‘Top Chef’ 16 episode 8 recap: Power problems plague the chefs in a house boat party team challenge

After last week‘s “Top Chef,” only two contestants have yet to fall into the bottom in an Elimination Challenge: Eddie Konrad and Eric Adjepong. Both guys have one win under their belt, but that doesn’t guarantee them safety considering Nini Nguyen was eliminated in episode 4/5 after winning back-to-back challenges in the two preceding episodes. How did Eddie and Eric fair when the chefs were divided into two teams tasked with throwing a house boat party in Lake Cumberland, Kentucky?

Below, check out our minute-by-minute “Top Chef” recap of Season 16, Episode 8, titled “Whatever Floats Your Boat,” to find out what happened Thursday, January 24 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. – Following last week’s meat-focused challenge the chefs’ spirits were low–as Kelsey Barnard Clark put it, “it was the worst day” they’d had in the season so far. The judges were tough on the group as a whole and Tom Colicchio scolded them all for not “cooking as themselves.”

8:03 p.m. – With that in mind, Padma Lakshmi joined the chefs immediately to let them know they’d be taking a trip to Lake Cumberland, the house boat capital of the world. To make room in the schedule for their road trip to the lake there was no Quickfire Challenge. Instead Padma presented the scope of the Elimination Challenge straight away: split into two teams the chefs would create dueling house boat parties for 100 guests that would ultimately determine which party had the best food. With an uneven number of contestants left, last week’s winner Eddie got to decide the teams, including the decision of whether his would be the team of four or five chefs. He chose Adrienne Wright, Michelle Minori, David Viana and Brian Young for his team, leaving Kelsey, Eric, Justin Sutherland and Sara Bradley on the other team.

8:07 p.m. – Based on the team delineations, Adrienne was concerned that her team of five might have trouble fitting into what could be a small kitchen while teammate Michelle was more worried that the set of them were much more reserved than the other team in terms of knowing how to throw a proper party. Justin and Eric on the other hand were delighted to not be on a team with Eddie (who stresses too much) and Brian (who overthinks everything).

8:13 p.m. – When they arrived at Lake Cumberland the chefs were greeted by Captain Lee and and Captain Sandy from the series “Below Deck” who would be captaining the two house boats for the challenge. The boats were massive–like, they had slides from the top of the boat into the water–but the kitchens were, as feared, small galleys.

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8:20 p.m. – With only 14.5 hours until service, Eddie’s Blue Team’s boat lost power, causing the chefs to scramble for ideas at how to continue managing their prep work while waiting for a generator repairman. The only solution available to them was to use induction burners instead of the stove and oven. During a visit to the other boat, Kelsey let the Blue Team know that they weren’t using their oven and so if they needed anything that they could pop over and use theirs.

8:22 p.m. – Later, Tom and guest judge Emeril Lagasse visited the two kitchens to check-in on their progress. They were surprised to see one team cooking in the dark, but the Blue Team seemed to have found a rhythm and peace to their situation and weren’t too fussed about still having no power. While they were concerned with whether or not Brian would have an oven to get his pork roast into, the Green Team was on their boat packing gift bags and testing their “jiggle juice” (Jell-O shots, basically).

8:26 p.m. – Having spent most of the car ride to the lake keeled over feeling under the weather, Adrienne had to take a break from her work on the Blue Team to catch some more rest in the hopes that it would stave off her growing sickness. Meanwhile things were looking up when their power came back before the 2 a.m. marker that Brian needed for his pork. By 6 a.m. however, Adrienne was still sick in bed and warning the team that she wouldn’t be able to serve during the party.

8:32 p.m. – Luckily the Blue Team was the team with five members so they were able to spread the wealth in helping out on Adrienne’s dish and other duties. But five members meant five dishes so it was still going to stretch them thinner than they had originally planned.

8:34 p.m. – Determined to do what it takes to make his team’s party memorable, Brian decided to serve his pork roast from the hot tub… meaning he would be standing, fully clothed in a hot tub during the heat of the day cutting and serving meat to the party guests.

8:36 p.m. – As far as the team dishes go, Green Team served: oysters with pickled watermelon rind (Kelsey), watermelon salad with tequila marinated shrimp (Justin), a “key lime crunch” cereal in a doggy gift bag (Kelsey), shrimp rolls (Sara), “jiggle juice” (Team) and beer battered fried walleye (Eric); and the Blue Team served: seafood dumplings in a spiced coconut broth (David), South Pacific style porchetta (Brian), grilled salmon tacos with corn salad (Adrienne), poached shrimp with aioli and prosciutto (Eddie) and potato chip crusted Kentucky bass (Michelle).

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8:40 p.m. – Overall the judges’ response to the food from both parties seemed positive, but all the judges acknowledged that the energy at the Green Team party was much higher. Unfortunately their power troubles hit their boat during service and so Eric was struggling running upstairs and downstairs in order to properly fry his fish.

8:48 p.m. – At Judges’ Table Tom let both teams know that they were pleased with both teams this week feeling like they all cooked food that came from the heart. But as promised, the decision of which team won was left to the 100 party guests and with 79 of the votes, the Green Team won! After receiving their individual critiques from the panel, Emeril declared Kelsey the challenge winner for her perfect execution of her Alabama oysters!

8:54 p.m. – That left the five members of the Blue Team vulnerable to elimination, including Eddie who was in the bottom for the first time in the competition. The judges loved Michelle’s crust on her fish, but the fish inside was an inconsistent temperature. Padma called Eddie’s fish “bland” and Tom called it “rubbery,” noting that maybe they just sat out too long. Despite not being present, the judges loved Adrienne’s taco and gave Eddie credit for helping serve and execute it properly Brian and David both took heat for errors in execution on their pork and dumplings, respectively.

8:58 p.m. – At the end of the day, Tom made it clear that the decision came down to the chef that missed the mark on the details. That chef was Brian and so he was sent home for his pork that “wasn’t cooked properly.” He will head to Last Chance Kitchen for his opportunity to make a comeback in a head-to-head battle against the most recent winner Brandon Rosen.

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NEXT WEEK: The contest heads to Nashville, more specifically the Grand Ole Opry, where the chefs “perform” for Kings of Leon singer Caleb Followill. Michelle cooks a dish from her heart and in the memory of her father which hits an emotional beat for both her and Padma. Also, Tom declares one dish “probably the best dish all season.”

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