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Salmon Fishing in the United States

Everyone's full of hilarious one-liners. Maybe it's the crabs!

By Monica A. Reyhani

Hello, my little Jonah crab claws (my personal favorites!) Kristen is kicking arse and taking names in Last Chance Kitchen. Her last defeat is over her own hubby, Stefan! I'll miss Stefan, but I won't miss another awkward kiss on the mouth between these two. Back at the chefs' digs, the remaining four chefs -- Brooke, Josh, Lizzie, and Sheldon -- are talking about how good-hearted Stefan is. I know they mean it, but it sounds so insincere. Sheldon does admit that he thought Stefan was the front-runner for the win. Interesting. Josh also reveals that his wife's due date is fast-approaching, and he wants to tell his wife not to have the baby until he's back. Good luck to you, sir.

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The chefs head out into the cold, and Sheldon drops this bomb on us: "I better throw on a couple extra underwear, just so I can keep the package nice and warm, y'know?" Oh, we know, Sheldon. We know. 

The chefs are greeted by Padma and Chef Sean Brock -- someone I've heard Hugh Acheson laud many a time -- at Tracey's King Crab Shack. I love, love, love crab. I'd rather have crab than lobster. Whenever I just need a quick fix in NYC, I usually go to BLT Fish Shack. Our very own Harold Dieterle also held Crab Mondays at his restaurant, Kin Shop, this past year, so hopefully he'll keep them going next year. 

Our chefs are tasked with creating a dish highlighting Alaskan Crab. Literally five seconds after I think about how I would eat all the crab in sight, Brooke echoes my thoughts: "I'm not going to have any crab to use cause I can't stop eating it," she says.

Brooke makes crab toast, deemed "easy" by Chef Brock, but I think he was going for the word "simple." Making a good compound butter is not easy. That being said, he loved the dish, despite himself. I would literally buy Dungeness crab compound butter by the boatload, so start sellin' it, Brooke! 

Josh serves succotash -- or "suckertash" as Brooke calls it -- which made Sean feel like he was at home. So, Josh thought he "nailed it. 100%." Unfortunately, Sean is a "succotash snob," and didn't care for the unnecessary bacon or broken sauce. Fair. So far, Josh has unsuccessfully served succotash to Sean Brock and grits to Hugh Acheson. Eek!

Lizzie's crab got lost with all the other flavors going on in her fritatta. Got to be careful with those capers!And so, Sheldon wins with his "miso." Aaand, Sheldon's got his groove back!

On to the Elimination Challenge: Salmon and Sourdough! I use an exclamation mark, but I actually don't enjoy hot salmon (as my loyal readers already know), and sourdough is probably my least favorite type of bread. (Geez, who invited the Debbie Downer?!) The chefs are given a 30-year-old starter and start baking in their home. 

Oh, wait! I forgot the most important part! Sheldon scares the s--- out of his competitors back at the house, and it's amazing.

Some of the chefs go traditional while others try to add other elements to it. I love when bread has little surprises in it (besides raisins!), so I'm down with the idea. Josh promises he won't use bacon. "I'm done with bacon apparently," he declares. I don't believe him.

The next morning the chefs head to get their salmon. I don't think I've ever seen salmon that color in my life, and I will probably never eat salmon that fresh... unless I visit Alaska, obviously. Fishing and cleaning fish reminds Lizzie of her father, so we see heartbreaking photos of the two of them together. I cry for maybe the first time this whole season, which is rare for me, but my heart just breaks for Lizzie. 

We learn that Josh's wife is dilating, and that Sheldon yells "Yahtzee!" a lot. Equally important, obviously.

As Tom does his walk-through, some of the chefs start to get nervous. First, there's Sheldon who doesn't understand why Tom thinks his dish idea is funny. He is less nervous after Tom explains that he's been craving pea soup. In fact, he yells "Boom!" And I giggle.

While Tom is excited that Lizzie is roasting her fish whole, he has some pause about Brooke poaching hers on-site. I actually think Brooke's nervousness was based more on Tom's tone when he asked why she was poaching her fish, rather than him necessarily thinking that was a horrible idea. But, who knows?

There are bears at the site where the judges are and Tom makes a joke about them being his fanbase. Has Tom gotten funnier, or is it me? I'd like to think that Hugh's off-beat humor might be rubbing off on Tom. Either way, I love it.Brooke serves her dish, and despite Hugh commenting that her mustard seeds were unappetizing-looking, everyone loves it. She wins.

Sheldon serves chum, which he deems "pretty cool," but is apparently what locals serve to their dogs. I don't know if we can state that fact in a negative way anymore. Have you seen what people feed their dogs?! They eat very well! But, Sean wasn't thrilled with how Sheldon handled his fish -- he kept grinding the salmon, to which Hugh hilariously demonstrated the grinding of the salmon. Also, Hugh thought his soup was like baby food. Uh-oh, Sheldon.

I interrupt this recap to present once again that beautiful story Emeril told about his chef saving his restaurant's mother dough. You can watch it again HERE.

Next up is Josh, and although his components are cooked correctly, it's a ltitle off-balance.

Finally, Lizzie offers her salmon sliders. Her bread looked delicious, but it was just too much for the salmon on it. Because she didn't marinate the salmon in her beet-citrus sauce, the flavor was lost. We'll later learn that she never tried her composed dish. Top Chef Cardinal Sin No. 1! 

Despite Josh's balance issues and Sheldon's creation of a "world of bitterness," ultimately, LIzzie heads home. And in her own words, all I say is "shucks."

Lizzie heads to Last Chance Kitchen in its penultimate episode before the Last Chance Kitchen finale. Good luck, Lizzie!

Until next week, Have a Nosh.

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