“Top Chef: Boston” recap (12.14): CACAO!

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The judges taste Mei’s dishes first. She prepared duck with a chocolate sauce, and a chocolate yogurt for dessert. The judges seem pleased with her work. Doug’s up next and, despite his grumbling, he made a solid-looking savory dish- a stew with hen. His dessert seriously is just a bowl of chocolate, and Padma’s not into it.

Gregory prepared lamb with chocolate-ancho sauce and, for dessert, baby carrots with spice and chocolate. I don’t think I’ve ever had carrots for dessert, but I guess I’ll have to try it because the judges seem really into it. They’re so good, in fact, that Gregory takes the win. It’s his first one in quite a while.

Gregory has little time to celebrate, however, because Padma immediately introduces this week’s Elimination Challenge. The chefs have to work together to produce a six course meal that highlights classic Mexican ingredients. Before finding out what those ingredients are, Padma introduces the eliminated contestants so sous chefs can be chosen.

Because of his Quickfire win, Gregory gets to pick first and he selects George. Didn’t really see that coming, tbh. Anyway, Mei chooses next and obviously she picks Melissa. Theirs is an eternal #BrOTP, and not even elimination could keep them apart. Melissa is looking fresh to death in her shades and tank, btw. Dougie picks Katsuji (again, obviously), and it’s nice to see that odd couple reunited, as well.

photo2::smiley face w sunglasses emoji::

The chefs arrive back at their villa to taste and choose ingredients. The six ingredients are: avocado, poblano, guava, huitlacoche (Corn fungus? Corn fungus.), queso, and escamole (Ant eggs, I guess. Sure, why not?). After some tasting, Gregory calls the guava and poblano, while Mei claims the avocado and huitlacoche.

That leaves Doug with the escamole and queso, and he’s none too happy about it. He complains about it, but, you know, he had the same exact opportunity to claim a different ingredient as the other two chefs. After whining about the chocolate earlier, I have pretty much zero sympathy for him at this point.

On the way to the market, the chefs plan their menus and order their courses. Mei wants to make a traditional guacamole for her avocado course, and I’m super worried the judges won’t respond well to that decision. They arrive at the market, and it looks very fun—full of color and life. The chefs dash around, trying to find ingredients. Doug says what everyone at home is thinking, and admits he picked Katsuji because the dude can speak Spanish. No shame in that game.

Gregory, meanwhile, is loving all the produce and, also, is wearing an excellent shirt. Mei gushes about how happy she is to have Melissa back on her side. Melissa, adorable little pup that she is, exclaims, “If I’m not gonna win this? You better fucking win this.”

photo3THEY’RE JUST THE BEST, OK?

It’s the day of the competition, and the chefs are chillin’ in their villa before heading to the kitchen. Doug talks about his dream of opening a lodge in Montana, which actually sounds amazing. Gregory asks Mei if her parents are supportive, and she sort of shrugs, telling them that her parents basically just said, “Don’t make yourself look bad.” Let me tell you, Mei—that’s not possible. You are a champion, no matter the outcome of Top Chef.

Anyway. The chefs arrive at the kitchen and begin prepping food immediately. The stakes are so high, and the atmosphere seems a little less jovial compared to past challenges. Katsuji calls Doug a “racist piece of shit,” because he never wants to work with escamole again. It’s hilarious. I can’t believe I was on the fence about Katsuji at the beginning of the season. He’s so great.

Mei has said before that she was hoping it would come down to Melissa and her in the finals, but today she elaborates a little more. She wanted that finale not simply because of how much she likes Melissa, but because she wanted to ensure that a woman would win this season of Top Chef. So, now it’s up to Mei to bring it home for all the women out there. Guys, just fucking bow down to that for a minute please.

Service begins, and Gregory’s chilled guava soup is up first. One judge calls it “the perfect thing to start with.” There’s a wonderful mix of spice, sweet, and savory—Gregory nailed it. Mei serves the second course, which is guacamole in the form of a sushi roll. There is some xoconostle inside, and tortilla strips on top. It’s beautiful, but Padma remarks that it’s “just” guacamole. Another judge wanted to see more xoconostle.

Doug is up next, with the escamole course. He prepared a tortilla with an escamole aioli underneath. Blaze loves the cleverness of using ant eggs in an aioli, because he’s Blaze. The judges generally like the flavor, but think there were some details that were lost.

Mei serves the fourth course, a huitlacoche agnolotti with roasted corn broth. The judges love the corn broth, and generally seem to really like the dish, overall. One judge thinks the huitlacoche was too bitter, but then Padma remarks that it’s one of the strongest dishes they’ve had so far. Stop sending me mixed messages, guys!

Gregory’s pork and poblano stew is up next. He nailed it, again! So, Gregory is definitely moving on to the finale, it seems like. They judges love the char and earthy flavors. Doug’s cheese course is last. There are a lot of elements, but the judges really seem to like it a lot. Oh maaaaan, this elimination is going to be so close.

The judges discuss the dishes. Gregory is quickly crowned the winner, but there is disagreement about Mei and Doug’s dishes. Blaze thinks Mei’s guac was beautiful, but the flavors were uninspired. Blaze also disliked Doug’s escamole dish, calling it greasy. Blaze sure did drink his haterade this morning. The judges are all split pretty evenly, but they’re able to make a decision. This could go either way, I really don’t know!

At Judges’ Table, Doug complains about how tough he had it again. I mean, come on, dude. You were not the victim of any sort of foul play, you just didn’t get exactly what you wanted. It’s a bummer, but let’s move past it and talk about what you did with what you had. Yeesh.

The judges praise both of Gregory’s dishes and Padma congratulates him on making it to the finale. We’re really dragging the finale out this year, huh guys? I feel like we’ve been in Mexico a loooong time. Anyway, the judges give Mei mixed reviews on her guacamole, but they all seemed to really enjoy her huitlacoche agnolotti. During this critique, there are some tears on Mei’s face. That sound you’re hearing? It’s a million hearts shattering.

photo4STAAAHHHPP

Like with Mei’s critique, the judges have some negative things to say about one course (the escamole), but mostly great things to say about the other (queso). It is so close, and Tom reminds them that making it this far is such an accomplishment. Padma echoes that sentiment. SO MANY FEELINGS.

Doug is eliminated. I feel bad for him, but I’m mostly just relieved that Mei made it through. So, we’re almost there, guys, and it’s down to Mei and Gregory (which I pretty much basically called waaaay back in episode 5). It is sure to be a battle royale—but hopefully with much less child-murder a la the novel/film, Battle Royale (which, sorry for the tangent, is actually super awesome and you should check out. It’s like The Hunger Games, but before The Hunger Games existed. And in Japan).

Next week on Top Chef, TWO CHEFS ENTER, ONE CHEF LEAVES. Also, Tom is fucking jazzed about the food and compares it to Springsteen at The Stone Pony. As a New Jersey native, I approve.

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