Each week we bring you a recap of Top Chef: Boston, where our hometown heroes, Gregory Gourdet and Doug Adams, are facing off against 14 other challengers from around the country. (Click here for a quick primer.)
When we last saw Doug Adams, he was staring down defeat at the hands of the always-perspiring George “Nine Lives” Pagonis. Now, finally, the winner of Last Chance Kitchen is finally revealed: Adams is back in the competition after having been eliminated in Episode 10 for undercooked foie gras. Pagonis, the lucky Greek cat, is finally dead.
Now he joins fellow Portland front-runner Gregory Gourdet, private chef Melissa King, and Mei Lin (sous chef at Ink, in LA) for the final round in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. In the shadow of San Miguel’s famous neo-classical church, the cheftestants are introduced to their next judge: Enrique Olvera, chef-owner of Pujol in Mexico City, and one of the most prominent names in contemporary Mexican cooking.
For their Quickfire Challenge, the finalists are given a prickly pear by the name of xoconostle—a spiny, tart cactus unfamiliar to most of the chefs. Gourdet makes shrimp with olive oil-prickly pear sauce and xoconostle relish, while Adams cooks up—and wins with—a xoconostle and tomatillo stew with roasted peppers.
The Elimination Challenge is similar to one we’ve seen before: each chef is given a San Miguel-based artist to work with; their plate should mimic the artist’s canvas. Supposedly, the artists are picked at random, but that’s hard to believe. Adams gets a Texas-born painter who reminds him exactly of his mother; “gentle, but firm.” From here on, it’s all “yes m’am” and Texas red. Gourdet gets a moody expressionist, who reminds him of his own struggles with substance abuse. The funniest of the mix, though, is Lin, who is assigned a colorful, heavily stylized eccentric—her polar opposite. “It’s really…inspiring,” she says, with her totally deadpan, self-described “resting bitch face.”
As an added twist, the season’s eliminated cheftestants are on hand to act as sous chef. Adams quickly snatches up Adam Harvey and Katsuji Tanabe, who, ironically, cooked Mexican food the entire season—while in bean-loving Boston. Gourdet, who scraped by for the latter half of the season on his Southeast Asian pantry, brushed up on his Mexican flavors. “We had a break between Boston and Mexico. It was very needed. I spent time learning Mexican ingredients and cuisine,” Gourdet tells Eat Beat.
Gourdet grills strip loin with ancho chile, beets, cilantro puree, and Valencia orange, while Doug goes for a down-low brisket “Texas Red” chili with tomatillo and masa cake. At the Judges’ Table, both of our hometown heroes dominate, with Adams taking the win. King is sent home after her brief winning streak. Adams’ success is a true underdog story, coming back from the brink of ruin to take the lead. It also ensures that at least one Portland chef will be in the final showdown, if not both.