Top Chef Boston Recap: Episode 5
By Jason Lee
November 18, 2014
We rejoin the cheftestants not in the Stew Room but back in the Top Chef house. Nary a word is said about last week’s departures of James and Rebecca. Yeah, they didn’t make much of an impact on me either.
Adam notes that there are only 10 chefs left. That’s pretty amazing to me. Last season, it felt like there were a number of great chefs who could get hot and win out - Nina, Shirley, Louis, even Carlos. This season so far - while parity among the chefs means that the title could be up for grabs - I’d only single out Greg and Mei Lin as frontrunners.
We’re off to the Top Chef kitchen for this week’s Quickfire and we find Jamie Bissonnette (last year’s James Beard award winner for Best Chef in the Northeast) in the kitchen with Padma. She notes that, at this point in the competition, the cheftestants have had an opportunity to size each other up. It’s time to put that knowledge to the test. Five chefs will have the opportunity to name another chef against whom to cook in a head-to-head battle. The named chef picks the cooking method and the dish. The winning chef overall gets $10,000.
Katsuji goes first and picks Aaron. He wants to show Aaron how real chefs behave and cook. Aaron chooses smoked salmon as their dish.
Doug chooses Adam. He says that Adam loves to talk, and thus he’d enjoy knocking him down a peg. Adam chooses steamed mussels.
Keriann is the first cheftestant to actually employ strategy (as opposed to picking based on personal animosity) and chooses local girl Stacy, who she deems to be the weakest in the competition. Stacy chooses trout en papiotte.
Melissa looks at the remaining chefs: Katie, Greg, and Mei Lin. Obviously, she’s not going to pick Greg or Mei Lin. Melissa may have a weird haircut, but she’s not dumb. She avoids the chefs-to-beat and picks Katie, who selects smoked BBQ.
Thus, perhaps by chance, perhaps by the Top Chef producers’ obvious intent, the class of the kitchen - Greg and Mei Lin - are paired up against each other. By leaving them as the final two chefs, the other cheftestants have confirmed that they know what we know - Greg and Mei Lin are the favorites to take home the title, even after only four episodes.
As for their dish, Greg chooses dumplings. He knows that Mei Lin has made dumplings all her life, but is confident that his dumplings will have more flavor.
After a mad dish to the pantry and a frantic 30 minutes of cooking, the dishes are served up. Greg presents steamed shrimp dumplings with ginger. Padma questions why he didn’t make a dipping sauce. Mei Lin made pork dumplings with a black vinegar dipping sauce that Padma loves. In a mild upset, Greg is deemed the winner.
In Battle: Smoked BBQ, Katie offers grilled chicken breast with pine nut beans, while Melissa has a smoked and seared scallop with charred corn. Katie wins, with Jamie impressed by the way she cooked her pine nuts a la typical beans.