The final episode of Top Chef Seattle is almost here . . . a few more days, and we all find out who will have earned the title of Top Chef Season 10! I’ve been a fan since discovering the show in Season 3 and think this is probably the Best Season Ever, in part because there were so many personable and talented female chefs. Brooke, Kristen, and Lizzie all stood out by mid-season, not just for their talent but for their professionalism and character. My bet back then was already on an all-female finale, and woot! I was right! Kristen Kish and Brooke Williamson battle it out Wednesday, February 27 at 10/9c for the title.
Who will win? Kristen has proven herself to be resilient and intuitive, probably a true genius at innovating a dish. Brooke is talented beyond her years, with an innate sense of taking creative chances that really do pay off in the end. It could honestly go either way, if neither one makes a mistake. Going by the numbers, it seems Kristen has the edge. Brooke won 5 elimination challenges and scored high in an additional 2, but 3 of those wins came after Kristen was gone. Kristen beat Brooke in those challenges where Brooke scored high but didn’t win – episodes 4 and 7 – and beat her in episode 10. Kristen has also been fighting in the Last Chance Kitchen. But intuitively, I think Brooke will take the title. She owns two restaurants and has been cooking longer than Kristen, and I think that gives her the edge. It will definitely be an interesting – and probably nail-biting – episode.
Journey to the finale
The season started off with a bang in the restaurants of judges Tom Colicchio, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, and Hugh Acheson. We’ve grown accustomed to seeing these four as arbitrators of taste, sure, but that in that first episode we got to peek at the masters in their universes. Then the real competition got under way. Here’s a quick summary of the episodes:
- Ep 2: A Shock at the Space Needle – Former contestants CJ, Josie, and Stefan return to Top Chef as Quickfire judges and remain to compete for the title.
- Ep 3: Turkeypocalypse – Team Tom vs Team Emeril’s Thanksgiving battle.
- Ep 4: ’50s Food Flashback – Recreating the original Canlis menu.
- Ep 5: Pike Place Pickle – The chefs struggle with unusual ingredients in the Pike Place Market.
- Ep 6: Even the Famous Come Home – They cook for Anna Faris and Chris Pratt’s homecoming party
- Episode 7: Foiled Again – Everything is wrapped in aluminum foil
- Ep 8: Jalapeno Business – They forage for oysters and cook for Seattle’s Roller Derby queens
- Ep 9: Past Suppers – The chefs recreate past Top Chef moments.
- Ep 10: Battle Before the War – They cook for 200 guests at the Bite of Seattle.
- Ep 11: Restaurant Wars -Where Kristen was heartbreakingly and unfairly eliminated.Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Bravo.
- Ep 12: Wolfgang Clucks – Sushi and fried chicken only pair well on Top Chef. Josie is sent home.
- Ep 13: Chefs at Sea – the final four set sail, and Sheldon gets a manicure. Stefan was sent packing.
- Ep 14: Kings of Alaska – the salmon and sourdough challenge that sent Lizzie home.
- Ep 15: Glacial Gourmand – an epic day of helicopter rides, dog sled rides, and cooking. Josh’s wife had their baby, and he was sent home.
- Ep 16: Finale Part 1 – the final three cook at Tom’s restaurant craft, and Sheldon is sent home.
The journey to the finale is paved with deliciousness. It’s Top Chef, after all, not – I don’t know – Top Model or The Taste. Can you choose your favorite dish or two? Not me. Sixteen episodes of really creative, innovative, delicious-sounding meals? So I’ve chosen a few dishes to put together my ideal Top Chef menus:
A summer evening picnic
- Iceberg salad with crispy bacon, shallots, and anchovy vinaigrette (Lizzie Binder, Episode 13, Quickfire)
- Smoked fried chicken with hot sauce and blue cheese (Joshua Valentine, Episode 12, Elimination challenge winning dish)
A weekday dinner with the boss
- Carrot soup with turkey meatballs (Carla Pellegrino, Episode 3, Elimination challenge winning dish)
- Grilled hangar steak with smoked onion figs and cauliflower puree (Brooke Williamson, Episode 4, Quickfire)
Sunday brunch with the in-laws
- Crab frittata with cherry tomato, garlic oil, and fried capers (Lizzie Binder, Episode 14, Quickfire)
- Apple crostata with cheddar cheese, candied pine nuts, and apple salad (Brooke Williamson, Episode 6, Quickfire)
Looking back over the season taste-wise, I’ve heavily favored the current front-running female chefs! Coincidence? Definitely not!
