Does Brooke get seasick, or something?

Wow, Stefan was a cutie when he was younger and had hair.

Ah, Brooke has a boat phobia. Ugh, those are not easy to overcome.

It’s Curtis Stone! Yay! I’ve noticed he doesn’t appear to be the chef on The Biggest Loser any more. The Quickfire is highlighting iceberg lettuce in one bite? Ouch. That’s not going to be easy. Really? You can caramelize it? Ohhhkay. Not something I’m planning on trying soon.

Trust Brooke to go down the Top Scallop route. Lizzie’s having oven problems. From their dish descriptions, Sheldon and Stefan should do well.  Wow, Stefan has to be almost literally on top of everyone, doesn’t he? What’s up with that?

No, Josh, I’m not surprised, and a wet salad sounds disgusting. But I think Sheldon’s idea is a winner. Lizzie’s planning on using the lettuce as a carrier is a bad idea. I know this isn’t Iron Chef America, but the idea is still to make the ingredient the star of the dish. I’m pretty sure that’s the idea in all the chef shows, actually.

So, Stefan’s dish appears to have gone over well. Braised iceberg lettuce, pastrami, fingerling potato and blue cheese sauce. They tell him he did a good job keeping the texture of the lettuce when he cooked it.

Sheldon’s got a lot going on in his. Vietnamese lettuce wrap with pork, shrimp, and pickled iceberg hearts. They said it was creative with complex flavor and good texture. I bet he wins.

I don’t think they liked Lizzie’s iceberg salad with crispy bacon, shallots, and anchovy vinaigrette. It also seemed a little big for what is technically supposed to be an amuse bouche. Hmm. I think Josh’s play on a wedge salad might’ve been a good idea. Iceberg roll with apple cider vinaigrette, bacon jam, and blue cheese. Yeah, they said Lizzie’s was too big. And Josh played it safe, yeah, that makes sense. Elevating a classic dish also makes sense.

Brooke made an iceberg wrap with bacon, scallop, caramelized onion and crispy quinoa.  It seems to go over well, but again, it’s more like two bites than one.  At least the scallop was cooked well and the bacon went well with it, and the quinoa provided crunch and texture, but it was hard to eat. And Sheldon wins!

As they continue their cruise, I’m enjoying the glimpses of the Inside Passage. This was shot some time in late September, I’m guessing, from the amount of termination dust on the mountains.  I mean, I knew it wasn’t Thanksgiving way back when that episode aired, but fresh oysters aren’t supposed to be eaten during the summer, either, so I wasn’t sure when they began. I’m pretty sure that the competition is every day for them, but I don’t think it’s been that long since that episode.  It might be October, though.

So, Sheldon and Lizzie get manicures while the rest drink. Which results in the standard behavior: Stefan overshares and Josh is an ass. If you can’t handle it, don’t dish it out. Then they go to lunch at the restaurant their Elimination Challenge will be in. Aha, Stefan has OCD. That explains a lot.  They’ll be doing dinner service: a twist on surf and turf. Interesting. You know scallops will be in there somewhere. Sheldon’s advantage is first pick of proteins, and then only he can use them. Nice! He seems to be having trouble making up his mind, but finally picks beef tenderloin and lobster.  That’s rather standard.

Stefan picks pork belly and eel.  Josh also picks pork belly, along with scallops, and bacon. Lizzie asks Josh for half the scallops and goes with suckling pig. Brooke, for reasons totally beyond me, picks frog legs and mussels. Frog legs make me think water, not land. But I guess they’re supposed to taste like chicken, so maybe that counts.

Ah, and they have to deal with some funky looking serving dishes.

Josh is making scallops into pasta for carbonara? Sure. And has no clue how to do it. Well, I guess that’s original, for an Okie boy. From the preview clips, it’s not going to go well.  Stefan’s going for ravioli with eel and beer-braised pork belly.  Brooke’s dish is deboned frog legs, because even though they’re smaller than pork belly, she doesn’t have time to braise them, and I don’t think she hears the insincerity in Josh’s voice when he tells her he thinks it’s a good idea. I mean, really, chefs have been yelled at for deboning chicken wings — they’re too small! And frog legs are smaller still. Sigh. You know, one thing I want to add here, they’re all taking risks.  Except maybe for Sheldon, who’s worried he’s not thinking outside the box enough.

As shown in the “coming up”s, Josh’s scallop gel pasta didn’t set well enough, so he’s back to breakfast and scrambling them instead.  The guest judges include the head chef, the hotel director and the cruise director of the cruise line. As various TWOP recappers have said, they’re not paying me for advertising, so why should I say who they are?  Tom and Padma are joined by Curtis and Hugh Acheson.

