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Top Chef Season 15 Episode 9 Recap – Bronco Brouhaha

Top Chef Season 15 Episode 9 Recap – Bronco Brouhaha

It is Super Bowl week and Top Chef is into it.  This was a BRUTAL episode.  Fresh off the drama of last week’s challenging Restaurant Wars, the Cheftestants walk into a Sudden Death Quickfire.  We keep saying it, but we are Really Into all of the Chefs, so it made it very difficult to watch two go home.  All we can hope for at this point is to agree with the judge’s decisions.

Before last night’s episode, I looked back at the winners of the challenges.  Did you know that all 8 Elimination Challenges have been won by 7 Cheftestants?  Mustache Joe Sasto is the only one with two Elimination Challenge wins under his belt.  Of the remaining chefs, Adrienne and Fatima are the only ones who have not won an Elimination, and Fatima has yet to win a Quickfire either!

Photo by: Paul Trantow/Bravo


When the episode begins, we see two things: how relieved the Cheftestants seem to be with Claudette gone, and how elated Joe Flamm is after winning Restaurant Wars. He feels like he is picking up speed.  Courtesy of the notorious Top Chef Facebook spoilers, this is heartbreaking to watch.  We love Joe Flamm and already know he is going home before the episode begins.

The guest judge for the Quickfire Challenge is 3 Michelin starred Chef, David Kinch. A cart full of flowers is behind them, and the Cheftestants need “find balance between beauty & flavor” by making a dish using Edible Flowers in 30 minutes.  Padma announces that not only is there no immunity from Quickfire wins moving forward, this will be a Sudden Death Quickfire.

The Cheftestants are throwing a little shade at each other in the talking head interviews – Mustache cannot believe that Carrie is serving “Fancy Toast” to David Kinch.  By the way, did you know that Mustache has served Kinch multiple times?  Do you care?  Clearly, it didn’t help him too much.

The Dishes:

  • Adrienne: Seared Scallop Carpaccio with Watermelon Radish, Black Radish, Radish Blossoms & Yuzu
  • Chris: Sea Bass & Scallop Tartare with Charred Onion, Wonton Crisps, Chive Blossom & Onion Flower
  • Fatima: Mustard Flower Rubbed Lamb with Chile de Arbol, Fresno Chiles, Broccoli Florets & Orange Blossom
  • Carrie: “Fancy Toast” Lavender, Fig & Goat Cheese Toast with Candied Pecans
  • Joe Flamm: Roasted Radish Salad with Creme Fraiche, Buttermilk Dressing, Radish & Arugula Flowers
  • Mustache Joe: Stuffed Squash Blossom with Goat Cheese Fondue, Watermelon Radish & Radish Flowers
  • Bruce: Ricotta Cavatelli, Squash Blossom, Grape Tomatoes, Arugula Pesto & Arugula Flowers

Quickfire – Winners & Losers

David Kinch loves Fatima’s idea to use the flowers for a rub. Evidently, lavender is one of the most difficult flowers to cook with, but David thinks Carrie’s Fancy Toast balanced out the flavor well. Carrie is the winner of this Quickfire Challenge.

David thinks the roasted radishes are too watery & that Flamm put too much sauce on the plate. Similar to Joe Flamm, Chris’s scallop dish was dressed “too heavily” for David’s taste. Mustache Joe rounds out the bottom three & David calls his dish “very pedestrian”. DAMN!

Sudden Death Quickfire

We must have Collicchio for the Sudden Death Quickfire, and out comes Tom with a giant cart of cauliflower. The Sudden Death Quickfire Challenge has the Cheftestants substitute Cauliflower for another item in a dish.  I immediately say to Mark, “I hope no one does cauliflower pizza crust or buffalo cauliflower.”  I have had both of these things way too many times. Considering we already know who loses, this was just frustrating.  Adrienne is cheering Flamm on and says, “I have a lot of respect for Chris and Joe Sasto, but I like Joe Flamm a lot more.  Sorry.”

The Dishes:

  • Mustache Joe makes a Smoked Cauliflower Buffalo Wings with Cauliflower Creme Fraiche & Pickled Cauliflower Stems.
  • Joe Flamm makes a risotto which is basically the kiss of death in Top Chef. Her serves up Purple Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Cauliflower Puree & Pickled Romanesco Broccoli
  • Chris serves the judges Cauliflower Caponata with White Wine Vinegar.

After tasting all the dishes Tom is “disappointed” & says all the dishes are lacking “flavor” & “finesse”. Tom’s least favorite dish is Joe Sasto & didn’t even realize it was cauliflower. He described the texture as “spongy”. On the other hand, David picked Joe Flamm as the worst dish because the cauliflower was not chopped fine enough. Padma is the tie-breaker & she picks Joe Flamm.  I have to say I am disappointed in this choice, I can’t believe Tom made this face to a dish, and that dish did not end up loosing.  Everyone looks sad, and Fatima is on the verge of tears.  We will miss you Bear Den, Clean Shaven Joe. There’s only one Bear left.

Photo by: Paul Trantow/Bravo

Elimination Challenge

Padma is ready to move on, and excitedly asks the Cheftestants if they are ready for their Elimination Challenge, to which the chefs give the saddest version of a hand raise I’ve ever seen.  Guest Judge is BBQ Master, Adam Perry Lang & guess what, he knows Bruce. It’s another NBC crossover here celebrating “America’s Holiday” the 52nd Superbowl hosted in Minneapolis. The Chefs are split up into Teams of Two. Each team must create one plate of food for a Tailgate Super Bowl Party.

