Top Chef Season 16 episode 9 review: Music sparks delicious inspiration


In this Top Chef Season 16 episode 9 review, music inspired the chefs. Which dishes hit a high note and which dishes fell a little flat?

Chefs and their dishes find inspiration from all areas. In this Top Chef Season 16 episode 6 review, the chefs headed to Nashville for a little musical inspiration. While many of these dishes had a personal inspiration, the emotional connection might have cause some saltiness in that perfect bite. Is the pressure of the competition become too overwhelming?

For the Quickfire Challenge, the chefs took to the Grand Ole Opry Stage. While it was wonderful to see this legendary location, the chefs didn’t have it easy cooking on that stage. Giving a chef an induction plate and a cramped space isn’t an easy way to produce a winning dish.

The theme for the Quickfire Challenge was to create a dish based on a rider (a list of preferences for a musician and his crew). The chefs either got breakfast, lunch or dinner. Given the preference sheet, cramped quarters and limited time, these dishes were relatively good.

After cooking, the chefs found out that they had made food for Hunter Hayes. Truthfully, many of the chefs probably would have changed their dishes if they had known the musician ahead of time. Kelsey probably never would have made her breakfast dish if she had known the judge. This dish isn’t right for that judge.
TOP CHEF — “Music City USA” Episode 1609 — Pictured: (l-r) Justin Sutherland, Adrienne Wright — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)
Overall, the dishes skewed more “foodie” and less “approachable.” Most of the Top Chef dishes tend to push the boundaries and try to be creative. The most popular dishes for the Quickfire Challenge were relatively simple.

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Looking at the top three dishes, the flavors were relatively straightforward and traditional. The top three dishes featured oatmeal, cauliflower and steak. These dishes weren’t about 20 ingredients, bold flavors or pushing boundaries.

Winning the Quickfire Challenge was Adrienne’s filet. Hunter Hayes was craving red meat and he enjoyed this dish. It is curious that this dish won. Even Adrienne mentioned she felt her dish wasn’t innovative or pushed herself too much. This challenge was about appealing to a particular audience, which seems to be a growing trend on Top Chef Season 16.

For winning the Quickfire Challenge, Adrienne receives an extra hour to cook in the Elimination Challenge. That hour can be the difference between a good dish and a mediocre dish. Also, given she hasn’t been feeling well, that extra hour could be quite helpful.

The Elimination Challenge would prove to be a difficult cook. When Top Chef chooses to give a broad theme, the chefs can struggle. This week’s theme was to create a dish that is inspired by a music memory. With this type of challenge, the chefs can, and did, seem to get very emotion and even a little overwhelmed.

When a dish has such a strong personal connection, it means so much more than just food on a plate. Unfortunately, that dish can either be a smashing success or a big failure. Usually, there is no in between. In this case, some of the favorites on Top Chef really struggled in this challenge.
TOP CHEF — “Music City USA” Episode 1609 — Pictured: (l-r) David Viana, Adrienne Wright, Sara Bradley, Eric Adjepong, Michelle Minori, Kelsey Barnard, Justin Sutherland, Eddie Konrad — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)
Looking at the top dishes, these dishes succeeded because they were thoughtful. Each component had a purpose, worked together and made a composed bite. More importantly, those dishes gave insight on the chef as a person and why cooking is so meaningful for her.

One of the most interesting dishes was Justin’s purple rain dish. A monochromatic dish can be very difficult to do well. An all purple dish is even more difficult. He found the perfect balance of extreme flavors. Unfortunately, he was short a plate and could not win.

The winning dish came from Michelle. With a heartfelt story about her father and her connection to the garden, this dish was easily the top choice. The best description was that the dish was both simple and complex at the same time. That seamless balance takes a deft hand. She was very deserving of the win.

The bottom three chefs were Kelsey, Eddie and David (all three were also in the bottom for the Quickfire). These dishes suffered from being too salty, unbalanced and rather jumbled. It seems that these chefs were overwhelmed by the challenge, like the personal connection was too much to handle.
TOP CHEF — “Music City USA” Episode 1609 — Pictured: (l-r) Jonathan Waxman, Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)
This challenge reminds me of the Spanish book, Como Agua Para Chocolate. Emotions affect how and what you cook. If you are sad, your dish can be salty. It seems that these chefs are missing home and their “emotions” might have cause the imbalance in the dish.

It is hard to see three chefs who have been in the top fall so hard. But, all three dishes had fatal flaws. Kelsey didn’t taste a composed bite. David knew his sauce was over-reduced. Eddie was all in his head.

The chef sent home wad David. His dish was the most confusing. The judges couldn’t identify all the components on the plate. If you can’t tell a clam from a mushroom, the dish has major flavors. Plus, the sauce was very salty. It was too much to handle.

Overall, this episode saw two things. One some chefs, like Michelle and Sarah, are starting to find their way. It is nice to see two chefs cooking from their heart.

Second, no one can feel comfortable in Top Chef. Just because a chef won a challenge doesn’t mean that he is safe. Every day is a new challenge and the chefs need to perform.

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What did you think of Top Chef Season 16 episode 9 review? Is there a change in the favorite chefs?