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A Series of Unfortunate Culinary Events Leaves Blood on the Mat

Hugh Acheson has found his soulmate.

By Agostina Laneri

This sauce has reduced to Sang, David, Douglas, Jenn, and Bryan.

How to Watch

Catch up on Top Chef Masters on Peacock or the Bravo App.

Daniel Handler is the guest Quickfire judge. He is also known as Lemony Snicket, and if you have kids aged 8-11, and I have two of them, you are well versed in his books. 

The QF is curated by the employer of the sous chef who won on Battle of the Sous Chefs. In this case it was Paul who won, and thus, Douglas is playing pantry raider. He knows that Sang admonishes people for loving America’s vegetable, ketchup, and thus, the ingredient is set. Catsup challenge it is. 

The chefs get moving and shaking on this condiment challenge. Sang is making BBQ sauce and playing hard to get as Douglas snaps a gym towel at him in the locker room. It’s nuanced, their love. David Burke is making something convoluted. Jenn is talking about growing up as she makes scallops. 

Douglas is the miso king. He talks about meeting the mustard miso master. I suddenly want some hot dog miso with a pretzel and a beer. 

Daniel Handler is a wonderfully loopy man who half of the world would think is just plain weird and off-putting, while the other half would regale in his eccentricity. Basically, I think I have found my twin, and what better twin to find than one who is a multi-millionaire best selling author. Call me, bro. 

Why Lemony has hid in anonymity we will never know. He’s hilarious and should have his own show. Curtis, representing the half of America confused by Lemony, has no idea how to react to him. Burke doesn’t either and is irritated by the “bizarreness of this gentleman.”

Douglas: Duck with ketchup miso and blood turnip

Sang: Fried Chicken with Japanese BBQ sauce 

Jenn: Scallop with ketchup and jicama

Bryan: Liquid Nitrogen with flavors of Sunday football

Burke: Pureed scallop sandwich and “that kind of stuff” 

Bottoms: Chef Burke, who has pulled Lemony into a netherworld of “karmic dread,” and Douglas with his angry condiment miso.

Tops: Blue Cheese Snow by Bryan and Scallops by Jenn. Jenn wins. Lemony leaves the kitchen. Call me, bro. 

The Elimination Challenge is wrestling Vaudeville themed. Obviously. Paul has gifted Douglas immunity. Sang and Jennifer’s sous chefs were bottoms, and Ted is still bitter. 

Wrestlers come parading in. I just listened to a NPR piece on Mexican Lucha where all the wrestlers are performers from the LGBT community. It was interesting. You should listen HERE.Curtis seems much more comfortable with small Mexican wrestlers than Lemony. Masked “people of small stature” make me nervous. 

To the Mexican market, which should be on your radar for shoping as well. I spend a lot of time at the SuperMercado down the street. Best meat counter around. Doug is counting his pesos and Bryan is cheating by asking for guacamole tips in aisle three. Jenn is making pozole in her head and doing very vivid pronunciations of all of her dishes, like Alex Trebek on acid. 

Back to the kitchen, and their knights, er, sous chefs, enter in to help. Douglas briefs Paul on the fact that he is taking the easy way out by doing a cocktail and a dish, as opposed to two dishes. Immunity can make you lazy. We learn that Bryan loves tongue, but not his grandmother’s tongue. Good choice, as the latter can lead to strange family disputes. 

I am not going to comment on David Burke’s stripper comment. He does look quite dapper in his wrestling uniform though, back when he was just a lad. Sang and Ted are making stuff in pressure cookers. They are wrestling with the devices and this looks a little ominous. 

Onto the Mayan Theater. Jen and Sang have to swap sous chefs. This means that Ted will have to rub Jen’s feet later. David, Bryan, and Douglas get to keep their serfs, as their castles have been protected successfully in the last Battle of the Sous Chefs. The swapping is said to be like “lending your wife out to your neighbor.” Sang has weird thoughts, but boy can he chop some cilantro. Little does he know that Ted is really warming up to Jen’s leadership style.

