Top Chef Boston: Viva Mexico!

TOP CHEF -- "Finale" Episode 1213 -- Pictured: (l-r) Enrique Olivera, Padma Lakshmi -- (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)
(Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

The final three four cheftestants shine in the artist-inspired first part of the Mexican finale.

It’s finally the finale on Top Chef Boston!  Don’t get too excited by that last statement, though – we’re in for at least two more weeks of episodes, possibly three, as we continue to bring chefs back for some reason, then weed them out again in the name of crowning one of these guys (or girls) the 12th Top Chef.  Melissa, Mei, and Gregory have all landed in Mexico and are definitely in the finals, along with whoever won Last Chance Kitchen this year.

The chefs arrive at a swanky Mexican villa, which is all theirs for a very brief second before Tom Colicchio appears and escorts them up some steps to an outdoor patio where the final two Last Chance Kitchen competitors, George and Doug, are busy cooking.  All three chefs watch as Tom judges the final round and selects Doug as the last finalist in the finale.  I’m pretty thrilled by the result – George getting back into the competition felt like he had taken a taxi to the end of a marathon, and Doug’s elimination was the hardest to watch.  No one gets much time to relax, though – it’s time for the first Mexican Quickfire.


Enrique Olivera is our guest judge this week!  He points out that prickly pear plays a role in a lot of Mexican cuisine, and the chefs are challenged to highlight the prized Xoconostle prickly pear, which has a short season.  The chefs have only 30 minutes to put together their dishes.

Melissa grabs the only fish available, salmon, and starts to put together a ceviche with the tart flavor of the prickly pear.  Mei decides to do steak, which due to her time constraints becomes a tataki-style preparation 1.  Gregory and Doug are happy that both Portland chefs have made it to the finale.

When all is cooked and done, here’s what gets presented to Padma and Enrique:

Mei – ribeye tatami with prickly pear salsa
Doug – prickly pear and tomatillo stew
Melissa – salmon ceviche with guava, prickly pear
Gregory – garlic shrimp with olive oil prickly pear sauce, relish

Enrique’s least favorite dish is Gregory’s shrimp, where the prickly pear flavor was overpowered by the olive oil he used.  Also coming up short is Mei, whose unevenly cooked steak sinks her chances of winning the quickfire.  Enrique really dug Melissa’s ceviche (particularly its tasty, tasty liquid) and Doug’s stew, which inadvertently matched the mostly veggie nature of much Mexican cuisine.  Doug is on a roll after his Last Chance Kitchen performance and wins the quickfire!  Padma promises he’ll have a great advantage going into the elimination challenge.

  1. cooked on the outside, raw on the inside  

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About Ben Smith 252 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: