On last week‘s “Top Chef” Kelsey Barnard Clark earned her second win of the season, putting her in a comfortable and confident position going in to tonight’s penultimate episode with the Final 4. In terms of record she still trailed Eric Adjepong‘s three wins and only one low score, but edged out Michelle Minori and Sara Bradley each with only one win. Three chefs were promised a trip to the finale, so after taking inspiration from their own cultures and fusing it with Macanese ingredients, who earned their spot?
Below, check out our minute-by-minute “Top Chef” recap of Season 16, Episode 14, titled “The Tao of Macau,” to find out what happened Thursday, March 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about who you think will be named this year’s champion.
8:01 p.m. – In the chefs’ first challenge in Macau, Kelsey won because she was able to bring together her foundation of cooking from back home and the flavors of Macau. Looking forward to the finale, this is the mindset the chefs were focused on with one last Quickfire and Elimination Challenge left to go.
8:03 p.m. – Abe Conlon joined Padma Lakshmi for the final Quickfire that tested not only the chefs ability to create a dish using the local durian fruit, but also their own ability to stomach its smell. Abe described the flavors of durian as varied: almonds, bananas, mangoes, garlic chives. But the smell is so bad that it’s banned from public spaces like hotels and airports.
8:09 p.m. – Michelle made espuma of chilled durian with ice and coconut cream, shrimp ceviche and molho cru sauce to which Padma winced at acidity that apparently was coming just from the durian. Eric prepared a tomato and celery salad with durian vinaigrette and pickled sea bass that Padma questioned where th durian actually was. Sara’s crispy skin bass, vadouvan and durian curry with dinosaur plum didn’t elicit any repulsion from Padma and reminded her of other good foods she’s had. Kelsey wasn’t proud of her durian breakfast yogurt parfait because she didn’t love using durian, but Padma still called it a “beautiful plate of food.”
8:11 p.m. – The least favorite dishes came from Eric for diluting the durian and Kelsey for letting the other fruits shine more than the durian in hers. With Sara’s curry Padma was impressed that she taught her something new with fruit and foods that she grew up with and with Michelle’s ceviche they thought it achieved what the fruit does in being both savory and sweet. But the winner was the chef they thought used the fruit the best and that was Michelle! As the winner she earned an extra hour of cook time in the Elimination Challenge. For the Elimination Challenge Padma asked the chefs to look to their own heritage and create a dish reflective of that while incorporating Chinese ingredients.
8:18 p.m. – To inspire the chefs before creating their dishes, Abe took them for a feast at his favorite Macanese restaurant Litoral where the chefs were surprised with visits by family members–Eric’s sister and the mothers of the three women! At the feast they were served minchee and other traditional dishes that the chefs found rich in flavor, unique and dynamic.
8:26 p.m. – While shopping at the grocery store with their family members, Kelsey’s mom gave her a scare by abandoning her cart and not finding it until only a few minutes remained in their shopping time. The experience in general was abnormal for the chefs because they had to guess at certain ingredients since the packaging was in an unfamiliar language, but in the end they all handled the stress of it well and got everything they needed.
8:37 p.m. – Prior to service, Michelle found herself cutting it close on plating her complex dish even with the extra hour she earned with her earlier win. But she managed to get her cioppino of seafood, beans and chorizo out in time. In a break from tradition, the judges actually asked Michelle to sit with them and eat her own dish alongside them as well as offer up a mini critique of it. Michelle thought that the dish could use some more acid, but her mom loved it.
8:43 p.m. – Sara also got to sit down to enjoy her chicken thighs with matzo balls and savory mushroom consommé. One of the hardest things Sara had to overcome this week was making the matzo balls without traditional matzo, but in the end she and the judges both thought that her balls turned out great.
8:45 p.m. – When Eric tried his egusi stew with panko fried fufu dumpling and shrimp he was not worried about cooking fufu for the second time in the competition and was pleased with how the substitution of pumpkin seeds for melon seeds turned out in the egusi.
8:46 p.m. – Kelsey’s low country boil with shrimp was served with a tableside pour in order to give the table the feeling of how it would be served back home. Sitting at the table gave her a chance to explain that the broth had “about 37 things in it” including dried mushrooms and various seafood elements.
8:48 p.m. – At Judges’ Table Padma complimented all the chefs on delivering soulful dishes from their heritage, but declared that the one dish that stood above the rest by having a harmony with the local ingredients was Sara’s!
8:54 p.m. – The judges told Kelsey that her broth was intense which made it hard to eat an entire bowl of it, Eric that the flavor was on point but the texture was rough, and Michelle that she took a lot of care with her dish but they missed the broth in her choice to do a bean puree and sauce instead. After hearing pleas from each of the three chefs, the judges decided that the two to join Sara in the finale would be Eric and Kelsey! That means that Michelle was eliminated for the second time and would not be named top chef.
NEXT WEEK: Eric, Kelsey and Sara cook a “four course meal for your lives,” but only two of them will actually compete for the win.