of the cow, taking the instructions very literally. Carla has memories of cold meat lockers where stoolies were dealt with. Stefan is still mentally smelling Kristen’s feet. 

CJ is worried about no one. I am worried about him though because he looks six inches shorter than his morning self. Sheldon is not a surgical butcher but he’s gonna get 'er dun. Tyler is his own worst enemy. He’s literally going to whittle himself down with anxiety. “I just need to shut the f--- up and cook.” Self therapy in the house.  

There’s a lot of beef dishes in this rodeo. Some good, some not so good. Sherry and asparagus do not please Padma. Oxtails are great or undercooked. Hangar steak makes Naomi happy but she’s a medium girl. I would have so thought she’d be a rare beef lover. 

Alas, John Tesar wins. They clap. Why would you all clap for a guy you all hate? Show that man who’s boss. No clapping. John wins immunity and gets to continue his quest to be completely condescending to everyone in the room.

The Canlis brothers introduce the Elimination Challenge which is to recreate classic dishes from the opening Canlis menu. You know, a menu that was resplendent with “a la Louis” and other descriptives. 

When you talk about iconic restaurants there are very few that would be higher up on the scale than Canlis. It’s a stunning restaurant with great views of planes landing on the water from all vantage points. The service is so authentic and real and the content is top notch. Though the challenge was to recreate some of the more storied dishes of a past era, Canlis is thouroughly in the modern food world thanks to the skilled hands of executive chef Jason Franey. Jason was the executive sous chef for Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park in NYC. The new menu is a beautiful melding of the history of the restaurant and Franey’s food, evoking brilliance and not relics. You should eat there if you are in Seattle. Sometimes I dream of just having that one restaurant like Canlis, an old BMW 2002 tii, some model boat kits, and a small garden. I would live a stress-free life in the apartment above and study up on the parking/valet methods of Dick Sprinkle, the revered parking boss of Canlis years ago. Check out their fine website for more stories like that. The fear was that we would be served Jell-O salads and pineapple chicken. Well that didn’t happen. We got some pretty good food. The really difficult dish to pull off is the Caesar-like Canlis Salad. It’s a difficult one because it is revered by the customers and owners. They have loved it for decades and it’s crazy popular. It’s like challenging Trader Vic’s to a Mai Tai challenge. You’d lose.

Lizzie’s herring was like an ode to Prune in NYC, saltines and all. John did make good clams, and sadly Josh’s soup was a salty, cold mess. Wrong vehicle for a hearty soup? If that bowl isn’t hot, you have a loser of a dish. Puck-like croutons did not help at all. This paled in comparison to the train wreck that was Carla’s squab. I love rustic Italian food but this was not that. Rare to a fault for some, and well-done on others. 

Sheldon’s mahi mahi was great but uninspired. Simple simple but in that era that’s what win the game. Stefan’s liver was well-executed. Kristen’s sides really did rock, and if you think that you can’t win just with making some simple things sing than you’re wrong. Those mushrooms were perhaps the best mushroom side I have ever had. CJ’s lamb was error-filled and as Tom accurately diagnosed, a sous-vide stumble. Steak a-la-Bart was a middlin’ protein attempt. Josie’s “Potato as Big as your Head” was a baked potato. Not much way to screw that up or make it phenomenal. She calls them “Mamajamas” which makes me want to curl up in the corner and cry myself to sleep. I am actually in that position still. If I just listen to Tyler’s self-affirmations, everything will be OK. 

Desserts are of an era, meaning not great and kind of melting. They were having issues with the ice cream machine. It was fine. Just fine. Some people loved them but they just weren’t my bag. 

Lizzie, Kristen, Tyler, and Stefan take tops with Kristen’s sides winning all. She deserved it. They were rocking ‘shrooms and crispy onion rings. 

Two chefs pack their knives -- Carla and Chrissy. Onwards to Last Chance Kitchen

Follow me on twitter @hughacheson

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