NH’s Top ‘Cheftestant’ Chris Viaud had to pack his knives and go, but is already cooking up next challenge

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Top Chef contestant Chris Viaud. Photo credit @philviaud via Facebook

No competitor ever wants to hear Padma Lakshmi say, “Please pack your knives and go” but that is exactly what Milford chef Christopher Viaud was told during Thursday night’s episode of the hit reality cooking show, ending his dream of becoming this season’s Top Chef.

Viaud, classically trained in French cuisine, had a rough night in Thursday’s broadcast, placing in the bottom in the “Quickfire” round after preparing variations of cauliflower with giardiniera and sauerkraut black garlic aioli which judges found salty and lacking in texture.

In the elimination challenge, the chefs had to write a recipe that a home cook could follow and make the dish themselves while one of the All-Star judges prepared their own dish following the recipe.

Viaud’s recipe was for sorghum gnocchi, green romesco, braised dandelion greens and saucisson sec (a French dry-cured sausage), which was among the judge’s least favorite dishes.

Viaud was matched with Melissa King, who won the Top Chef All-Star competition. She had a hard time following Viaud’s recipe and when her dish was done, the gnocchi was raw – a complete fail.  

Viaud didn’t fair much better.  Head judge Tom Colicchio said the gnocchi was “very, very dense” and Laskmi noted that it was the third time his pasta had been an issue.

Immediately after the show, titled “Top Chef Portland,” Viaud had another opportunity to get back into the competition going up against Sara Hauman of Portland, Ore., in “Last Chance Kitchen” where Colicchio is the one and only judge.

It’s my last chance to prove to Tom I can cook,” Viaud said.

Below, a post by Chris Viaud on Friday following his elimination from “Top Chef.”

In a twist, both chefs had no idea how much time they had to prepare their dishes.  The amount of time coincided with how long it took Colicchio to complete 10 laps on a race track driving a BMW X6M, a clear advertising ploy.  The time ended up about the usual 30 minutes.

Viaud chose to make seared halibut in a pepper broth with fennel oil.  Colicchio said it was clearly spicey, the halibut was cooked perfectly and the dish was very tasty.

Hauman said she took Colicchio’s advice and embraced her quirky side preparing braised turnips with celery root, mushrooms, shallots and soaked nori. Colicchio said it had “lots of umami” and declared her dish the winner. During the competition, Viaud was in the top three once in an elimination challenge for his seared scallops with peach butter, smoked and seared plums, pickled pink pearl apples and grapes.  Twice he won the Quickfire challenge, winning immunity one time and $10,000 another time for his grilled Panzanella with tomato soup vinaigrette.   

“Who would have thought I’d be making a grilled cheese on Top Chef,” he said while preparing the elevated dish.  

Viaud, a Londonderry High School graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I., and worked for three years at Deuxave, a modern French restaurant in Boston, alongside executive chef and owner Chris Coombs, acclaimed chef Stefanie Bui and “Top Chef” alum Adrienne Mosier, who suggested he try out for Top Chef.

After working in Boston, he opened his own restaurant, Greenleaf in Milford and a year later, he opened Culture, a bakery featuring artisanal breads, sandwiches and pastries. His wife, Emily, is the pastry chef. 

Viaud was one of 15 contestants – dubbed “cheftestants,” – on this year’s 18th season. 

As he was taking his leave from the main competition, a weeping Maria Mazon of Tucson, Ariz., told him his daughter Madeleine, 15 months,  had a lot to look up to.

“And that’s not just because you’re tall,” said Jamie Tran of Stockton, Calif., evoking laughter.  Viaud towered over his fellow contestants and in one Quickfire round, in which chefs had to prepare their dish on tree stumps – Portland’s nickname is “Stumptown” –  Viaud had to kneel down to complete the plate because of his height.

Prior to the show airing, Viaud told Manchester Ink Link he found the competition inspirational, that he learned so much and he will be forever grateful.

About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: http://www.nathangraziano.com