The setting: Georgetown Ballroom
The setting: Georgetown Ballroom
The elimination challenge: It's Restaurant Wars, y'all.
The guest stars: Danny Meyer's the only celebrity chef with a speaking role, but nearly every Seattle chef with a publicist made the event's guest list, including Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell, Jason Franey and Maxime Billet.
The drama: Based on their performances in last week's Bite of Seattle challenge, Kristen and Sheldon are heading up the single-sex teams charged with creating restaurants from the ground up. Kristen's concept is tweaked classical French, while Sheldon's menu is meant to honor his Filipino grandfather.
Sheldon has to contend with Josh's utter unfamiliarity with Filipino food - "not even herbs, man," Sheldon explains to an incredulous Josh - but Kristen's stuck with Josie, who threatens her team's chances from the start. She nearly picks the wrong napkins, refuses to roast bones for her bouillabaisse in advance and gripes about Kristen's insistence on preparing dishes to order. "My idea is not to do everything in a la minute, but I'm a soldier," she tells the fellas.
The triumphs: Sheldon successfully sells the judges on the charms of Filipino cuisine, a style rarely showcased in upscale restaurants. "I'll go out on a limb and say it was the best dish I've had all day," Tom Colicchio declares after eating Sheldon's pork belly adobo. Even Josh's reinterpreted balut, a poached egg with duck confit that bears no flavor resemblance to anything served in the Philippines, is singled out for praise.
Over at Kristen's restaurant, Lizzie and Brooke wow with rabbit charcuterie in rabbit broth and baked gourgeres, but the Toyota Avalon keys go to Sheldon. "I've never worked so hard in my life, and I couldn't be more prouder," he says.
The debacles: Stefan is inexplicably assigned front-of-the-house duties, despite his overwhelming disdain for customers. He spends most of his shift shooing out guests enjoying their drinks and ignoring the throngs congregating near the front door, but once he makes room for the judges, he stuns them with his rudeness.
Asked to describe a dish delivered without explanation, he barks back gibberish that's either meant to insult the judges or the Filipino people. Or both. "Stefan let his chef down," Meyer says. But he's saved by good cooking: With Sheldon's restaurant winning the War, Stefan can't be sent home. "Stefan, you are very lucky," Padma tells him.
The losers: Josie's bouillabaisse is a disaster: "My scallop was practically raw and my halibut was overcooked," Emeril Lagasse complains. Worse yet, there's so little sauce accompanying the seafood that Colicchio wonders if it should have been served in a smaller bowl. "Something happened back there," he says.
So who's to blame? Josie says Kristen. Kristen agrees, saying she bore responsibility as executive chef to make sure the dish complied with her vision. The judges make it unanimous, shipping off Kristen to Last Chance Kitchen.
"I knew it," former contestant Dale Talde says upon learning the result on Watch What Happens Live, the loungy interview show that follows Top Chef. "She was reaching. When you try to prove yourself, that's when it all goes bad."
The future: Josh honors his Oklahoma roots by frying bacon for sushi, and the cheftestants fry chicken for David Chang.