Top Chef: The Cheesier the Better
June 21, 2021 5:23 AM - Season 18, Episode 12 - Subscribe

As the final four chefs near the end of their journey in Portland, Padma is joined by Vitaly Paley and Gregory Gourdet to introduce an old school Quickfire Challenge paying homage to the Oregon Trail. For the Elimination Challenge, legendary chef and special guest Massimo Bottura tasks the chefs to pull inspiration from his famous parmigiano reggiano dish and create delectable dishes utilizing cheddar five different ways. To gain inspiration, the chefs embark on a tour of the Tillamook Creamery. Dale Talde and Ed Lee serve as this week’s guest judges and help determine which three chefs move forward.

description via
posted by everybody had matching towels (11 comments total)
Close one for Dawn. Cheddar is pretty low on the list of cheeses I think of for a cheesesteak, but at least it didn’t have green bell peppers on it, and thank the maker no one called it “a Philly”. (What the hell, west coast?) Also, odd that people using “gougère” and “Gruyère” interchangeably to talk about her cheese puff? I was watching with subtitles for a lot of it and figured it was just a bad transcription, but nope. I started wondering if Tillamook makes a gruyère as well (they don’t).
posted by supercres at 8:10 AM on June 21, 2021

I know paid product placement is a huge thing on cooking competitions, but it's a pity this was a cheese factory rather than a small independent cheesemaker with a better selection of cheese other than plastic-wrapped mass-produced blocks.

Fish and cheese is never a good combination, so I knew Jamie was in trouble as soon as she said sea bass to Tom and he pulled that face. I think Maria would have nailed this challenge :-(

Shota took things above and beyond and made the most of an ingredient that he wouldn't ordinarily use in his style of cooking. A worthy winner.

Dawn was so lucky to stay after once again failing to get all the ingredients on the dish. I wondered why Jamie was the one called on to help. Why not one of the guys who'd already finished their dishes?

I am so over Gabe.
posted by essexjan at 9:20 AM on June 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Why not one of the guys who'd already finished their dishes?

That it’s so consistently people who haven’t yet served makes me think that’s part of the rules that only folks serving later can help, taking time out of their own cooking window, if they want to. Otherwise anyone going later would have an unfair advantage, being able to call on up to N-1 helpers.
posted by supercres at 10:55 AM on June 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, Dale was mad about that missing gougère. Wonder if Brooke made him split his with her 🙃
posted by supercres at 10:57 AM on June 21, 2021

Listen, when you're hungry and promised a delicious light cheesy gougere that doesn't appear, you're rightfully pissed!

I feel like an Olympian would be used to being super-regimented, so it's so odd to me that Dawn struggles with time and organization. I'm still glad she made it through, though. I'm rooting for a Dawn-Shota final, with Shota taking it. (I really wish I could've tasted his dish this time--I was having trouble understanding what it was, but everyone seemed to love it.)

Yeah, they couldn't pick some local independent Oregon cheesemaker with a wide variety of options?
posted by praemunire at 11:27 AM on June 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Head canon for me on the use of Tillamook, beyond the branding opportunity, is that they may have been better equipped to handle COVID restrictions at the time of filming.

Anyway. Gabe needs to go.
posted by hijinx at 12:17 PM on June 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

I wondered why Jamie was the one called on to help

she also had extra time she won from the quickfire- i thought maybe that was it, but the theory you can only ask for help from someone who has presented has merit as well.
posted by domino at 2:22 PM on June 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yeah- I too am hoping for a Dawn-Shota finale but man Gabe does not seem to screw up ever and I am prepared to be sad.

I think it was this one where Shota in the Quickfire said he didn’t care about winning it so much as he cared about Gabe NOT winning it and: same, buddy, same.

I’d rather have a Tillamook product placement than some of the ones in past seasons (Hidden Valley Ranch! Weirdly, the Trolls movie!).
posted by charmedimsure at 11:14 AM on June 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Like the box from home challenge, I think some people really got this one and others sorta muddled through. It was interesting to watch but sad that Jamie went home. At this point it's very much a rooting against than rooting for, though I'd be quite happy with either Dawn or Shota tbh.
posted by Carillon at 11:56 PM on June 22, 2021

This was a very hard challenge to like. Usually I can get into the food even though I don't know how it would actually taste, but this made me just not want cheese. Way too much cheese. I wonder how it was to eat all 4 dishes!

I'm not familiar with Japanese cuisine to begin with and in this challenge I just found it impossible to imagine what he had even made or how it tasted.

I turned to my husband and said "this is a weird challenge to have this late in the competition" and a minute later Tom popped up to explain why it was happening so late in the competition. Ha. I thought the Quickfire challenge was a better idea.

I am also hoping for Dawn vs Shota.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:19 PM on June 23, 2021

Tillamook, lol. It's grocery store block cheese. It's not bad as grocery store cheeses go but it's not an interesting product. And to stand it up as the Oregon equivalent of Parmigiano Reggiano, a world famous artisinal aged cheese. Come on.

That being said Tillamook has more range than I knew. I didn't know they had a Maker's Reserve, I wonder how it stands up to other good American aged cheddar? And I didn't realize they actually did age their sharp cheddars, I thought the flavor was fakery. And to be fair their cheese curds are quite nice, a treat for those who visit the dairy itself. I mean they're just cheese curds, there's nothing special about Tillamook's, but fresh curds are delicious and fun.

It feels like the show has had 2 or 3 challenges lately that have been harder for the Asian-inspired chefs than the European-inspired ones. I mean cheese as a main ingredient for a chef leaning on Japanese cuisine? Yikes. Super impressed Shota won that anyway, he's a hell of a chef. Cheddar-infused dashi is a brilliant idea.
posted by Nelson at 8:26 AM on June 29, 2021

« Older Supernatural: Heart...   |  Rick and Morty: Mort Dinner Ri... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments