Top Chef Recap: Episode 14
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.)
Getting eliminated on Top Chef once is traumatic. Getting eliminated twice—in the penultimate episode? That’s a full decade of therapy waiting to happen.
The last of the survivors, Gregory Gourdet, Doug Adams, and Mei Lin (who, interestingly, is no longer at Ink Restaurant) are trucked off to the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to one of the top organic farms in the region. There, they are given the final Quickfire Challenge of the season (judge Padma Lakshmi is saddened; Adams is thrilled): create two dishes with cocoa—one sweet, one savory—using the farm's produce.
Gourdet excels with a savory dish of seared lamb with white chocolate and ancho sauce alongside a sweet baby carrot, turmeric, dark chocolate, and ginger dessert. Adams delivers seared hen with tomatoes, chocolate, and ancho chile, but totally botches his dessert: melted chocolate…with chocolate mescal and cream. The chefs, judges, and even Adams seem surprised by his total culinary abandon.
Gourdet wins, and gets his first pick at sous chef: George Pagonis. Adams picks Katsuji Tanabe. They are The Odd Couple (Tanabe is Walter Matthau; Adams is Jack Lemmon).
For their Elimination Challenge, the cheftestants are charged with collectively creating a six-course meal, highlighting a Mexican staple in each dish, in front of a panel of Mexican epicurians, from cookbook authors to chefs. The three teams scrum for a table of ingredients. Adams, forever stoic and cerebral, waits until the last minute to get his ingredient: ant eggs, or escamole. “I got totally fucking screwed on this one,” says Adams. Amen, brother.
“This is like cooking foie gras for a French chef,” remarks Adams, as he tries to transform the unfamiliar Mexican specialty into something he can wrap his mind around. He crafts a Spanish tortilla with escamole eggs baked inside and escamol aioli. It’s a sort of egg three ways. Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio remarks that it’s too homogenous, texturally, and ultimately, it’s the dish that sends him home. Even his stellar final cheese course with smoked queso fresco, spiced honey squash chips, and charred pickles, isn’t enough to beat out Lin, who narrowly scrapes by.
The undisputed champ? Gregory Gourdet. He starts the dinner off with a roasted guava soup, served with bay scallops and habanero, and puts everyone to shame with his pork poblano stew with tomatillos. Guest judge Bricio Dominguez, chef at Jardín de los Milagros, is nearly brought to tears by Gourdet’s complex, nostalgic dish, and declares: “this is Mexico.”
It’s with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Doug Adams, who, in addition to being our reticent hometown hero, was also the clear underdog of Top Chef season 12, fighting his way back from the brink to enter the finals.
Gourdet on the other hand, is carrying the torch all the way to the finish line. After a very shaky second half of the season, he’s recovered with finesse and swagger. Stay tuned next week to find out if Gregory Gourdet is America’s the next Top Chef and for an exclusive interview with both of our local champions.