Top Chef Season 16 episode 2 recap: Kentucky classics reimagined


Top Chef Season 16 episode 2 recap focuses Kentucky favorites, particularly Maker’s Mark bourbon. Did the cheftestants raise a glass in victory or drown their sorrows in defeat?

Top Chef Season 16 episode 2 highlights a Kentucky favorite, Maker’s Mark bourbon, and some Kentucky classic dishes. This season looks to Kentucky for its inspiration. Last week, Churchill Downs was featured. This week, Maker’s Mark and its stunning distillery was a predominate feature of this episode.

Of course, the cheftestants had to create some impressive dishes. In the first couple of episodes, it is a little difficult to see where all the cheftestants stand. Fans know that chefs who are featured either have a direct tie to the theme (Kentucky), have a top dish or will be going home. As Top Chef Season 16 progresses, fans will get to see more dishes and cheftestants.

For this Top Chef Season 16 episode 2 Quickfire, the cheftestants make a meal for Top Chef judge, Gail Simmons. Since she is very pregnant, she isn’t a judge on Season 16. This challenge has the cheftestants creating a dish that will satisfy Gail’s pregnancy cravings. Two dishes will be made for Gail (at her apartment) and one person will get immunity. That immunity announcement will be made during the elimination challenge.

TOP CHEF — “Bourbon, Barrels and Burgoo” Episode 1602 — Pictured: (l-r) Brandon Rosen, Adrienne Wright — (Photo by: Michael Hickey/Bravo)

As Gail shares her pregnancy cravings, the foods sound a little heavy. She wants red meat, pasta and Asian food. While these three guidelines can be included in a single dish, the chefs need to have a deft hand. Too spicy or too heavy may not be a good idea. No one would want to have the dish that could put Gail into labor.

Looking at the dishes, a few dishes were more what the chef liked versus appealing to Gail. Dishes with beets or a meatball doesn’t quite seem to fit the challenge. In these Quickfire challenges, the chefs need to stay focused on the task.

More from Food TV

A couple chefs had execution issues. Pablo and Natalie’s components on their dishes weren’t cooked correctly. Given the 30 minute time constraints, the chefs should have chosen dishes that can be executed in the time frame. Farro wasn’t a good choice.

The top dishes brought the flavor, not just overwhelming spice. David’s charred ribeye with chermoula spiced corn and harissa red wine reduction was smart. It had bold flavor, not overwhelming heat. There is a big difference between spice and heat. This dish played the line quite well.

The other top dish was Brandon’s sushi rice bulgogi bowl with a little kimchi. I wouldn’t have necessarily picked this dish for a pregnancy craving. It sounds more like late night food. Maybe all cravings are related.

Announced later in the episode, David’s dish won immunity. This dish seemed to appeal on all levels. The spice was clear but not heavy handed. It was satisfying and earned him immunity.

After the excitement of the Quickfire, the chefs headed out to the Maker’s Mark Distillery. For anyone who is a foodie or a bourbon fan, a trip to the Maker’s Mark Distillery is a must. The experience shows the craft and dedication that goes into each bottle of bourbon. Plus, you can impress your friends with cool facts about the bourbon, like why the bottle is sealed with wax.

Of course, Top Chef Season 16 episode 2 recap isn’t just about fun bourbon facts, it is about Kentucky cuisine, with a little bourbon infused. After enjoying classic Kentucky dishes like burgoo, hoecakes and mutton stew, the chefs were divided into two teams. Each chef on the respective team had to create a dish referencing a Kentucky classic. While the challenge seemed straightforward, the chaos started in the planning session.

TOP CHEF — “Bourbon, Barrels and Burgoo” Episode 1602 — Pictured: (l-r) Eric Adjepong, Natalie Maronski, Kelset Barnard, Brian Young, David Viana, Kevin Scharpf, Sara Bradley, Nini Nguyen, Justin Sutherland, Pablo Lamon, Adriennne Wright, Michelle Minori — (Photo by: Michael Hickey/Bravo)

Since it just the beginning of Top Chef Season 16, the chefs really don’t know each other well. Some chefs want to be team players, some want to be vocal and others just want to make it to episode 3. At this point, no one wants to be seen as a threat. But also, no one wants to go home. It is a precarious situation.

