Previously on Top Chef: Boston, Dougie was eliminated during a very difficult and emotional Judges’ Table—which means we are finally down to two: Chef Mei vs. Chef Gregory. It’s a rematch of Battle Alpha Dog from episode five. If you’ll recall, Gregory won both head-to-head showdowns in that ep, so I have to assume Vegas oddsmakers would give him an advantage here. (I don’t really understand how betting works, though, so maybe I’m wrong.)
The finale starts off with some flashback footage of the very first episode and it has been super desaturated, so that it’s almost black and white. We get to hear a few of the chefs’ original introductions—including Mei and Gregory. It’s all very dramatic.
There’s a montage of Gregory and Mei’s journey over the course of the season. Gregory started out strong, but faltered a bit before Mexico. He won more challenges than Mei overall, but Mei feels like she’s grown so much over the course of the show. You guys, this is probably the best finale match up on Top Chef, I think probably ever? And they’re both likable! See, Bravo? You don’t have to have douchebags/villains on the show to make it engaging.
And we’re back to present day. Mei and Gregory share a hug, and toast to the finale in the stew room immediately after last week’s elimination. They head back to the villa to sleep, but not for too long, apparently, as they embark on a van ride before dawn. The chefs pull up to a field to find a hot air balloon being inflated for them. They hop right in and enjoy some spectacular views of Mexico.
In the balloon, Gregory asks Mei if she ever thought she’d end up here on that first day during the Quickfire Challenge. They cut away before Mei can answer, but I can only assume her response was, “Yes. obviously,” because that is the correct answer.
The chefs descend back to Earth to find Tom and Padma standing awkwardly and not talking to each other while they wait. Cool, guys. Mei and Gregory approach, Padma pronounces some more things with a Spanish accent, and so my heart rate accelerates. There is no Quickfire in the finale, so we are jumping right into the last Elimination Challenge.
The challenge is simple: “Cook the meal of your life.” NO PRESSURE THOUGH, GUYS. I have a feeling a twist or two might pop up, but, for now, the chefs are just asked to make the best four-course meal they possible can. They will each select two sous chefs from the eliminated contestants, and Gregory goes first because he won the last challenge.
Gregory picks Dougie, obviously, because they’re both from Portland and, more importantly, they have a really solid bromance. It’s Mei’s turn, and Melissa is smirking before her name is even called. I know I say this a lot, but I LOVE FRIENDSHIP SO MUCH.
With his second pick, Gregory takes George. Sure, I guess. Mei selects Rebecca to round out her team. I was kind of surprised by her pick until Mei mentioned that she wants to do a dessert—so Rebecca, with her pastry experience, is a very smart choice. It’s Girls v. Boys, y’all!
The chefs have an hour to shop tonight and five hours to prep, cook, and serve tomorrow. They will each have their own full kitchen/restaurant, and they are serving a group of really important chefs and critics, including: Hugh, Blaze, and Gail. If I have one complaint about this season, it’s that there hasn’t been enough Gail.
They arrive at the grocery store for the usual mad dash shopping spree. Mei’s menu sounds like some Asian/Mexican fusion, while Gregory is stepping back from the Asian flavors he’s made all season to really focus on the Mexican ingredients. Mei mentions working the pastry line in the break between Boston and Mexico, so she’s confident in her dessert. I want to trust her, but desserts have such a notoriously bad history on Top Chef that it’s kind of hard.
It’s the day of the final challenge, and Mei + team get to prepping immediately. Mei is fucking hype, you guys. She wants this title real bad. She notes that the judges have consistently called her food subtle and clean, so she’s pushing really bold flavors for this final meal. There are a whole lot of elements and interesting techniques in all of Mei’s courses, and I honestly don’t know how she is keeping everything on track.
Gregory + his team get into their kitchen to begin work as well. He, like Mei, has a very organized game plan to utilize his sous chefs to the best of their abilities. He’s making short ribs with mole, which is a big risk. There are a ton of ingredients in that dish alone, and Tom asks if he’s nervous to use so many new flavors. Gregory’s like, “Duh,Tom, stop playing—of course.”
The judges and guest chefs/critics arrive at Mei’s restaurant. Hold up a second, though. Blaze, wtf are you doing with that hair, man? Get your shit together.
Even Tom is not amused:
Mei serves her first course- octopus with fish sauce vinaigrette and avocado/coconut puree. Everyone thinks her plate is absolutely beautiful and her flavors are bright and delicious. The dish only receives one negative comment- that the octopus is slightly overcooked and tough.
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