"Top Chef" contestant Stefan Richter. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
Wednesday night's super-sized episode of "Top Chef" let viewers and the contestants have a little fun on an Alaskan cruise. The remaining chefs packed their bags -- Stefan Richter packed what he calls his party pants -- and they boarded a cruise ship with chef Curtis Stone as a guest judge.
The chefs were asked to make 200 portions of a dish featuring iceberg lettuce for a party for the Quickfire Challenge. Sheldon Simeon won with yet another Asian dish. This time he did a Vietnamese lettuce wrap with pork and shrimp and pickled lettuce cores. It did look good, but I thought Stefan Richter's braised, brined lettuce with pastrami and fingerling potatoes looked equally worthy of a win.
Instead of jumping straight to the elimination challenge, Padma Lakshmi and Stone let the chefs loose on the ship for some free time and a nice dinner. While L.A. girl Brooke Williamson, Richter and Josh "The Stache" Valentine grabbed some beers, Simeon and Elizabeth Binder hit the spa for some manicures. Watching Simeon get a manicure was way too cute. More guys should do it!
For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs were tasked with taking the classic surf and turf and turning it on its head. Simeon, who won the Quickfire was allowed to pick his proteins first. And what does he pick? Filet mignon and lobster. Um, pretty sure that's what regular surf and turf is. Do better, man! The other chefs were a little more outside the box, especially Williamson, who won with her frog legs and mussels. Instead of cash, she won a seven-night Caribbean vacation cruise.
Simeon's soggy lobster tempura and Richter's overly crisp pork skin and parsnip and eel ravioli landed them in the bottom two. Honestly I thought Simeon making soggy tempura for a second time during the competition was grounds to send him home, but Lakshmi told Richter to pack his knives and go.
Curtis Stone. Every second he was on camera. Dear Top Chef, please make Curtis Stone a regular on the show. His voice is like warm honey on a piece of crisp bacon and I simply can't get enough of him. Thank you.
Binder breaking down an entire pig. She went all Hannibal Lecter on that carcass. Very impressive, Lizzy!
Richter's old photos and him repeatedly pronouncing "pahty peents." Stefan! We'll miss your party pants!
'Top Chef' recap: Ding dong, Josie's gone!
'Rachael vs. Guy' recap: Daddy Dean McDermott is really a wizard
'The Taste' recap: Those auditions desperately needed seasoning
Follow Jenn Harris on Twitter or Google+