With the final episode of Top Chef in sight, nothing is set in stone. The last few episodes have proven that there is no clear favorite and chef’s can move from the bottom to the top in an instant.
The last few episodes have sent the contestants on a whirlwind of an adventure. First, they tried to replicate meals inspired by Julia Child. Doug was unlucky and was sent home due to his undercooked loaves of foie gras. Then, the chefs were granted with a by-week and everybody was saved from elimination. Instead, they were given the opportunity to head straight to the finale. They were able to spend time cooking with their families to create cohesive dishes. From this challenge, Melissa was sent straight to the finale, and spared any contestant of packing their knives. Last week, the king of molecular gastronomy, Wylie Dufresne, visited the chefs. The challenge was to create something innovative while exploring new flavors and techniques. George came up short with over-charred octopus and was sent packing. That left three contestants ready to compete for the title of Top Chef.
Just like the previous finales, the chefs were sent out of their host city and sent to explore a new culture. In Mexico, the chefs found this out right away. Doug, the winner of Last Chance Kitchen, joined Melissa, Gregory, and Mei in Mexico where they were thrown into a challenge upon arrival.
The challenge was to create a dish using the local ingredient of cactus called Xoconostle. Mei and Gregory fell short trying to incorporate the local ingredients in their dishes. Doug was the real winner here. He showed that he is back and wants this more than ever.
The elimination challenge was announced and the four remaining chefs learned that they would be working with local artist for this challenge. The challenge required a plethora of food to be made so each chef was given two sous chefs. The sous chefs were the previous contestants from the show. They each were able to pick two, really just going backwards in the way that they were eliminated.
The chefs were to create a dish inspired by their artist and the painting created during the event. Each artist had a very different style. Doug was matched up with an artist similar to his Texas style. Melissa seemed a little iffy about her pairing because of the amount of improvisation he used. Mei’s artist was not shy about the amount of colors that she used, but made it difficult for Mei to be inspired since those colors do not naturally appear within food. Gregory’s artist took the simple route allowing his to follow a peasant theme, giving Gregory a clear vision about how he wanted to present his dish.
At judges table, it was clear that the four chefs had each put out very strong dishes. Doug wowed with his creation of brisket style of Texas red with tomatilla and masa cake. He joined Gregory who was also in the top with his dish of grilled strip loin with ancho chile, beets, cilantro purée and Valencia orange sauce. Mei and Melissa were at the bottom, but they both had standout dishes. Mei served snapper and bass crudo with chicken skin crumble, soy gastrique and radish pickles. Melissa rounded out the dishes with smoked eggplant ravioli with shrimp, chorizo and cotija.
The judges were very torn with who to send home. All of the dishes were high quality with strong flavors. Doug took the win proving that he is back and stronger than ever. At the end of the day Melissa was sent packing. Next week Doug, Mei, and Gregory will battle it out to see who will take the title of Top Chef!