I won’t say the drama this season was unmatched, but the quotes certainly are. Stefan is always good for something colorful and often a bit salacious, but who would have ever guessed we’d hear some of these things said on national TV?
- “I’m not finished. Can you please listen up?” – Padma to John Tesar, Episode 2, as he whispered to Kuniko Yagi as she tried to give Quickfire instructions.
- “Geoduck is great! Except it looks like a penis. A really big one.” – Kristen Kish on geoduck.
- “What you did yesterday doesn’t do anything for you today. Every day’s a new challenge. Ride on and rock on, rock stars.” – Josie Smith-Malave’s advice on competing on Top Chef
- “I am a chef, but I am also a woman. When I’m cooking, I like to look good. I want to be a James Beard and I want to have a nice ass.” – Carla Pellegrino on her goals in life
- “It’s like you’re a zebra, you’re wounded, and you’re walking around Africa…This is nauseating. It’s like vomiting. It’s like giving birth.” – Stefan on standing before the judge’s table
- And this heated exchange between Joshua Valentine and John Tesar:
Valentine: Don’t f*&#ing say another word to me. There’s a reason you’re the most hated chef in Dallas. You’re a prick.
Tesar: I’m not a prick. I’m truthful.
- “All you can really do is hope for the best – unless you’re Superman and can see through foil.” – Micah Fields on the Reynolds Wrap Quickfire challenge
- “Is she high?” – Gail Simmons whispering to Tom Colicchio after watching Josie’s exuberant Episode 7 performance.
- “I wouldn’t even flush my poop with it, that’s how bad it is.” – Stefan Richter, on John Tesar’s chorizo gazpacho.
- “I love sushi, I’ve gone so far as to have sushi parties where we served sushi on naked women.” – Josie Smith-Malave
Most of all, by the time we get to the last half dozen, we are getting to know the cheftestants so well it’s bittersweet to see the last finalists going home and the season wrapping up. Yes, that means you, Lizzie, and even you, Stefan. I loved hearing about Stefan’s childhood, and of Brooke conquering her fears to set a positive example for her son, and witnessing Josh’s sadness at not witnessing the birth of his new baby. A few other challenges and people that stuck with me –
- The Canlis brothers talking about Pan Am stewardesses smuggling mahi mahi in to the mainland.
- The aluminum foil Quickfire was fun to watch – most of the chefs were having a good time with that.
- LOVED the derby girls.
- Anna Faris and Chris Pratt were charming and funny
- The Pike Place Pickle episode just stumped me – it may have been my favorite but most perplexing episode. Some of those ingredients were SO HARD to work with!
- I ADORED seeing the Alaskan scenery.
I’ve been snooping around the “interwebs” to dig up a bit of Top Chef trivia for you. Did you know . . .
- Top Chef has been adapted in eight other countries: Arab World, Canada, Finland, France/Belgium, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, and Romania.
- Top Chef won the 2010 Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
- Padma Lakshmi speaks five languages: English, Tamil, Hindi, Italian, and Spanish
- Padma and Kristen Kish both worked as models
- Tom Colicchio saved the life of cookbook author Joan Nathan at a Washington D.C. charity event.
- Because lack of gravity dulls the sense of taste, five of Emeril Lagasse’s spicy recipes were chosen for astronaut meals aboard the International Space Station.
- Hugh Acheson was a contestant on Top Chef Masters Season 3, eliminated early in the competition and then brought back in when another chef dropped out. He was invited to join Top Chef as a judge shortly afterward.
- Wolfgang Puck guest starred on a 1992 episode of “Tales From the Crypt.”
- Brooke Williamson was a rising culinary star already at the age of 20 and is the youngest chef ever to cook at the James Beard House.
- Josh Valentine is the only Top Chef contestant from Oklahoma, ever.
- Bart Vandaele is a Belgian knight.
- Stefan Richter earned a Master’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and Culinary Arts from Fachhochschule Würzburg-Schweinfurt.
Be sure to watch the finale Wednesday, February 27 at 10/9c!
And if you can’t get enough of the Top Chefs, don’t forget about the Top Chef Cruise:
Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Bravo.