Top Chef Season 15 Episode 10 Recap – Red Rum and Then Some
“And then there were five.”
Risotto. Risotto has been the kiss of death for so many over the 15 seasons of Top Chef. Fresh off the double elimination heartbreak of two favorites last week, the remaining five began this episode looking back and examining their triumphs and their failures. Just like every single Top Chef contestant, these chefs have had hits and misses, but it’s what they learn from their dishes throughout the season that make them successful. Overthinking and losing their sense of self is what sends them home.
Mustache Joe has had several ups and downs. At times he has looked like the clear favorite, but there have been instances where you cannot believe he hasn’t gone home. With Joe Flamm and Fatima going home last week, he knows that everyone needs to step up their game.
Bruce seems to be losing confidence. He acknowledges that he has more experience than everyone else, but he feels like he has been faltering the last few episodes. Funny, the rest of us feel like he has been hitting his stride after a rough start.
Chris talks about his two dreams – to be on Top Chef, and to have the first Michelen starred Soul Food Restaurant. Chris – we have not had the pleasure of eating your food, but if anyone is going to do it, it’s you.
I enjoyed listening to Adrienne. She seems to not cook with as much heart as the other Cheftestants, mostly because she is so technical. She is well trained and organized, but it doesn’t seem like she has cooked her food. The only thing that she has won so far is a Quickfire.
Then we have Carrie, who started as the dark horse of the competition but is now one of the favorites. Carrie is apparently a daddy’s girl , loving the outdoors and fishing more than her sisters (hello cakes made in her own oven in the snow). Her dad has Alzheimers/Dementia, but she knows he is still proud of her. Winning this competition could improve his situation, and Carrie is feeling more confident about her food than ever.
Oh man, this was an awesome challenge. For this Quickfire, the Chefs head to The Stanley Hotel, made famous in Stephen King’s The Shining. Playing of off Stephen King’s frightening stay at the hotel, the Quickfire is to make a dessert visualized out of each Chef’s worst nightmare. Padma encourages the Cheftestants to be very creative.
Padma will be waiting in Room 217, the one Stephen King stayed in, to taste the Chef’s dishes. Padma may believe in ghosts…
- Mustache Joe: “Bloody Chicken Egg”: Egg Yolk Ice Cream With Pistachio Cocoa Crumble, Yuzu Meringue & Raspberry Sauce. His inspiration was the fear of breaking open an egg that had a chicken in it.
- Bruce: “Seeds of Dread”: Semifreddo With Passion Fruit, Buttermilk & Pomegranate, With Prosecco Zabaione. Bruce totally made up his “fear of seeds,” and seemed totally lost in this challenge.
- Chris: “Pushed From 12,000 Feet”: Chocolate Buttermilk Cake With Sour Cream, Black Salt & Marzipan. This was crazy, creative, and bizarrely awesome. He literally had a marzipan dead man on his plate.
- Adrienne: “Into The Woods”: Cocoa Blood Ice Cream With Saffron, Grand Marnier, Meringue Crisps & Chocolate Branches. Her plate was a beautiful, artful, nightmare.
- Carrie: “The Ballroom Scene”: Tahini Panna Cotta With Raspberry Sauce. All of the components of this dish sound great, and she could have been a real contender…
QUICKFIRE – WINNERS & LOSERS
Okay, as soon as I heard pana cotta I knew these chefs were in trouble. Pana cotta needs time to set! It has already been a disaster once on this season! Bruce struggled with his Semifreddo being too warm. Padma says it all melted together & became “too sweet & one note”. Not sure what happened with Carrie, she only gets her Pana Cotta with Sauce on the plate. Yikes! Missing from the plate is her black sesame & cayenne ice cream, champagne granita with masago to be the bubbles & a goat cheese sugar cookie to offset the panna cotta. To boot, her panna cotta was “too tight” & Padma says she could have “bounced it off the floor.”
Padma was “hoping” the plate served by none other than Silky Chris. His chocolate cake was “moist”, a word that will be used at least a half a dozen more times this episode. Padma thinks Mustache Joe’s dish is a beautiful combination, but she wants more Pistachio. Although she didn’t love the plating, she thinks it is “a great dessert”. Padma says Adrienne’s dish is a “study in texture” & thinks she had the most “graphic” plate & she loves it!
The winner is Silky Chris. There is no immunity, but Craftsy gives Chris $5000 to use towards classes. Here’s hoping he likes it & decides to make his own Craftsy class on how to make Lemonade Fried Chicken & Brown Sugar Biscuits! Likely not, he says his daughter will love the Craftsy gift.
The task this week is each Cheftestants must tell his or her culinary story of their journey on Top Chef. The Chefs will serve the meal at the Colorado Governor’s Mansion. Joining the Governor, John Hickenlooper, will be the judges & some esteemed Colorado restaurateurs. Apparently the Governor is a restaurateur and brewer, and Colorado Carrie is super excited about meeting him.
This is it. This is the last Challenge before the Cheftestants head to Telluride for the finale. After they plan their dishes and shop at Whole Foods, they arrive back at the Top Chef Kitchen to find Tom waiting for them. He gives a scary pep talk that only Tom can give. He has been getting better food in Last Chance Kitchen, and if these chefs don’t step it up, he’s bringing two people back. “Get out of your comfort zone and just bring it.”
Mustache Joe is going with his strong suit, pasta, but he is also going to cook lamb. He had a lamb dish that totally failed earlier in the season. I like the idea of combing your weak and strong dishes from throughout the season. It shows that he is learning and improving, but also staying true to himself.
