Top Chef Season 15 Episode 6
This season of has been much more than I expected. I have to say, I think this is my favorite cast. They are respectful, talented and just damn likable! Even the ones I hate I love. Which is why last night, and every night going forward, I cringe when someone has to pack their knives and go. There truly isn’t anyone I am ready to see go home, and last night we lost two favorites. Good news was that the Quickfire was a fun challenge and brought back Top Chef alum and perennial favorite Richard Blais. The elimination challenge was unique and featured an unexpected cuisine, and Last Chance Kitchen has returned to its normal self.
Richard Blais is back & he is Into Joe’s mustache. For the Quickfire Challenge, the Cheftestants have to make a dish for Tasty. The meal must be made in thirty minutes and be easy enough for a home cook. Of course there is a twist; Top Chef has graciously picked the most time consuming, complicated dish from each Chef’s restaurant menu. Some of these meals take days to prepare.
The usual Quickfire chaos ensues. This was easily the most disorganized and rattled we have seen Claudette all season, and she doesn’t make it to the plate with her octopus. Adrienne struggled forming her hushpuppoes, and Richard calls them gummy, too large & under seasoned, and Padma mentions that Adrienne needs more salt. She also calls out Fatima for making Western dishes so flavorful, but isn’t representing their Indian/Paksitani well with her bland biryani. “Why aren’t you cooking Our food like that?” Fatima looked heartbroken.
Top Three in the Quickfire are Chris with the Pepper Pot Shrimp, Brother Luck’s Squid Ink Paella, and Joe’s Scallop & Gnocchi dish. The winner of the Quickfire was silky Chris, and he gets to impress his teenage daughters with his own Tasty video. Sarah and I are going to be trying this dish soon!
Lee Anne Wong
I just want to take a minute to say goodbye and good luck to Lee Anne. She is the Top Chef OG from Season 1. She has handled herself graciously throughout the years and proven to be one of the toughest, fairest competitors. She rarely loses her cool. She played behind the scenes for several seasons, thinking up challenges and setting parameters. I was excited to have her back this season, and I was looking forward to what dishes her pregnant brain came up with (her palette must have been on point!). She was taken away in an ambulance at the beginning of the episode, and she was found to be suffering from severe altitude sickness. After a short stay in the hospital, she bowed out of the competition, choosing her and her baby’s health over Top Chef. We will miss you Lee Anne, and these other Cheftestants have a much better chance now that you are gone. We hope to see you competing again.
For those that do not know, Central Texas is a hotbed for German culture. Many Germans settled there and much of their culture still has influence today. Towns like Fredericksburg and New Braunfels have German festivals, including Wurstfest, the 10 day salute to sausage. Also, my last name is Bierman – guess where that comes from. Basically, Sarah and I both grew up with this German influence around us. This week’s Elimination Challenge had the Cheftestants cooking elevated German food for 200 Diners at Elitch Gardens in Downtown Denver for the ‘Top Chef German Festival’, and I couldn’t be more excited. German food is not normally mentioned when talking about great cuisines, but it is very approachable and a lot of American food has German roots. I thought this was a fantastic Elimination Challenge.
Keegan Gerhard from the Food Network Cake Competitions is the guest judge, and he takes Cheftestants for a sampling of German dishes such as Strudel, duck prosciutto, pork shanks, currywurst, etc. He also has them taste a Radler, which is a 50/50 mix of beer and fruit soda. The chefs will need to create their own version to serve along with their dish. This is where we see Chris Scott starting to look uncomfortable. He explains that he doesn’t drink because he is a recovering alcoholic. He is clearly feeling shaken just sitting in the bar watching others drink. As much as I loved this challenge, I really felt for Chris and his struggle with addiction, and it clearly affected his food this week. The normally “silky smooth” Chris was anything but, and I am just ready to see him back to his old self next week. Hopefully. Thankfully he won the Quickfire and he had immunity.
Bruce’s dish is a Blood Orange Radler with Smoked Pork Belly, Goat Cheese Spaetzle & Cherry Mostarda. Padma liked the sour notes & the pork was tender.
Joe Flamm creates a Ginger Apple Radler with Pork Dumplings. Nutmeg, Mace, Garlic & Shallots. Graham & Tom were Into It.
Brother Luck’s dish is a Chai Tea Radler with Summer Sausage Egg Roll, Bok Choy, Apple & Potato. Keegan thinks the egg roll is “tasty” but loses him for “German”.
Tanya creates Peach & Ginger Radler with Pork & Apple Croquettes in Cheddar Mustard Sauce. All I can think of is Peter Brady with his Pork Chops & Applesauce, but damn if that Cheddar Mustard Sauce doesn’t sound delicious.
Chris serves a Honey Clove Radler with Sausage sliders on a Pretzel Bun, Potato Salad & Caraway Slaw. Now, he already got into trouble on the food truck challenge with his pre-bought buns & this go around he buys the pretzels and the sausage at Whole Foods. This challenge is a struggle for him & it is heartbreaking to watch.
