Top Chef Colorado episode 13 recap: Nature’s bounty


Only two chefs can make the Top Chef season 15 finale. In Top Chef Colorado episode 13 recap, nature’s bounty inspired chef’s creativity.

The second to last episode of Top Chef season 15 left one chef packing his knives just short of the finish line. In the Top Chef Colorado episode 13 recap, nature served as inspiration for the chefs. From making vegetables the star of the plate to the freshest catch, the chefs’ creativity was pushed in these challenges.

The three remaining chefs, Joe Flamm (Chicago Joe), Adrienne and Joe Sasto (Mustache Joe) have had their highs and lows in Top Chef season 15. Chicago Joe was even eliminated from the competition and earned his way back through Last Chance Kitchen. Still, each chef is only as good as his current dish. What happened in the past isn’t part of the judging criteria. Would the best food show up in Aspen?

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The episode’s first challenge had the chefs catching the trout for their Quickfire. While this type of twist is created for television, the premise is a little extreme for the chefs. With just one hour to catch a trout and create a dish, the Quickfire is a little extreme.

Top Chef Colorado episode 13 recap: Nature’s bounty, photo from Bravo

Catching a trout caused the chefs to be flustered. While the Joes were able to catch a trout relatively quickly, Adrienne struggled. If she didn’t catch a trout, she would have had to use canned fish. No chef would ever want to use canned fish.

Once everyone had their fish, the chefs all took a relatively simple approach to the trout dish. The idea was to let the fresh fish shine. While everyone thought Adrienne would excel in this challenge, she committed a big don’t. While some fresh fish is delicious when left slightly raw, this type of trout had to be cooked through. Since Adrienne didn’t cook the fish enough, she wasn’t in the running. No amount of beautiful, crispy fish skin could save her.

Top Chef Colorado episode 13 recap: Nature’s bounty, photo from Bravo

Joe, aka Mustache Joe, won the Quickfire. His trout was subtle yet had layered flavor. By winning the Quickfire, he received an advantage in the Elimination Challenge. It would remain to be seen if this win could spark another double win in the Top Chef Colorado episode 13 recap.

The Elimination Challenge combined several elements into it. First, the chefs had to create their dish using a Cowboy Cauldron. This suspended, rounded fire pit was an unusual heat source. It was definitely not a device used in most restaurant kitchens.

Second, the chefs had to prepare 200 plates for guests and celebrity chefs at the Food & Wine classic. Cooking for food festivals can be stressful because of the number of plates required. Add to that scenario cooking for some of the world’s best chefs and the chef-testants could be nervous.

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Lastly, the chefs had to cook using only vegetables. No proteins, i.e. beef, chicken, fish, etc., could be an ingredient in the dish. This idea is a smart choice for the Top Chef Colorado show. Often proteins overpower the flavor and texture of the dish. By making vegetables the star of the dish, the chefs need to be very thoughtful in their recipe creation.

Since 200 plates in a short amount of time is a lot for a single chef, the three remaining chefs each got a returning chef to help with prep and plating. Mustache Joe, as the Quickfire winner, was able to choose his sous chef and assign the other sous chefs. His choices were strategic, but would it work to his advantage?

Adrienne has come into her own in the past couple of episodes. Last week’s gumbo was elevated yet stayed true to the essence of the dish. This week she continued that vision. Her corn pudding had an element of hominess but was quite bold.

Top Chef Colorado episode 13 recap: Nature’s bounty, photo from Bravo

All of the dish’s components were layered in a complex way. From the champagne dashi to the texture from the coconut, her dish was well conceived. The biggest complaint was that her dish didn’t have more robust roasted flavor. The Cowboy Cauldron didn’t influence the flavors of the dish. The dish was good, but the judges wanted more.

Joe Flamm, Chicago Joe, was the only chef who grilled plated to order. His grilled zucchini was a smart choice, but it also had flaws. The grilled zucchini didn’t really have flavor, which is a characteristic of the type of zucchini he used. The other components on the dish had more “grilled” flavor.

Top Chef Colorado episode 13 recap: Nature’s bounty, photo from Bravo

Comparing the three plates, Chicago Joe had the most visually elevated dish. Each of his components had a purpose and were on point. The bite had various textures and flavors. While the plate looked a little dainty, the dish did a good job of staying true to the challenge and his culinary point of view.

Joe Sasto, Mustache Joe, had a somewhat confusing dish. His beet forward dish lacked a big spark. The biggest downfall on his plate was the toast. This Top Chef season has been about the fancy toast, but it seems that Mustache Joe didn’t pick up any tricks from Carrie. His sourdough bread was sad, flavorless and an unnecessary component of the dish.

Top Chef Colorado episode 13 recap: Nature’s bounty, photo from Bravo

Mustache Joe made a smart decision to roast some of his beets in the fire’s coals. This technique added some grilled flavor to the dish. But the star of the dish wasn’t the beet, it was other ingredients. The dish was somewhat disjointed and confusing.

The winning dish was Joe Flamm’s zucchini. Overall, his dish was the most composed and flavorful of the three. He moves onto the finale.

Unfortunately, Joe Sasto, Mustache Joe was eliminated. His dish faltered because of the disjointed nature of the plate. The beet carpaccio didn’t match with the other components. Not to mention, the bread component was just sad.

Next week’s finale has Adrienne going against Chicago Joe. At the beginning of the season, no one would have predicted that Adrienne would have made the finale. Can she continue to find the culinary spark to drive her to the finish line? Or, will Joe make another Last Chance Kitchen winner a Top Chef champion?

Check back next week to see who will be crowned Top Chef Colorado.