Food

Did Any DC Cheftestants Make It to the Finale of Top Chef Season 13?

Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley cooked her way into the final four on Top Chef Season 13. Photograph courtesy of NBCUniversal

We’re in the final episodes of Top Chef Season 13, and two DC cheftestants have shown to be particularly strong: Kwame Onwuachi of the forthcoming Shaw Bijou, who took home several victories before being eliminated in episode 12, and Marjorie Meek-Bradley (RippleRoofers Union), who cooked her way into the final four on last night’s episode—the determining battle before two chefs continue to the finale.

So how did Meek-Bradley fare? The episode, which went down in Las Vegas, was off to a promising start for the upcoming Smoked & Stacked owner. The quick-fire challenge began with a card trick, and Meek-Bradley pulled the top queen, allowing her to pick prime ingredients from the pantry—she chose salmon—while other competitors were left with seconds and thirds  like beef tongue and chicken livers. Still it was Jeremy Ford who clinched immunity, creating a dish of butter-braised chicken thighs with zucchini and pickled grapes that wowed the judges—helped along by sous-chef Onwuachi, who briefly made a reappearance along with other eliminated cheftestants to aid the finalists.

Magician David Copperfield was the guest judge for the elimination challenge, which no surprise, was all about sleight of hand. The cheftestants were tasked with creating a dish that involved showmanship and illusion—a self-described weakness of Meek-Bradley, who admitted, I’m not looking forward to giving them a show. I don’t run a showy kitchen.” Not long after, she burned her tongue on liquid nitrogen while testing her dish: duck à l’orange, a tribute to an influential trip to France while in culinary school.

Meek-Bradley managed to put on a decent show for the judges, though the liquid nitrogen came back to bite her, over-freezing the oranges so that the duck lacked its signature citrus. Showier cheftestants fared better. Isaac Toups adhered crispy poultry skin to a “chicken-fried steak” with the help of meat glue—a dish that must have tasted better than it sounds—while Amar Santana, back on the show from Last Chance Kitchen, pulled out all the stops: squab with savory meringues, crunchy mole, and “onion rings” that were made sans onion. Ultimately the latter was the judges top pick, sending Santana on to the two-part finale with Ford, and Meek-Bradley home.

Of all the elimination challenges, last night’s was probably the best one to be cut from, finale aside. Who doesn’t love a chef who’s stronger in the kitchen than on stage?

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.