Top Chef Boston Recap: Finale Part 1

By Jason Lee

February 2, 2015

Well done, Melissa.

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And after 12 episodes, we’ve finally arrived: the Top Chef finale in San Miguel, Mexico. Our three finalists are focused and ready. In her opening narration, Melissa declares that while she started this journey to prove her mettle to her father, that no longer matters. This journey is for her. Mei wants to win the title and cares little for the bounty that accompanies it. Greg wants to prove that his early success was not a fluke - he barely squeaked into the finale and looks to do better.

But, of course, there’s one other chef who’ll be joining them - the winner of Last Chance Kitchen. On one side, we have Doug, the reigning champion of Last Chance Kitchen, who offers up a dish of clams with charred pineapple butter. On the other, we have George, who was eliminated for the second time by Greg in the last episode, who serves steamed clams with serrano.

Tom declares both dishes terrific but selects Doug as the winner. Doug is overjoyed. He says that he’s been obsessing over his elimination since it happened and knows that he can whip the other three finalists. Big words from a little man.


Tom instructs the four to find Padma at the church in the middle of the city where they’ll embark on their first Quickfire of the finale. It sounds straight out of a Legend of Zelda video game. “Head to the church at the heart of the town’s square, where you’ll find a beautiful maiden who’ll instruct you on your next adventure...”

The chefs arrive in Kokiri Forrest - ahem, the church and find Padma standing next to their Guest Judge, Enrique Olvera, a celebrated Mexican chef. For their Quickfire, the chefs will be cooking xoconostle, a prickly pear that’s coveted by Mexican chefs. Greg is muted in his enthusiasm - though he studied up on Mexican cactuses, he didn’t come across this particular variety. Melissa, on the other hand, is fully familiar with xoconostle and grabs some salmon to pair with it. Mei, who wanted the salmon, grabs steak instead.

And Mei is up first, with a protein that she’s not entirely happy with. “What was I thinking?” she asks, regarding her selection of steak. She serves a ribeye tataki with xoconostle salsa. Enrique likes the salsa but Padma points out that every piece of steak on her plate has a different level of doneness.

Meanwhile, her competitors offer a xoconotle and tomatillo stew (Doug), salmon ceviche with xoconostle and leche de tigre (Melissa), and garlic shrimp with olive oil and xoconostle relish (Greg).

Enrique announces the standings for the Quickfire. Greg is surprisingly in last - Enrique found the use of olive oil overpowering. Mei is in third - though Enrique liked her xoconostle salsa, her meat was not prepared correctly. In second is Melissa, who smartly used leche de tigre. And in his second win in two hours, we have Doug, who really highlighted his xoconostle and did a great job with his vegetarian offering.

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