“Top Chef” Season 15 premiered Thursday night with a cast of 15 first-time chefs as well as four returning contestants from seasons past who are competing separately for a chance to enter the main competition at a later point. Throughout this season, which is set in Colorado, you can make your predictions at Gold Derby from week to week and we’ll be here each Thursday night to recap the episode as it happens with a live blog.
Heading in to the premiere episode our early odds favor New York-based Fatima Ali as the frontrunner to win with pre-season 10/11 odds. Her toughest competition is from a trio of men, Rogelio Garcia (13/2 odds), Christopher Scott (15/2 odds) and Joe Sasto (8/1 odds). And on the flip side of things, sight unseen combined odds say that one of Tyler Anderson from Simsbury, CT (21/20 odsd) or Joseph Flamm from Chicago (13/2 odds) could be the first to be sent home.
Below, check out our minute-by-minute “Top Chef” recap of Season 15, Episode 1, titled “It’ll Take More Than Pot Luck” to find out what happened Thursday night. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite chefs, which dishes from the episode looked the tastiest and who you think can go the distance to win the title of Top Chef. Keep refreshing/reloading this page as we’ll be updating live.
9:59 p.m. – In the spirit of other recent seasons like “Top Chef: California” (season 13) and “Top Chef: Charleston” (season 14), this season the show will start off in and take place mostly within Colorado. Any “Top Chef” fan worth a dime knows that the “Food & Wine Classic” held in Aspen, Colorado is a huge event for the show and its contestants, and a trip to the classic is often included as part of the winner’s prize package, so its about time they used the state as inspiration for a season!
10:01 p.m. – Host Padma Lakshmi greets the chefs in the Top Chef kitchen with an immediate Quickfire Challenge. They have 45 minutes to cook “whatever they want” as a contribution to a potluck, meaning they’ll be cooking for both the judges and each other. Winner of the challenge will earn immunity for the first main challenge.
10:03 p.m. – Among the chefs we have a variety of different styles–Chris Scott cooks “Amish soul food” while Tyler Anderson brings his past as a former punk rocker to the table. Some of the dishes being worked on are wings, pastas and bruschettas.
10:13 p.m. – Tasting the quickfire dishes with the chefs will be Padma, Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Graham Elliot. While seated at the table tasting everyone’s food, Tom disclosed that he already knows Bruce Kalman, but as it turns out everyone in the room already knows Bruce as he’s already a pretty established chef outside of the show.
10:18 p.m. – The top dishes at the quickfire were not scored by the judges however; instead, the chefs themselves scored each other by writing their favorite and least favorite dishes on a notecard. Their choices resulted in two chefs on the bottom: Melissa Perfit and Carrie Baird. Melissa’s potatoes in her soup didn’t seem to be fully cooked while Carrie’s bruschetta didn’t have much flavor. The top three vote getters were from Joseph Flamm, Joe Sasto and Tu David Phu. Of those three, the one with the most votes and winner was Tu!
10:21 p.m. – Tonight’s Elimination Challenge is inspired by Denver’s history as a “meat and potato” town. The chefs will host a block party while putting a modern twist on that concept with a meat and potato dish of their own.
10:25 p.m. – The chefs were given 30 minutes and $600 to purchase their ingredients at Whole Foods. At the store, most of the chefs headed to the butcher for their meats. Adrienne Cheatham is doing pork, Laura Cole is a steak sandwich with her own homemade bread and Tyler is also doing pork, barbecued pork belly to be exact. Bruce feels fairly comfortable cooking for 200 people because of his experience so he’s confident about his plan to do pork shoulder and gnocchi.
10:30 p.m. – During check-ins with Tom, Chris explains a little more about his Amish heritage and Rogelio shocks Tom by saying he’s attempting croquettes in such a high pressure situation. Afterward, Laura realizes that all of the ovens in the kitchen are being used so instead of making her bread she decides to create a pita wrap instead which she does not need an oven for.
10:34 p.m. – With time running down on the prep period, Tu sees that Bruce is in the weeds and because he finished his own work early he decides to give him some help. Given that Bruch seemed so confident earlier, this could spell trouble for him.
10:39 p.m. – Back at their house that night, Bruce confesses to the rest of the cast that he’s worried about how much he struggled earlier and his ability to perform up to par tomorrow. On an equally personal note, Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins admits that she’s not used to having adult roommates and doesn’t particularly like it. Ha!
10:41 p.m. – On the day of the block party, Fatima finishes prep on her deconstructed samosas and declares that she thinks she’s the only chef that didn’t use red meat, having gone the chicken route instead.
10:44 p.m. – Padma refers to Fatima’s dish as a “Pakistani nacho” and both her and Tom give her positive immediate critiques. Gail and Graham both like the potatoes in Tu’s stew, but point out a bitterness that Tu blames on his pan and non-traditional cooking surface. And it seems that despite all the stress leading up to his dish, Bruce’s gnocchi tastes good! Carrie on the other hand, unfortunately serves Tom and Padma burnt chips with her dish and the bitterness ruins the dish.
10:49 p.m. – Joe’s beef tartare works well for Padma, Brother Luck‘s lamb is called the “most colorful dish” by Graham and Rogelio’s croquettes turn out well, impressing Tom. Tanya Holland‘s jerk chicken doesn’t live up to its name, Tyler succeeds with his crispy potatoes and Chris puts together a chow-chow and potato waffle that has a spice that Gail really likes.
10:55 p.m. – Adrienne’s dish came out a little too sweet for Padma’s taste and Laura’s pita flat bread was a miss as well. But it all came down to the judges’ collective decision for who were their least favorites and the better dishes in the running for the win.
11:00 p.m. – At Judges’ Table, Padma calls forward Tyler, Chris and Fatima as their favorite dishes of the day. Tom says Fatima’s was well executed and Graham gives her props for being the only one to use chicken. Chris’ Amish point of view and his barbecue stood out among all the other dishes. Padma says Tyler produced the best potato out of everyone and Tom thinks his dish was really well-seasoned. Of the three, the winner is Tyler!
11:03 p.m. – On the other side, Adrienne, Melissa and Carrie are brought forward as the bottom dishes. But Padma mentions to Tu that without immunity he may have been in the bottom as well. Adrienne was marked down for an odd texture and the sweetness of her dish. Melissa’s dish was uneven, and Tom says it tasted like it was warmed leftovers. Carrie’s failure was making her lemon goat cheese the focus of her dish rather than the short rib or the potato.
11:11 p.m. – In the end, the decision of who would be the first eliminated came down to an inability to create a dish that represented the succulent, delicious idea of meat and potatoes. The chef asked to pack her knives and go is Melissa. She’ll have a chance to get back into the competition by winning at Last Chance Kitchen, but Tom warns her that this season it’ll be a little different. The chefs don’t know it yet (we do), but what Tom means is that they’ll be competing against four former contestants–Lee Anne Wong (season 1), Marcel Vigneron (seasons 2 & 8), Kwame Onwuachi (season 13) and Jennifer Carroll (seasons 6 & 8).
Here are the answers to Gold Derby’s contest questions for “Top Chef” Season 15, Episode 1:
Who will be eliminated? MELISSA PERFIT
Who will be in bottom 2, but safe? ADRIENNE CHEATHAM and CARRIE BAIRD
Who will win the main challenge? TYLER ANDERSON
Who will win the Quickfire challenge? TU DAVID PHU
Will anybody quit the competition? NO
Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs on VH1. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.