The first “performer” is loved by David Burke until he realizes that that “look about her” is a pair of balls. This is not his thing, except for that night in Cincy years ago and all evidence of this has been scrubbed from the record.

Judges are Gail, Lesley, Curtis and Jane Goldman from They eat around and try not to get into scuffles. No one knows, at this point, that Gail is secretly known as El Dragón Embarazada. 


Shrimp and Chorizo Quesadilla with Chipotle and Watermelon

Red Snapper Veracruz with Pumpkin Seeds and Cactus

They love his quesadilla but find it has a kinship to a flauta more than a quesadilla. The snapper is liked in a Veracruz style of love. 


Shrimp and Chorizo with Plantain and Yellow corn Porridge

Chili Masa Dumplings, Braised Beef Tongue, Salsa Verde, and Avocado

The judges think the shrimp are under done and Lesley loves tongue.  


Shrimp, Bass, and Scallop Ceviche with Papaya, Mango, Pineapple, Plaintain Crisp

Guajillo Chile Posole with Shaved Cabbage, Lime, Cilantro, and Queso Fresco

Ted now wants Jen to win 80% and Sang to win 20%. The oddsmakers are confounded. The pozole gets rave reviews and the ceviche is well liked as well. Good job, Ted. Good job, Jen. 


Thai-Style Shrimp Cocktali with Avocado Foam and Tortilla Strips

Pork Barbacoa with Sweet Corn Sope and Radish Cabbage Slaw

Jane cannot taste the Mexican in Sang. But the food is good, with the cocktail lacking the Mexicaness and the Barbacoa being a little salty. Ruh-oh. 


Bloody Maria with Spicy Tequila, Tomato, and Citrus

Chorizo and Corn Fritter with Scallion and Garlic Aioli

Douglas gets accused by Gail of “cheffing it a bit too much.” I know exactly what she means. I think. Anyhoo, our interlude is more drag queens dancing. To the table. Bryan and Jen are tops. Jen wins with a killer pozole that was deep and rich in flavor. 

Sang loses, which means that Ted was on the winning and losing team. This will blow his mind. Sang made great food through the whole season and is a kickass chef. Go to Father’s Office. Bring your own ketchup. 

P.S. Hey, here’s a pozole recipe of mine. 

Lamb Pozole
Serves 8 as a main course

Heat oven to 375 F

1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 lamb shanks, about one pound each
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large red onion, half coarsely diced, half finely diced
1 head garlic, sliced in half
4 cups carrot, ½ cup large dice, ½ cup small dice
4 cups celery,  ½ cup large dice, ½ cup small dice
8 guajillo chiles
2 teaspoons cumin, toasted and ground
2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups canned hominy, rinsed
2 cups canned pinto beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted and ground
1/2 cup chopped cilantro with stems
limes to garnish
avocado to garnish

Take half of the guajillo chiles and soak them in warm water for half an hour. Take the other half and coarsely chop them into inch long pieces, discarding the stem. 

Season the shanks with half of the salt and all of the pepper. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large braising pan (that has a lid), and sear off the shanks for five minutes, turning them half way through, until nicely browned. Remove the shanks from the oil and add the coarsely chopped onion, the halved head of garlic and the large dice cuts of carrot and celery and cook for five minutes. Add the half of the cumin, all of the cinnamon, the chopped oregano, chopped dry guajillo chiles. Add the shanks back to the pan and add the stock. Cover the pot and place in the oven for two and a half hours.  Remove the pot from the oven and remove the shanks. Strain the liquid and discard the solids. Place the liquid back in the pan and reduce by 1/3. 

Puree the soaking chilies with one cup of the soaking water. Set aside. In a large frypan warm the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the finely cut onion, carrot, celery, hominy and pintos. Cook for five minutes and then add the remaining cumin and the coriander. Add the guajillo puree to the vegetables and beans. Take this whole mix and add to your reduced braising liquid in the braising pot. Add the shanks back in and warm them through. Garnish with the chopped cilantro, some fresh lime juice and some chopped avocado.  

Grab a cold eight pack of beer and enjoy. 

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