Top Chef Season 16 episode 7 review: Butchered beef


In Top Chef Season 16 episode 7, the chefs forgot a key ingredient in successful cooking. For many chefs, the beef wasn’t the only thing butchered in the kitchen.

Top Chef Season 16 episode 7 should have been a celebration of Kentucky favorites. From the iconic Hot Brown to locally sourced ingredients, this episode should have been a love letter to Kentucky. Instead, the chefs butchered these beautiful ingredients, and not in a good way.

As Top Chef Season 16 has yet to find its grove. While all these chefs are quite accomplished, everyone seems to be cooking scared. In a battle to put out the prettiest plate, the majority of chefs are losing sight of themselves. Can one chef find a way to stand out in the kitchen?

For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs had to reinvent a Kentucky classic, the Hot Brown. Created by The Brown Hotel, this open faced turkey sandwich is legendary. But, Padma doesn’t want that same sandwich. The chefs need to reinvent the sandwich.

This reinvented Hot Brown must include turkey and a sauce. The chefs took some liberty with this reinvention. A few needed to go back to the drawing board and others served a satisfying plate.

TOP CHEF — “Carne!” Episode 1607 — Pictured: (l-r) Brandon Rosen, Eddie Konrad, Eric Adjepong, Kelsey Barnard, Adrienne Wright, Brian Young, Justin Sutherland, Michelle Minori, Padma Lakshmi — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

The Hot Brown was originally a late night meal. It is that late night guilty pleasure that you just can’t resist. Only three chefs applied that notion.

Eddie took a different spin on that dish. His sauce truly made his Hot Brown interesting. It was good to see Eddie get out of his head a little.

Adrienne had a compelling dish. Although her Hot Brown used more vegetables than other dishes it found the right balance between indulgent yet not overly guilty.

The winning dish was Justin’s Hot Brown. His dish found the perfect balance between savory and sweet. It was the best part of a late night breakfast with all the right flavors. This Kentucky fried breakfast brown would be a hit any time of day.

With a little lackluster Quickfire, the Elimination Challenge needed to bring some excitement. With guest judge Nancy Silverton and a master Italian butcher, the chefs were cooking for food royalty. Unfortunately that esteemed audience caused the chefs to cook scared. Almost every Elimination Challenge dish was underwhelming.

One of the most exciting parts of this episode was the beef butchering. It is an art form to expertly break down a heifer. That piece of steak on your grill took a lot of effort. A butcher who can make it look easy is truly a master.

TOP CHEF — “Carne!” Episode 1607 — Pictured: (l-r) Eddie Konrad, Adrienne Wright — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

It would have been nice for the episode to show more or explain more the butchering process. It didn’t have to be over the top or graphic. Understanding the cow, the cuts and the process can make everyone a better cook.

Chefs have an opportunity to start a powerful discussion. Using all the cow, nose to tail, respects the animal. In other countries and cultures, this ritual is common. In the U.S., there is too much food waste. It would have been nice for Top Chef Season 18 episode 7 to address this issue a little more.

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In truth, that storyline would have been more impressive than this week’s dishes. All the chefs seemed to be scared in the kitchen. When given a particular cut of meat, they seemed totally overwhelmed. It appeared that all their cooking knowledge evaporated.

At least there were three top dishes. Eddie, Adrienne and Justin (the trio sound familiar) were in the top group. These chefs succeeded because they respected the cut of beef. The beef was the star of the plate and they didn’t shy away from that aspect.

While Justin’s flank steak was flavorful, it wasn’t overly innovative. The marinade helped to tenderize the meat. In a different challenge, this dish might have been in the middle. For this week, it was a top choice.

Adrienne’s dish best highlighted the strip. It was full of flavor and beef was celebrated. This simple, yet important concept, earned her a top spot.

Eddie was clearly the most innovative and successful chef in the whole Elimination Challenge. His modern interpretation of a Polish dish was a home run. He smartly used his cut of meat (brisket) in a good way, especially given the time-frame. No one would ever think to serve modern Polish cuisine. This creativity and execution definitely earned him the win.

The bottom three dishes were total train wrecks. In the bottom were Brian, Sarah and Brandon. First, it was very sad that Brian, the butcher, was in the bottom three. He had one of the best cuts of meat and he destroyed it. Why did he take it off the bone?

Brian cooks food that is big portioned and bold. He should have served the judges a big chunk of meat straight off the bone. That tiny tasting plate, with improperly cooked beef, was a disservice to the heifer that was butchered.

Sarah knew that her dish was a disaster. While she did have a hard cut of meat, her sausage wasn’t right and she knew it. As the only Kentucky chef, it was so sad to see her muddle all those spectacular local Kentucky ingredients.

The biggest question left unanswered was why did she serve the sausage when she knew it was wrong. A bad casing is a huge flaw. Shouldn’t she have changed directions when the dish started to go wrong?

TOP CHEF — “Carne!” Episode 1607 — Pictured: (l-r) Nancy Silverton, Tom Colicchio, Brandon Rosen — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

Brandon had one of the most befuddling dishes ever. First, choosing to do a tartare with his meat was strange. That choice lead him down a bad, very bad path.

The most confusing part of his dish was the use of xantham gum in a tartare. Xantham adds texture and is relatively common in kitchens. But, I have never, ever heard of it used in a tartare. What was Brandon thinking? Tartare, or the sauce for a tartare, doesn’t need a thickening agent. This ingredient ruined the beef.

Brandon totally missed the spirit of this challenge. This challenge was a celebration of beef. His dish, as should all the dishes, should have been about the beef. No additives or tricks. It’s about the beef.

For his insanely odd ingredient choice, Brandon was sent to Last Chance Kitchen. Let’s hope that he leaves that ingredient in the pantry going forward.

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What did you think of Top Chef Season 18 episode 7? Are the chefs overwhelmed, scared or just worn out?