With only three more episodes to go until the “Top Chef” Season 16 finale set in Macau, China, airs on March 14 and with five out of 15 contestants left in the game, it’s a good time to assess the pluses and minuses of each and allow you to choose who you think is likeliest to go all the way.
This season, many a chef’s standing has gone from high to low in a flash. Last week, Justin Sutherland, the owner and executive chef for two Minneapolis-area restaurants who recently won on “Iron Chef America,” was ranked second in our Top 6 poll. But despite winning the veggie-themed Quickfire Challenge, he was eliminated with a dish that honored his mentor JD Fratzke after plating his yellowtail too soon and the temperature was off. Read the summaries of each chef’s performance so far (note that women outnumber men, four vs. one) and pick your favorite in our poll below. And tune in to Bravo on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/PT to see how your favorite fares this week.
*Eric Adjepong – The one to keep an eye on. The Ghanian-American, born and raised in the Bronx, resides in Washington, D.C., where he and his wife operate a pop-up and catering company called Pinch and Plate. He was also named one of People magazine’s Top 10 “Sexiest Chefs Alive.” He is keen on bringing West African flavors in his dishes, and it seems to be working for him. Adjepong has won the most Elimination Challenges so far with three. And he has never been among the low-scoring chefs.
*Sara Bradley – After almost being cut during the basketball challenge, this Paducah, Kentucky, cheftestant has been on a roll. She has won two Quickfire Challenges and now has scored high in four Elimination Challenges and low four times. Last week, however, she outdid herself. Sara wasn’t just about the only chef to nurture her garden throughout the season. She impressed the judges with a Quickfire dish of roasted radish, cucumber, squash & Cypress goat cheese. Sara then went on to win her first Elimination round just when it counted the most. Her olive oil poached sea bass with Iberico ham broth, soy beans, black-eyed peas and baby lima beans caused her mentor David Posey to say she “knocked it out of the park.”
*Kelsey Barnard Clark – The “Gulf Southern” chef from Dothan, Alabama, runs her own restaurant and catering company, KBC. Last week, she struggled. She ruined what was a delicious plate of fried green tomatoes by adding ricotta in the Quickfire. And she wrecked her yummy gumbo by failing to find all the bits of shell in her canned crab during the Elimination. She has won one Elimination, scored high twice and low three times.
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*Michelle Minori – The Bay-area chef was named 2017’s “Rising Chef Star” by the San Francisco Chronicle when she was the executive chef at Barzotto. But she has since gone off on her own. She won the Quickfire Challenge during Restaurant Wars. As for Elimination Challenges, she scored low twice and won one of the more difficult cooking tests that required a music-inspired dish. She was eliminated during a basketball-themed challenge for bad ribs. Luckily, her dishes in “Last Chance Kitchen” allowed her to re-enter the “Top Chef” arena last week. She didn’t quite do herself proud, however, serving a so-so dish for the Quickfire, and ending up in the middle for Elimination.
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*Adrienne Wright – One of two Boston-based chefs (her fellow Beantown cook, Brian Young, was cut in episode 8) has been on the high side of four Elimination Challenges although the executive chef who oversees four eateries has yet to win one. She did triumph on the Quickfire Challenge on episode 9, held at the Grand Ole Opry. But she has scored low in Elimination four times, including the past two weeks — not good timing.
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