Top Chef Colorado Recap
By Jason Lee
January 1, 2018
Non-moustache Joe is freaking out while finishing up his dish—he’s behind schedule and everyone is pitching in to help as he screams and yells in the background. The judges take notice. When the dust settles, he has a saffron ribbon pasta with braised squid, a dish he makes often with his grandmother. Tanya serves her Louisiana-style gumbo with chicken, shrimp, and fried okra (Tom barely represses a shudder, as his okra-aversion is the stuff of legend). While Tanya has a hit with her tasty, balanced gumbo, Joe’s pasta is falling quite flat.
Moustache Joe is up next with a chicken tortellini and cabbage prepared as an homage to his late mother. Tu pairs it with a Vietnamese bouillabaisse with fish meatballs, failing told hold back tears as he thanks the judges for the opportunity to cook something from of his cuisine in the challenge. It’s a beautiful moment that his dish can’t match, as it’s missing acid and salt. Joe’s pasta dish, on the other hand, is lovely and nuanced.
Brother and Fatima are next. He serves the dirty rice with stewed chicken inspired by his father’s dish, and Fatima has her take on a classic rice and lentils dish that’s so well known in Pakistani culture. Tom praises the flavors in Brother’s dish, but while Fatima also nailed her flavors, the diners note that they’ve had better versions of it.
Like Non-Moustache Joe, Adrienne is totally in the weeds. She laments her over-ambitiousness as she finishes and then serves stuffed pig trotters with collard greens and a mustard, ham hock jus. The trotter is unfortunately undercooked. As for Bruce’s Hungarian lamb goulash, the flavors are great but pieces of the lamb are really, really undercooked. “A colossal flaw,” Padma notes.
Last up is Chris, who serves a humble, straightforward, no-frills lemonade fried chicken with collard greens and gorgeous looking buttermilk biscuits. The dish has tons of soul and he wins raves for his biscuits from the judges and his fellow cheftestants, who dig into a leftover tray of his biscuits once dinner service is complete.
So some extraordinarily high notes and some obvious errors in the dinner. On the right side of things are Chris (whose fried chicken delivered on their obvious, succulent promise), Tanya (who made everyone feel at home with her rich gumbo), and Moustache Joe (who maybe succeeded better than anyone else at meshing the flavors of his heritage with his skills as a chef). But it’s Chris and his confident decision not to dress up his fried chicken as anything else than it was who takes home the win.
Four episodes, eight different winners. The title of Top Chef is up for grabs.
Receiving some bad news are Non-Moustache Joe, Tyler, and Bruce—the bears of the group (bear down, bear down!). Joe’s pasta dish was not served hot and his pasta sauce was lacking in flavor. Tyler’s discombobulated dish was all over the culinary map, and he would have been better served by focusing on either SoCal or Sweden. As for Bruce, he’s in the bottom because his lamb was not cooked well at all.
You would think Bruce would be the person going home for making the most elementary of mistakes (failing to cook his protein properly) but the judges take the alternate route of sending home the chef whose dish was doomed at conception—Tyler. It was not a complete dish and had no sense of place.
It’s a bit surprising to see him go home so early, as the person who wins the first Elimination Challenge typically makes it quite far in the competition. Alas, Tyler won’t build on that tradition.