Hoo-rah, Dallas has someone to root for in the final outcome of Top Chef season 14, as local chef John Tesar sticks it out and snags one of the finalists spots. Tesar will join fellow finalists Shirley Chung and Sheldon Simeon in the finale, which takes place in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The episode is one of the most touchy-feely in Top Chef history, with family members heavily woven into the storyline. They're actual participants in the quickfire, in which the contestants must instruct mystery partners they cannot see. Surprise surprise, the mystery partners are their spouses (or, in the case of spouseless chef Brooke Williamson, her sister).
The strange thing is, they're talking to each other back and forth but other than Sheldon, none recognize who his or her partner is. Yes, they are hidden behind a wall. But how do you be married to someone or grow up with them your entire life and not recognize their voice?
Tesar is "speechless" that his wife Tracy is his partner. "She's a beautiful woman, she's just very shy and doesn't want to be on television, and I can't believe they got her to come here and do this," he says.
After Sheldon and his missus win the challenge, the family members are forced to stick around for a falsely convivial meal cooked by host Padma Lakshmi. Why is she cooking them a meal? Because she has a packaged rice product she wants to shill. "I brought my own organic frozen rice," she says — insert quick closeup of product box — plus chicken and kumquat chutney.
"How is it," she asks. Obviously there is only one answer: Greatest chicken that was ever cooked.
The elimination challenge is some blah-blah about making a dish inspired by South Carolina, since this is the final episode that will be filmed there. Shirley's dish is tasty, but she keeps talking about her family. Nothing to do with the Carolinas.
Tesar says his scallops topped with a sofrito will bring the flavors of the ocean. They dedicate lots of air time to him explaining his technique on his Spanish sofrito sauce. Uh-oh, that's a red flag. The sofrito includes diced red pepper, and he leaves the peel on so it won't turn to mush. He has a rationale, see. Need the peel. Red flag.
Judge Tom Colicchio can't understand why you wouldn't peel the pepper. Pepper should be peeled. It puts Tesar on the bottom with Brooke. Luckily for Tesar, Brooke uses the sous vide method to cook her pork tenderloin, which destroys its tenderness, and her cola sauce is too sweet. She's eliminated.
Sheldon wins for his chow fun dish, with noodles he makes out of Carolina rice, which he pulverizes into a flour and thickens with tapioca. His dish is clever and delicious and also has pork belly. But the key thing is the Carolina rice. #Winning.