Top Spots on Top Chef
Even non-reality-TV fans have had their eyes glued to Top Chef in 2014, since Season 12 of the show (finally!) decided to feature Boston as the host city. Herewith, an episode guide to the local chefs and spots that have appeared so far. Food tourists: on your mark, go!
Episode 1: We meet local contestant Stacy Cogswell (pictured) of Brookline restaurant The Regal Beagle. (Head here to check out our pre-premiere chat.)
Episode 2: 2014 hot culinary mess Todd English presides over a surf 'n' turf-themed "Quickfire Challenge." (How often he continues to preside over his remaining Boston restaurant, Figs, remains subject to debate.) Then enters Dante de Magistris to guest judge a challenge that involves cooking for Boston's police and firefighters; de Magistris' Il Casale in Belmont is located in a former firehouse, you see. (He also has Restaurant dante and a newly opened Il Casale location in Lexington.)
Episode 3: Top toque Ming Tsai (Blue Dragon, Blue Ginger) oversees a Tea Party-themed "Quickfire Challenge" before bringing his keen taste to a dinner served on the field at Fenway Park.
Episode 4: The contestants descend on famous Cheers for a bar-snack-based challenge, with a cameo by actor George Wendt. (All together: "Norm!") Then they head to Via Matta to prepare three-course meals for chef Michael Schlow.
Episode 5: Jamie Bissonnette (Coppa, Toro) steps in for the "Quickfire Challenge," which involves lots of food made with Reynolds products. (Subtle.) Then the chefs take to the Arsenal on the Charles for a complicated series of historic-battle-themed cook-offs.
Episode 6: Things get started with Sweet Cheeks Q chef Tiffani Faison, a two-time Top Chef runner-up (most recently in 2014's spin-off Top Chef Duels). She sends the contestants scrambling through a cranberry bog for their first challenge. Then they head to Plimouth Plantation to cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal using only historically accurate techniques and tools. Sitting at the table: Ken Oringer (Clio, Coppa, Toro, Uni) and Mayflower descendant Will Gilson (Puritan & Company) with his father David.
Episode 7: The most recent installment of the series, the popular "Restaurant Wars" episode, sees two teams set up competing pop-up restaurants at Space 57 inside the Revere Hotel Boston Common. Evaluating the spots are restaurateur Barbara Lynch and two of her protégés: past Top Chef winner Kristin Kish, formerly chef de cuisine at Menton, and two-time Top Chef contestant Stephanie Cmar, former sous at No.9 Park.