Adrienne serves Smoked Ginger Apple Radler with Brined Arctic Char, Asparagus & Pumpernickel Crumble. Tom doesn’t like smokey beers, so that’s a bummer. Tom also thinks it is lacking salt, which undoubtedly means she will be in the bottom three.
Fatima has a Cherry Radler with Black Forest Cake, Chai Mousse, Chocolate Sauce & Cherry Kirsch Compote. Padma loved the warm chai flavor.
Carrie & her David Hasselhoff Potato. She makes a Jalapeño & Limonite Radler with Duck Fat Potatoes, Bratwurst & Sauerkraut. Tom’d drink was really spicy & he liked the acid in the dish.
Mustache Joe creates a Apple, Ginger & Beet Radler with Wollwurst Pretzel Sausage in Apple Beer Cheese Sauce. Keegan wanted the cheesy beer sauce, me too! But what he got from the dish was a sweet, appley sauce that was “confusing”
Claudette makes a Grapefruit & Mezcal Radler with Cilantro Lime Liverwurst, Beef Schnitzel & Potato Salad. Tom loved the different textures & thought it was really flavorful.
Elimination Winners & Losers
We found Bruce, Claudette and Tanya in the top three. These chefs all struggled a little in the beginning, but seem to be finding their stride. I think all three of them will be hanging on until the end. The winner was Tanya, and I have to agree that her dish looked to be on point and the flavors from her food went well with her drink. Give me a sip of that Radler!
There were a couple of surprises on the bottom this week (however I was shocked not to see Chris on the bottom, even with immunity). Mustache Joe struggled the whole way through, admitting that he tried to do too many things. Adrienne continued to not salt her food, for which Tom gave her a tongue lashing for. And finally, Brother Luck. The judges did not dig his Asian twist on German food. I really liked the idea of his German Eggroll, but he did not make it German enough. Nothing inside of it really felt like those flavors. All of the dishes had very different things wrong with them, but ultimately Brother’s dish did not meet the specs of the challenge, so he was sent packing.
Random Observations & Quotes
- It looks like the altitude has hurt more than just Lee Anne. This episode showed all the chefs struggling to get back on their feet after last week’s cold camping challenge.
- Squid Ink Paella- “It takes a minute.” Brother Luck
- “Richard is all about sous vide this and air foam that” – Chris
- Fatima want to be a social media star?
- Chris definitely knows what a hashtag is.
- “I like toasted bread a lot.” Carrie
- Seriously, quit cooking duck if you can’t get it right.
- I’ve never seen anyone be called out the way Padma called out Fatima in the Quickfire. I think it’s tough love and Padma is rooting for her.
- “It’s the devil’s fart.” Joe Flamm telling Fatima about pumpernickel.
- By the way, where the heck has Flamm been?? Besides a couple of comments here and there, we haven’t seen him.
- How can we possibly lose Brother Luck now! We just found out his parents were exotic dancers that traveled throughout Asia & his dad’s stage name was Mandingo! “King of the Topless Go Go Boys!”
- I really don’t want to see any of these chefs go.
- Come back to us Chris! Don’t let this week get you down.
- Thank you Carrie for the Hasselhoff jokes. Seriously. At first I found you annoying, but now I think you are just adorable.
- Ummm, Adrienne, we really like you, so please start using salt! Hopefully that was an inspirational pep talk from Tom! Just look at how it worked for Bruce.
- Chris has survived using pre-made ingredients twice now. Quit. Just quit. You won’t get any more chances.
- Tom, please step it up. I don’t remember a single punny dad joke from you this episode!
Last Chance Kitchen
This week, Last Chance Kitchen featured the last two Chefs who packed up their knives, Tu and Brother. As much as I like Tu and his sweet nature, I was really rooting for Brother (see aforementioned stripper parents). Tom reveals the challenge this week: one great dish with one of the most plentiful ingredients in Colorado – trees. A cart with all kinds of leaves and tips and what looks like bark. I know how to cook with a Bay Leaf and a Kaffir Lime Leaf, but the rest of it I wouldn’t know WHAT to do with. But of course these two know exactly how they’re going to work with the ingredients.
The two start their cooking, and Brother and Tu seem very friendly, and the talking head interviews discuss the bond they have formed. Then LCK happened. Tu was looking for plastic to form his roulade, and he couldn’t find it, so he improvised. It definitely affected his dish. Now this is where Sarah and I disagree. I think Brother Luck should have let Tu know when he found the plastic wrap. Sarah says Brother didn’t hide it and Tu could have found it himself. Conflict! Tu felt like this was not an integrous act, and their relationship is tarnished.
Tom tastes Tu’s chicken dish and Brother’s pork dish and likes them both a lot. “Why do you guys wait to cook like this until Last Chance Kitchen.” .Brother ends up winning the challenge, and it may be because of Tu’s lack of plastic wrap. In the end it will not matter, as Brother survives another week and will battle with the next offed Cheftestant.
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