Bruce wants to get away from his comfort zone of pasta, and decides to make a barley risotto. Every Top Chef fan holds their breath when they hear this word. Can Bruce pull it off?
Adrienne is showing what she “has learned along the way – how to marry Colorado with (her) background.” Apparently throughout this competition she has been cooking food that she cooks in restaurants, but it isn’t really her food. This time she is cooking something that is Adrienne’s.
Carrie has learned that she is strong and resourceful. She has gained a ton of confidence, and she is going to take parts of her successful dishes and put them together on one dish that will also celebrate Colorado.
Chris doesn’t want to go back to other dishes, what he has found at Top Chef are friendships. His dish is going to represent the people in the house. This is probably the most out of the box decision, and Chris is making ravioli for the first time. Carrie thinks his dish is “bat shit crazy.”
- Mustache Joe: Lamb Agnolotti With Beets, Hazelnuts, & Cacio Pecora Cheese
- Adrienne: Roasted Monkfish, Venison Jus, Green Peppercorn Jam, & Roasted Cauliflower Puree
- Carrie: Colorado Elk, Roasted Cauliflower, Shishito Peppers, Blueberry Poblano Sauce, & Shepherd’s Halo Cheese
- Bruce: Roast Duck With Toasted Barley & Corn Topped With Salsify
- Chris: Lamb Ravioli With Crispy Skin trout & Roasted Cauliflower Puree
ELIMINATION WINNERS & LOSERS
Graham (go away & bring back Gail) thinks Mustache Joe’s pasta dish “shows a huge amount of restraint” & Tom thinks its flavorful & the type of food the judges have been begging for all season long. Tom thinks Adrienne’s dish is “tasty” & Tommy Lee Chef/Owner of Hop Alley appreciates the “capriciousness of the dish” which means he was surprised by the peppercorn/jam combo. Tom thinks Adrienne is finally finding her own voice. Carrie fangirls over the governor just like Fatima fangirled over…everyone. Padma thinks Carrie’s dish is really flavorful & calls it “the most intensely flavored & delicious plate” she’s had. Colorado’s First Lady, Robin Hickenlooper was digging Carrie’s dish as well. As far as Bruce, Tom says the barley is undercooked & over seasoned & Graham calls the dish “uninspired”. The judges were not loving Chris’s ravioli & think the filling is dry.
Carrie, Adrienne & Joe are the Top Three. Joe redeems himself after several subpar dishes the last two weeks. Tom tells Adrienne her fish was perfectly cooked. All the judges enjoyed Carrie’s Shishito peppers but thought Mustache Joe showed the most technique & passion.
The winner is Mustache Joe, and deservedly so. He stayed true to himself, but also proved that he had learned along the way.
Tom gives Silky Chris some really good advice to not overcomplicate his dishes & points out Bruce’s technical mistakes.
Bruce packs his knives & goes to Last Chance Kitchen. The Curse of the Risotto strikes again. Future Top Cheftestants heed this warning. Bruce, we are coming for ya! We will miss you on Top Chef and we can’t wait to eat at Union in Pasadena.
LAST CHANCE KITCHEN PART ONE
We’ve got some Bears back together! Bruce and Joe Flamm, along with honorary bear Brother Luck, are cooking against each other. The challenge is, of course, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and the chefs need to make the best bowl of porridge. Does this make Tom Colicchio Goldilocks?
This is like redemption Top Chef. Joe Flamm is making risotto & Bruce is making barley, again.
- Bruce: Farro & Barley Porridge, Seared Sea Scallop, Poached Egg, Pickled Mustard Green & Wild Mushroom
- Brother: White Quinoa Porridge, Seared Seabass, Cranberry Apple Chutney
- Joe Flamm: Seared Steak, Barley Porridge Milanese, Tomato Conserva, Parmigiano Reggiano
Tom thinks Joe Flamm’s grains were “chewy” but they got cooked & he liked the herbaciousness of the tomato. While Tom enjoys the richness of the mushroom, smokiness of the bacon in Bruce’s dish, he thinks the scallop got a little lost. Tom thinks Brother’s dish had a “really good balance”. He applauds the caramelized white quinoa, beautifully cooked piece of fish & his bright chutney.
Tom crowns Brother the winner of Last Chance Kitchen & he will move onto the LCK Finale. While Tom enjoyed the remaining two dishes, Bruce is eliminated & Joe Flamm moves along with Brother.
LAST CHANCE KITCHEN PART TWO
Joe Flamm & Brother face each other for a spot back into the competition. First, the pantry is well stocked & Tom wants Joe & Brother to treat the other eliminated Chefs to a meal. Basically, Tom says cook what you want, how you want. There will be 3 judges for this challenge. Tom, of course, the eliminated chefs will vote & Tom brings in Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson. Remember him from Episode
RANDOM OBSERVATIONS & QUOTES
- “Pastry is like an OCD person’s wet dream.” Adrienne
- LOVED Adrienne’s notebook of critiques.
- “When you get to this level, you got to be 100 percent, not 98” Silky Chris
- Brother likening Tom’s critiques to “emotional terrorism”
- Chris used to do pastry and his nicknames were Reverend Sweets, The Creamy Brown Brother, & Dr. Chocolate.
- Even Silky Chris was talking about “getting moist.”
We always read the Uproxx Top Chef Rankings for a laugh and a recap.
We have also been listening to the Pack Your Knives podcast. They draft their Top Chef teams!