War (HUH), what is it good for? On this week’s episode of Top Chef Boston, some absolutely fantastic dishes and some feisty competition.
When we last left the cheftestants, Aaron had proved he could work well on a team (and immediately started gloating about that), and Stacy avoided elimination while James and Rebecca did not. This has left her feeling like she’s not doing her best to represent Boston as the hometown girl.
The chefs enter the Top Chef Kitchen and find Padma waiting for them with Jamie Bissonnette, who’s a James Beard Award winner for the region. For this week’s quickfire, it’s time for some head-to-head competition. Chefs will be choosing an opponent, who will choose the terms of their battle. Win, and you’re eligible to win 10,000 dollars as a prize for best dish. Katsuji1 chooses to force Aaron to put his money where his mouth is. Aaron chooses smoked salmon as their battle. The rest of the battle matchups take place and we end up with the following five challenges:
- Katsuji and Aaron – Smoked Salmon
- Doug and Adam – Steamed Mussels
- Keriann and Stacy – Trout en Papillote
- Melissa and Katie – Smoked Barbeque
- Mei and Gregory – Steamed Dumplings
The chefs have 30 minutes to create a dish that uses the technique and protein as inspiration. There’s the usual scrambling around the kitchen as everyone grabs what they need. Whether it’s editing or just the ways shake out, each pairing has its own similarities. Adam and Doug both choose fairly traditional takes on steamed mussels, but the ingredients they choose to supplement it with turn things into an East Coast vs. West Coast battle. Keriann and Stacy have the challenge of making Trout en Papillote in 30 minutes, so it’s mostly a race to get things into the oven for each of them. Melissa and Katie are using this as a chance to push themselves someplace unfamiliar since there’s no time to do proper barbecue. Mei and Gregory are seeing who can win in a dumpling battle2, and Aaron and Katsuji are seeing who has the biggest ego among the two of them.
In the end, it’s all down to the tasting. Gregory’s shrimp dumpling wins over Mei’s traditional pork dumpling with black vinegar. Katie’s grilled chicken with pine nuts cooked down baked-bean style wins over Melissa’s cold-smoked scallop with charred corn, bacon, and fennel. Katsuji’s salmon sashimi with a chipotle broth is more cohesive than Aaron’s undersmoked brined salmon, and Keriann’s more traditional trout with a white wine butter sauce wins over Stacy’s take with tomatoes, basil, and spinach. Finally, Doug’s mussels with orange and saffron butter win out over Adam’s Vadouvan-spiced mussels.
Amongst these top dishes, Gregory’s dumpling is deemed the best, and he gets the 10,000 dollars AND the ire of his fellow cheftestants, who seem to be doing all they can to catch up with Gregory’s dominance thus far in the competition.