Top Chef Boston: Sudden Death

Elimination Challenge

With one chef already gone, it’s now time for this week’s elimination challenge.  It’s the First Ever Top Chef Food Festival!  Some famous Boston chefs and our cheftestants will each be running booths where they’ll be serving a dish to 250 people that’s an updated version of one of their first food memories.  After some scrambling around a1 Whole Foods somewhere in the area, the chefs do all their prep work for the next day.

The food festival is taking place at the Museum of Science!  I love that place – they have a super sweet math exhibit area2, a great natural history section, and an event space that makes perfect sense for something like a food festival.  They also appear to have a heck of a prep kitchen.  Once again, we see more prep work, and Richard/Tom make the rounds to see what ideas the chefs are playing with.

The chefs move to the outdoor area set up for the food festival and begin to set up their stations for plating and serving alongside some Boston culinary luminaries like Jasper White, Ming Tsai, Barbara Lynch, and Todd English3.

Once again, there are still TOO MANY CHEFS, so here’s a quick rundown of what everyone’s made.  Everything looks pretty delicious.

  • Joy – grits, greens, crispy chicken skin
  • Rebecca – citrus tart
  • Adam – fish and chips, tricolor salad, mustard mayo
  • Stacy – pulled chicken salad on some sort of bread/cracker
  • Ron – shrimp cocktail with strawberry
  • Doug – fried chicken, pickled watermelon salad
  • Katsugi – “Petroleum” shrimp4
  • Keriann – chilled sweet corn soup w/ olive oil snow
  • James – harissa chicken thigh, creamed corn
  • Melissa – ma-po tofu
  • Mei – congee with caramelized pork
  • Katie – broccoli salad with bacon powder
  • Michael – chilled corn soup, pickled cherries, sriracha caviar
  • Gregory – Haitian Stewed Chicken with scotch bonnet peppers
  • Aaron – tamari braised pork belly, poached egg yolk

After tasting everything, the judges discuss the dishes.  Doug, Gregory, and Mei receive praise for their dishes, while Katie, Michael, and Katsugi all seem in trouble.  Back at the Judges’ Table, Padma asks all the chefs to come see the judges, rather than the traditional winners/losers.  As far as the judges go this year, Richard sticks out like crazy.  He needs to take it down to at least a 7.

From the top dishes, Mei’s congee is deemed perfect for a food festival OR a fine dining establishment and is crowned the winner.  Gregory and Doug are also praised for their good work.

Amongst the losers, Katie’s broccoli salad felt like a side rather than a full dish; she acknowledges the critique from the judgement and seems to take their advice to heart.  Michael seems to have palate issues and didn’t see the problem with the combination of sweet corn, salmon roe, and sriracha “caviar” in his dish, which tasted too fishy to the judges5.  Katsugi needed to edit – he was shooting for a complex dish, but too many ingredients left him with a complicated mess that needed more conception than there was time for.

After some debate, Michael is asked to pack his knives – his arrogant attitude didn’t help against the judges, and his competitors simply had better tasting dishes.

  1. suburban, judging by the size of it  
  2. did I mention that I’m a huge nerd?  I’m a huge nerd.  There.  Now you know.  
  3. who seems to mostly be known these days for closing the various Boston outposts he has  
  4. which legitimately looks like he pours crude all over it  
  5. I would have to agree with the judges that I do not find “fishy” corn soup appealing.  

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About Ben Smith 228 Articles
Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at E-mail:
  • My little town of Fredericksburg, VA has — well, HAD — two representatives this season. Joy Crump’s restaurant Foode is the closest thing this town has to a hipster outpost (there is a large common table for diners, plus mason jars as water glasses). And, sad trombone, George (the first chef to go home) was a recent graduate of the University of Mary Washington, where I work. I’ll be rooting for Joy — her food is great!