Top Chef: Seattle, Episode 3 Recap

Despite the epic turkey war in honor of Thanksgiving, this was the suckiest episode in the history of Top Chef. My favorite person was sent home, and I’m still upset by last night’s trauma that I might not be able to swallow any stuffing at the two Thanksgiving lunches I’m about to have. Ugh. At least Liz and her friend, Michael (remember him from Beers With Friends?), were there to offer their sympathies over gchat.

Round 1: Dumplings and Quickfire Challenge

Padma and guest judge Dana Cowin, Food and Wine mag’s editor-in-chief, order the remaining cheftestants to make dumplings in one hour. Next to them is a map of 17 dumplings from 17 different countries, each represented by a knife. As soon as Padma grabs Cowin’s hand and runs (smart girl, Padma, smart girl), the chefs dive after the (thankfully fake) knives. Otherwise, this episode would’ve easily turned into The Hunger Games.

Poor Micah didn’t even know that Kazakhstan existed before this. (Michael: “Dude has to make Borat dumplings.”) At least Micah cooks his way into the top three, while Carla makes African fufu dumplings in her own weird Italian way, and Brooke has a wrapper-less dumpling. But the real heartbreaker is when Meek Asian, Kuniko, has nothing to show for her takoyaki. She loses track of time and doesn’t even plate. Bum-mer. Meek Asian – even blindfolded – could’ve easily won this challenge.

Josie wins this round with her Korean mandu dumplings. She gets immunity, which she needs for her terrible turkey later on.

Round 2: Thanksgiving Elimination 

The chefs have to cook a full Thanksgiving meal for the staff of FareStart, an organization that feeds the homeless in Seattle. They split up into the following teams of eight:

Red team (led by Tom C.): Carla, CJ, Bart, Micah, Josh, Lizzie, Stefan, and Eliza
Gray team (led by Emeril): John, Brooke, Sheldon, Tyler, Kuniko, Chrissy, Josie, Danyele, and Kristen

Josie calls this the “Civil War of Thanksgiving” because Tom/red team is doing an Italian-American theme, while Emeril/gray team is sticking with a New Orleans-style Thanksgiving. Wow, what a surprise. Emeril orders Josie to slather heaps of butter into the turkey’s, uh, poopcrack, but Ms. Global Chef screws up the turkey, anyway.

Michael: Did Emeril just say, “Stuff that @$$?”
Carol: Pretty sure he says that to his wife every night, no?
Michael: …
Liz: Hahaha, Carol
Michael: That’s the most confusing way you could have made that joke, Carol


The red team really shines. General Annoying CJ leads his troops to victory, while Italian Mama Carla makes divine carrot soup and yakkity-yaks about her one good hand, feminism in the kitchen, and proceeds to chew everyone’s head off.

Michael: I wouldn’t want to be around Carla when she has an immersion blender
Micheel:  or sharp objects
Michael: or is awake


The gray team is a mess, but Kuniko rises to the occasion and lends everyone a hand. But, really, she is Tesar’s slave and Tesar knows it. “Kuniko is going to help me prep because her dish is very simple and basic,” he says. This sacrifice on Kuniko’s part leads to her downfall. Her potato pave is under seasoned and almost raw because she runs out of time helping everyone else. The judges vote in favor of the red team (Carla wins with her one-handed carrot soup), so gray team is on the chopping block. Oh-so-very-very-very-sadly, Kuniko gets the axe, even though sweat-factory Tyler didn’t make his gumbo right. Groan.

Tesar’s colors really start to show once sweet Kuniko – who I thought might actually beast this season – graciously leaves the show. “I’m one of her greatest fans,” says Tesar, “but you can do potatoes in your sleep.”

Really, Tesar? She helped you win the Space Needle challenge last week and she helped you prep this week. The least you can do is show your thanks on a Thanksgiving episode!


TESAR WATCH (Episode 3)
Number of Times:
Tesar’s glasses are on his face 2
Tesar’s  glasses on his forehead Too many to count.
Tesar speaks into the camera 2
Tesar gets into a fight 2
Tesar says he’s “the most hated chef in Dallas” Surprisingly zero.
Josh or Danyele speak directly into camera ZERO. These Top Chef producers need to know what’s up.


  • Nana

    Are we watching the same show? Kuniko would never survive this show. She might have had good ideas but she had zero execution. Raw potatoes, not a drop on her plate for the quick fire and if it wasn’t for Tesar she wouldn’t have turned out anything for the last episode because she burned the chili oil! This is a competition show and Tesar was right, if you can’t turn out potatoes in 5 hours you don’t belong there!

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