Top Chef Season 21 final four: Which chefs made the finale?

Top Chef Season 21 episode 12 chefs
Top Chef Season 21 episode 12 chefs / Bravo

After numerous Quickfires and Elimination Challenges, the Top Chef Season 21 final four chefs will leave Wisconsin behind and head off into the finale. How did these cheftestants Wisconsin journey influence their final meal in the Dairy State?

With changes to the competition, emotional moments, and pivotal challenges, Top Chef Wisconsin proved that the favorite food television competition remains at the top of its game. Even though all 16 cheftestants were worthy of making the finale, only four earned that designation.

At the start of Top Chef Season 21 episode 12, the chefs faced a Top Chef classic, the blind taste test. While this challenge often brings laughs, an unusual outcome happened. While it is common for the cheftestants to get about half of the ingredients correct, Manny nailed the challenge with an almost perfect score, it shows that he has an exceptional palate. It was clear that he nailed the A-to-Z challenge.

After the blind taste testing, the cheftestants use those ingredients, and a limited pantry, to create a dish. Given that Quickfire Challenge can influence the elimination, everyone needed to be on top of their game. Unfortunately, two stumbled with the finish line in sight.

Dan, the only Wisconsin chef, knew that he was in the bottom. The dish was a total fail from start to finish. Whether it was nerves, pressure, or something else, Dan was clearly a disaster and he knew it.

Even with the most ingredients to choose from, Manny’s dish did not hit the mark. His salmon was under-seasoned and the flavors were muddled. Given that he had so many options, it might have caused more confusion than cohesion.

Winning the final Quickfire in Wisconsin was Savannah. Her pork with a Caesar sauce was creative and offered a smart application of her ingredients. Sometimes simplicity can be the best path to success.

With another win under her belt, Savannah is on a roll. It seems that she has found that “secret sauce” to solving the Top Chef challenges. Without losing her culinary point of view, she is able to answer the brief while presenting a memorable, flavorful dish.

For the Elimination Challenge, the cheftestants needed to present a dish that reflected their  Top Chef Wisconsin culinary journey. As host Kristen Kish said, this challenge would be extremely difficult for her. The broad-based concept is almost too overwhelming. She preferred to reign in the ideas into a tight box. Several of this season’s cheftestants would agree with her.

This challenge was as much about presenting impeccable food as it was telling their story. Trying to fit a dish into a tale is as difficult as trying to stuff yourself into those jeans from high school. No matter how hard you try, the idea just does not work.

The winner for the final Elimination Challenge in Wisconsin was clear. Savannah impressed not only with her dish but also her story. As soon as she referenced the heat and pressure analogy to her potato pave, it was obvious that she would make the finale.

While her dish was a risk, it epitomized what the Top Chef judges have appreciated this season. Being able to show restraint while plating delicious food has been key. A dish does not need 100 ingredients and complicated techniques. Top Chef Wisconsin has celebrated the flavor through simplicity.

Top Chef Season 21 final chefs announced
Top Chef Season 21 final chefs announced / Bravo

Joining Savannah in the finale is Laura. After rejoining the competition by winning Last Chance Kitchen, Laura’s dish captured that restraint concept, too. While the judges appreciated the difficulty of her dumplings, the dish was refined. Learning from her mistakes from the past, Laura was able to pull back and let the refinement tell her story.

Unfortunately, the three male chefs were in the bottom. One of the biggest problems with their dishes was that the plates did not connect with their stories. For example, Danny’s dish was overly complicated and did not deliver the tea redemption he sought. Dan’s dish was a step backwards from his lovely Restaurant Wars dish. Manny’s dish tried to fit his Mexican culture into a Wisconsin tale. Overall, these three chefs missed the point of the brief.

Although Danny’s dish was a misstep, it was good enough to keep him safe. He moved into the finale with Savannah and Laura.

Dan and Manny battled for the remaining spot. Dan’s dish reflected that he felt the pressure to be the “Wisconsin” chef to make the finale. While he battled valiantly throughout the season, it was clear that he was in his head. His dish was ok, but it was not the wow factor that he hoped to present.

But, Manny had a bigger issue. His cookery on the fish was a big mistake. With Tom Collichio getting raw fish, that error in the final Elimination Challenge could not be overlooked. Manny was told to pack his knives and go.

With the final four set, the Top Chef team leaves Wisconsin behind. As they head to the Caribbean, and according to Kristen Kish, Curaçao, the chefs better start researching one of the ABC Islands and their culinary customs. It is too soon to raise a cocktail with that vibrant blue liquor yet. A few more challenges must be mastered before hearing those coveted words, “you are Top Chef.”

Ready to watch part one of the Top Chef Season 21 finale? The penultimate episode will air on Bravo, Wednesday, June 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. It can be streamed the next day on Peacock.