Top Chef Colorado episode 5 recap: One is always better than three


Top Chef Colorado episode 5 tried to push the chefs beyond their comfort zone. But, the great outdoors inspired some inventive food preparations.

Top Chef Colorado was ready to embrace its majestic scenery. In Top Chef Colorado episode 5 the Rocky Mountain high landscape was on full view. But, the biggest surprise of the whole episode wasn’t from the great outdoors.

Top Chef fans have become accustomed to the references to Last Chance Kitchen. The secondary competition for eliminated chefs has become a mainstay in the Top Chef competition. This season, Last Chance Kitchen featured both Top Chef Colorado eliminated chefs and previous Top Chef competitors. As Top Chef Colorado episode 5 opens the kitchen doors, the chefs were in for a big surprise.

In this episode, the competitors from Last Chance Kitchen were re-entering the Top Chef Colorado competition. This twist was revealed earlier than any other previous season. As Tom greets the chefs, everyone wonders if a Top Chef Colorado eliminated chef or a veteran would be returning. All guesses were wrong.

Top Chef Colorado episode 5 recap, photo from Bravo

The final three competitors in Last Chance Kitchen were Claudette (Season 15-current season), LeAnne (Season 1) and Kwame (Season 13). The final dish in this secondary competition featured offal. These three chefs did an amazing job of highlighting the offal. From chicken hearts to livers, the dishes were quite offal-forward.

Both women chefs, Claudette and Leanne, were the last women standing. In an unprecedented move, Tom invited both chefs back into the Top Chef Colorado kitchen. This twist could have a big impact on the Top Chef competition.

Claudette has been cooking with a passion since being eliminated earlier in Top Chef Season 15. She found a way to highlight the Mexican flavors and cuisines that resonate with her cooking. The layers of flavor and bold choices should help her in the main competition. Hopefully, her confidence has grown and she won’t let other chefs sway her judgment.

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Leanne is an interesting choice to bring back to the Top Chef competition. If I recall correctly, Leanne has consulted on food competition shows. As one of the original Top Chef competitors, she should know how to play the Top Chef game. Let’s be honest, Top Chef is a reality television show. There is a game aspect to the cooking component. Leanne could use her knowledge to help her placement in the competition.

Once the Last Chance Kitchen competition was completed, the chefs learned that Top Chef Colorado episode 5 would have no quickfire. With two chef re-entering the competition and only one chef leaving this week, a double elimination will surely happen again. When that elimination happens is anyone’s guess.

Top Chef Colorado episode 5 recap, photo from Bravo

The elimination challenge for this episode had the chefs head to the great outdoors for a camping inspired challenge. But, a Top Chef camping episode isn’t the typical camping food that a regular person would cook. Forget the hot dogs and s’mores for the judges. These chefs were cooking native Colorado foods, like rabbit, duck, bison and more, oh my!

Even though the chefs were out of their comfort zone, a few chefs were able to adapt to the situation. All these chefs are accomplished. With a twist, or two, they should be able to think on their feet. Complexity isn’t needed in this setting. Clean flavors, smart execution and focuses direction can create a successful dish in any setting.

The two most successful chefs in Top Chef Colorado episode 5 were Bruce and Carrie. First, Carrie deserves the MacGyver award. From the moment that the challenge was revealed, she knew her dish, a cake. Who would want to make a cake (or a dessert) on Top Chef, let alone on a glamping episode? Still, her confidence and knowledge propelled her forward.

Top Chef Colorado episode 5 recap, photo from Bravo

Even when Carrie couldn’t find the cooking vessel that she wanted, she created a way to make her cake successful. With individual tin cups and a make shift snow oven, she created one of the best Top Chef desserts. The cake was light, the flavors were clean and the dessert was a huge success. Major kudos to Carrie.

Bruce, who has struggled in the past couple of episodes, rose to the occasion in this episode. This week Bruce cooked foods and flavors that resonate with him. The confidence in his dish translated well.

Top Chef Colorado episode 5 recap, photo from Bravo

Also, Bruce used ingenuity with his pasta. Using his mandoline to create the ridges, the pasta soaked up all the robust wild boar ragu. If he didn’t have that pasta, his dish wouldn’t have won the day. Bruce, cooking with confidence and clarity, Bruce won this week’s challenge.

But, winning a challenge doesn’t mean anything in Top Chef Colorado. As seen last week, Tyler, who won the first episode’s challenge, was eliminated. The episode’s bottom chef had also been episode winners.

The three bottom chefs were Tu, Tanya and Chris. All three had had previous success, but this week their dishes were muddled. All three suffered from the more is a poor approach. Too many techniques, flavors and garnishes can cause a dish to fail.

Tanya’s dish suffered from a lack of clarity. While components were well cooked and flavorful, the judges didn’t appreciate the dish as a whole. If a judge ate the dish with the sauce in the right order, the dish was better than separated. Still, a well-cooked protein saved her.

Top Chef Colorado episode 5 recap, photo from Bravo

Chris’ dish suffered from a lack of confidence. He overthought the idea of serving a chili to the chefs. Presenting two dishes took away from a more successful chili. The buffalo was dry and the two dishes offered a conflict.

Lastly, Tu committed the fatal Top Chef flaw of a trio. Presenting multiple dishes on a single plate is a Top Chef wrong. So many chefs have fallen to this choice.

Top Chef Colorado episode 5 recap, photo from Bravo

Tu’s rabbit trio had technique and flavor issues. His rabbit trio lacked developed flavor. Also, his garnishes were bland. With all the other chefs being able to develop layered flavor, Tu’s mis-step was obvious.

The chef eliminated from Top Chef Colorado episode 5 was Tu. The trio was the kiss of death. Plus, he second guessed himself during recipe creation. Confidence is key in the kitchen.

Top Chef fans may see Tu again. Tom mentioned that there is a second Last Chance Kitchen. Having another eliminated chef come back into the competition seems a little much. But, maybe that secondary competition should be a lifesaver for a popular chef.

What will the rest of the Top Chef Colorado season bring? I’m still waiting for the brewery challenge, which should be good. Are you anticipating an upcoming episode?