Top Chef Wisconsin finalists reveal what surprised them about the competition, interview

Top Chef Season 21 finalists on board Holland America Line Eurodam
Top Chef Season 21 finalists on board Holland America Line Eurodam / Bravo

Top Chef Season 21 was full of changes, new ideas, and culinary superlatives. With the winner now revealed, the Top Chef Wisconsin finalists look back at the Bravo television show, share a few surprises that they had to manage, and what they took away from the experience.

From sausage dishes to chaos cuisine, the recent Top Chef season balanced elevated chef creativity with approachable food. While many people will never have their meal painted directly on the table, others will find ways to pair that Champagne of Beers with their meal.

The three Season 21 finalists epitomized what made this group special. It was more than just their journey. The three cheftestants showcased the breath, depth, and diversity that the popular Bravo food television show has epitomized over the years.

When asked about their Top Chef journey and what it meant to them, the three finalists were quite candid. They might be part of a special club, but it is more than just completing a task that makes this family unique. It is the emotional connection to a fleeting experience that unites them.

For Danny, his answer was straight forward. He said, “cook the food that you will cook and stand behind that food, your cuisine, and your thoughts. Otherwise, have fun with it and go with the flow.” That concept served him well.

Savannah focused on the growth that she experienced through the process. She said, “having the opportunity to figure out my culinary voice and play within that realm helped take me into that future. It built the confidence in the food that I cook.”

Dan, the only Wisconsin chef, appreciated that his success was not only his own, but also for the state he represented. He said, “for me, I think that just knowing that, not just myself, but also the state of Wisconsin, can stand up with anybody else. This was a challenge, and it was tough. I am so happy to have gone through this with the people that I did. I think that it renewed my confidence in myself and my cooking.”

While their time on the show is over, one aspect surprised them after all the filming was completed. Even though the final cook on the Holland America Line Eurodam might have been unlike any kitchen they ever faced, it was the fast-paced nature of the challenges that surprised them.

Having personally witnessed Top Chef challenges in real time, their opinions and statements are real, true, and quite telling about the celebrated food television show. There are no food swaps, second takes, or pauses in the action. Quickfires happen in the designated time frame. The judges do not hold back on their opinions. Judges Table might be a few moments on screen but those debates go on for hours. Everyone involved with the show is deeply connected to not only its success but also its legacy. It is the reason why every season gets better.

As Dan said, “it’s all in real time, nothing is fake or done for television. It is as real as it appears. Time is real. How the judges like your food, whether it is good or terrible, is real. There are no smoke screens. For me, that was really great. It is all about who has the best food.”

In the end, Danny was crowned winner of Top Chef Season 21, but, in reality, everyone who participates in a Top Chef experience is a winner. For the chefs involved, it increases their visibility and expands their culinary outlook. For the locations featured, it sparks an interest in travel.

As for the viewer, Top Chef is one of those food television competition shows that you can watch time and again. It does not matter that the outcome is known. The dishes, creativity, and stories told are ones that continue to satisfy.