Top Chef’s Sarah Welch found a way stay true to her cook local mentality, interview

TOP CHEF -- "Doppelgӓngers" Episode 1904 -- Pictured: Sarah Welch -- (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)
TOP CHEF -- "Doppelgӓngers" Episode 1904 -- Pictured: Sarah Welch -- (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo) /

After finding redemption in the Top Chef Last Chance Kitchen, Sarah Welch earned her spot in the Top Chef Season 19 finale. While the celebrated Michigan chef has a very clear point of view, that commitment to focusing on local ingredients didn’t need to be shelved because she was on a culinary competition. During a recent chat with FoodSided, Sarah shared how she adapted her local mentality to the gold standard of food television.

While her path to the Top Chef Season 19 finale took a side journey through Last Chance Kitchen, Sarah appreciated that her journey was more than just redemption. She admitted that she struggled in the main competition. After being eliminated on a dish that didn’t speak to her, she found a way to infuse her point of view to the ingredients in each challenge.

Although Sarah has a bounty of local ingredients at her own restaurant, Marrow, the Top Chef environment is not that straightforward. Looking back, she believes that her answer during the casting process earned her that chef coat. Specifically, Sarah said that she can and would be inspired by the food in front of her. Whether it is ingredients from Texas, Arizona or Michigan, local can always be the focus. It is just about appreciating and applying the concept on the plate.

For Sarah, it was about becoming part of the process. She believed that there is always a way to connect with the producers, like she does in her own kitchen. By mimicking the environment that she has at home, she knew that she would be more likely to succeed.

While there is plenty of pressure in the Top Chef competition, Sarah looked to cook from a place of joy. Although she admitted that she might have headed to Last Chance Kitchen because she cooked from a place of fear, she knew that changing the mindset would serve her well. Finding a way to bring a sense of comfort and familiar was key for her making the finale.

Looking back at the competition, Sarah felt that the fishing challenge best adapted her point of view. Even though one dish was completely new, the concept of putting freshly caught fish on the plate is familiar. Although there were times where competition dishes were similar to dishes that she has previously served, each offering had some type of connection to her personal culinary point of view.

When she was able to run with her culinary creativity, Sarah shined. The final episodes proved her talent. Although there might not be a Top Chef foraging challenge, pulling ingredients from a local farm or from the sea highlights the purity of the ingredients. Letting those flavors command the plate shows a deft hand of a skilled chef.

Now that Top Chef Season 19 has come to a close, Sarah appreciates the opportunity it offers. It is more than the notoriety of being on food television, it opens doors for her restaurant and other chefs.

Sarah spoke poignantly about this competition widening her network. Now, she can help other chefs expand their cooking skills through connecting with other chefs. Her willingness to mentor the next generation of chefs is a characteristic that should be celebrated even more than making the finale.

Sarah Welch might have had an epic comeback in Top Chef Season 19, but her story is not finished yet. Enjoy the next chapter at her restaurant Marrow in Detroit.