Chicken dinner

Dallas chef Josh Valentine gives judges the bird on Top Chef Seattle

Dallas chef Josh Valentine gives judges the bird on Top Chef Seattle

Well hoo-ha for Dallas. Dallas chef Josh Valentine won Top Chef Seattle this week.

Josh finally emerges from the middle of the pack to win for fried chicken with a twist on Buffalo chicken wings. You'd think fried chicken would be simple, but half of the six contestants fail miserably, and everyone's favorite detested cheftestant finally goes home.

The opening quickfire challenge is sushi, judged by LA sushi master Katsuya Uechi, who practically invented sushi, or so says Stefan. When Uechi explains what sushi is, the producers pipe in bamboo flute in the background to, you know, create a Japanese vibe. No geishas?

 So, chicken. Everyone has their secret techniques. It's more covert than McDonalds secret sauce. Josh has "a few tricks up his sleeve," i.e. brining.

Josh does Dallas (and Texas) proud by admitting that sushi is something he doesn't do. But, in case you haven't heard, he loves bacon. So he puts bacon on his sushi and rightfully comes in at the bottom.

It's interesting to see the producers placing the final contestants in their little boxes. Every time Josh comes on, they play another background music, and it is not flattering; it sounds like cartoon music.

Brooke gets painted as smug. To wit:

Josh: "Brooke, have you ever made sushi?"

Brooke: "Of course."

Of course she has, you idiot! She and her husband eat sushi like seven days a week — for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Josie, whom the producers now hate more than anyone, brags that she's hosted parties where sushi is served on naked women.

So, chicken. Everyone has a secret technique. It's more covert than McDonalds secret sauce. Josh has "a few tricks up his sleeve," i.e. brining. Josie has a signature spice mixture, and Brooke has a magic method wherein the chicken skin gets pulverized into a powder coating. Shh! Don't tell anyone. It's a secret.

What irony when smug Brooke screws up the chicken skin trick and her chicken is dry. But Josie gets the axe for greasy chicken. At least, that's what they say; from the assortment of Tom Colicchio frowns, it's obvious he has it in for her.

But the people who come off most monstrously are the judges. As the contestants repeat 100 times, it's an all-star panel. What a thrill for us nobodies to eavesdrop on vampires like Emeril and Wolfgang and non-all-star Michelle Bernstein chatting with young blood David "Momofuku" Chang and the two beards from hipster LA restaurant Animal. The Animal guys are refreshingly candid, which amuses the wise older chefs immensely.

The penultimate line involves breasts. One of the Animal beards says he's embarrassed for Los Angeles because the two LA chefs use breast meat only. Yes, what an embarrassment that is. Renowned feminist Wolfgang, on your mark:

"It's LA, there's plastic surgery everywhere," he says. They all chortle knowingly — even Michelle Bernstein. Nothing like a tit joke to bring everyone together.

Josh Valentine on Top Chef Seattle
Dallas chef Josh Valentine seems destined for finalist status on Top Chef Seattle. Photo courtesy of Bravo
Top Chef Seattle
Goodbye to that Chef Josie headband. Photo courtesy of Bravo