Next Level Chef Season 3 winner: Restraint and maturity rise to the top

Next Level Chef Season 3 finale
Next Level Chef Season 3 finale / FOX

From battling the basement to the summit of the top kitchen, the Next Level Chef Season 3 winner over came every obstacle and proved that restraint brings impeccable flavor to a dish. Which chef’s life changed forever by winning this FOX culinary competition?

Competing in the Next Level Chef Season 3 finale are Christina, Gabi, and Zach. In addition to representing each of the mentors, the chefs come from each of the original categories, home, professional, and social media chef. Even though all three chefs have had wins, they have faced elimination as well. Predicting a front runner was impossible.

For their last challenge, the chefs had to create their best three course meal. As they journeyed up through the kitchens, the courses consisted of an appetizer, seafood dish, and entrée. With only a total of 90 minutes to cook all three courses, it was not only a test of execution but also time management.

Even though each chef’s dish must stand on its own, the unspoken aspect to the Next Level Chef finale is that the judges want to see growth during this culinary journey. It might be easier for a home cook to show that increased execution and confidence, but all the chefs need to prove that they have listened and applied the feedback. Given that a mentorship with the judges is on the line, the judges want to know that their time and expertise will be put to good use.

As the chefs enter the basement, they did not have to worry about using sub-par ingredients for the Next Level Chef finale. Granted, the pans might be warped, but the chefs are accustomed to these scenarios.

Looking at the three dishes, it was clear that all the chefs wanted to impress with their first bite. Even though Gabi’s meatballs might not have been as visually stunning as the other two dishes, her flavor was superb. She might have had to modify her intended broth, but the meatballs had a depth of flavor which was impressive.

Christina shined as well. Overall, the dish was cohesive, even if the sauce was a little over reduced. As Gordon Ramsay said, it was a dish that was far beyond the level of an amateur cook.

Zach’s scallop dish was a feast for the eyes. While the vibrant colors invited that first bite, it was a good dish, but it was not flawless. The sauce was a little over the top.

Since time was counting down in each challenge, Gabi hit the buzzer fist, followed by Zach and then Christina. The chefs needed to take advantage of every second.

In the seafood course, the chefs seemed to find their rhythm. Specifically, Zach’s perfectly caramelized skin on his fish had the judges swooning. In addition to the nod to the Hawaiian floral lei, it was clearly a top choice.

But, Christina and Gabi did not falter. Gabi’s idea of using grilled grapes with her seabream was innovative. It showcased a willing to embrace creativity in an approachable way. Christina continued to push herself. The perfectly cooked lobster was worthy of a high end restaurant menu.

For the final course, all three chefs left it all on the plate. Gabi’s nod to a deconstructive borscht was a sentimental connection to her family. Although it might have been a little too sweet and sour, it showcased a level of creativity that had not been seen throughout the competition.

Christina made a huge bold move by cooking venison, a protein that she had never cooked before. She executed that meat with near perfection. It proved that she is no longer an amateur home cook.

Zach made lovely final course. While the judges debated whether it needed a little more editing, it was a dish that anyone would be thrilled to enjoy this plate of food.

After all the challenges, immunity pins, and time tokens, only one chef would be crowned Next Level Chef Season 3 winner. Congratulations to Gabi.

While all three chefs put their best dishes into the finale, Gabi was the chef who showed maturity and restraint in her multi-course meal. It might have been a meal of her lifetime, but Gabi has a bright future ahead of her.

Want to catch up on all the Next Level Chef action? Episodes can be streamed on Hulu.

And, be on the lookout for Next Level Chef Season 4. It will be coming to FOX.