“Top Chef: Boston” recap (12.13): Art imitating life

Previously on Top Chef: Boston, all three of my faves made it to the finale! It’s like a Christmas miracle, but a month later.

Flash-forward six weeks after the last challenge in Boston: Melissa, Mei, and Gregory have arrived in Mexico, and they wonder which chef will win Last Chance Kitchen and join them in the finale. The chefs arrive at their new house in Guanajuato, Mexico, and it looks amazing.

photo1The calm before the storm

They have approximately 45 seconds to enjoy their new space (RUDE, BRAVO) before Tom strolls in to ruin things, as per usual. He invites them up to the roof, where Doug and George are in the midst of finishing and plating their Last Chance Kitchen dishes. Dougie and George both made really excellent clam dishes, according to Tom, but there can only be one winner. It’s Doug!

Two things:

  1. Super pumped George didn’t sneak back into the competition AGAIN.
  2. I’m glad Dougie won LCK. That little scamp has come along way since his self-proclaimed Napoleon days.

Tom congratulates the final four, and sends them on their way. The chefs find Padma, along with guest judge Chef Enrique Olvera, in the middle of a deserted church square. It looks like the beginning of a really dramatic shootout scene, actually.

photo2Cue the theme music from “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”

Instead of drawing weapons, however, they all decide to just cook some prickly pear and call it a day. Same thing, basically. For this Quickfire Challenge, the chefs have 30 minutes to create a dish that highlights xoconostle (which is a highly coveted type of prickly pear). The winner will receive an advantage in the upcoming Elimination Challenge.

The chefs begin to cook with the hella tart xoconostle. Doug tries to make some conversation with Mei about, like, the beauty of their surroundings and the impact of religion on society, but Mei’s having none of it. I literally rewound and watched their exchange five times, because I could not stop laughing at it.

BusinessTimeMei, meanwhile, really wanted seafood, but was beaten to the salmon by Melissa, so she settles for steak. Gregory is using shrimp for his protein, but Doug has decided to make a vegetarian dish so the cactus can really shine.

Padma and Chef Olvera come around to taste the dishes, stopping at Mei’s station first. Padma asks Mei if it was “intentional” that all her slices of steak were cooked to different levels of doneness. Of course it wasn’t intentional, Padma, you sassy, sassy broad.

The judges taste Doug’s dish next, which is a stew of the xoconostle and other vegetables. Chef Olvera lauds Doug for making something vegetarian, because it reflects Mexican cuisine. Melissa’s ceviche is up after that, and Chef Olvera talks about how the ceviche liquid is known as an aphrodisiac. Is he flirting with Melissa? She’s taken, buddy. But then Padma actually says the words, “I’ll let you know how it goes later tonight,” and I think I died? Yeah, I did. Bye.

Padma tasting Melissa King's foodRIP ME

Ahem, anyway. The judges taste Gregory’s dish last and they really like his sauces, but the olive oil flavor is too strong. Gregory is on the bottom along with Mei’s incorrectly cooked meat. Melissa and Doug are on top, and Doug’s vegetarian risk-taking earns him the win!

Today’s Elimination Challenge is probably my favorite one that’s ever been on Top Chef. The chefs are randomly assigned local artists to go meet and take inspiration from their artwork. Tomorrow, for the challenge, the chefs will have 4 hours to cook, while their artist finishes the inspiration work of art. The chefs will serve 150 guests a plate that visually represents their artist’s piece. This is a big challenge, so the chefs get to select two sous chefs from the eliminated contestants.

Because Dougie won the Quickfire Challenge, he gets to choose both of his sous chefs before the other chefs even get to select one. He picks Adam and Katsuji, so I expect some hijinks. Melissa picks George (eh) and James (missed you, Swayz!), Mei takes Rebecca and Keriann, and Gregory chooses Katie and Stacy (Boston represent!). I’m sad no one picked my girl Joy, but beyond ecstatic that DoucheBroAaron will not be on my screen a second longer.

The chefs scamper off to meet their artists. Melissa is paired with artist Leonardo Díaz, who incorporates graffiti into his work. Melissa thinks his style will fit in with her own. Mei goes off to meet her artist, but not before letting us know that her dishes are usually called “works of art.” She agrees with that assessment, and so do I. Mei’s artist is named Béa Aaronson, and I can tell immediately she is a little bonkers. I already love her.

Doug meets his artist, fellow Texan Merry Calderoni, and the two of them find out they’re basically related. OK, they’re not actually related, but they do have crazy amounts of things in common. Dougie calls her ma’am a lot, and his Texas is showing.

photo4Texas forever!

Gregory is matched with Artemio Sepúlveda, an expressionist artist that primarily uses dark color palettes with a splash of color. Gregory feels very connected to and inspired by his work. Let’s check in on Mei and Béa:


Yup- still bonkers! Mei is inspired by the colors and some crazy story about a bird and a fish, IDK.

Melissa’s artist uses primarily light blue and pink in his work, which aren’t the best colors to match food to. He also tells Melissa that he is going to improvise during the challenge tomorrow, which is totally not what you want to hear if you’re Melissa. Ruh roh.