Top Chef Season 16 episode 6: Last chances can be fleeting


Top Chef Season 16 episode 6 started with a chef returning from Last Chance Kitchen. Was this chance at redemption celebrated with a perfect cocktail canape?

Top Chef Season 16 episode 6 kicked off another episode with excitement from the start. After last week’s Restaurant Wars, the chefs might have hoped ease into another challenge. Unfortunately, Top Chef had another idea for these chefs. Walking into the kitchen, the chefs were thrown into a Last Chance Kitchen battle.

As Top Chef fans know, Last Chance Kitchen is a way for both eliminated and former Top Chef chefs to return to the Top Chef kitchen. This episode begins with Nini (Season 16) and Brother (Season 15) battling for the opportunity to return. But, the current chefs won’t be watching from the sidelines. They would be cooking with in the Last Chance Kitchen battle.

The Last Chance Kitchen battle was a riff on Restaurant Wars. The chefs had to create a three course meal. One of the dishes had to be a reconceived dish from the last round of Last Chance Kitchen. Nini and Brother pulled knives to see which current chefs would be part of their teams.

This challenge is both exciting and confusing. The current round of chefs might not want Brother to win. Still, there is an advantage on the line. They can’t totally sabotage Brother.

At the same time, Nini had a few conflicts with her former teammates. While some people might want Nini back, they also know that she is a threat. It is another precarious situation.

TOP CHEF — “Restaurant Wars Part 2” Episode 1605 — Pictured: (l-r) Eric Adjepong, Pablo Lamon, David Viana, Adrienne Wright, Eddie Konrad, Brandon Rosen, Sara Bradley, Brian Young, Michelle Minori, Justin Sutherland — (Photo by: Michael Hickey/Bravo)

Looking at the two three course meals, the meal that I would have wanted to eat was from Nini. She showed a progressive meal, appetizer, entrée and dessert. While a few dishes had a slight technical flaw, the creativity and blending of two cuisines was innovative.

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Brother’s menu was a little confusing. The concept of Southwest meets Asian flavors doesn’t sound like a cohesive blend, but he makes it work. Sometimes one flavor overpowers the other, but the concept is unique.

Since Nini had those ever so slight technical flaws, Brother earned the chance to return to the Top Chef kitchen. It was quite sad to see Nini go. Truthfully, if she had been as vocal in Restaurant Wars, she wouldn’t have been eliminated in the first place.

Going into the elimination challenge, the chefs were tasked with a quite difficult challenge. Each chef had to create a canape that perfectly paired with a prohibition era cocktail. Pairing food and cocktails is a refined skill. Creating a canape and cocktail pairing is extremely hard.

The chefs had to create a canape that referenced the flavors in the cocktail. Sometimes these types of pairings play off flavors or complement them. For the canape to reference the cocktail so strongly, the chefs needed to be smart with their choices.

Additionally, the biggest challenge was creating a perfectly flavored and balanced single bite. In a bigger dish, a flaw can be masked by other flavors or components. For a canape, there is no room for error. Even the tiniest mistake will be noticed.

Lastly, the chefs had to create canapes for 100 guests. Even within the time frame, that number is a huge task for one chef. Let’s hope that the chefs got to drink a few of the prohibition cocktails when they were done.

The advantage for the winning team, Brother’s team, was that they could choose their prohibition cocktail first. The cocktails were classics, some more common than others. Everyone has heard of an Old Fashioned. Gin cocktails, not necessarily a gin fizz or a gin ricky, are seeing a resurgence.

The one cocktail that wasn’t as common was the 12 mile limit. Referencing the idea that people would go out 12 miles into the ocean to drink liquor during the Prohibition Era, this cocktail needed more air time. As a Top Chef fan, I would love to learn how to make one. It sounds really potent, with whiskey, rum and brandy. Still, it could be tasty.

TOP CHEF — “Roaring Munchies” Episode 1606 — Pictured: Eddie Konrad — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

For this elimination challenge, the chefs either nailed the canape or it failed completely. Going forward into the competition, the chefs can’t settle for being in the middle. Safe doesn’t earn a chef accolades. Eventually, safe will have that chef packing his knives.

The three top canapes were made by Eddie, Eric and Kelsey. Eddie’s salmon was intriguing and nuanced. A bourbon cured salmon needed a deft hand. The sweet was balanced with a slight bitterness. It was concise yet rich. Overall, the canape had all the components of a well-made cocktail.

Eric had a very ambitious dish. Shucking all those oysters took a lot of confidence. The canape brought all the flavors of the cocktail in one shot.

Most impressive about this canape is that the flavors didn’t overpower the oyster. It was a seafood forward dish yet played with both the cocktail flavors and its story. Eric played this challenge perfectly.

Kelsey dish was beautifully delicate. The canape felt like the cocktail. It tasted like the cocktail. More importantly it was delicious.

The winning chef and dish was Eric’s oyster. This dish was probably the hardest to execute, which might have earned him the win. But, does a win mean the kiss of death?

The bottom three chefs were Sarah, Brian and Brother. Brian won Restaurant Wars. Brother won Last Chance Kitchen. Maybe chefs won’t want to win an elimination challenge?

TOP CHEF — “Roaring Munchies” Episode 1606 — Pictured: (l-r) Padma Lakshmi, Brian Young– (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

These dishes failed for a variety of reasons. From not executing the dish to not incorporating the cocktails’ flavors, these chefs made poor choices.

Brother’s dish was probably the most confusing. His riff on a bahn mi had nothing to do with his cocktail, South Side fizz. The canape was from left field and didn’t really follow the challenge. Given Brother had first choice of cocktail, it was a poor choice. Even more of a flaw, his dish was overpowered by heat. It was a total miss.

Sarah’s dish wasn’t strange. Everything had the same texture. There was no flavor boom. In a way, it was a boring dip. The whole concept was just off.

Brian’s dish was a mistake because he didn’t execute it well. Frying the gnocchi turned it into a grease bomb. The sausage was dry and there wasn’t enough salsa verde to bring it all together. The more concerning aspect to his dish was that he thought it was good. How can a greasy gnocchi with dry sausage be tasty?

The chef eliminated in Top Chef Season 16 episode 6 was Brother. It looks like the win/go home curse could be haunting Top Chef Season 16.

Brother heads back to Last Chance Kitchen (again) for a chance at redemption. Be sure to watch online to see the other chefs with a chance to earn a spot back in the competition.

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What did you think of this episode? Did you agree with the judges’ picks?

Top Chef Season 16 airs on Bravo on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET. Check back for weekly recaps.