Top Chef Season 21 finalists preferred these types of challenges, interview

Top Chef Season 21 finalists
Top Chef Season 21 finalists / Bravo

After leaving Wisconsin behind, the Top Chef Season 21 finalists set sail aboard Holland America Line Eurodam and embarked on impressing the judges with impeccable food. While each one hopes to hear the phrase, “you are Top Chef,” only one will earn that coveted title. Ahead of the Top Chef finale, Dan, Danny, and Savannah spoke with FoodSided about their experience and which type of challenge they preferred.

While Dan might have been the native son, Savannah hit her stride mid-season, and Danny impressed with his technique, picking a potential front runner has been near impossible. Each cheftestant has had wins and has had mis-steps along the way. The tight competition is what made this season compelling to watch.

Although there were moments where similar concepts were placed on the judges’ table, other moments showcased the cheftestants’ culinary creativity and unique point of view. Sometimes the challenges’ themes helped to narrow that focus.

As Gail Simmons shared, a narrower challenge often helps the chefs. When asked their opinion on Gail’s commentary, the Top Chef finalists shared their thoughts. They all agreed, structured challenges were their preference.

Dan said, “I think that my brain would have melted if I heard Tom tell me in Last Chance Kitchen, cook me a great plate of food. I think that it would have been tough. Just having that little bit of structure gives you a leg up and gets our brain started in the right direction.”

Savannah concurred saying, “by saying exactly what the structure is and the parameters, I can then figure out how to make it my own and make it unique. If you were to tell me cook a really good plate of food, I think that it gets hard because where do you begin?”

Danny thought about the various forms of the challenges and his overall approach. He said, “when you don’t have structure, it open the floodgates and it is a little harder to narrow down the decision. When there is structure, you are able to see the parameter and stick with it.”

During the penultimate episode, the judges had concern about cheftestants repeating a dish or serving a dish similar to one that they prepared earlier in the season. When asked about that concept, Danny was candid with his thoughts.

Danny said, “it is about cooking the best food in the moment and getting into the next challenge. It is not a cumulative based competition. Obviously, you are not going to make the same dish every single time, but you can use similar techniques or the same techniques with a twist. That was something that I was ok doing.”

Even though there might have been some scenarios where the cheftestants were in their comfort zone, the finale’s location was unlike any other. Cooking in a ship’s galley is far from where they normally cook.

As Dan described, “I think that we all had struggled cooking in the galley. It was like working in a food truck while it’s driving. It is not easy at all.” From using just induction cooking to dealing with rough seas, the environment was another hurdle to overcome.

No matter which chef hears the phrase, “you are Top Chef” and raises a glass in victory, this season has been a fun one to watch. Before the next location is revealed, it might be time to rewatch all those episodes.

Top Chef airs the finale Wednesday, June 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. The episode can be streamed the next day on Peacock.