It was in one door and out the other on last week‘s “Top Chef” when Brother Luck won a “Last Chance Kitchen” battle to re-enter the competition only to be eliminated after failing to impress the judges with his “Southern Fizz” inspired dish. This week the competition pays homage to Kentucky and its heifers with a focus on locally-grown ingredients and staple dishes.
Below, check out our minute-by-minute “Top Chef” recap of Season 16, Episode 7, titled “Carne!,” to find out what happened Thursday, January 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about whether or not the right decision was made at this week’s Judges’ Table. See “Top Chef” winners list.
8:00 p.m. – The chefs return to the house following last week’s elimination overjoyed that they “protected their house” by keeping all of the season 16 competitors in the game and not letting season 15’s Brother take any of them out. Little do they know, Brother returned to Last Chance Kitchen and will have another chance to get back in the house!
8:03 p.m. – The next day, waiting for the chefs with Padma Lakshmi in the kitchen was Emmy winner Lena Waithe to help present and judge tonight’s Quickfire Challenge. Justin Sutherland was looking good for his first solo win once it was announced that they’d be trying their hand at reimagining the Kentucky staple dish the “hot brown,” which he has on the menu of both his restaurants. The hot brown, as described by Justin, is an open-faced turkey sandwich covered in Mornay sauce.
8:11 p.m. – Justin’s stiffest competition should have been Kentucky native Sara Bradley, but she failed to get her dish on both plates and so she was among the bottom. With her there was Brian Young‘s dry “Tennessee hot chicken” inspired dish and Kelsey Barnard Clark whose vinegar-based sauce was not decadent enough. Lena and Padma’s favorites were Justin’s savory and sweet traditionally-prepared dish, Eddie Konrad‘s turkey and speck because Lena was obsessed with the sauce and Adrienne Wright‘s light fried turkey with Swiss chard. In the end, Justin’s experience paid off and he was declared the winner!
8:15 p.m. – In the house to help present this week’s Elimination Challenge was James Beard Award winning chef and restauranteur Nancy Silverton. In continuation of the Kentucky theme, Nancy and Padma asked the chefs to use locally-sourced ingredients to create a dish centering around a specific cut of beef. In order to get their beef the chefs had to break it down themselves with the help of 8th generation famed Italian butcher Dario Cecchini.
8:24 p.m. – While shopping at Whole Foods, David Viana, who drew the top round, and Brandon Rosen, who drew the loin cut, realized that they were both planning on tartare. Both of them were inspired to take the risk because they’ve been in the middle all season and wanted to prove themselves to the judges.
8:27 p.m. – In the kitchen the chefs approached the challenge very differently. As Justin put it, it was surprising to see some of the chefs hack up their portions of the cow instead of preparing large cuts of beef so that the judges can really taste how they built flavors around the meat. Based on preparation it seemed like decision-making might become the make or break moment for who is sent home this week.
8:30 p.m. – Indeed once Tom Colicchio came by for a check-in he cautioned both Brandon and David that their choice to both do tartare might not have been a wise way to showcase their cuts. If that wasn’t worrisome enough, Brandon made some key mistakes in the kitchen causing him to employ some work-arounds in order to get his plate finished.
8:37 p.m. – Brandon’s Asian style tartare with miso egg sauce was served first alongside David’s cold smoked tartare, but neither won out over the other. In fact, the judges had major problems with both dishes. Next to serve was Justin with his flank steak and polenta and Adrienne with her “black and blue” sirloin using local blackberries and blue cheese. Both were hits for enhancing the beef using the other ingredients.
8:39 p.m. – After some frustrations of their own in the kitchen, Sara and Brian were up next with two dishes that at first glance were so tiny that Padma asked “what happened to the rest of the cow?!” Sara gave the judges plate sausage with turnips and Brian delivered ribeye with charred vegetables and both underwhelmed and confused.
8:45 p.m. – Luckily Eddie and Michelle Minori followed up with their two dishes, one of which they loved. Michelle’s braised chuck and Eddie’s brisket “golumpki” were both enhanced with local berries, but it was Eddie that surprised the table with the high level of difficulty and smart decisions. Michelle’s dish ended up dry, but didn’t hit as roughly as some of the ones that preceded hers.
8:47 p.m. – Kelsey’s braised shank with carrot grits and Eric Adjepong‘s braised cheeks and tongue mousse tasted well enough, but the judges were confused by the descriptions of both–they lacked the carrot flavor in Kelsey’s grits and had never heard of liquifying beef tongue in the way Eric did. At the end of the meal, Dario said it best when he expressed his disappointed that the chefs didn’t approach the challenge with more respect and soul for the beef and instead went too “frou frou.”
8:49 p.m. – At Judges’ Table, Tom reiterated what Dario said and told the chefs that there were a lot of missed opportunities because they were too in their head about the challenge. That being said, Padma named Justin, Adrienne and Eddie as the top three dishes. Overall, the judges loved Eddie’s decision to make contemporary Polish food in a smart and tasty way and so they selected him as the winner!
8:55 p.m. – In the bottom was Sara, Brandon and Brian, meaning in the tartare war David “won” that battle. All three chefs were roasted for their timid and poor decisions in how they prepped the beef. From the judges’ perspective, Sara at least had one of the hardest cuts and understood that her decisions simply got away from her. Brian and Brandon did not get off as easily in their critiques, but ultimately the decision came down to the chef that didn’t honor the beef and so Brandon was eliminated. It was his third time in the bottom this season (with no highs or wins) and so it made sense.
NEXT WEEK: The chefs head to Lake Cumberland, the houseboat capital of the world, where they cook on a boat amidst a power outage and Adrienne declaring she doesn’t feel well enough to even serve her dish.