Top Chef Week 14 Recap: Tragic Hero
Mentors of the remaining contestants, including Tony Mantuano and Sarah Stegner (left, third from left), appeared on the latest episode of Top Chef Texas. Photo courtesy of Bravo TV.
In that Charlize Theron-starred challenge several weeks back, judges thought every dish in contention was pitch-perfect, just that Kim’s halibut with black rice was least best. She took the fall, so unfairly it seemed, and Kim — chef de cuisine of Aria — was destined for reality TV footnote status.
Not so fast. With Greek tragedy comes Greek comedy, not comedy in the sense of Anchorman, but tragedy as satire, redemption, social statement to better rationalize our world. If you watched the online-only Last Chance Kitchen, you know the group of eliminated chefs sitting in the stands offering commentary? That’s your chorus. None of those chefs thought Kim stood a chance against Grayson Schmitz in the Last Chance Kitchen finale. But Kim won and earned a spot back on the show.
Five contestants competed once more. Kim’s lone Chicago colleague, Sarah Grueneberg of Spiaggia, won the quickfire challenge, and had the choice of a new car or a guaranteed spot in the final four. She smartly chose the latter. This meant Grueneberg could skip the elimination challenge: cook a dish to honor your mentor. Spiaggia’s Tony Mantuano appeared, as did Kim’s mentor, Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Cafe. Tears flowed on contestant’s row.
Newly-motivated and laser-focused, Kim navigated two woks and careful time management to serve a shrimp and BBQ pork Singapore-style vermicelli. The dish was praised by judges. With Edward Lee's elimination, Kim joined Grueneberg as the two Chicagoans competing in the final four. Now, the contestant reborn from ash could conceivably win the whole thing. Such are the foibles of human nature.