Brooke’s up first.  Her dish appears on the screen as mussels and frog legs with celery root and fennel puree, papadums, and shallot chutney. Fennel’s about as ubiquitous as Tom Colicchio, and a quick Google search tells me papadum is a round, cracker like flatbread served in Indian restaurants. Funny, I thought that was naan.  The judges like it; she added beet juice to the frog legs and evidently made them earthier. I think she got points off for the papadum being greasy, but that’s pretty minor overall.

Stefan’s next. He’s serving braised pork belly with beer sauce, parsnip and eel ravioli. That does not sound good. The judges comment on the greasy sauce right away, and the crunch on the pork belly appears to have caused Tom to lose a tooth. Not a good idea at this stage of the game. Curtis likes it, and I presume the cruise director with the British accent does, too, since it appears to be a cultural thing. Too bad it’s lost on all the other judges.

Josh’s scrambled scallops are up next, and he admits his problems to the judges. I think if it were me, I’d pretend I’d planned to serve it the way it came out all along. He added braised pork belly and bacon.  I wonder if the judges are tired of breakfast yet? I guess not, it looks like it’s a hit, and he gets commended for the save on the scallops and for thinking outside the box.

Sheldon’s having flashbacks to the roller derby with his tempura. Uh oh. That could cost him the challenge.  He’s presenting a Korean BBQ filet mignon, tempura lobster, sesame cabbabe, kimchi, and teriyaki sauce. The cabbage sounds good; sesame seeds and oil are good with Brussels sprouts, and those are in the same family. Yeah, he also made some kind of sauce that wasn’t what he described, and the tempura’s both soggy and cold. Unless Lizzie really screws up, and she’s having equipment problems again.  She may be presenting not quite done cabbage rolls.  And since they’re stuffed with suckling pig, that could be a problem.  She serves the scallops with a mustard sour cream. Since I don’t like mustard, that doesn’t sound very good to me, but I bet the judges are going to love it.  Hmm. Looks like I’m wrong, they say the scallops are overwhelmed.  But is it enough to save Sheldon? Is there still going to be a battle on Last Chance Kitchen? I don’t remember when they brought them back last year.

Drawing conclusions from what the guest judges are discussing, it doesn’t sound like Sheldon’s going to be safe.  The dishes were too much traditional surf and turf, and had too much wrong with them. I don’t think he thought outside the box at all. And I think Josh is heading for another win; the other three seem to have had both good and bad comments directed to them.  Well! Did not see Brooke winning. Cool. And she gets a real cruise as a prize. Heh. Hope she gets over her phobia soon.  Looks like Stefan’s crunchy pork belly was worse than Lizzie’s underdone cabbage rolls (I guess she must’ve cooked the pork before stuffing them.), but when I was keeping track of good vs. bad comments pre judges’ table, there weren’t any positive comments made about Sheldon’s dish, so I think he’s done. Yes! It’s Stefan! Not that I want him to go, either, I wish it were Josh, but better him than Sheldon. I want to see Sheldon go head-to-head with Kristen in the finale. I wonder when they’ll bring the LCK winner back, and what effect (if any) all of this tweeting will have?

And next week, looks like they’ll be in my hometown of Juneau, Alaska.

Yeah, even without the sign, the shot of the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska’s real drive-in glacier would’ve clued me in. Nor did I need the sign shown in the previews for next week to know that the LCK is being held at the site of the Gold Creek Salmon Bake. Which is much better than the one at Thane Orehouse, IMO.

Stefan guesses that Kristen is the LCK champ, and if not her, Bart.  Well, if it hadn’t been her, it would’ve been CJ. But it’s Kristen. And Tom notes that Stefan’s been in the bottom four out of twelve times, so they get to cook with offal.  (Tom pronounces it oh-fall, BTW. I’ve always heard it pronounced to rhyme with awful.)

Kristen grabs the chicken liver on her way to her station while Stefan’s busy gathering pans and things.  Mr Germany has a plan for a dish that actually uses all of these ingredients: tripe, tongue, and beef liver.  I think there’s something else in there, too.  Much is made out of Stefan and Kristen’s supposed showmance, because really, how else are you going to kill ten minutes of Internet video time?  The peanut gallery has been left Stateside, so it’s up to Tom to find out what each chef is making.

Kristen makes chicken livers with garlic and mustard caramel, pickled fruit and herb salad. Tom says it’s balanced well.

Stefan went to southern Germany and made Beuscherl of innards with cream sauce, bread galette, liver and parsley salad. When I see this list, I panic a bit because it seems like since he used more of the ingredients, it might make a better dish if he was able to produce the flavors he wanted in 30 minutes. Tom calls it interesting.

Of course, I actually forgot this is preplanned, and Tom goes with the dish that had more balance, which was Kristen’s. And then he says he’ll see her next week, so she’s got at least one more battle to go. I wonder if it’ll also take place there, or if it’ll be at their next stop, wherever that is?

I’m very much looking forward to a vicarious home visit!

Nina Lisa