Mei’s next course is congee, which is basically a rice porridge, served with egg yolk, carnitas, and garnishes. It looks absolutely delicious and hits some of the most important items on my food checklist: it’s in a bowl, it’s warm and comforting, and it has a runny egg yolk. Her next course, duck, gets some mixed reviews- Hugh doesn’t love the way the fat was rendered, Blaze wants more kimchi, but Gail really likes the flavors the more of it she eats.
A lot is riding on Mei’s dessert and, at the last minute, it’s tasting a little sweet. She makes sure to have enough tart lime flavor to balance it out before serving. The bowls, full of strawberry lime curd with toasted yogurt, milk crumble and yogurt-lime ice, are presented still smoking from the liquid nitrogen she used. Everyone raves about the dish’s beauty and flavor. Tom calls it the best dessert he has ever had on Top Chef. Nailed it!
Time for Gregory’s service. Do you guys think the judges get to go for a walk between meals or something? Two four-course dinners in a row sounds pretty aggressive. Gregory serves his first course—another octopus dish—but his is paired with prickly pair, xoconostle, passion fruit, and cashew milk. Tom calls the dish a “powerhouse,” so I think Gregory is going to win the head-to-head octopus course.
The second course is shrimp broth with green chorizo, cactus, and shrimp heads. The flavor is really nice, but the texture of the shrimp heads are a little off-putting. Tom declares the second course a win for Mei.
For the third course, Gregory realizes he made a mistake with his carrot sauce, and adds sugar later than he wanted to. It ends up being a bit sweet, but he hopes a pinch of salt and being paired with the tomatillo sauce will balance it out. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out well—Tom calls it sweeter than Mei’s dessert.
Gregory’s last dish is a mole with short ribs and agave sweet potatoes and it is definitely miles better than his fish course. The mole is delicious, the sweet potatoes pair wonderfully, and the meat is cooked to perfection. But was it better than Mei’s dessert? I don’t know!!! Padma invites them both to Judges’ Table for the final elimination. I forgot to note this earlier, but she is wearing the hell out of a downright spectacular dress.
The judges ask how the chefs are feeling. IDK how do you think they’re feeling, guys? Gregory tells them that getting sober was easier than Top Chef. Well, damn. The judges go through the courses one by one and critique each dish.
First course: They loved the way Gregory took inspiration from his surroundings – the dish was really great. Mei’s plate was visually stunning, but some judges found the octopus too tough. Advantage: Gregory.
Second course: Gregory’s shrimp broth was delicious, but the texture of the shrimp heads wasn’t great. Mei’s congee told her story as a chef, and was also really tasty. Advantage: Mei.
Third course: Gregory’s fish dish was too sweet. Mei’s duck brought a lot different flavors together, but Tom calls it her weakest dish of the night. Even still, I’m going to go ahead and give the advantage to Mei, but it’s a close one.
Fourth course: Gregory’s mole was complex and perfect. Of Mei’s dessert, Blaze proclaims that “everything that’s right about modern cooking was in that bowl.” Of course Blaze loves it! Tom tells her it’s one of the best desserts he’s ever had in his life. Both chefs put out their best dishes last, and, honestly, I think I have to call this course a draw.
You guys, I think Mei might take it! Oh wait, now they’re talking about the overall meal and Blaze thought Gregory’s was more inspirational. No one asked you, Blaze. My girl Gail, however, thinks Mei was more successful. It’s a really close one.
Everyone applauds the chefs as they come back to hear the verdict. Tom raves on and on about their talent and how the children are our future, or something. He reminds me of that guy from The Graduate.
Anyway. Padma announces the winner and it’s Mei!!!
Gregory hugs her, Gail hugs her, Melissa hugs her, Tom hugs her, I WISH I COULD HUG HER, TOO! Mei is just crying and swearing, which is the perfect way to end the season, I think.
Well, this season of Top Chef has been quite a ride. Congratulations to Mei, Gregory, Melissa, Doug, and all the chefs (except Aaron)! It’s been such a pleasure recapping for you. You can follow me on Twitter (for lots of TV ramblings) and Instagram (for the occasional novice food shot, but, let’s be honest, mostly cat pics). Thanks for reading!