Top Chef: Cactus Makes Perfect
June 1, 2022 9:14 PM - Season 19, Episode 13 - Subscribe

The final four chefs are headed to Tucson. For their last Quickfire Challenge, they’ll make the trip to El Charro, the oldest family-run Mexican restaurant in the country, where legendary chef Carlotta Flores challenges them to create a dish featuring her Carne Seca. In the final Elimination Challenge, alum and Tucson local Maria Mazon wants the chefs to embrace the desert lifestyle and create two dishes – one sweet and one savory – using the classic Sonoran ingredients: cactus and chiltepin. With an impressive assortment of locals and “Top Chef Seattle” winner Kristen Kish joining the judges table, the heat is on.

Summary courtesy of Bravo.

Tucson is one of two US cities to be UNESCO Cities of Gastronomy. The other one is San Antonio; the award generally goes to smaller cities that have a strong, distinct and well preserved local tradition of food.
posted by Superilla (4 comments total)
It's sad that DaMarr is the one who left before the final; I would have been happy with any of the four winning. He started so strong, but he's fallen off some and has gotten in his head a little. I'm hopeful that even if he didn't win the big check, he's had enough exposure he can partner with business people and move up in the cheffing world.

It's a strong final three; Buddha has a ton of technique but he's done a good job of using his toolbox judiciously. Evelyn has been cooking from the heart, and she really fits in with Tucson and the cuisine. Sarah seems to be doing really well with the judges; to be honest, as I said above I don't really care who wins, but I was desperately hoping for one more episode of her delightful (and terribly green-screened) confessionals; she's hilarious in a dry, snarky way.
posted by Superilla at 10:20 PM on June 1, 2022

chiltepin, recently on Metafilter. I agree with you Superilla, I'd be happy to see any of these four win and for different reasons. I think that must reflect a new editing choice for Top Chef. For the contestants the exposure of being on the show is a big part of the draw, it benefits everyone for the producers to try to make everyone look good.
posted by Nelson at 6:58 AM on June 2, 2022

One final thing I noticed; in the stew room during judging:
DaMarr, motioning to the other chefs: "I almost doubled my friend group."
Evelyn: "Oh, that is so cute"
Sarah: verklempt "awww" like she's seeing a puppy
Buddha: "Quadrupled mine."

This show's come a long way from the old "I'm not here to make friends" days of reality TV, and it's SO MUCH better for it.
posted by Superilla at 3:50 PM on June 6, 2022

Awww, I am late to but loved this episode. It’s awesome when no one screws up too badly and everyone seemed to have their own and interesting take on the ingredients. I am glad that Sarah was the one with the extra time, since seeing her tip that ice cream all over herself would otherwise have been super-traumatic. I’d be happy with any one of the three winning (but am rooting for the women).

The bad green screen is really something. It’s super-noticeable on Sarah’s interviews but also Evelyn’s at times.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:58 AM on June 14, 2022

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