Recap of “Top Chef: Houston”: final

And then they were three.

It has apparently been a long emotional journey on Grand Chief: Houston. The reality show competition began with 15 hopeful head testers taking on challenges while exploring the diversity, culture and unique qualities of Clutch City. This week, however, the show’s finalists spent a second week in Tucson, Arizona, the first designated UNESCO City of Food in the United States. There’s Houston’s “local heroine,” Evelyn García, who has honed her passion for Latin and Southeast Asian flavored cuisine; Buddha Lo, the New York-to-Australian chef known for his over-the-top techniques and decorative dishes; and Sarah Welch of Detroit, an eccentric chef with a passion for produce and fire in Last chance kitchen earned him a place in the final.

Now the judges have the difficult choice of picking just one. To make it easier for them, each chef will create the “most progressive” four-course meal of their life according to their own tastes and rules and will have the possibility of choosing one of their former competitors to assist them as sous-chef.

Warning: Spoilers ahead. Here is a summary of Grand Chief: Houston episode 13.

The last challenge

In preparation to serve judges like Chiefs Gail Simmons; Tom Colicchio; Stéphanie Izard, winner of Top Chef: Season 4; famous French chef Eric Ripert; Bricia Lopez, restaurateur and co-owner of Guelaguetza; Grégory Gourdet, former student of Grand Chief: Boston; Tucson leader Janos Wilder; and award-winning chef Alexander Smalls, the finalists start thinking about who would be their best companion in the final challenge.

Welch immediately video calls Robert Hernandez, her partner who she was eliminated with in the fourth episode. Viewers who liked the Texas duo probably rejoice when García calls on Austin’s Jo Chan, believing the two understand food the same way and share a special bond. A competitive Lo calls on Jackson Kalb, who was known for his inventive and flavorful dishes despite losing his sense of taste and smell due to a previous bout with COVID-19. “I just want the edge,” Lo says. “If I don’t beat him, I want him next to me.”

Although eliminated together in the fourth episode, chef Sarah Welch chose Robert Hernandez to be her sous chef in the Grand Chief: Houston final.
David Moire/Bravo

After a nice break where judges Izard, Simmons, Ripert, Wilder, Collicoho and Lakshmi cook for them in the middle of the desert, it’s back to business.

Welch decides on a waste-conscious hunter-gatherer menu, aiming to use ingredients native to Arizona while drawing similarities to his Michigan upbringing,

With Hernandez’s help, Welch prepares a deer heart and beer tartare, with sourdough miso and smoked butter for the first course. While the judges like that it adapts to the desert environment, the tartare lacks seasoning and needs an extra hit of miso. For the second course, Welch uses Hernandez’s pasta skills to create a squash dumpling in cornhusk broth, with miso, mashed eightlacoche and Three Sisters salad – a puzzling idea and “too big for the bowl,” according to Simmons. The main course is rabbit ballotine with a salad of apricots, chestnuts and herbs with grains which are said to have “personality” but are unfortunately cooked unevenly, followed by a warm and comforting acorn cake with smoky buttermilk ice cream and calypso bean miso caramel that delights Ripert and reminds Lakshmi of childhood.

Although Lo was worried about taking a classic, boring approach to her final dishes, Kalb is excited — and a bit jealous — of Lo’s vision for her final meal, but helps her out all the same. In a quaint tribute to his family, Lo makes hamachis with yellow wine sauce, caviar, apples and bee figures made from sweet potatoes as a tribute to his brother – a “pretty perfect three-star Michelin meal. “by the standards of Simmons and Colicchio. Lo uses his mother’s recipe for panang laksa, pairing it with cannelloni, king crab and a carrot butterfly tuile — an approach that Ripert says is outdated but Colicchio deems showy. For the main course, Lo prepares a “perfectly cooked” Mongolian lamb, a recipe in tribute to his father who died before the show, and pairs it with mashed eggplant, asparagus, miso, pumpkin flowers and eggplant tile sheets that captivate the judges. Lo’s final dish – a pumpkin mille-feulle pie with pumpkin custard, whipped cream, maple caramel, pumpkin spice cake and pumpkin leaves – is his tribute to America for its welcome as an immigrant and inspired Simmons to enthusiastically rethink his pumpkin pie concept.

Buddha Lo and Jackson Kalb chat with Stephanie Izard, Tom Colicchio and Eric Ripert in the kitchen.

While they were in direct competition in the previous episodes, Buddha Lo enlists Jackson Kalb to help him in the finale.
David Moire/Bravo

Being “thrilled that we could cook whatever we wanted”, García draws from memory, the flavors of Tucson and what she learned from Excellent chef so far. She makes a scallop crudo with pickled radish, prickly pear and citrus broth with sweet potato, crispy quinoa and chiltepin oil that impresses Wilder and Lopez, although Colicchio said he needed more seasoning.

Simmons likens García’s second dish with crystal shrimp and corn dumplings to little gems. And though Garcia’s inventive third dish — goat’s neck ‘currymole’ with nopales and spicy pumpkin seeds — combines unique flavors, judges note it needs more seasoning and could have benefited. of cooking the goat cheese directly in the currymole sauce. Like Welch and Lo, Garcia’s dessert – a bunuelo with panna cotta cajeta with cardamom cream, pitaya and persimmon – is considered his best dish, although Colicchio again complains that the panna cotta is too firm.

Evelyn García and Jo Chan hatch plans for the final four-course meal.

Evelyn García chose her Texas buddy Jo Chan to help her in the final.
David Moire/Bravo

It’s clear that once the judges reconvene for their private chat, this “wildcard” Welch won’t win.

The final is between Lo and García.

Drum roll please.

The winner

García, from Houston, clearly wowed the judges with his unique combination of Latin and Asian flavors, but in the end it was Lo’s creativity, his award-winning attention to detail and his love of literally playing with it. its food that conquered the judges.

Buddha Lo mixes the ingredients in a bowl.

Chef Buddha Lo’s artistic and technical approach has earned him the Grand Chief: Houston Title.
David Moire/Bravo

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