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Top Chef Recap: It's Not Over Til It's Over

Well, hell.

Top Chef [Official Site]

On last night's episode of Top Chef, the contestants head back to Los Angeles, which is annoying because, hey, this is supposed to be a road trip through California. But we digress.

In the Quickfire challenge, the 10 remaining chefs must make a dish in 20 minutes. Each chef has 20 seconds to pick an item from the pantry, and everyone cooking must create a dish using only those 10 ingredients. It's a great opportunity to really mess up your competitors, which seems to be Jason's aim. He chooses celery, and everyone groans.

"You can cook with it, you can use it raw, you can use the leaves as an herbaceous element," he says.

Still, he doesn't win the challenge; the victory goes to Jeremy for his shaved beef tataki with mushroom and crispy garlic vinaigrette.

Next, of course, is the Elimination Challenge. The chefs are tasked with cooking a dish that represents who they were 10 years ago, a nod to the fact that this is Top Chef's tenth anniversary.

Jason decides to make a trout dish reminiscent of the one at Cafe Juanita when he was a manager there. "Cafe Juanita had this signature trout dish, one of the most difficult dishes to cook in the whole restaurant. I was turning into this crazy raging bitch who just yelled at everybody expecting perfection. I realized, you don’t need to be an asshole to everybody," he says.

Ugh, here we go. At judging, Jason's poached trout with toasted beets and spring vegetable salad is found to be under-seasoned, despite perfectly cooked trout. Overall, it just doesn't come together. Jason agrees the dish is a failure and he's up for elimination along with Kwame and Phillip.

"Obviously the question of seasoning is huge and kind of unforgivable," Jason says.

"Jason, what’s going on? You seem to be really tight. It almost seems like there's no joy in it for you right now," Tom says.

Similar to what he said last week, Jason answers:

I think it's just something that I just need to have more courage. I feel like I actually haven't been myself. Two months before the competition, I left my restaurants because I was coming to this point where I felt like things were changing and I wasn't finding that joy anymore.

Despite sympathy from Tom, Padma says the fatal words: "Jason, please pack your knives and go."

Oh, sadness. We're left with some nice parting words from Jason.

It's hard when you just make an elemental error. I would definitely chew out one of my cooks if they seasoned food the way I seasoned it today.

I've always believed and this show has taught me that we're constantly in flux, we're constantly moving from one place to another. I definitely feel like I'm in that period of transition. I think some people are sometimes afraid of change but it really has shown me that change can be exciting. I've overcome some big stuff in my life and my journey to become a chef was definitely one where it was a lot of learning, a lot of mistakes. But usually that hard experience makes you a much more vibrant, vivid, and interesting person.

In the case of Jason Stratton, we wholeheartedly agree. And it's nice to be sitting here in Seattle, months after this was all filmed, knowing he emerged with a great gig with the Mamnoon family of restaurants and plenty of exciting success ahead.

And while that concludes our coverage of Top Chef, we hope you'll pull for Spokane-born chef Chad White, as well as keep up with coverage of the show on Eater.

Jason now heads to Last Chance Kitchen to try and battle his way back into the competition, so it's not over yet folks. He has an uphill battle, having to beat six eliminated chefs to claw his way back into the competition. If by chance he makes it to the finale, we'll keep you posted.

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