“Top Chef: Boston” recap (12.10): Sweet “Child” of Mine

Previously on Top Chef: Boston… uh, I’m going to be totally honest, I don’t remember. ::re-reads last recap:: Oh! Ok! Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was on, the chefs made literary-inspired dishes, and Katsuji went home. Man oh man, it’s certainly been a minute since the last episode, huh? I hope you all had joyous holiday seasons full of cooking and/or eating! (I know I did.)

This week on Top Chef, the chefs (Hey chefs! Missed you guys!) remember Katsuji and his lovable antics. Also, it looks like George is still around, I guess. I was kind of hoping he would somehow magically disappear over the holiday break, but there he is. Oh well. In way more interesting news, my BBs Melissa and Mei are having some bonding time on the roof. They laugh about being Asian lady chefs, and, even though I’m not Asian or a chef, I want to hang out with them- so I guess my invitation got lost in the mail?

Don’t worry, guys. I saved myself a spot for next time.

 Those two perfect, beautiful, magical snowflakes (and the rest of the chefs) head to the kitchen to meet Andy Cohen. You may know Andy from his casual, hilarious misogyny on Watch What Happens Live!

Andy has brought along his old college roommate (the straight version of himself lulz), because this week’s Quickfire Challenge has the chefs putting their own spin on the perennial collegiate favorite: ramen noodles. George has never even eaten ramen noodles, and it’s becoming clear to me that he is totally the Jerry Gergich of the bunch.

Plot twist! The chefs won’t have access to the Top Chef pantry- they’ll have to select a college student, and can only use the ingredients he or she brought. All the female students are chosen first, because obviously the prospect of serving food made from things found in the dorm refrigerator of a college boy is fucking terrifying. There is no immunity today, but the winner will receive $5K, so that’s pretty sweet.

The chefs all reflect on their college experiences as they laugh at the ingredients in their bags. Melissa apparently once drank from a two-story high beer bong, which is metal as fuck to be quite frank with you.

Time’s up and the judges come around to taste. Doug made some kind of tofu/egg/coconut water thing, and Padma slurps down her noodles. It’s adorable, but Andy Cohen shames her and I hate him even more now. He’s also mentioned being high like 4 times by this point, and it’s coming across as desperate.

“Hey there, kids! Have you happened to smoke any drugs recently? I myself smoke many drugs!”

Gregory prepared a bacon/pizza broth with a Dorito crunch and, IDK, man that kind of sounds fucking delicious. Next up, Andy Cohen makes fun of George’s gelled hair and it’s the only redeeming thing he’s done so far. George made some kind of meaty, spaghetti-o, hot dog monstrosity. Go home, George.

Melissa put together a mac and cheese/carbonara dish and it also actually looks really good. Initially, when she said she was making cheesy ramen, I’ll admit I flashed some side-eye at the screen… but I totally take it back. Mei made a miso/tomato sauce ramen, and you can tell she hates it as soon as she serves it.

Mei and Doug are on the bottom, womp womp. Somehow, the judges actually liked George’s meat-tastic dish, and he’s on top along with Gregory and Melissa. Melissa wins! Fuck yeah! In the words of (life role model) Donna Meagle – You can get it! (Lots of Parks and Recs references today. Don’t know why, just go with it.)

The chefs head back to the stew room, where Padma (aka a production assistant, probably) has left a little surprise for them. It’s a video of Julia Child & Jacques Pepin cooking duck! As soon as the clip ends, Jacquse Pepin (!) comes rolling in with Padma, some wine, and a bunch of charm. So rad. For the Elimination Challenge this week, the chefs will be creating a dish inspired by Julia Child.

The chefs have the amazing opportunity to throw back some wine and chat with Jacques Pepin about Julia Child, her cooking, and her legacy. Apparently, the lady hated grilled vegetables.

The chefs shop for ingredients, and the most important thing that happened there was that Mei corrected Doug’s pronunciation of Jacques Pepin and it was pretty great. They get back to the kitchen to start prep and Gregory does a spot on impression of Julia Child. George is braising veal, but using pressure cookers. Yawn. Melissa, meanwhile, is braising the traditional, O.G. way, like a boss. I’m concerned that her meat won’t cook in time, but I appreciate her technique.

Gregory is making coq au vin, and I hope he went out and found a very old rooster because I could totally see Tom being a dick about something like that. Gregory also apparently doesn’t usually cook with butter, but he’s doing it for Julia. Two things: 1) No butter. Excuse me. What? 2) Again, I appreciate the effort to be true to Julia’s style.

Mei is doing her version of duck a l’orange and incorporating five spice, which is obviously not traditional. If George had done this I would be livid, but Mei can do anything she wants, and I bet it’s going to be delicious, and she’s innovative and wonderful, the end. Doug is doing whole roasted loaves of foie gras. I don’t really know much about foie gras, to be honest, but apparently it’s a very ballsy move.

It’s the next day and the chefs have one hour to finish cooking before they serve the judges. Gregory goes first, and everyone loves it! Tom is, in fact, not a dick about the coq au vin being chicken instead of rooster. Just when I think I know you, Tom!

Mei talks a little bit about what an honor it is to be cooking a dish inspired by Julia Child, because Julia taught her the importance of cooking with love. This challenge is making me so happy, because that’s something that really resonates with me. I’m obviously not a chef by any means, but I fucking love to cook. Whether I’m making Thanksgiving dinner for 10 or a simple weeknight meal for my wife, I go 100% all in to make the most flavorful and wonderful food I possibly can. Julia Child had so much love and passion for cooking, it’s great to see her honored here. Anyway, moving on- sorry for the tangent.

Mei servers her version of duck a l’orange, which Tom likes because it’s modern, but still “in the spirit.” The duck is cooked well and everyone seems to really like the sauce. George brings out his veal. The judges agree that the flavors are all really great, but the meat could’ve been cooked a little longer. Go home, George!

Melissa, on the other hand, is having the opposite problem. She was nervous about her meat being undercooked, so she let it go too long and now it’s a bit dry (aka burned). Tom is picking up a bitterness in the sauce, and the general consensus is that the meat isn’t the best. No! You stop it right now!

Don’t send her home over dry meat! Take George instead!

Doug serves his roasted foie gras and it is kind of a train wreck. Tom calls it over-seared, but undercooked. Yikes. It also didn’t rest enough, and that makes it “flabby,” which just… ew. Dougie has actually grown on me a lot, so I feel bad about how happy I am that Melissa isn’t the worst anymore. Sorry, dude.

At Judges’ Table, Mei and Gregory are on top! #AlphaDogs forever! Mei takes the win and feels some feelings about it and, damnit, I do too. Melissa, Doug, and George are all on the bottom due to their improper protein-cooking techniques. Dougie is eliminated, despite the ambitiousness of his dish, because the middle of his foie gras was basically raw. Aww, sad. Take George instead!

Next week on Top Chef: it’s almost the finale and my 3 favorite BBs are all still in it! I swear on Padma’s overalls, though, if George wins this thing I am going to lose my shit. Also next week, the chefs’ family member show up to help and I can’t wait to watch Mei sass the crap out of her brother.

 Would definitely watch this sitcom