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Top Chef: Seattle/Alaska – Ep 14 – Creating the World of Bitterness

Next, they go to the docks to get their fish. Here they are pleased to learn this will not be a crossover with the many extreme fishing programs populating basic cable these days. Papa Smurf grabs some sockeye and some “chum.” I never heard of chum salmon – the only chum I know is the fish parts used to attract more fish while seeking big game. OTV is going to town on his fish and unleashes some salmon roe while slicing away. Seriously, PETA needs to turn away during this sequence.

Tom comes for his walk through, and is dubious of Brooke’s poaching technique. It is never promising when Tom chuckles as he checks out your progress. OTV is infusing his bread into his soup, which is at least different from Brooke and Papa Smurf’s soups. Lizzie is making sandwiches, which pleases Tom that someone is doing a non-soup. As we will see, it doesn’t please him enough. Papa Smurf is making his first ever pea soup. Tom laughs because he’s been having a hankerin’ for some pea soup and salmon. No pressure, P.Smurf.

The judges enter – Monobrow, Tom, Gail, Padma, Sean and Emeril. Also in the house…a family of bears. Tom jokes this is his fan base. I’ll let you Google “Tom Colicchio + Bears.”

Brooke – Sockeye Salmon and Seafood Broth with Mustard Seed Caviar and Dill Sourdough – Tom likes the broth, the acidity and the mustard. Monobrow is not a fan of the presentation. Sean found an edge to it. Gail liked the dill flavoring to the bread.

Papa Smurf – Green Tea and Chive Sourdough with Smoked Salmon and Pea Soup – Padma’s unhappy face is obvious. She has learned she likes green tea and chives…but not together in bread. Emeril wanted more salt. I feel that sentence could have an autolink. Gail’s is raw in the center with a charred flavor. Sean felt Papa Smurf’s aggressive tong serving method was disrespectful to the fish. Um, ok. Reaching a bit there? Monobrow found the flavors to be pretty good.

We also learn that the locals were surprised to be eating the chum. No one in Juneau eats that fish – the use it to feed the dogs. Instantly, Papa Smurf is embarrassed and dogs across the mainland lobby to move to Alaska for better chow.

OTV – Roasted Garlic and Sourdough Soup with Sockeye Salmon and Black Olive Croutons – Monobrow praises the salmon. Tom felt the soup was full of flavor and liked the bread’s inclusion. Emeril liked the concept and the crunch of the croutons. Gail also praised the bread – the soup and croutons were not just simply a slice of bread on the side.

Lizzie – Citrus and Beet Glazed Salmon Slider with Poppy Seed Butter and Pickles – Gail liked the pickle and Monobrow was a big fan of her crust. Tom really wanted to know why she didn’t marinate the fish in the citrus and beet, because that flavor was lost. Emeril commented that the dish may have been too simple for this stage of the competition.

At a very crowded Judges Table, Lizzie gets praise for the bread, but hit for the unseasoned salmon. Padma asks her if she tasted the sandwich, she did not. This brings out the Padma Lakshmi Finger Wag of Shame. No tip of the hat.

Gail tells Papa Smurf this dish was unlike his usual stuff. Padma informs him of the dog chow news. Sean wishes Papa was more careful with the smokiness. Gail loved Brooke’s, even if a bit overcooked. It was bold to cook to order. Josie might still be there if it was her dish. Emeril loved OTV’s bread choices, and Monobrow found the salmon stunning, but the bold flavors muted the fish’s natural flavor. Tom thinks the garlic followed by the poached salmon would have been better.

Brooke wins the challenge and gets a Costa Rica trip to complement her cruise from last week. The elimination comes down to the balance of OTV’s dish, Lizzie’s bland sandwich or the small problems Papa Smurf had with both main components. Monobrow appreciated how Papa “created a world of bitterness.” This is what I call Washington DC social gatherings.

Despite a good dish, Lizzie gets the axe because someone had to. Sorry to see her go – I’ll miss the kick-ass accent.

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