Top Chef: Family Vacation
May 16, 2022 3:41 PM - Season 19, Episode 11 - Subscribe

It’s time to hit the beach. The Chefs head to the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston Texas, but they won’t have any time to relax. Chef Shota Nakajima is here to present them with their next Quickfire Challenge: using the freshest gulf shellfish to create a seafood tower with one hot and one cold dish. Then, for the Elimination Challenge, Padma announces that along with alumni Sheldon Simeon and Adrienne Cheatham, the chefs will be feeding a family of special VIPs, who are expecting them to cater to some very specific tastes.

Summary from Bravo.

The cheftestant family members ("special VIPs") that came were:
Ashleigh - mother Angela
Buddha - wife Rebekah
DaMarr - mentor and friend Chef Erick Williams
Evelyn - father Jose
Nick - mother Susie
Sarah - sister Molly

DaMarr's mother is in a wheelchair, and his aunt is her primary caretaker, so they sent a note along with Chef Williams.
posted by Superilla (7 comments total)
Well that was sweet, I grew up spending a week every summer in a (much shabbier) Galveston beach house so it seemed awfully familiar. Seemed bizarre to make them cook in such a tiny kitchen and the VRBO product placement was awfully clumsy. But the family reunions thing always makes for meaningful moments. I particularly liked Nick's mother Susie Wallace. She totally owned her scenes and was just so full of love.

This whole season has been so frustrating to me! I grew up in Houston and love the food scene there. But they barely ever get out into the city, I assume for Covid reasons. The episode a few weeks ago in Brennan's kitchen did encourage me to go have dinner at Brennan's last week when I visited Houston. Still as good as I remember, reliable fine dining Creole.

It's not too late for them to feature Viet-Cajun food on Top Chef! I had a great lunch at Kau Ba while visiting. The chef there has an interesting story, it's told partly in the Shrimp & Crawfish episode of Ugly Delicious.
posted by Nelson at 4:46 PM on May 16

I guess I wasn’t paying attention towards the beginning, because I thought the guests would be some huge Bravo-show-affiliated family. Kardashians probably would have been a little out of their league, but I couldn’t think who else would fit.

Glad Sarah is back and is continuing on, would have been greatly disappointing to have her back for only one episode.

Feels like Buddha is getting a winner’s edit— he can do refined, molecular, AND rustic+simple. Evelyn close in overall odds but for completely different reasons
posted by supercres at 7:32 PM on May 16

Me too, supercres! I was thinking it was some rich family they were cooking for not their own. Undercooked squid didn't seem good so makes sense why she went home. Sarah needs to step up her game though, she was so good on alCK so I got safe can get back to that soon. Fun to see Adrienne back though!
posted by Carillon at 8:21 PM on May 16

It's not too late for them to feature Viet-Cajun food on Top Chef!
They did a full episode dive into Viet-Cajun in episode 4 I think of Top Chef New Orleans; a series that's not necessarily a great one to watch to the end -- gosh, it has not aged well as a series -- although I don't remember this specific episode as being bad.

Speaking of series with regrettable winners, I noticed that they've had Dawn Burrell, one of the three finalists from last season on a couple of times (very unsurprising, given she's a Houston chef). And they brought Shota (and he brought his laugh), the second of the three finalists. And I'm guessing/assuming/hoping that the winner of last season stays gone (even though he's only a 2 1/2 hour drive away).

I immediately assumed the VIPs were cheftestant family; it's always nice to see them meeting their loved ones, and their loved ones interacting. Often, there's more of a family-hangs-out-with-judges scenes that are usually interesting/touching.

Seems to me like Sarah is getting about half of the talking heads; I think she's hilarious although incredibly dry.
posted by Superilla at 10:41 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]

I love Ashleigh, that was a painful loss. The minute she said in her talking head that she heard some chef's voice warning her about overcooked squid, I knew she was gone. I think Evelyn and Buddha are finale-bound, along with either Damarr or Nick. Any of them would be a lovely choice. I like Sarah just fine, but it would be a shame to have such a diverse cast produce a kind of bland white winner.
posted by donnagirl at 5:20 AM on May 17

We're at the point where any loss would be painful. I was pretty sure that Ashleigh would go home. She committed the worse error, and Sarah knew what one of her errors was and mentioned it at Judge's Table. To me, Shota seemed uncomfortable as a judge. He didn't seem to contribute much, although he did point out Sarah's error cutting the tuna.
I'm going to go with Evelyn, Buddha and Nick as the final 3. They seem the strongest to me all season.
posted by Spike Glee at 6:53 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]

I love Sarah- she’s really pretty funny in a quiet/wry way. I was bummed about Ashleigh, but it seemed pretty inevitable from the second they showed her out on that deck. Would love to see an Evelyn win but I don’t think anyone who is left is a dud (Buddha is my least favorite, but if I were a betting woman…I’d go with him based on his edit rn).
posted by charmedimsure at 11:44 PM on May 25

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