Top Chef Colorado episode 2 recap: Commit to the cheese


With one episode down, Top Chef Colorado goes back to a favorite quickfire for this episode. But, the team competition brings the bigger challenge.

In the beginning episodes of Top Chef Colorado, the scene is getting set for later in the season. With so many chefs in the kitchen, a single episode can’t feature all the cheftestants. When a cheftetant gets a lot of camera time in an earlier episode, it can either be a good thing or spell their doom.

To start this Top Chef episode, the cheftestants had to tackle a classic quickfire challenge, the mise en place relay. Mise en place is the prep work that needs to get done before a chef can cook. It is the chopping, peeling, dicing and all the grunt work that isn’t the fun part of cooking.
Considering the caliber of these chefs, some of the cheftestants may have other chefs do their prep work in the kitchen. Watching these chefs tear through the prep work shows that years in the kitchen makes them efficient. Even more impressive was the competitive nature. Both teams were determined to come out on top.

Experience and attention to detail propelled one team to win. Bruce’s decision to weigh each tenderloin as he was butchering it earned his team the win. But, even that win wasn’t the end. The winning team had to create a dish with the mise en place ingredients.

Top Chef Colorado episode 2 recap, photo from Bravo

With only eight minutes to create a tenderloin, mushroom and shallots dish was insane. Truthfully getting food on the plate in eight minutes is impressive let alone the dishes that these cheftestants created.

Only one chef could win the quickfire challenge. Joe, with a quick marinade, got huge flavor into his dish. The umami flavors and textures propelled him to victory. The win not only earned him immunity but also $5,000 and a year’s worth of Blue Apron, the quickfire sponsor.

Top Chef Colorado episode 2 recap, photo from Bravo

As the cheftestants prepare for the elimination challenge, they all wonder what farm ingredient will drive their dish. When people think farm to table, the traditional produce choices come to mind. In this scenario, it wasn’t produce. Instead, the cheftestants had to use artesian cheese from a local farm.

Continuing the team challenge into the elimination challenge, each team had to create a four course, progressive dinner that highlighted the cheese. Each course had to feature a different cheese. The hardest part of this challenge wasn’t incorporating the cheese into each course, it was working in a team challenge.

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While it could be a little bit of a stereotype, many chefs have egos. In this scenario, all of these chefs are usually the boss in their kitchen. In a team setting, many of the chefs want their point of view to be the primary voice. Finding a way to work together, on a cohesive, progressive meal can mean the difference between victory and elimination.

In Top Chef Colorado, egos, accolades and awards don’t give cheftestants a pass into the later rounds. One week can have a chef winning a challenge and the next week he can be up for elimination. Each chef is only as good as his/her last dish.
For this team challenge featuring artesian cheeses, both teams had high points and culinary disasters. Neither team truly had a cohesive, exemplary progressive dinner. But, one team must win and the other must lose.

Top Chef Colorado episode 2 recap, photo from Bravo

Actually, the worst dish of the day came from the winning team. The green team’s lamb chop was a disaster. Visually it looked like a train wreck. Taste wise it was a mess. Tu’s explanation was even worse. Don’t tell the judges to pick up a lamb chop because it will make eating it fun. What were you thinking? Still, thanks to the rest of his team, he was safe.

The best dish of the day was a surprising one. Last week, Carrie was on the bottom of both challenges in episode 1. It seemed that she was poised for an early elimination. Even though she is from Colorado, the title of Top Chef Colorado seemed beyond her reach.

Top Chef Colorado episode 2 recap, photo from Bravo

This week, Carrie made a delicious dish that truly highlighted the cheese. The dish was simple, yet technically smart. By cooking the dumpling only on one side, she created some texture that pushed the dish to the next level.

Just like the big flip with Carrie, the same happened with last week’s top cheftestant. Part of the losing team, Tyler found himself up for elimination. His combined dish with Rogelio wasn’t a hit with the judges. While his seasonable vegetables were delightful, Tyler and Rogelio’s s dish didn’t highlight the cheese.

Top Chef Colorado episode 2 recap, photo from Bravo

The whole point of this challenge was to create a cheese forward dish. Unfortunately, this lamb dish used cheese almost as an afterthought. No story about keeping the integrity of the cheese can hide the fact that the cheese wasn’t the star.

Still, that lamb dish wasn’t the biggest mistake of the day. Claudette’s smoked trout had problems with execution and technique. It seems strange that Claudette agreed to make a smoked trout when she didn’t know how to cold smoke fish. Granted team challenges can be tricky, but chefs shouldn’t try techniques that they don’t work with all the time.

Top Chef Colorado episode 2 recap, photo from Bravo

With technique problems and a lack of commitment to the cheese, Claudette was sent to Last Chance Kitchen. In her exit interview, she was quite upset. It is hard to be one of the first cheftestant eliminated on Top Chef Colorado.

The first two eliminations were women. While eliminations should, and are, based on merit, it doesn’t sit well with me that two women have been eliminated. Overall, the majority of chefs up for elimination have been women. Hopefully it is just a random circumstance and doesn’t show a pattern for the rest of the Top Chef season 15.

What’s up next for Top Chef Colorado? Next week’s episode features a sudden death quickfire. Could a big upset be brewing?