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

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The chefs are running around a Mexican supermarket trying to ask for things in Spanish, with varying degrees of success. Mei tries to communicate that she wants all chicken skin, which, to be fair, is a weird thing to ask for, and I think she eventually gets the point across. Melissa wanted to use squid ink to bring some color into her dish, but Mexican Whole Foods, unfortunately, does not carry squid ink. She ends up improving on the spot, getting shrimp to bring some sweetness and pink color onto her plate.

It’s the day of the challenge, and the artists and chefs set up to work in the square. There’s a lot of experimentation and improvisation, both artistically and culinarily. (p.s. I checked and “culinarily” is, in fact, a real word. Boom. Really nailing this writing thing, huh?) Gregory is nervous that he’s over cooked his steaks, but there’s not really anything to be done about that at this point. The guests show up and they enjoy the art and food and beautiful day. Mei’s artist tries the food, and I really just want to get on her level. I would require some drugs to do so though, I think.

The judges arrive and begin to try the food, starting with Gregory. His steaks came out better than he thought they were going to, and they’re served with an ancho chile tamarind sauce, beets, and a bright valencia orange sauce. Real quick timeout right now, you guys. Tamarind + chiles are, like, the most delicious combination. Go out and buy this candy right now:

Pelon Pelo Rico candy

Okay, yes, it looks kind of weird, and it’s called Pelon Pelo Rico (which loosely translate to “Yummy-Hair Baldie”), but it’s fucking delicious and I’m obsessed with it.

Anyway, the judges love Gregory’s plate! They move on to Doug’s station next, where he’s plating his Texas red (beanless chili), with tomatillo and masa. I have to say, it matches the painting pretty perfectly (though, Doug definitely got the easiest painting to match). The judges love the flavor of all the elements in his dish.

Melissa serves the judges next, and I’m nervous because she doesn’t have any of that blue/gray color on her plate. Her smoked eggplant ravioli represents the smoky, charcoal house in the middle of the painting and Padma is feeling it.

The judges hit Mei’s station last to taste her snapper and bass crudo with chicken skin crumble and pickled radishes. She took inspiration from the fish and bird in her artist’s painting, but I’m worried that she also didn’t bring as much visual color to her plate.

The judges debrief about the dishes- they were all really solid. It’s going to come down to little details, I think. They’re headed back to Judges’ Table, but first, Gail and Padma are trying to get druuuuunk, y’all.

photo6Someone fetch me that deleted scene, please and thank you.

At Judges’ Table, all the judges try to act like they haven’t consumed liters of tequila all day. They do a pretty good job. Doug is praised for making an inspired, authentic dish. The judges wish Mei had pushed her plate a little more, visually. Tom thinks Melissa over-rendered her chorizo, but doesn’t have much else bad to say about her plate. Gregory’s dish was bomb, because guys, I really can’t emphasize this enough, tamarind + chiles are amazing.

Doug and Gregory are on top, which means that either Melissa or Mei is going home. ::drops to knees in the pouring rain while shouting “nooooooooooooooo”:: Doug wins the challenge. Congratulations Dougie, but I’m just really stressed out right now. Gregory is, obviously, safe as well. I’m trying to be mad at the boys, but then they do a little head boop and how am I supposed to be mad them?

Doug and Gregory having a moment on Top Chef BostonD’awwww you GUYS

OK, it’s the moment of truth: Mei or Melissa. I hate this. I hate this so much. I think probably Bravo made a mistake here, and they should just have four Top Chefs this season. It’s the only solution. Everyone go home, it’s over! They all won!

Unfortunately, I don’t run things at Bravo, so they have to eliminate someone. It’s Melissa. ::still shouting “nooooooooooo” in the rain, btw,  I haven’t stopped this whole time:: Tom praises Melissa, telling her that she did nothing wrong, the other dishes were just slightly better. Melissa thanks them all graciously, and then hugs Mei, and I’m FINE, I swear. YOU’RE CRYING.

Mei and Melissa hugging it outBrOTP

I had the absolutely pleasure of interviewing Melissa yesterday and she’s just as wonderful as she seems on the show. I wish her the best of luck- I know she’ll be up to great things.

Next week on Top Chef, it’s down to Mei, Gregory, and Doug. Everyone is stressed, Tom doesn’t seem happy, and someone will win.

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