Top Chef Season 16 episode 3 recap: Dessert may not be a gift


In Top Chef Season 16 episode 3 recap, Top Chef is in the holiday spirit. But, is a traditional French holiday dessert course really a gift for these chefs.

Top Chef Season 16 episode 3 recap was filled with the holiday spirit and merriment. Although this episode didn’t quite reveal any holiday recipes that fans can replicate for their holiday table, the episode did have a few unexpected twists. Was this holiday themed episode have a little bit of the Grinch in the kitchen?

When the episode’s Quickfire is revealed, the chefs have a collective groan. The episode’s title was naughty and nice. The first challenge was a lot more naughty than nice.

With just two minutes to shop in the pantry, the chefs had to be able to think on their feet. The chaos as chefs threw ingredients into gift boxes was extreme. Although a few chefs had a clear plan, others were completely confused. For some chefs, it was quite unclear how that box of ingredients would turn into a holiday dish.

TOP CHEF — “Naughty and Nice” Episode 1603 — Pictured: (l-r) Adrienne Wright, Brian Young, Kelsey Barnard, Eddie Konrad — (Photo by: Michael Hickey/Bravo)

Of course, a two minute pantry shop isn’t worthy of Top Chef Season 16. The twist came when all the chefs’ boxes were turned into a white elephant gift swap. Some chefs got great boxes and other chefs were totally in the weeds.

Actually, this Quickfire is a very interesting challenge. With the same ingredients, two chefs can have very different approaches to the same box. More importantly, this challenge shows how adaptable the chefs are.

Joining Padma in judging was Richard Blais and Brooke Williamson. Given that both these chefs won Top Chef, their commentary on the Quickfire dishes was rather nice. The judges did have a few little quips and digs. Some of the dishes were questionable (would you really eat a kimchi meatloaf?).

TOP CHEF — “Naughty and Nice” Episode 1603 — Pictured: (l-r) Richard Blais, Brooke Williamson, Padma Lakshmi — (Photo by: Michael Hickey/Bravo)

A few chefs are starting to be stand outs. Nini, after last week’s winning spoon bread, had a top dish. Even though her dish was simple, the flavors were strong. It turned an appetizer into a composed dish. She seems to be edging toward the front of the pack.

David’s dish, a leek carbonara, won the Quickfire. This vegetable play on pasta was innovative and delicious. His creativity was rewarded. It is David’s second Quickfire win in a row. Could this additional win put a target on his back?

As the chef head back home, the holiday surprises keep coming. Judges Tom and Graham are waiting for them. Additionally, the celebrated Chef Eric Ripert will be joining everyone in a traditional French Christmas Eve feast. If the chefs thought that there wasn’t a twist or surprise coming, they were quite naïve.

When the dinner ends, the chefs are presented with their challenge. The traditional French Christmas Eve feast concludes with 13 desserts. With 13 chefs left in the competition, each chef would be making a dessert. This challenge is definitely not a gift for the chefs.

Although every Top Chef contestant should be prepared to make at least one dessert, these chefs’ expressions look like that time when you only got a package of socks for Christmas. It seems liked that many chefs were wishing that they had won immunity.

One of the biggest obstacles in this challenge wasn’t just making a dessert. It was cooking in the kitchen. The house kitchen is dream for a home cook but a nightmare for 13 chefs making dessert. From ovens opening and closing to lack of counter space, it was a struggle for space.

TOP CHEF — “Naughty and Nice” Episode 1603 — Pictured: (l-r) Richard Blais, Padma Lakshmi, Brooke Williamson, David Viana — (Photo by: Michael Hickey/Bravo)

It was clear that two chefs were going to do well. Nini and Kelsey have pastry experience. This knowledge would clearly give them an edge. Looking at their desserts, they understand that part of this challenge was strategy. Chefs needed to pick a dessert that they could execute given the circumstances.

Joining Nini and Kelsey in the top category was Eddie. After last week’s over-spending scenario, Eddie seemed unsure of himself. But, thanks to smart choices, his dessert earned him a spot in the top three.

More from Food TV

Looking at the three top dishes, the dessert excelled in both flavors and textures. Each plate had a crunchy element and a creamy element. The play off those two items is satisfying.

Additionally, the flavors were strong in these desserts. In Eddie’s dish, he created a play on strawberry shortcake. The choice of strawberry and fennel was smart and the almond streusel balanced it well. Kelsey’s pot of crème was Chef Ripert’s favorite. The lusciousness of the cream was nicely balanced with the biscotti.

This week’s winning dish was Nini’s blackberry and lemon vacherin. The dessert was simple and elegant. With a punch of acid and a clear vision, it was able to stand out in the sea of desserts. Nini won the elimination challenge. Like David winning the Quickfire, it was her second win in a row.

The bottom desserts suffered from bit technical flaws. Kevin’s dessert was over salted. Even when he was tasting the dessert in the kitchen, he knew that the dessert was too salty. While it is hard (or almost impossible) to unsalt a dish, it is questionable why he served this dish with an obvious flaw.

Brian’s dessert wasn’t really a dessert. What is a pickled cocoa nib? The vinegar was incredibly overpowering. It wasn’t a pleasant bite of food because it was so acidic. It was too pungent.

Pablo’s dessert was lacking something creamy. The chocolate had seized up and the pastry wasn’t right. Each component was off, including the raspberries. It wasn’t a good dish, but it wasn’t as offensive as the other desserts.

TOP CHEF — “Naughty and Nice” Episode 1603 — Pictured: Kevin Scharpf — (Photo by: Michael Hickey/Bravo)

Unfortunately, Kevin was sent home. He should have removed the over-salted element from the dish. That element could have been removed and the dish might have been saved. He knew it was wrong and didn’t eliminate it.

It is unfortunate to see Kevin go. He has an amazing restaurant in the Midwest and I thought that he could have gone far in Top Chef. Maybe, he was a little overwhelmed in the competition.

Related Story. Carla Hall sheds light on an important food issue. light

Top Chef Season 16 episode 3 recap has come to a close. For Top Chef fans, the holiday treats aren’t over. Next week is the fan favorite, Restaurant Wars. What a way to close out the year.