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Top Chef 20 delivers a double elimination after dishwasher detergent and team challenges

Top Chef 20 delivers a double elimination after dishwasher detergent and team challenges
The Top Chef World All Stars season 20 final six—Sara Bradley, Amar Santana, Ali Al Ghzawi, Tom Goetter, Gabri Rodriguez, and Buddha Lo—watch the judges eat their final course during episode 10 (Photo by David Moir/Bravo)

Top Chef Global All Stars has just two episodes left in London before everyone heads for its finale location, so in episode 10, it was time to celebrate more of the UK’s cooking:

  • Wellingtons, made famous in America by Gordon Ramsay screaming about them on Top Chef, and
  • dishwasher detergent

Yes, the quickfire challenge was sponsored by Finish Powerball Quantum, which sounds like both a Scandinavian lottery .

It is, of course, dishwasher detergent, which explained why there was a dishwasher between Padma Lakshmi and guest judge Andrew Wong.

So how exactly was that going to be turned into a cooking challenge? Were we about to witness the birth of the Tide Pod Challenge 2.0?

The connection was, well, a stretch: they had to prepare a steamed dish with just one gallon of water between them. The idea is that using the dishwasher saves water over hand-washing—which is absolutely true! And of course, for a dishwasher detergent company to promote that is totally self-serving, because they want us to use more of their product.

Anyway, Sara divided up the water, and they all seemed to have plenty for steaming, so that was kind of a wash. Ha!

Gabri was in the top, though it was Buddha who won with his dish, making his third quickfire challenge win this season.

Earlier, Buddha told us that he’d competed in 24 Top Chef challenges in a row, between this season and last, and said he’d likely trip up sometimes. That time was not this episode.

Buddha also told us “I left my wife Rebecca…” and his dramatic pause at that moment made me think this was a major confession. But then he finished the sentence: “…back in New York.”

Two people leaning on a counter looking at each other; a canister with utensils and a box of kosher salt are in the foreground
Sara Bradley and Amar Santana plan their fateful Wellington meal (Photo by David Moir/Bravo)

For the elimination challenge, the chefs drew knives and ended up in pairs:

  • Amar and Sara
  • Buddha and Gabri
  • Ali and Tom

Then they learned this would be a double elimination, either because someone couldn’t count or the producers/network demanded more late-season drama.

For the challenge itself, Padma said they’d be cooking Wellingtons. She said, “This dish is often associated with…” and I finished the sentence for her: Hell’s Kitchen and Gordon Ramsay!

I was joking, but it turned out Buddha learned to cook Wellingtons from Gordon Ramsay, working at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay right there in London.

Each team had to prepare three Wellingtons: seafood, meat, and dessert. They also had to make several, because they were serving guests.

While I’ve been frustrating with all the Top Catering challenges this season, at least this one had a purpose: the diners weighed in on their favorites, though that seemed to fade away completely during judges.

One person cooking over several pots, while two people watch
Gabri works on Wellingtons while handsome guest judge Kirk Westaway and judge Tom Colicchio watch (Photo by David Moir/Bravo)

As the teams planned, Tom and Ali, and Sara and Amar, all came up with similar ideas: salmon for the first course, apple pie for the last.

They cooked and served at Tobacco Dock, where imported tobacco was once stored, and I’m somewhat surprised they didn’t have to incorporate some tobacco leaves, yum!

Tom Colicchio and guest judge Kirk Westaway visited the kitchen, and as they walked away, Gabri said, “Nice to meet you, chef. You’re handsome.” I appreciate Gabri bringing a little thirst to Top Chef

The Wellingtons were mostly all great. The winners: Buddha and Gabri, with great flavors and technique for their salmon and shrimp pate, beef, and peach melba Wellingtons. Their celebration was a great moment.

Two people hugging; one is lifting the other off the ground
Buddha and Gabri celebrate their Top Chef 20 episode 10 win (Photo by David Moir/Bravo)

and so the elimination came down to a question: Was it worse that Amar and Sara had super-creative ideas but basically served raw lamb to some guests, or that Ali and Tom had a more-predictable Wellington with some seasoning and texture issues with their accompaniments.

Earlier, Sara called her friend, Top Chef Kentucky winner Kelsey Barnard Clark who assured Sara would make it to the finale, while we had a lingering shot of a shirtless Ali looking forlornly out the window in a darkened room. Were either of these moments foreshadowing a downfall?

It turns out Kelsey’s call was: Sara and Amar couldn’t overcome that critical cooking error, and were sent to Last Chance Kitchen for their last chance of returning, as the winner of LCK comes back next episode.

While it’s hard to argue with the reason for this elimination, I don’t love such a late-season double-elimination as the result of a team challenge. So much of this season has just kept the chefs from cooking as individuals, and that’s just what I’d like to see more of, especially this late in the game.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

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Happy discussing!


Tuesday 23rd of May 2023

As long as Buddha doesn't win. I don't care for him.

Chuck S

Thursday 25th of May 2023

@Jo, I want Charbel to come back and win!

Robert Karp

Monday 22nd of May 2023

I also think a team challenge with a double elimination this late in the season was unwarranted. However, extremely difficult challenge and like Andy all I could think was Gordon Ramsey when wellington's were announced. I thought the history would be short like "Gordon Ramsey made beef wellington an American household dish - that no one was ever able to cook." Ha!

When the teams were announced, I said a quiet goodbye to Ali & Tom.

LCK winner comes back next week. I've watched and the last couple of challenges in LCK have been very difficult as well. Should be an interesting episode next week.


Monday 22nd of May 2023

These last two challenges have been REALLY hard! I also don't like the double elimination so late in the game. I hope it comes down to a Buddha vs Ali finale, as I think they've been the best.

BTW, did you see Padma's SI swimsuit issue spread? Wowzers! I tend to not like her in general, but damn she looks great! And mad respect for her flipping off all the haters.

Chuck S

Thursday 25th of May 2023

@Melissa, I agree on Padma's SI issue.. I'm gay, and damn, she's gorgeous! Good for her!