Ming Tsai

Top Chef Boston: Fine Dining at Fenway

Padma and Ming Tsai announce the second Sudden Death Quickfire of the season.  It’s Boston Tea Party themed… because that might the be only thing people know about Boston.  Actually, it’s a neat challenge.  Each cheftestant gets a different type of tea to cook with.  There are thirteen different types which include:

  • strawberry white tea, which Gregory gets
  • gunpowder spearmint, which Aaron gets
  • lemongrass pomegranate rooibos, which Rebecca gets
  • Asian pear white tea, for James
  • chocolate & salt herbal tea, for Rob
  • toasted nut oolong, for Melissa

They don’t get to pick, they just open a container and that’s what they need to prepare tea for two with for Padma and Ming.  Melissa, Gregory, and Ron come out on top.  Gregory takes the win and earns immunity for the elimination challenge.  The bottom three are James, Aaron, and Rebecca.  Ultimately, Aaron loses and is up for elimination.  He has to cook for his life.

Aaron chooses Katie to cook again, as she is a culinary instructor and he has some kind of chip on his shoulder for not being able to afford culinary school.  The twist?  The only source of heat Aaron and Katie can use is boiling water.

Aaron does “a spring roll, but a fucked up one,” which Padma asks how he would like her to eat.  Katie makes pasta by hand since she couldn’t figure out the pasta maker.  Aaron’s fucked up spring roll is enough to beat Katie and keep him in the competition.  It’s nice to see no one go home!  But Aaron’s ego, man.

Ming & Padma then announce the elimination challenge and FENWAY PARK home of the Boston Red Sox!  I’m still too excited about that not to type it in caps.  The cheftestants must use a classic ballpark snack as inspiration (peanuts, popcorn, pretzels, friend dough) to make a fine dining dish to serve at Fenway.

Tom, Richard Blais, Hugh Acheson, Padma, Ming, and guests Dennis Eckersley and Dan Shaughnessy sit below the green monster and are served the following:

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Back at the judges’ table, Ming accompanies our regulars.  The favorites are Gregory, Melissa, and Katie.  Gregory takes the win, again!  I’m really starting to like him after hearing more of his backstory.  On the bottom, we have Ron, Kerriann, and Katsuji.  None of these are people I wanted to go home.  Ron ends up packing his knives.  I would’ve liked to see more from him; he seemed like a genuinely good guy.

NEXT WEEK THOUGH features one of my absolute favorite shows, CHEERS!  Special guests include George Wendt (say it with me, Norm!  Did you know I’m the world’s oldest 25-year-old?) and Shameless’s Emmy Rossum!  Every preview just gets me more and more excited about Top Chef Boston!

If you watch in the Eastern time zone, remember to tweet with me next week! @nikkisee

What did you guys think of this week’s episode and the results?!

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Top Chef Boston: Not Complex to Eat!

The beautiful Padma Lakshmi and new judge/Top Chef alum Richard Blais welcome the new crop of cheftestants to Boston.  The sixteen hopefuls include the likes of Mei Lin, sous chef at Top Chef superstar Michael Voltaggio’s Ink, George Pagonis, business partner to Top Chef alum Mike Isabella, and Stacy Cogswell, executive chef of the Regal Beagle right here in my home city of Boston!

Padma announces that the first Quickfire is a Sudden Death Quickfire, meaning the loser will face possible elimination.  There are going to be a couple of these this season, she warns.  The first part of the Quickfire is a favorite of mine, the miss en place relay race!  The 16 cheftestants break into 4 teams:

  • The Red Team: Melissa, Joy, Gregory, and George
  • The Yellow Team: Ron, Stacy, Rebecca, and Katie
  • The Green Team: Doug, Adam, Aaron, and Keriann
  • The Blue Team: Mei, Michael, James, Katsuji

The relay is, of course, New England themed with the tasks being lobster, oysters, mackerel, and little neck clams.  Yum!

Blue team is out in front for the first three events, while yellow lags a bit.  Blue loses its lead at clams, because Katsuji has literally no idea how to open them.  It’s pretty painful to watch.  Ron on yellow makes up a lot of time, Green takes the lead and finishes just before them.  Blue gets their act together and slides into the third spot.  Red is the last to finish, meaning it’s time for part 2: the slowest person on the team is up for elimination.  The slowest is George, who also had trouble with clams.  He is to pick any cheftestant to cook against head-to-head.  If George wins, both stay.  If George loses, he goes home.

George picks Gregory, since he got the mackerel that George really wanted.

They have 20 minutes to cook.  Here’s what they come up with:

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Richard calls George’s dish elegant, but in need of heat.  He warns Gregory of trying to do so much, seeing more opportunity to mess up when there are three dishes instead of just one. Gregory ends up winning, sending poor George home very early! I really feel bad for this guy.   Blais said he put his heart on that plate, and mine is breaking for him.

With one cheftestant down, the rest face the Elimination Challenge.  Their challenge is to create an updated version of the first dish they remember cooking– a nod to Boston’s historic nature– for a Top Chef Food Festival at the Museum of Science.  The next day, they get 3 hours to cook for 250 guests.

Local legends like Barbara Lynch, Ming Tsai, and Top Chef alumni Kristen Kish and Tiffani Faison contribute to the atmospheric pressure. Tom, Gail, Richard, and Padma circulate trying the dishes. Marty Walsh (Boston’s Mayor) shows up mid-commercial break too, which is fun too.

Here’s what everyone made:

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