Challenges Fit for a Finale

Top Chef Boston wraps up its three-part finale tonight (at 9:00pm). Before you tune in to find out which of the final two cheftestants takes the title, see how some of Boston’s best chefs would’ve put them through their paces with their own Top Chef Boston challenges. Who knows? Maybe Bravo can incorporate some of these into a Top Chef Boston Part 2.

Chef Ken Oringer at ToroKen Oringer, Clio, Toro and Coppa:
Back in the day, we would have chefs do simple things like make an omelet or a roast chicken. A lot of these young cooks have never made an omelet in their life unless they were a breakfast cook growing up. I think it would be fun to see who could make an omelet with not a wrinkle in it, with no color, perfectly seasoned.

Jody Adams, Rialto and Trade:Chef Jody Adams at Trade
I would say, lunch on board for rowers. So, the meal would be cooked on the bank of the Charles River and delivered, by boat, to two rowing teams on their boats.

William Kovel, Catalyst: Chef William Kovel at Catalyst
It would definitely have to include a seafood element. It’d have to be a New England clambake battle; that’s like quintessential New England and Boston. They would also have to incorporate some classic dishes that originated here like a baked bean or some kind of a Parker House roll. Or maybe some kind of trivia challenge because there’s a whole culinary heritage that goes with the city and the area. Even classic Julia Child stuff from when she was in Cambridge would be a fun challenge.

Jamie Bissonnette, Toro and Coppa:Chef Jamie Bissonnette at Toro
Full disclosure: I’ve only watched Top Chef two or three times, so if what I say has already been a challenge I didn’t know that. But I’d have the contestants go into a restaurant, have a lunch and dinner there. They’d never see the kitchen but they’d be able to ask the servers questions. And then they’d have to replicate the food they ate.

Will Gilson, Puritan & CompanyChef Will Gilson at Puritan & Company
For me, it’d have to be shucking clams. I don’t think that’s done in many places and I think that’s one of the hardest things to do. You can really mess up a clam real quick if you don’t know what you’re doing. I think fishing as well, having to really go out there and actually catch your food. There’s nothing that turns you into a compulsive gambler like being a chef, a farmer or a fisherman.

Barbara Lynch, No. 9 Park and Menton:Chef Barbara Lynch at The Butcher Shop
I would love to see a challenge that tests the contestants’ knowledge of the fundamentals. It would be in the same vein as the knife speed challenge, but with technique!

Dante de Magistris, Dante and Il Casale:Chef Dante de Magistris at dante
We do something similar to a challenge every year on our patio and that’s always been fun. The challenge could be to choose a different country for each chef and then each chef would have to come up with their best street food from that country.

Ming Tsai, Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon:Chef Ming Tsai at Blue Ginger
I did Cooking Under Fire which was the first reality cooking competition show, on PBS. I was a producer and a host with Todd English and Michael Ruhlman and it lasted one year. To the point, the first challenge, the 10 minute egg challenge, I created that so that’s what I would do.

Jasper White, Summer Shack:Chef Jasper White at Summer Shack
I would definitely do a lobster competition: let’s see the best version of what you can do with this amazing creature which happens to be, I wrote a book on lobsters, too, very versatile. Most people eat them plain which I think is smart if you don’t eat them a lot, but in terms of cooking it’s very versatile. I did 90 dishes in my lobster book and I could’ve done 200. It would be a great protein for all of them to work with and it would’ve fit in with the Boston theme. 

Tony Maws, Craigie on Main and Kirkland Tap & Trotter:Chef Tony Maws at Kirkland Tap & Trotter
I would see who can actually make a real chowder. Cause no one knows how to make real chowder anymore. My version has clams in it, lots of them. It’s got salt pork, not bacon. It’s got lots of onions and it’s milk-based. Not cream. Now that’s not to say that I haven’t had other chowders that don’t have those things and aren’t delicious, but the chowder that I was brought up with as a New Englander on the ocean was that chowder.

Jeremy SewallIsland Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34
Chef Jeremy Sewall at Row 34They’d have to hunt and forage the entire meal.


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