In any language, “Top Chef” said goodbye to Boston last week. In some ways, like when I think about how long Boston lobbied to host the show, the season has gone by quickly. But in other ways, like when I think about staying up until 3 a.m. writing these recaps, this season seems like it’s been going for nine months. There are aspects of “Top Chef” Boston that feel like they took place in past seasons. Remember the dinner for police and firefighters? Remember when the chefs cooked for Norm from “Cheers?” Remember Joy? Exactly.
As much as I already miss seeing Boston on the show, it’s time to put that part in the rearview mirror. For the remaining three weeks, my recaps will only focus on what happens in the finals. After the champion is crowned, I am hoping to get some space on Boston.com to do a season review, but for now my focus is on what takes place in Mexico. What does this mean for you? The remaining articles will be (a little) shorter and feature fewer background tidbits about guest chefs and locations. But I’m not leaving the Boston portion of the season behind just yet.
My friends at “Pack Your Mics” (the “Top Chef” podcast; what a great name) invited me on the show this week to review the season. Since this week’s episode was the first one not shot in Boston, they wanted to have me on before everyone turned their attention to the finals in Mexico. I recorded the show with host Alex Falcone Wednesday night and the episode is live on their website. It’s about 31 minutes long and I’ll hope you’ll listen. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and I hope you’ll listen to it for the rest of this season and beyond!
The updated Ratty Power Index (RPI):
1. Mei: Another Top 2 finish last week. She’s the best chef left on the show. I don’t see how anyone can disagree with this.
2. Melissa: Finished first last week but you cannot convince me that she’s going to win this show
3. Gregory: Peaked early in the season but is stumbling into the finals
Last Chance Kitchen
No need for a spoiler alert this week because the winner was announced at the beginning of the episode, so let’s get right to it. For the sixth and final Last Chance Kitchen, “Top Chef” left Boston for the warmer climes of San Miguel de Allende in Central Mexico. Needless to say, a lot was at stake this week: With three of the four spots in the finals set, the winner of this final Last Chance Kitchen would head to the finals and the loser would be sent home—this time for good.
Tom Colicchio met Doug and George (eliminated last week) on the rooftop of the beautiful villa where the remaining contestants would stay during the finals. Since Last Chance Kitchen is usually related to the most recently departed contestant, Tom began the segment talking about the bad decisions George has made this season. In the first episode, he struggled shucking clams and was eventually eliminated. In last week’s episode, he chose to cook octopus and ended up over-charring it and was eliminated again.
Tom asked the chefs to create a Mexican-inspired dish using either clams or octopus, but then gave Doug the choice of which ingredient to use. Not surprisingly, Doug chose clams. As a Pacific Northwest resident, he’s comfortable cooking with them and also knows George—who owns a Greek restaurant—would have greatly preferred octopus.
During the segment, Mei, Melissa, and Gregory also arrived at the villa and explored it with the zeal of “Real World” cast members. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, Doug and George were upstairs cooking away. Doug said he had never made a Mexican-inspired clam dish before. George, still feeling burned by his experience with clams in the first episode, decided to steam them and use them as the basis for a soup.
While Doug and George cooked, Tom went downstairs to welcome the finalists to Mexico, and then invited them upstairs for a surprise. The surprise, of course, was that Last Chance Kitchen was happening in their house. As if there wasn’t enough pressure already, Doug and George had to finish their meals while the three finalists looked on.
Doug’s dish was clams with charred pineapple butter, tomatillo, tomatoes, and pickled red onion.