While the chefs have $1,500 budget, the chefs weren’t smart with their buying. It was clear that planning and budgeting is a course that these chefs need to take. The amount of food left in carts was insane. Maybe there should have been a penalty for re-stocking.

The biggest issue came from the Black team and Eddie’s choice to spend over $500 on lamb. A third of the budget on one dish is crazy. That scenario basically sunk the rest of his team. While any chef can try to stretch a recipe, there are limits.

It was painful to watch the Black team barter over how many lemons could be purchased. How can a chef effectively make a lemon curd with a handful of lemons? It was rather clear that the Black team was going to be in trouble.

TOP CHEF — “Bourbon, Barrels and Burgoo” Episode 1602 — Pictured: (l-r) Eddie Konrad, Justin Sutherland, Pablo Lamon, Eric Adjepong, Brandon Rosen, Kelsey Barnard — (Photo by: Michael Hickey/Bravo)

Beyond the poor budgeting decisions, the teams didn’t seem to grasp their cooking conditions when choosing dishes. Pastry in an outdoor kitchen in the middle of the summer isn’t going to turn out well. Tight cooking quarters means chefs need to be aware of everyone around them.

The tension in the Black team’s kitchen was palatable. Eddie was trying to make up for overspending on lamb. Everyone else was bitter. The chaos and tension spilled over into all the dishes. Even though everyone was trying to act as a team, it wasn’t smooth sailing.

The consensus for the Black team was that almost all the dishes needed more seasoning. Salt, acid and heat would make the dishes. Again, this flaw goes back to poor shopping. If the ingredients aren’t in the kitchen, there is little that the chefs can do to make a better dish.

Additionally, a few dishes had big technical flaws. Brandon’s dough for his biscuit dumplings was grainy. The resulting dish was a disaster. In the South, people know their biscuits. This dish was a miss.

TOP CHEF — “Bourbon, Barrels and Burgoo” Episode 1602 — Pictured: (l-r) Tom Colicchio, Natalie Maronski, Eric Adjepong, Eddie Konrad, Kelsey Barnard, Pablo Lamon, Brandon Rosen, Justin Sutherland — (Photo by: Michael Hickey/Bravo)

Natalie’s lemon curd pie was just sad. With only a handful of lemons, there is no way for her to have made a successful lemon curd. Add to that scenario a hot kitchen, Natalie had no chance. While it is nice to see that she tried to be a team player, she should have been more assertive in the kitchen.

The Red team was a little more successful. While the episode focused more on the Black team’s unraveling, the Red team produced some great dishes. The spoonbread was amazing even with non-traditional flavors. The lamb dish was a punch of umami.

It was clear from all the judges’ comments that the Red team clearly won this challenge. Just about all the dishes had positive comments. The winning dish was Nini’s spoon bread. She captured the challenge of melding a Kentucky classic with her personal roots. While I don’t know about describing a dish “haunting,” it sounds like a dish that will be remembered for a long time. Plus, it earned her $10,000.

The chefs called out from the Black team were Kelsey, Natalie, Brandon and Pablo. Pablo’s dish lacked layered flavor. Natalie had a poor crust and the lemon curd lacked the punch of acid. Kesley’s dish was visually pretty but lacked seasoning. Brandon’s dumplings were a mess and his chicken shouldn’t have been confit.

The chef sent packing her knives was Natalie. She made mistakes in both challenges. It is a reminder to everyone that this competition is about that current dish. Even though Natalie won last week’s Elimination challenge, it didn’t save her this week.

Read. Bourbon infused dishes are a home run. light

The biggest takeaway from Top Chef Season 16 episode 2 is that the chefs need to pick dishes that can be executed correctly. From ingredients to cooking, these chefs need to remember that they are in a competition, not their own kitchen.

Next week’s Top Chef 16 episode looks to celebrate the holidays. Will it be a festive event or will the naughty elves play havoc in the kitchen?