Top Chef Season 12 Recap: The Best Dishes of the Season

By Kathleen Villaruben | 2 years ago
Top Chef Season 12 Recap: The Best Dishes of the Season

Sausages and poets dominate the new episode of “Top Chef” Season 12 Episode 9 “Big Sausage,” which aired last Dec. 17, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. on Bravo. In this episode, George does not like the guest judge for quickfire challenge, chefs find inspiration with New England authors, Katsuji puts massacre on the plate and the best dishes of the season are served.

As the chefs enter the room for the quickfire challenge, Padma is waiting beside a huge guy. After the chefs fall in line, she introduces Rob Gronkowski, one of the New England Patriots. George recognizes him because he is a fan of football. However, he is a huge Washington Redskins fan and hates its rival, the Patriots. He feels uneasy that one of the star players of the rival team will be their judge.


Before Padma explains the challenge, she starts flirting with Rob. She says he can call her “honey.”

For the challenge, the chefs have one hour to create an inventive sausage dish from scratch. Rob is Polish, so he wants sausages. When he said he needs a big sausage, Padma says she needs one as well. She starts to laugh together with the chefs.

While the chefs create their sausage dish, Melissa is having a hard time because the meat is not grinding properly. Meanwhile, George freaks out because air gets inside the sausage while pumping the casing. Melissa is also starting to have the same problem.

Finally, George and Melissa’s issues are resolved. George’s plan B is to make sausage patties. Melissa successfully finishes the casing, but she only made small ones.

It is time for Padma and Rob to taste the sausage dishes. When it is George’s turn, Padma instantly notices that the dish looks like a burger. He made pork and veal sausage patty with sunny-side up egg and potato hash. While the judges eat his dish, George admits he is not a fan of the Patriots. Rob undermines George by saying his team won over Redskins. George realizes it is not a good time to annoy Rob since he is the judge.

Padma and Rob finally announce the worst and best dishes. The worst dishes are announced first. Rob says Melissa’s wild boar and pork sausage with lentils, cucumber, fennel and pickled red onion is too small for him and starts to flex his muscles. Another worst dish is Gregory’s pork and boar sausage with kaffir lime, chillies, lemongrass, garlic, cucumber and carrot salad. Rob thinks it has too much spices.

The best dishes are Doug and George’s. Doug’s onions and seasoning on his beer-braised pork sausage with mustard is “A+” for Rob. The judges were confused with George’s patties, but Rob emphasizes that it is delicious. Rob announces George is a Redskins fan, but it is okay for him.

Rob picks George as the winner. He says he will never get tired of eating his sausage patties. He commends that it is the best breakfast sandwich. It is perfect for him because he loves breakfast. George wants to express his gratitude with Rob by purchasing a Patriots jersey the next day. He wins immunity.

After Rob left, Padma stays to introduce the elimination challenge. The guest judge enters the room with bookshelves. Tony Maws, the owner of Craigie On Main, explains that growing up in New England inspires him to make signature dishes. Padma compares Tony’s experience to the authors who called New England their home and wrote stories about it.


The next challenge is to create a dish inspired by a famous New England literary work. Any piece of writing will do. Tony insists that the diners must visually see the story on the plate through presentation, cooking technique, texture and flavor. The chefs have three hours to prep and cook at Steel & Rye restaurant and bar. They will serve notable authors and literary buffs as guests, as well as the judges.

“Make your high school English teachers proud,” Tony tells them.

Each chef chooses an author. Gregory picks Edgar Allan Poe, Katsuji, Stephen King, George, Dr. Seuss, Melissa, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mei, Henry David Thoreau. Doug has no choice but to have Emily Dickinson. He is not excited about the “depressed chick poet from 1800s.”

Each chef has their own round to serve the diners and explain the dish. Gregory is first to serve. He explains the dish is inspired by “The Raven” written by Poe. It is a poem of love and desperation. He serves seared beef tenderloin, grilled hen, parsnip purée, beets and crispy nori. The hen represents the raven, beets, the blood and mash, the last bit of hope. Tony prefers a better technique with the meat. He says Gregory should have kept it rare to represent the story more. However, the other judges like how their meat is done. Tony explains four perfect dishes out of five are never good enough for a restaurant. The guests say they cannot see the raven.

The next one is George. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss is his inspiration. His dish is composed of calamari, mussels, clams, pan-seared branzino, purple potatoes and red peppers. Gail wants the dish to be “crazier” because of Dr. Seuss’s trademark. Tom says the dish is delicious but not “seussy.”

It is Mei’s turn to serve. “Walden” by Thoreau is her inspiration. She explains the book talks a lot about gardening, and Thoreau is a vegetarian. Her dish is composed of roasted vegetables, charred onion soil, tom kha “snow,” radish and carrot top vinaigrette.  Gail thought the onion soil and tom kha snow would turn out good in technique but bland in flavor. However, she can taste both and says their flavors compliment the vegetables. Tom says it is flavorful, high in technique and “obviously Walden.” Guests commend the dish’s presentation.

In Melissa’s turn, she explains the romance in Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil.” It is about a community that tries to make the world a better place. Seared halibut, spring vegetables, morels, charred baby corn, asparagus, peas and mushroom broth compose the dish. The theme of the story is seasons. The broth represents fall overcoming the spring. Tony asks why the corn is charred when the dish is so light in flavor. Melissa explains that the charred corn represents darkness of the fall.

While waiting for the next dish, Tony tells the other judges that he is impressed with all of the dishes. Tom claims the challenge brings the best dishes of the season.

Katsuji enters the dining room and prepares to explain his dish. He is about to introduce the author, but he suddenly forgets the name. Padma reminds him it is Stephen King. Finally, Katsuji continues on his presentation. He is inspired by the novel “Carrie.” He serves fabada with white beans, chorizo, jamón Serrano, short rib, veal osso buco, red beet purée and hot sauce. The beets represent pork’s blood which was poured on top of the character. Chili sauce symbolizes anger. Tom congratulates Katsuji for making the most unappetizing dish of his life. However, he says it can be a good thing. Gail prefers a thinner sauce. After Katsuji returns to the kitchen, Padma commends him that he executed the challenge perfectly.

Lastly, Doug introduces his grilled carrot bisque with orange, cumin vinaigrette, radish and dandelion. He is inspired by Dickinson’s poem, “Bring me the sunset in a cup.” At first, he was nervous that the dish is too simple and not “carroty” enough. However, Tom feels nostalgia while looking at the dish and remembers sunset. He applauds Doug’s effort. Padma says the carrot soup is so delicious.

While deliberating the worst and best dishes, the judges are confused because every dish is great. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, every chef is confident with their dish because of positive comments. “Everybody feels good? That’s no good,” Mei tells them.

The chefs are called for elimination. Before the announcement, Tom commends them that they served lovely dishes despite the challenge’s difficulty. Mei, Melissa and Doug are the best dishes. However, the challenge’s winner is Mei because she cooked the most delicious vegetables. The bottom two is Gregory and Katsuji. In the end, Katsuji is eliminated. He is still grateful for the experience and hopeful in the last chance kitchen.

“Please keep cooking like this,” Padma tells the chefs as they exit the room.

There you have it for the recap on “Top Chef” Season 12 Episode 9 “Big Sausage,” which aired last Dec. 17, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. on Bravo. Catch the next episode on Jan. 7, 2015. For more updates about this show, including spoilers and recaps, follow Movie News Guide (MNG).

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/Bravo Canada