Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap: Meat and potatoes reimagined


Colorful Colorado serves as the backdrop to the newest season of Top Chef. On Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap, the chefs realize this competition isn’t as easy as it looks.

The first episode of Top Chef skips all the niceties and head straight to the cooking. Let’s dive into the Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap. As soon as the new cheftestants hit the kitchen, they face the first quick fire. With so many chefs in the kitchen, it can be hard to understand their culinary point of view. The first quick fire has the chefs create a dish for a Top Chef pot luck. The dish should tell their culinary story.

During the quick fire cooking portion, a few chefs get highlighted. It can be entertaining to guess which chefs will be in the top and which ones will be in the bottom. Just because a particular chef has a James Beard award doesn’t mean that his first dish will instantly impress the judges.

Top Chef is a competition. These dishes don’t take months to perfect. They need to think on their feet and cook quickly. There is a learning curve to achieve challenge success.

Top Chef Season 15 episode 1, photo from Bravo

The big twist for the quick fire challenge was that the contestant would choose the winning dish/chef. The cheftestants had to pick both a winning dish and a losing dish. Although the losing dish didn’t get eliminated, no one wanted to be on the bottom.

Unfortunately, two women chefs were on the bottom. Carrie’s bruschetta was too muddled. That type of simple dish needed clear, clean flavors. It wasn’t the best choice for a pot luck. Melissa’s dish suffered from undercooked potatoes.

The top dish was an unusual choice. Tu made a simple chopped salad. Of course, that salad had clean, balanced flavors. The Vietnamese inspired salad was impressive in its simplified confidence. Chosen by his fellow contestants as the winner was both a blessing and a curse. Yes, he got immunity for the win, but did that immunity put a target on his back? Or, did he become overconfident with the first quick fire win.

Other chefs had strong showings in the quick fire. Joe and Joe (yes, there are two Joes) both had spectacular dishes. Mustache Joe made fresh pasta, which is a big statement. Fresh pasta in 45 minutes is a huge accomplishment. Chicago Joe made a whole snapper, which is equally remarkable.

Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap: photo from Bravo

Still, in any good cooking competition show, the Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap can’t just be able the first challenge. While the pot luck was a good way to introduce the cheftestants and their cooking styles, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the top or bottom chefs could win it all or go home first. Anything can happen in Top Chef.

One of the reasons Top Chef chose Colorado for this season is that the state, and in particular the Denver food scene, is experiencing a renaissance. While Colorado may be colorful, the flavors, cuisines and techniques explored in the Colorado food community is exciting. Top Chef Season 15 will explore many of these hot topics.

Many people consider meat and potatoes a classic, easy to understand dish. For the foodie, a meat and potatoes dish is a little lackluster. In the elimination challenge, the cheftestants had to reimagine the classic meat and potato dish. Each chef had to create 200 tasting portions of their dish for a food event. Creativity and execution would either be the chef’s downfall or triumph.

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Before talking about the food, the Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap had some drama. If an episode doesn’t have some type of commotion, fuss or spectacle, the episode isn’t complete. The biggest takeaway from episode 1 is that Tu helped Bruce.

Bruce is a big name, well known, almost celebrity chef. When Bruce was in the weeds and almost didn’t complete his prep, Tu stepped up and helped to finish the prep. Should any fellow cheftestant help another one? Was that a nice move or a poor choice? This storyline will probably play out during the season.

Sure, it was a nice guy move for Tu to help. Did anyone else question why Bruce couldn’t finish his prep? Why did he make a dish with so many components? Time constraints are part of Top Chef. Bruce can’t rely on help from others. It doesn’t seem likely for other chefs to jump in and help in an elimination challenge going forward.

Even with so many chefs in the competition, a few dishes immediately jumped the favorite lists. Tyler, who was featured a lot in the first episode, was a top choice. His dish was potato forward. The crispy potato was a judges’ favorite. The meat complimented the potatoes and made for a composed bite.

Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap: photo from Bravo

Chris, who cookies Amish soul food, had one of the most creative dishes. His potato waffle with short rib was a unique combination. Granted, many people probably haven’t had Amish soul food. Still, the food label doesn’t matter. The dish’s flavor is what matters. His dish was on point.

Lastly, Fatima had the most vibrant dish. Her Pakistani dish featured layers of bold flavors. She truly reimagined the classic meat and potatoes into a dish that was her culinary point of view while still being approachable to a wide audience. She didn’t sacrifice the authenticity in the dish. Still, her dish was a strong contender.

Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap: photo from Bravo

The winning chef was Tyler. Winning the first Top Chef elimination challenge is impressive, and sometimes a good omen. In past seasons, the first elimination challenge winner has gone onto win the title. It remains to be seen if that trend will happen again.

The bottom chefs were familiar faces. The two bottom chefs from the quick fire challenge were in the bottom again. Carrie and Melissa had dishes with technical and flavor flaws. Joining them was Adrienne.

Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap: photo from Bravo

Adrienne’s dish lacked balanced flavors. Overall, her dish had too many sweet notes. The caramel with the sweet potato became almost cloying. Without the correct balance, the dish became a sugar bomb.

Carrie’s dish was an unsuccessful chip and dip dish. Her chips were either burnt or undercooked. The goat cheese dip could have been a successful component, but it overwhelmed the rest of the dish. Balance was also her downfall.

Lastly, Melissa’s dish failed both technically and flavor wise. The pork was dry and the flavor was confusing. Her choice of mashed potatoes wasn’t smart. In a competition like Top Chef, those mashed potatoes need to be the best mashed potatoes ever. The competition is just too strong for a mediocre dish.

Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap: photo from Bravo

Melissa was the first chef eliminated. Being in the bottom for both challenges sealed her fate. Plus, it wouldn’t seem likely that a local Colorado chef would be sent home in the first challenge. Melissa does get another chance to compete in Last Chance Kitchen. Fans will have to watch online for that side competition.

What can Top Chef fans expect from this season? Who knows? The first episode was all over the place. The top and bottom chefs got the most air time. A few plots seemed to be revealed. Still, anything can happen in Top Chef.

As Top Chef Season 15 episode 1 recap comes to a close, do you have a prediction on a potential winner? Which dish would you want to eat? Share your thoughts in the comments or tag us with #FoodSided on social media.