Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Dallas chef Josh Valentine struggles on Top Chef a week before the finale
But does he do enough to stick around for one more week?
From the beginning of Wednesday night’s episode of Top Chef, Dallas chef Josh Valentine seemed doomed to go home. Of the three chefs left – he joined Brooke Williamson and Sheldon Simeon – Josh has done just enough not to be voted off but has failed to wow the judges on many occasions.
Josh began the quickfire challenge by making breakfast. Again. The challenge was to use only the ingredients the chefs could find at a camp in Alaska where dogs are trained for the Iditarod.
When Josh mentioned he’d be making breakfast, Brooke acted as though he was kidding. It didn’t seem feasible that he’d take that cop-out theme again. “Josh is making breakfast, which seems to be the only thing that he can cook,” Brooke said, joking-but-not-really. Brooke and Sheldon both made halibut, and Brooke’s was chosen as the winning dish.
After the quickfire, Josh was given another reason to go home when his wife called to say she was going into labor. Josh talked to her off-and-on until their daughter, Georgia, was born the night before the elimination challenge.
New dad Josh and his two competitors were asked to make one of the biggest meals of their lives for the elimination challenge, a dish that represents the moment they knew they wanted to be a chef. The meals were cooked at the home of Sean Parnell and his wife Sandy, Alaska governor and first lady.
Sheldon made pan-roasted rockfish, spot prawns, baby vegetables, and dashi. The table agreed the fish was beautifully cooked but the broth was overly salty.
Brooke’s elimination challenge dish seemed like it had the least potential to be successful. She made braised chicken and grilled quail with carrot barley and pickled vegetables. She meant to pay homage to her mom, who cooked a lot of chicken, and then added the quail to show how she’s evolved into a more sophisticated chef. The judges enjoyed it, and guest judge Roy Choi – a friend of Brooke’s – further defended her to say the dish was “Brooke on a plate.” He also called her a “prodigy” in LA as a young chef.
Josh’s dish was served last: foie gras three ways: torchon, pan-seared, and profiterole. The dish was surprisingly sophisticated with an exciting presentation – just what Josh needed after making breakfast for dinner. Judges liked his idea but said it wasn’t perfectly executed. The foie gras torchon should take days to make, and he stuffed it into a few hours. Instead of being praised for his effort, head judge Tom Colicchio questioned why he tried to execute a dish that couldn’t be done in that time frame.
Brooke won the elimination challenge. Given her success so far, a finale this season without Brooke would be unthinkable. We braced for an end-of-the-episode twist – with judges sending better chef Sheldon home instead of Josh – but it didn’t happen. Josh was chosen as the weaker chef and was sent home to his wife and new baby.
The winner of Last Chance Kitchen (which you can watch on bravotv.com) will join Sheldon and Brooke in the finale in Los Angeles next week. Josh was part of that competition, but he lost to Lizzie Binder and Kristen Kish, two of the season’s best chefs. Only one will join the finale, and the network isn’t revealing whether that spot is filled by Lizzie or Kristen.
We have a clear favorite. Who is yours?