Top Chef Recap: Because Wylie


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With no Quickfire and no Cheftestants being sent home last week, there was little to recap. But still, here’s a brief rundown of the highlights:

–A family member of each Cheftestant shows up in the kitchen. Everybody cries.
Kapnos’s father eats an oyster for the first time. While wearing the same pair of Rustler jeans he’s had since 1984.
Hipster Urkel continues to self-destruct.

The main takeaway is that Skrillex has emerged as the true dark horse, winning the challenge and an automatic entry into the final.

Fast forward to this week—the last week in Boston, or Beantown, as it is lovingly referred to by people who aren’t from Boston. Saving the most blatant Boston-themed Quickfire for last, the Cheftestants are tasked with highlighting the humble bean in an innovative dish (because Wylie Dufresne is guest judge). The winner gets a trip to Napa, but they are only allowed to visit the Terlato winery.

While cooking, Kapnos talks about farts, because beans. Mei puts an egg in her dish and also makes a foam, because Wylie Dufresne. Hipster Urkel undercooks his beans, because nerves. Wylie doesn’t like the texture, nor does he like the addition of avocado. Skrillex does a bad job of highlighting the beans. Kapnos threw a pork tenderloin on his plate that wasn’t necessary. By process of elimination, Mei is the last chef standing, and she wins the opportunity to get wasted in Napa. Hooray for mediocrity!

Next up (again, because Wylie) is a Quickfire based solely on innovation. Essentially, the Cheftestants must take three hours to do something they’ve never done before and hope like Hades they can pull it off.

For Wylie Dufresne.

This being the last challenge before heading to Mexico, I suppose the difficulty here is warranted, even though whoever loses can still cook their way back in via Last Chance Kitchen. Still, the chefs are nervous. I’ve never seen Kapnos, or anyone for that matter, sweat so much. He decides to innovate by cooking pork belly (because who has ever cooked pork belly before? Innovation!). But then Whole Foods is out of pork belly. His audible is octopus with varied textures and a green harissa. The harissa works, but the octopus is overcooked and there is no reward for his risk. Hipster Urkel executes his tom kha soup very well, but the judges struggle to find innovation in the dish. Both Skrillex and Mei make duck, the former innovating with a walnut miso, and the latter with a duck curry that confuses Colicchio in a good way. Even though Skrillex could have mailed it in, her dish was well regarded and the better of the two duck preparations. She takes the win and $10,000. Mei, whose duck was a close second, wins a spot on the plane to Mexico as well.

Which leaves the final spot as a toss-up between Hipster Urkel and Kapnos, and the decision comes down to execution (and probably the fact that the producers were repulsed by Kapnos’s sweating problem). As predicted, Hipster Urkel  will be facing off against Mei at the end of this thing, but Skrillex could easily snatch it away from either of them.

Place your bets, folks.

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