From left, "Top Chef" contestants Sheldon Simeon, Brooke Williamson… (Bravo.com )
It was "Top Chef" extreme chef edition on Wednesday night's episode. There was a helicopter ride, racing around in the snow, dog-sledding and a baby was born!
To start the quick-fire challenge, Sheldon Simeon, Josh Valentine (aka "The Stache") and L.A. girl Brooke Williamson boarded a helicopter en route to a dog sledding training camp. Williamson, who admitted she is afraid of heights and tight spaces, cried during the ride but eventually lightened up once she realized she was in a helicopter ... in Alaska ... on "Top Chef"! Coolest experience ever? Probably!
Once the chefs arrived at their destination they were greeted by Padma Lakshmi in a huge brown fur-lined poncho and Tom Colicchio and his soul patch. Colicchio did add some hipster-round Ray Bans, so the look worked for him that day.
The chefs cooked a meal for the people training at the camp using only the existing ingredients and appliances on location. Simeon did a pan-roasted halibut with tomato sauce, "The Stache" did a cornmeal cake breakfast, but Williamson won with a pan-roasted halibut, panzanella salad with red currant and beet vinaigrette. I think that's her gazillionth challenge win. Go Brooke!
After the challenge, the chefs took an awkward ride with Lakshmi at the wheel. The three chefs were squeezed in the back seat while Lakshmi drove them to lunch like a proud mom. When they arrived at their destination they found food truck king Roy Choi and Emeril Lagasse cooking in the kitchen. The pair made the chefs lunch and talked about the moment they knew they were destined to become chefs, leading Lakshmi to announce the elimination challenge: Make a dish that represents the moment you knew you wanted to be a chef and serve the governor of Alaska, Sean Parnell, and his first lady, Sandy.
Williamson made a braised chicken with crispy skin, grilled quail, "carrot barley" and pickled vegetables, inspired by her mother's home-cooked meals. The judges unanimously agreed she was the winner, to which she commented "Holy crap, this is absolutely fantastic!" This is why I love this girl. She is so humble and so ridiculously talented. She needs to win next week!
Simeon, predictably made a stew with rockfish, spot prawns, vegetables and dashi, inspired by a dish he saw Sam Choy make in Hawaii. He ended up over-seasoning his broth, a rookie mistake. That's my problem with Simeon. He's wicked talented but overlooks and messes up things he should nail like making soggy tempura, twice, and over-seasoning his dish!
"The Stache" went outside of his comfort zone and made foie gras three ways. I would have thought he'd have bacon in there somewhere, but instead he made a dish that reminded him of how reading about and trying foie gras made him want to be a chef. I was impressed with his range of skill, but it was clear he reached too far and Lakshmi told him to pack his knives and go. He did get to go home to his new baby Georgia, who was born during the filming of the episode. Congrats Stache!
'The Taste' recap: The chefs whine and dine
'Rachael vs. Guy' finale recap: Dean McDermott wins!
'Top Chef' recap: Good ol' salmon bake for Brooke Williamson
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