Top Chef Kentucky Farewell: Which chef was left behind?


Top Chef Kentucky Farewell was part love letter to this season’s location and part love letter to the mentors who have supported these amazing chefs.

For one chef, Top Chef Kentucky Farewell was quite bittersweet. As the final episode before the chefs travel to Macau, one chef will not make the journey. Could this Top Chef season be the biggest representation of women chefs ever?

As the episode opens, the chefs get an unlikely wakeup call from Tom Colicchio. Earlier in the season, the chefs had to create a garden at the home. While some chefs had a green thumb, other chefs might have wished for a farmer’s market down the street. For this episode’s Quickfire, the chefs had to create a garden forward dish using ingredients from their garden.

Before the chefs got to harvest and cook their dishes, a chef returned from Last Chance Kitchen. For some Top Chef fans, the outcome seemed likely. While people liked Eddie, that environment wouldn’t necessarily be conducive for him. Michelle won Last Chance Kitchen and earned her spot back in the competition.

As for the Quickfire challenge, some chefs had it easier than others. For example, Sarah had well-tended her garden. She had lots of options for a garden focused dish. Other chefs needed to channel a little more creativity.

TOP CHEF — “Kentucky Farewell” Episode 1612 — Pictured: (l-r) Tom Colicchio, Justin Sutherland, Kelsey Barnard, Adrienne Wright, Eric Adjepong, Caitlin Steininger — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

Overall, all the dishes were lovely. A few dishes, like Eric’s dish, wasn’t as vegetable forward as it needed to be. Still, all the dishes were good; there wasn’t anything that was a complete failure.

While it seemed that Sarah would walk away with the win, Justin snuck in and grabbed the prize. His dish was vibrant and showcased the garden. Using the full herb was a smart choice.

Beyond the dishes, there was a very telling statement by Tom. He said that there is a sweetness to the vegetables and herbs when they are harvested fresh from the garden. If you have never tasted a food straight off the vine, it is definitely a game changer.

Going into the Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to create a dish that expresses gratitude to their mentors. Also, their mentors will be at the table, tasting their dishes. This challenge is extremely stressful. No one wants to present a disaster to their mentor.

To make this challenge a little different, the chefs had the opportunity to bid on luxury ingredients. In an auction setting, the chefs could use their $500 to bid on luxury ingredients. While producers were probably hoping for a bidding war, the auction portion was a little blah. But, if this auction was happening in the real world, can someone provide a ticket? Those prices for luxury ingredients was insane.

Looking at the chefs’ gratitude dishes, the chefs who were the most thoughtful were the most successful. Sarah clearly had a vision for her dish. She was able to reference a superior dish from Blackbird’s menu, yet reimagined it in her style.

More importantly, she continued to play to her strengths. With nods to local ingredients, this dish would make any mentor proud. It was subtle, perfectly cooked and the clear winner.

As for other dishes, Kelsey’s play on gumbo earned her a plane ticket to Macua. Recalling a story about a family meal at Café Boulud, this dish showed the beauty of an expert rue. With two parts to the base, the flavor was superb.

TOP CHEF — “Kentucky Farewell” Episode 1612 — Pictured: (l-r) Kim Alter, Tom Colicchio, Graham Elliot, Gail Simmons, JD Fratzke, Padma Lakshmi, Bryan Voltaggio, David Posey, Chris Coomb, Gavin Kaysen, Ouita Michel — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

Eric continues to use his West African dishes to his advantage. When the grains outshine wagyu beef, that chef deserves a place in the finale. Cooking each grain separately set this dish apart. While it might have needed a fresh element, the dish definitely earned him a spot in the finale.

Lastly, Michelle’s dish captivated the judges with both flavor and thoughtfulness. It was feminine yet strong. More importantly, she used all, every part, of the salmon. She definitely deserved a spot in the finale.

The bottom two chefs were Justin and Adrienne. These two dishes suffered from a variety of issues. Adrienne’s dish tasted rushed. Her plating wasn’t clean (and her mentor called her out).

More importantly, her dish didn’t have the right spice level. Her mentor was known for his spices. This dish definitely needed more seasoning on the duck.

Justin committed the biggest Top Chef error, the duo plate. Every chef should know that duos come with a side of pack your knives and go. The judges never like these dishes. It is almost impossible to perfectly execute two dishes on single plate in this competition. It is a lesson that Justin had to learn.

While parts of each dish were nice, Justin had huge execution issues. Temperatures were incorrect. Flavors were ok, but he didn’t execute the dish. Basically, Justin should have focused on one element.

Saying his Top Chef Kentucky Farewell was Justin. He does not make the finale in Macau. In this case creativity wins over execution.

As the chefs look towards the finale, there is a strong possibility that a woman chef could earn the title Top Chef. All the final contenders are amazing chefs and deserve their accolades. Personally, it would be exciting to see a woman chef win.

Related Story. Make Top Chef's winning Maker's Mark Spoon Bread recipe. light

What did you think of Top Chef Kentucky Farewell? Did this Top Chef season inspire a trip to Kentucky?