'Top Chef Seattle' recap, episode 12, Wolfgang Clucks

Elizabeth, with chicken.

Sheldon is thrilled with his back-to-back wins and that he is "one step closer for a better future for myself and a brighter future for my family."

Josie, on the other hand, is wiping away tears as she justifies her throwing-Kristen-under-the-bus actions to a silent Lizzie.


"I don't care what anyone thinks," she stammers. If you don't care what anyone thinks, then why are you crying?

Heading into the kitchen, Padma introduces Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi. The challenge is to impress him with a sushi dish -- he urges the cheftestants to keep it simple. Padma clarifies that there is no more immunity from here on out, but that the winner will get $5,000.


The chefs get to work. I notice the rice they are using is already cooked, which although this is a quickfire, I feel is giving them way too much help. In Japan, chefs have five years of training before they're even allowed to cook the sushi rice. This feels like a gimme.

Josh announces that sushi is "not something I crave, like, I don't know ... bacon." Thus his dish is incorporating a tempura fried bacon piece and scrambled eggs. Stefan is horrified over Josh's "breakfast omelet." Stefan is really hungry for a victory as he has not won a single challenge yet.

Chef Katsuya is not thrilled with Lizzie's cold, chewy tempura and Josh's greasy bacon. He is impressed with Brooke's clean, elegant octopus (and even offered her tips on how to cut it more thinly) as well as Stefan's yellowtail shitaki combo. Stefan is announced the winner, which he says only took him 27 challenges to achieve.

Moving on the elimination, Padma brings in Chef David Chang of Momofuko, and Tom Colicchio. Tom explains that along with David Chang, he's got several high profile chefs visiting him and that the contestants will be cooking dinner for them tonight.

Tom says he's in the mood for fried chicken. Josh is exuberant -- finally a challenge that was made for him and his triple bypass-favoring cuisine.

The winner of this challenge will receive a year's supply of Terlato wine. Stefan sheepishly admits that 365 bottles will last him about three months. I did not expect it, but for some reason Stefan's genuine sadness over Kristen leaving, pride over his sushi win, and that hilarious comment are making me almost like him.

Josh and Josie both claim to have an advantage as they're from the South, although Josh questions whether South Florida "counts" and that Josie doesn't know what she's doing. Brooke is very uneasy about this, and as she's prepping Josh notes she's skinning the breasts and declares "I just threw up in my mouth a little."

The gang piles into their Toyota Highlanders (there can be only one) and head to Tom's rental. As he's emptying gallons of oil into the fryers Sheldon hollers, "Pouring 'em out for my homies!" and I love him forever.


The judges take a seat. Padma and Tom are joined by Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, David Chang, Michelle Bernstein, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo. Michelle says she feels sorry for the contestants as each of the judges have very strong opinions on how fried chicken should be prepared.

Brooke is in the weeds. She doesn't have enough oil to do her chicken skin not attached to the chicken as she'd planned, and is left with a "boring chicken breast." One of Josie's fryers is not heating up and Lizzie graciously offers up one of hers.

Jon and Vinny are hilarious as judges.

"Time out!" Vinny yells after tasting Lizzie's cutlet. "People were given whole chickens and [she] only gave us the breast? That's just wrong!"

Jon admonishes Josie for pitching her dish as "Southern Style" when it's served on a banana leaf. Jon says in the South she would have been run out of town for such behavior. Michelle Bernstein, who was guest judge the last time Josie was sent home, couldn't bring herself to continue eating Josie's chicken: "I had to put it down. I just ... I can't."

Sheldon's dish wins high marks, the only criticism being from Wolfgang who is irritated that Tom and Emeril ate more than their fair share so he didn't get enough.


Padma asks Brooke if she remembers Jon and Vinny, who apparently interviewed for jobs with her years ago and she didn't hire them. She's mortified, as they are now among the most well-known chefs in the country. "I'm having a really bad day," she admits.

The judges are getting really chatty as the wine bottles continue to empty. Wolfgang has Tom in hysterics as he berates Brooke's boneless chicken, asking if they are on "Top Chef" or "The Apprentice."

They all are impressed with Josh's smoked/fried combo but Stefan's cordon blue has given Emeril "the chicken cordon blues."

Vinnie agrees, "You're given another chance and you serve f------ chicken cordon blue?!"

The gang is forced to wait until tomorrow morning for judges table -- no surprise, as the judges seemed terrifically hammered by the end of their meal.

Back in the stew room, a refreshed Padma calls back Josh, Sheldon and Lizzie. Lizzie seems surprised to be in the top three. Tom praises her for her cabbage salad and while the chicken was not a straightforward interpretation, Wolfgang gives her high marks for her crispy dish. David Chang and Emeril were most impressed with Josh's chicken, which was made way his grandfather did it, by dredging the chicken a brown paper bag.


Sheldon's sweet and savory offering gets huge praise from the judges, save Tom complaining that he ordered a 16-piece bucket but only got 10 pieces.

David Chang announces the winner -- no surprise -- Josh. His smoked fried chicken with hot sauce & blue cheese had the most "lip smacking goodness" and he takes home 365 bottles of Terlato wine.

Brooke, Josie, and Stefan head back to get the bad news. Brooke is criticized for taking her chicken of the bone, she agrees with judges and admits this was not her challenge, that she "got into her own head" and was brought down by her own over-thinking.

Josie's excuse for her grease-laden chicken was that she ran out of time. "An hour to fry chicken is plenty of time," Tom snaps back. "I had a piece and it was delicious and everyone who tasted it thought it was delicious, so ...," she offers.

Tom shrugs, and says "I guess Dave and Wolf and Emeril and Johnny and Vinny and Michelle and Padma and me, we don't [have] any idea what we're talking about." Oh, BURN.

Stefan's explanation for his dish is that he grew up in Europe and that they don't have fried chicken there like we do. Tom asks Wolfgang where he grew up.


"In Austria," Wolfgang says, "where one of our most famous dishes is fried chicken!"

Stefan counters that he wanted to put his European twist on fried chicken.

"Chicken cordon blue is not a 'twist,'" Tom says. "It's something you get at bad banquets."

Tom seems to be in an especially eviscerating mood this judges' table. It's wickedly fun to watch.

As the three chefs leave, Padma shakes her head and remarks of Stefan, "Such a bull----ter. SUCH a bull----ter!"

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The judges debate who had the worst fried chicken. Tom says he would rather eat Brooke's dry overcooked breasts than Josie's greasy chicken. Padma says she can't even remember the last time she had cordon blue.


"I can," Emeril admits. "It was two flights ago."

Padma asks Josie to please pack her knives and go. Kristen, you are AVENGED!

Stefan reaches out to hug her and in the most awkward moment I've seen this season, Josie shirks and high fives him instead. She then turns to actually hug Brooke who is turned, saying goodbye to the judges and thus Josie is left hugless, giggling uncomfortably as she steps away.

Josie's thoughtful, reflective exit interview: "Whatever, man. It's kind of stupid."

Josh sums it up for all of us: "Thank god the Josie show has been cancelled."

Next week: The final five take a party boat to Alaska, and someone will walk the plank.