• This week's episode of Top Chef brought us a Sudden Death Quickfire before a special (and timely) Super Bowl-themed challenge that involved none other than the Denver Broncos.
By Luis Miguel Echegaray
February 01, 2018

Welcome to Talking Top Chef, a weekly blog where we review the latest episode from the best reality show on TV. I’m going to fill you in on a little secret: Shortly after the season premiere last month, I discovered Top Chef is extremely popular at Sports Illustrated. From Crossover writers to our very own managing editor, this show is loved by so many over here. (Even Rob Gronkowski's been on it!)

And why shouldn’t it be? It has everything: Amazing food, intense competition, plus the chefs are insanely talented but more often than not they can also be erratic and unpredictable, which makes for great entertainment.

As for me? I’m obsessed. As a result, we decided the logical move would to be start reviewing the show here at SI Eats. So let’s get down to business.

Season 15, Episode Nine; “Bronco Brouhaha”

Before we begin, I just wanted to let y’all know this was a great week for SI Eats. In the spirit of Sunday, Chris and Adrienne visited Sports Illustrated to show us how to make alternative side dishes for your Super Bowl party. The theme was pickles and man oh man did they deliver! We had a blast and I hope you get a chance to check it out.

Alright, let’s do this.

The competition is really on. After the exhaustion that was Restaurant Wars, things are really heating up…which is why Mustache Joe switched his crystals.

Huh? Yeah, I can’t even get too into it, but basically Joe uses crystals for change of energy, etc….I’m just going to leave that there.

Padma starts the Quick-fire challenge by introducing Michelin-starred Chef David Kinch. The aim is to add edible flowers to the contestants’ respective dishes, but here’s the kicker: not only is immunity off the table from this point forward, but also it’s a SUDDEN DEATH QUICKFIRE.

O.K., I wasn’t ready for this.

At the end of thirty minutes, most dishes seem like home runs, but Bruce made ricotta cavatelli with squash blossom, grape tomatoes, arugula pesto and arugula flowers and it really doesn’t go over well with Padma.

“Pasta again???”

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It’s a tough decision for Bruce. You have to play it safe because at this point, as he said, the goal is to just stay in the competition, but when you repeat your strategy over and over again, judges see safety by those who challenge themselves in the toughest of situations.

We'll see what happens.

In the end, the judges loved Fatima’s mustard flower rubbed lamb with chili de arbol, fresno, broccoli florets and orange blossom…but Carrie made fancy toast with lavender, fig, goat cheese and candied pecans and David Kinch loved it.

I am pretty happy for Carrie because as she was making it, Mustache Joe was pretty much trolling her because it was too simple. Guess what? Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication—my man Leonardo da Vinci said that, that’s my man.

So who’s in the bottom and will be fighting for their lives? Mustache Joe, Chris and Clean-Shaven Joe are now competing to stay alive.

This is awful. All three are insanely talented chefs so anybody going home right now is nothing but a big loss for the competition.

Tom Colicchio enters the room for the Sudden Death and introduces the cauliflower. The challenge is to create a dish where cauliflower takes the place of another main component.

As time runs out and the dishes are complete, Colicchio is not impressed with any of them. “They lack in flavor, they lack in finesse…”

Oh boy.

Mustache Joe’s smoked cauliflower buffalo wings did not go well for Tom. As for David? The other Joe made cauliflower risotto and seeing as this is a dish in David Kinch’s own restaurant, this also failed to impress.

Padma has to make the ultimate decision….and it falls to clean-shaven Joe. This is devastating for everyone involved. The entire room is crying and I’m honestly amazed because I really saw him in the final three.

Let’s hope he returns in LCK.

For the elimination challenge, the crew welcomes Adam Perry Lang, BBQ master and owner of APL Restaurant.

And guess what? He’s a good friend of Bruce.


Today’s main challenge is all about football! Top Chef teams up with the Denver Broncos to host the best tailgating party, so the challenge is to work in teams of two and create one plate of food for a tailgate Super Bowl party for 300 players and fans.

Ooooh yeah.

Carrie, being the winner of the Quick-fire, picks her own team AND everyone else’s, so naturally she picks Chris.

“He’s a football fan, and his food is soul food, which is comfort food…which is football food,” she says.

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Here are the rest of the teams:

Adrienne and Mustache Joe.

Bruce and Fatima.

Now, the point of this challenge is to be creative enough as well as satisfy a huge number of people in a football environment. That’s not as easy as it sounds.

My favorite part of the episode is when the contestants decide to throw the football outside in the backyard and Mustache Joe confesses he doesn’t like sports.

“Sports and balls? No. Especially basketball? You throw it on the ground and then you touch it again? You throw it on the ground and then you touch it again? Gross.”

Yeah, Joe and I will never ever be friends.

When the challenge begins, we are taken to the venue: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the home of the Denver Broncos, and Bronco fans come pouring in. This is awesome, but for the chefs it’s extremely nerve-racking as this is A LOT OF PEOPLE.

I mean, even the MAYOR is here, ex-players and current players….this is awesome.

Courtsey of NBC Universal

So…the dishes: Carrie and Chris made a pork green chili poutine with stadium fries. Broncos linebacker Todd Davis loved it. Placekicker Brandon McManus was also all in for it. P.S. He’s a huge foodie too.

Bruce made grilled sirloin steak with bread and butter beet salad and horseradish aioli while Fatima made blue and orange nachos with achiote rubbed chicken, black lentils, cheese sauce and peach habanero salsa.

Mustache Joe and Adrienne made fried mac and cheese, miso glazed St. Louis style ribs with kale slaw and kimchi aioli.

We take this break so linebacker Corey Nelson shows us his Super Bowl ring. No big deal.

O.K., time for the judges to make their choices and Colicchio is really not impressed. He wants to see a lot more, especially at this stage in the competition.

So who are the favorites? The judges picked Chris and Carrie (who is killing it btw)—the chili flavor really killed it…and guess what? They win tickets to the Super Bowl!!! Ahhhh! Chris is an Eagles fan, so you know this one is gonna rock it for him.

Unfortunately, everyone else did not meet the standards and so four chefs are in jeopardy right now. In the end, Fatima leaves us.


Man, this was tough. In this episode we saw Fatima and clean-shaven Joe gone and that’s just insane. But it ultimately shows us how this tournament is shaping up. We’ll see how they both do in Last Chance Kitchen.

We’ll see you next week for more Talkin’ Top Chef! Enjoy the Super Bowl! As a Giants fan, this one might be tough for me.

My top three:

  • Chris
  • Adrienne
  • Carrie

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)