The setting: A glacier-top dog sled camp, followed>"/>
The setting: A glacier-top dog sled camp, followed by the Alaska Governor's Mansion
The elimination challenge: Create an homage to the dish that inspired your journey to chefdom.
The guest stars: Food truck legend Roy Choi and Alaska's first couple, Sean and Sandra Parnell.
The drama: Josh's wife is on the brink of giving birth at the episode's outset; She conveniently delivers their daughter during the nighttime break between prep and service.
The triumphs: Josh becomes a father, but Brooke becomes the chef to beat in the finale. After conquering her claustrophobia, acrophobia and fear of flying to helicopter to a secluded dog sled camp so stunning that Sheldon "was dying for some good reefer," she claims a Quickfire win by producing a pan-roasted halibut with panzanella salad, walnuts and red currant-and-beet vinaigrette in the camp's spartan kitchen.
Brooke repeats the feat in the elimination challenge, with the judges unanimously choosing her tribute to her mother's cooking as the standout dish. Choi, who knows Brooke from Los Angeles, admiringly likens the chicken-and-quail preparation to origami.
The debacles: Tom Colicchio has tasted his share of overdone seafood in Top Chef's final rounds, so he advises Sheldon to time his cooking carefully. But his words haunt Sheldon, who's so obsessed with putting off plating that he allows his dashi to reduce for too long.
"You took care of the fish and shrimp like you were the best chef in the world," praises Wolfgang Puck - but judges agree the surrounding broth was much too salty. "It's crazy to me, a young chef comes this far, and doesn't taste his food," Puck adds.
The losers: Josh's weight-making regimen as a high-school wrestler apparently involved sitting in the sauna, pedaling an exercise bike and reading Food & Wine stories about foie gras. He decides to serve foie gras three ways, including as a torchon, a preparation that typically takes days to set properly.
"You can't make a torchon in one day," scolds Colicchio, who agrees with Emeril Lagasse that Josh should have stuck with one preparation. "I felt like he was trying to impress us," Choi says. But his efforts succeeded only in sending him to Last Chance Kitchen.
The future: Brooke, Sheldon and either Lizzie or Kristen, the final two chefs standing in the Last Chance Kitchen, head to Los Angeles for the finale, set to unfold over two episodes.