Next Level Chef Season 3 team challenge: Where’s the meal cohesion?

Next Level Chef Season 3 team challenge
Next Level Chef Season 3 team challenge / FOX

Through Next Level Chef Season 3, the challenges have pushed the chefs in new directions. For the season’s first team challenge, communication in the kitchen was key. Even though some chefs saved a team member in the past, the “me” in team may not help to create meal cohesion.

As the number of chefs in Next Level Ched Season 3 dwindle, simple mistakes can have a huge impact. Even though the chefs have become better at getting plates on the platform, the reality is that the judges’ critiques are getting tougher. It is more than just proper execution. These dishes need to be perfection on the plate.

While creative, quality food is a must, the dreaded Next Level Chef Season 3 curse is still in play. Although the term “curse” might be a little negative, it seems that the top level kitchen confuses the chefs. The abundance of the platform causes their ingredient grab to be scattered. The eliminated chefs have mentioned that the “black out” moment seems to cloud their judgment on picking ingredients.

On the other hand, the sparse options that are left once the platform hits the basement is almost a blessing. It might not be the best, or easiest to use, ingredients (like lamb tongue for pizza), but the scarcity helps to focus those dishes.

For the team challenge, each group had to create a three-course, progressive dinner. While Team Blais was at a disadvantage with only two team members, it seemed like it was Zach driving the meal with Nicole acting as sous chef.

Even before the chefs separated to their respective kitchens, the mentors’ guidance was clear. The meal needed to be cohesive. Execution was key, but these chefs needed to communicate before, during, and after the cook.

From the first glance, it was clear that some chefs relished the role and others were a weak link. As seen in previous challenges, Jordan struggled. While it is clear that he has culinary vision, executing in the time constraints proves difficult for him. The differences between his dish and his teammates dishes on Team Ramsay were clear.

Team Arrington stumbled before they even took to their stations. While they had an idea, the three courses were not cohesive. Fried, more fried, followed by fried might be some people’s ultimate cheat meal, but it is a little heavy. Even a gastro pub would want to incorporate some light, bright flavors to break up the fried overload.

Whether it was Zach’s leadership, cooking talent, or a little bit of luck, Team Blais succeeded in this challenge. Octopus and rabbit might not necessarily be the most common pairings on a three-course meal, but the team found a way to make it work. The olive oil cake might not have been completely successful, but it was good enough to earn the win. Rising from the basement, Team Blais was safe from the elimination round.

Looking at Team Ramsay, the chef heading into the elimination round was obvious. Returning again, Jordan stepped forward without Gordon Ramsay having to say his name. From the plating to the execution, Jordan’s steak dish was a big miss.

In a turn that no one saw coming, Nyesha Arrington put Chef Von into elimination. Throughout the season, Von has had some of the best dishes. But, his decision to put the halibut in the fryer was out of left field. Someone with his culinary pedigree would know that this type of fish should be sauteed. Maybe he was just having a bad day in the kitchen.

For the elimination round, Jordan and Von had to create chicken and waffles. While the dish has become a brunch staple, the chefs needed to elevate the idea in some way. Another hot honey chicken on a Belgium waffle did not seem like the concept that the judges wanted.

Von’s chicken and waffle seemed like a good idea. Although Nyesha questioned the champagne berry compote versus a traditional syrup, the concept makes sense. That flavor contrasted with the richness of the chicken thigh should have worked. But, it was curious that Richard Blais poured the compote all over the chicken. It could have made that crisp skin a little soggy.

Jordan made a chicken leg with a bacon waffle. Although the judges felt his waffle could have been a little crispier, they appreciated the traditional syrup. Still, it is curious that a chicken leg was served on a waffle. That combination is not the usual pairing.

Overall, the biggest takeaway from this elimination challenge was that both chefs did not incorporate big, bold flavors. Without blowing out the judges’ palate, there could have been a way to bring innovative spice or even swicy components to the dish.

Although both dishes had their flaws, the judges decided to eliminate Von. Yet another professional chef leaves Next Level Chef Season 3. Maybe this season’s curse is not just the kitchen location, it is a chef's experience.

Looking ahead to the next episode, the teams are dissolved. With every chef having to rely on themselves, it could be the moment for someone to step into the spotlight and push everyone else into the shadows.

Be sure to watch new episodes of Next Level Chef Season 3 on FOX every Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Episodes can be streamed the next day on Hulu.