“Top Chef: Boston” recap (12.11): All in the Family

Previously on Top Chef: Boston, the chefs were inspired by Julia Child, Melissa nearly went home, Dougie did go home, and George was the worst.

This week’s episode begins in the stew room immediately after last week’s elimination. Gregory is basically choking back tears over losing his little bro, Dougie. Pour one out for Napoleon. Melissa is frustrated with herself over her performance in the last challenge, and the time away from her family/adorable girlfriend is wearing on her.

George apparently thinks it’s really comical that there’s “a little Asian, a lesbian Asian, a gay black dude, and a straight white guy.” Hahahahahawait, so why is that funny? OH. As a straight, cis, white guy, you’ve probably never felt like a minority before, huh George? Yeah, it’s pretty fucking hilarious, right?


I am 1000% done with George, but I am pretty pumped about the lack of white guys making it to the end this season. Yay for diversity in the kitchen!  

It’s a new day and the chefs arrive at the kitchen to meet Padma and guest judge Chef Ashley Christensen, who I can tell you (from personal experience) is an awesome chef and a lovely human person. (I once rambled to her drunkenly about, like, the overwhelming difficulty/impossibility of solving world hunger and she politely tolerated me! Thanks, Ashley! And, also, sorry about that!)

Anyway. Padma tells the chefs that there will be no Quickfire Challenge this week, because they have “a lot of work ahead of [them].” At this, George gives an exact imitation of a deer caught in the headlights. What’s the problemYOU SCARED, BRO? The chefs are going to an oyster farm to forage for oysters, clams, seaweed, and probably any other weird stuff they can find. They will have to create an appetizer and entree from their locally-sourced ingredients.

Because this is such a big challenge, Padma tells the chefs that they will have some surprise help. The chefs are all shocked to see various family members walk into the kitchen. Melissa’s mom is pretty darn cute, telling her immediately that she’s proud of her. Gregory is also very happy to see his best friend and sister. Mei calls her little brother a “brat,” and I am so pumped for more of their interaction. For instance, this is her reaction when Padma announces that the family members will be acting as sous chefs:

Mei announces that she will do all the work and will also beat the shit out of little bro if he doesn’t listen. Doesn’t sibling love just make you feel all warm inside? George’s dad is used to being the boss, or something. IDK, I wasn’t really listening. Padma announces that the appetizer dish will be entirely executed by the chef’s loved ones, and Mei looks like smoke might come out of her ears at any moment.

Padma also announces that there is no elimination for this challenge, so the chefs should feel free to take risks and really go for it. I’m suspicious of this for approximately 5 seconds before Padma adds that the winner of this challenge will receive an automatic place in the finale in Mexico. OH, well that makes sense now. The stakes are high, y’all!

Ok, ok, network sitcom pitch: The wacky restaurant misadventures of Melissa and Mei. The duo spend their nights battling sexism and racism in the kitchen, and when they get home all they want is a little peace and quiet. Due to zany circumstances, however, they receive some unexpected house guests! Both Melissa’s sweet, supportive, and overprotective mother and Mei’s goody-two-shoes, bratty little brother move in with their respective family members the same day! What are the odds! Also, the two pairs live across the hall from one another in a quirky apartment building, and learn valuable life lessons.


Ahem. Anyway. The chefs and their sous chefs arrive at the oyster farm and head out on the water. Mei’s little brother breaks the crank (Sitcom hijinks! This thing is writing itself!), so they have to pull the nets up by hand. Ten bucks says Mei loses it before the end of this episode. Things are going a little smoother on Gregory and George’s boat, except George’s dad has zero fucks to give and apparently doesn’t like oysters. The chefs also have the opportunity to select a bunch of other sea-based ingredients from the farm before leaving.

At Whole Foods, Gregory and his sister reflect upon one of their earliest cooking experiences. Spoiler alert: it ended with a bag of burnt cake. They’re pretty adorable, though, and if they keep this up they might just have a shot at joining the cast of my sitcom. Mei’s brother is kind of just wandering around the grocery store, asking Mei where literally every ingredient might be located. It’s so good.

After shopping, the chefs + fam arrive at a super swanky and amazing looking beach house that I want to live in really badly. The chefs make dinner for their family members, and Melissa’s mom has got my emotions all over the place. First, she hilariously recounts how she thought her daughter was going to become James Bond by enrolling in the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). Then, she explains how Melissa’s dad is not really involved in her life at all. And now I’m sad. Both of Mei’s parents disapprove of her career. And now I’m even sadder. Parents—FUCKING DO BETTER.

It’s the morning of the challenge, and Melissa has prepared a very detailed step-by-step guide for her mom. I think I would probably do this exact thing. Totally not a control freak, guys- it’s just better if I can do everything myself the way I want it to be done. They get to the kitchen and Mei might actually murder her brother. He’s working very slowly and sort of bumbling around the kitchen, but at least he’s good-natured about it.

Gregory seems to trust his sister the most out of all the chef/family member combos, and I’m interested to see how that works out in the end. Melissa is nervous that she gave her mom too much to do, but I think it’s really sweet that there’s a story behind the custard they are making.

Tom comes in to do his usual Tom thing and make everyone nervous. He points out that Mei’s brother is burning some mushrooms and just… 

I’m sorry, Mei.

Gregory’s sister continues to be adorable, giggling about how if Gregory wins he will owe her forever. As the cooking time ticks away, Mei’s brother actually steps up his game a little bit- so maybe he won’t get the shit kicked out of him.

The Judges are seated outside by the water and, hot damn, it is a gorgeous setting. Mei is the first to serve, and everyone is impressed that her brother shucked oysters for the first time. The judges really seem to love both of Mei’s dishes, and she and her brother even bonded over the experience. If you didn’t “aww” at that, you have no soul.

Gregory and his sister are plating next. Gregory is a bit pre-occupied with making sure his sister executes on her dish, and his halibut ends up overcooking a little. The judges really like Jessica’s watermelon-tomato soup, but are underwhelmed by Gregory’s fish entree. George and his father serve next, and, for the most part, their dishes are well-received.

Melissa’s mom is freaking adorable and just totally crushing it. The judges praise the silky texture of her custard, which seems like isn’t an easy thing to accomplish. Melissa’s lobster is delicious and cooked perfectly, and her vegetables are even better!

At Judges’ Table, Tom throws some shade at Gregory because his sister’s dish was better than his own. Melissa and Mei are on top! You guys, I’m so happy! But now I’m thinking about how only one of them can win! (This challenge AND the overall competition!) Can’t they tie and share it? Tom agrees with me! Tom, you have the power! Just do it! But only one chef can win, and it’s Melissa!!!

 Melissa’s mom is crying! Melissa is crying! I’M crying! I JUST LOVE LOVE SO MUCH, YOU GUYS.

Next week on Top Chef: Boston, Melissa has Mei’s back and George should probably just go home.