TV Recaps

Top Chef Season 19 Episode 12: We're On A Boat

The chefs stay in Galveston for another seafood challenge.

By Shelby Stewart May 20, 2022

Chef Evelyn Garcia is in the top five. 

It's been a long road, but we're down to the top five chefs remaining in the Top Chef competition. As the stakes get higher, the comfort of quick-fire challenges is gone and immunity no longer exists. 

After last week's family vacation episode, the chefs remained in Galveston. Instead of the usual meet and greet at the start of the episode with Judge Padma Lakshmi, they were greeted by Top Chef Portland finalist Chef Dawn Burrell and Judge Tom Colicchio, who introduced this week's elimination challenge. 

Throughout the competition, chefs have been provided the best ingredients from some of Houston’s best markets, but this week, they were challenged to cook two dishes with the fish they caught. Many chefs showed concern — the challenge begged the question, what if we don't catch anything? Luckily, after the fishing excursion, they were given an additional $200 to spend on food for their meals. For our experienced Houston Chef Evelyn Garcia, though, she was the first of the five to catch a catfish. Damarr Brown caught a 37.5-inch bull redfish, and Nick Wallace caught a redfish that measured 39 inches. 

Chef Dawn Burrell, and Judge Tom Colicchio. 


Their dishes would be served to Burrell and the rest of the judges, Top Chef Chicago winner Stephanie Izard and the owner of Houston's beloved Bludorn, Chef Aaron Bludorn. (After they left Galveston, the chefs gutted and prepped their finds at Bludorn's Heights restaurant.) We've seen plenty of guest judges come through the Top Chef kitchen week after week, but this episode included an additional VIP, Chef Daniel Boulud, owner of world-renowned Manhattan restaurant DANIEL

Behind the scenes, all the chefs were under duress — the timed challenge caused several blunders. Sarah Welch's fish sauce burned on the stovetop, Buddha Lo's potatoes for his fish in chips dish didn't work out, and he didn't have enough ingredients to fix it, and Wallace didn't add a binder for his fish cakes and ran out of time before he could finish plating his tacos. But the finished products? Mouthwatering.  

Welch's first dish was a "Pseudo Crudo" with pickled Gulf snapper and silken tofu and kraut broth, and the second dish was a pastrami sandwich with smoked redfish seasoned with pastrami spice. Garcia cooked a Caldo de Pescado with poached redfish, chipotle, cilantro oil and roasted vegetables for her first dish, and a taco al pastor with roasted redfish, pineapple and avocado salsa for her second. Lo prepared a steamed bull redfish with shrimp farce and a fish in chips plate with fried flounder with vadouvan sauce. 

At the judges’ table, Judge Gail Simmons criticized Garcia's dishes for playing it too safe, and all shared disappointment in how dry Wallace's fish was and commented that Brown's Crudo was too bland.

Lo and Welch had the judges’ favorite dishes of the evening, advancing the pair to the final four. Welch won her first elimination challenge of the entire competition. Garcia wasn't named in the top dishes of the evening, but all of the judges favored her food, and she also moved forward to the final four, leaving Wallace and Brown in the bottom two. 

Wallace's incomplete fish effort would send him home. Garcia, Brown, Welch and Lo round out this season's finalists. 

Watch Top Chef every Thursday night on Bravo. 

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