Carrie won the Quickfire & although she didn’t win immunity, she does get to pick the teams. She wisely chooses Chris & pairs Mustache Joe with Adrienne & Bruce with Fatima.

Jessica: Ok, we are BIG Eagles fans in this house, so watching the coolest Chef in the competition chant E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles! my made heart skip a beat.

Photo by: Paul Trantow/Bravo

Elimination Dishes

White Team: Carrie and Chris are making Green Chili Poutine, and I am into it.  Crab fries with a cheese dipping sauce are a staple at Lincoln Financial Field (where the Eagles play). Tom thinks it’s “really flavorful” & it seems to be a hit with the crowd.

Orange Team – Bruce & Fatima are making two dishes?  The rules clearly stated one.  Also, these two dishes don’t seem to work well together.  Bruce made a Grilled Sirloin Steak with Bread & Butter Beet Salad & Horseradish Aioli, and Fatima made “Blue & Orange” Nachos with Achiote Rubbed Chicken, Black Lentils, Cheese Sauce & Peach Habanero Salsa.  Right off the bat, I think this dish is a horrible idea. It sounds like a sloppy mess. Padma calls the dish “muddled” and points out that steak nachos would have been better than these two dishes.  As Tom says, if you’re going to make nachos with only six chefs left, they better be the best damn nachos (Okay, I am paraphrasing, but come on Fatima). Nobody wants lentils on their nachos.

Blue Team: Adrienne and Mustache are doing Fried Mac & Cheese, Miso Glazed St. Louis Style Ribs with Kale Slaw & Kimchi Aioli.  When they are cooking that Mac and Cheese you just know that it is wrong. They are pouring cornstarch all over those bites to fix them, but it is a bad sign.  Tom says, “if you’re going to fry mac, it has to be crispy.  Otherwise, why bother?” Ouch.

Elimination Winners & Losers

The White Team of Carrie and Chris were the clear winners, and they get Super Bowl tickets!  This episode was clearly shot long before we knew who was going to the Super Bowl, so it is amazing that Chris is going to be watching his team this weekend!

Photo by: Paul Trantow/Bravo

We may not have agreed with Joe Flamm going home, but Fatima leaving for those nachos was the right choice.  We are so sad to see you go Fati! It looked like it pained Padma to tell her to pack her knives.  Fatima,  your attitude, demeanor and humor are going to be missed, but we know this isn’t the last we are going to see of you.

Random Observations & Quotes

  • In the least surprising news ever, Mustache Joe Sasto is Really Into crystals & Really Into foraging.
  • Chris shows us “how the old folks do it.”
  • We learn that Bruce has a “spirit noodle” & it’s bucatini.
  • “Pasta again?” – Padma saying what we were all thinking to Bruce in the Quickfire.
  • I don’t know about you, but during the first commercial break Bravo was showing us the Cheftestants plating their Quickfire Dishes in the bottom corner.
  • Didn’t you kind of want to see the Chefs make a bunch of Minnesota Hot Dishes?
  • I love that Adrienne did what we all do and bought the ribs that were on sale.
  • “Has that ever been a sentence before, Nacho Cheese is more elegant?” – Carrie
  • I thought the moment Carrie and her former boss shared was really sweet.  There is clearly a lot of respect there.
  • I believe Ms. Carla Hall won the Top Chef Super Bowl in Season 5 and walked away with a pair tickets for the actual Super Bowl.
  • Fatima saying the only time she has been to a football stadium was to see Taylor Swift was everything.
  • Also, Carrie in her rodeo gear was hilarious.
  • And he’s back!  Tom was football punning it up.
  • Fatima left the competition with no wins.
  • Out of the 5 remaining Cheftestants, only Adrienne is missing an Elimination Challenge win.  The other four have two wins each under their belts.

Last Chance Kitchen

Finally!!!  Tacos!!! There are so many times this season where I wanted the Cheftestants to make my favorite food in the world, tacos.  Poor Claudette, she barely missed a challenge geared towards her.  This week Joe Flamm, Fatima and Brother Luck have to make a full on taco bar (with Hidden Valley Ranch) for Tom and the eliminated guests.

  • Joe decides to do a Korean Taco Bar.  I love. Korean. tacos.  Joe’s look amazing, but I was wishing for a actual tacos instead of tostadas.  He had to tell Tom to eat his dish like a “wild, savage man.”  And, unlike Joe, I don’t think Asian tacos are risky at all.
  • Fatima makes (surprise!) Pakistani tacos.  I get it, that is the flavor and country she is representing, but I feel like we didn’t see much else from her this season.  But I am also a believer that every food can be made into a taco.
  • Brother Luck goes the most traditional route, making a Tex Mex taco bar.  We do love some us some borracho beans in Texas.  I also am a huge fan of roasted corn with cotija cheese, and I think he used the ranch well.

Again, Tom has a super tough decision, and I was so thankful that only one person had to go home.  Joe Flamm takes the Taco Bar trophy home, and Fatima is officially sent packing.  Fatima had a bad episode, and it was right for her to go home.  Last Chance Kitchen has only two challenges left!


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!

We’ve been blogging all season!  Catch up on our other posts: The IntroEpisode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5Episode 6Episode 7 & Episode 8.

Momma, wife, baker, reader & smart ass. I am Really Into doughnuts, inside jokes, trash TV, pizza, 48 Hours & George Michael.

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