Top Chef
Battle Before the War

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Thai German? Really?

It's Sheldon's birthday! He's 30! He calls home and talks to his family, which is usually the kiss of death, along with the birthday curse. Now I'm really worried for Sheldon.

Everyone shows up at Bite of Seattle and starts setting up with the help of the sous chefs. Josh interviews that if he wins the money, he's going to take his wife on a trip to New Orleans. Kumiko comments that Micah is lucky because it's not too hot out; his raw fish dish probably wouldn't do well in the heat, for sure. Josie isn't done as time runs out so she's going to be scrambling yet again.

The cheftestants start serving as the judges (Tom, Padma, Gail and Danny Meyer) show up at the event. Danny tells Tom that he remembers when they first met at a similar event and Tom laughs that he still had hair then. They flash a picture on the screen and wow does Tom look better bald. Maybe it's just a bad picture. Anyway, Danny still remembers the sea urchin dish that Tom made and Tom says he still serves that dish in one of his restaurants. But it goes to show that one superior dish can open doors.

The judges visit Josh's booth first. His concept is a neighborhood bistro and his dish is seared eye of rib eye with cauliflower puree and mushroom red wine sauce. Lizzie is up next and her concept is Northern Italian farmhouse kitchen, and her dish is mustard green canederli with fonduta and crispy speck. Are those all real words or did she make some up?

The judges sit down to taste. Padma thinks Josh's dish looks nice and Gail says that it tastes nice too. Danny likes the seasoning on the mushrooms but finds the steak underseasoned. Tom thinks the dish conveys comfort, which was his concept. They move on to Lizzie's dish, and Danny knows a lot about Northern Italian food. Tom tastes it and says that the flavor is great but it's a little heavy. Gail notes that it looks like a slice of American cheese has been melted over the top; contrary to what I would think, that's not a compliment.

The judges head to Sheldon's booth next. His concept is modern Filipino and his dish is sour tamarind soup with pork belly, shrimp and snapper. Stefan's concept is German Thai and his dish is Thai lobster bisque with shrimp dumplings, potatoes and radishes, and then a Bavarian cream mango lollipop. Gail is confused that he made two dishes, and Stefan explains that the main dish is spicy but his dessert is to cool it down. Padma notes that it's the same dish that he made in the Season Five finale.

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