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As Top Chef Season 13 gets underway, we can't wait to see what the cheftestants will come up with in California. But we know that out of the dozens and dozens of dishes we'll feast our eyes on this season, only an epic few will sear themselves into our consciousness long after the Top Chef gets crowned. Here, a shortlist of the dishes we just can’t forget from past seasons:
1. Mei Lin’s Strawberry Lime Curd, Toasted Yogurt, Milk Crumble, Mint (Season 12)
Season 12 champion Mei Lin created stunning dishes all season long, but she ended on the sweetest note, serving what Tom Colicchio called the best dessert in the history of Top Chef. If you're intrigued by what this unlikely combo of ingredients tastes like in real life, Lin was kind enough to share her winning recipe.
2. Mei Lin's Black Beans & Corn with Chipotle Peppers, Bacon, Poached Eggs & Pinto Bean Foam (Season 12)
And then there was this insane dish from Mei Lin. We still wake up thinking about it (hello bacon, eggs and pinto bean foam!), and then wish we could have it again for dinner the same night.
3. Ilan Hall’s Sedillos Con Chorizo (Season 2)
Seven years after Season 2 winner Ilan Hall served this Spanish seafood and noodle dish with clams and spicy chorizo to the judges in 2006, Padma Lakshmi declared it the best dish she’d ever been served on the show. “It was so good I finished my whole portion and half of Eric [Ripert’s] portion,” she said on her Reddit AMA. “ I think that was the point where I got the nickname Padma ‘are you gonna eat that’ Lakshmi.”
4. Hung Huynh’s Sous-Vide Duck with Mushroom Ragout and Truffle Sauce (Season 3)
Sous-vide cooking has become a popular technique on Top Chef, but Season 3 champ Hung Huynh was an early adopter, and served up what looked like the most impossibly juicy duck that ever came out of the competition kitchen. Pick up a copy of Top Chef The Cookbook for the recipe.
5. Paul Qui’s Congee with Scrambled Eggs, Uni, Kale & Smoked Albacore (Season 9)
The Lone Star State’s Season 9 finale led to what Tom Colicchio called “the best food we’ve ever been served in a finale” and the closest the show has come to having a tie. Paul Qui’s take on Chinese savory porridge even changed his mind about the dish itself. “I’m not normally a congee fan, as you probably noticed on the show, but Paul’s was really, really delicious,” he wrote in his Top Chef Season 9 blog.
6. Dale Talde’s Pretzel & Potato Chip Shortbread Cookie with Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache (Top Chef Season 8: All-Stars)
When Brooklyn chef Dale Talde broke out these shortbread cookies, we wished they could jump out of the television screen. Salty, sweet and a little naughty, they’re the stuff of junk food fantasy.
7. Hubert Keller's 18-item Buffet (Top Chef Masters Season 1)
Las Vegas is home for Hubert Keller, so when he was challenged to lead a team to create a buffet for 200 people, he was right in his element. Keller, Antonia Lofaso, Elia Aboumrad, and Spike Mendelsohn created a winning 18-item buffet featuring Keller dishes such as carrot fondant, gazpacho, red beets with Comte cheese and an array of ice creams. Um, seconds, please?
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