Top Chef Season 13 is only two episodes in, but DC cheftestants are already playing leading roles. The first half of the premier on Wednesday marked a dramatic loss for Washington cheftestant Garret Fleming, who was the first to pack his knives and go, and managed to slam Mike Isabella’s reputation in the process. Last night Ripple/Roofer’s Union chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley redeemed the local competition, taking home the win.
In the episode, four teams were sent to Los Angeles neighborhoods to open pop-up restaurants that reflected a single cuisine: Korean, Mexican, Vegan, and for Meek-Bradley’s winning team, Persian—an advantage given her experience working with similar flavors at Zaytinya, which shone in her yoghurt mousse with pistachio sponge cake.
At first, it looked like Kwame Onwuachi had the challenge in the bag. The other remaining DC chef, whose restaurant the Shaw Bijou is opening soon, is a veteran of the travelling pop-up series Dinner Lab. “I’m kind of a seasoned pop-up restaurateur,” he said, later adding “in my experience, with pop ups, it’s really good to create something that reads familiar, looks unfamiliar, but tastes familiar.”
Assigned to Team Mexico, Onwuachi received raves for his chipotle-glazed shrimp, but his team as a whole failed to shine. At the elimination, judges made it clear that Onwuachi had saved them from the loser’s circle. “If it wasn’t for Kwame’s dish, this would have been a different conversation,” they said.
On the chopping block: Team Vegan. Cheftestant Grayson Schmitz—back for a second round after competing on Season Nine—received the most memorable putdown of the night when guest judge Ludo Lefebvre told her “I feel as if your green beans died for nothing.” Still it was Renee Kelly who got the boot for a tofu-stuffed beet.