Talkin' Top Chef, Episode 10: Spooky Setting Brings the Nightmare Dessert Out of Each Chef

Chefs have to face their fears immediately when they're asked to recreate their worst nightmare in dessert form.
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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 Ten; “Red Rum and Then Some”

And then there were five…

I don’t think I have to remind you that we’re now entering serious mode and the remaining contestants are really feeling it. For Adrienne, who has only won one quick-fire and zero elimination challenges, she knows she has to step it up.

“I need to take it that extra step and find that next gear and push just a bit harder.”

Well, get to it, AC. Go get it.

The contestants enter the historic, iconic Stanley Hotel, the inspiration site for Stephen King’s “The Shining,” and meet Padma, who is about to tell them the really scary part.

They have to make a dessert that visualizes their worst nightmares.

This might actually help Carrie. When she described her dream from last night, it sounded pretty accurate: “Last night for instance I dreamt about a tater tot, made with pine nuts that was stuffed with jam…”

Ok, Carrie. You do you…[he says with the relentless fear]

The scariest thing about this challenge is Bruce’s freak out. Brucey really doesn’t do well with pace and desserts so it’s already a mountain for him to climb. He’s trying to make a panna cotta but he’s using gelatin powder and that’s a big no-no, so he has to go back to square one.

Guess what? Carrie has the same problem, so just like everyone else, she adapts…but time, once again, becomes a chef’s worst enemy, as she couldn’t get everything on the plate.

Side note: Padma believes in spirits and in…Chris, the winner of today’s quick-fire! My man is on a roll! First, his Eagles win the Super Bowl and now he wins an important quick-fire challenge.

Chris made a chocolate buttermilk cake with a marzipan “dead man.” Basically, he created this scene where a hiker is running away from monsters, but falls into the cliffs. It was quite the dish.

Now comes the elimination challenge: For this week, the chefs have to tell the culinary story of their Top Chef journey. This will be quite the emotional journey for them, seeing as they have come so far and the lessons they have learned along the way.

For Bruce this might be as simple as not making pasta.

Once the chefs get ready to prep, Tom Colicchio shows up with a stern message: COOK YOUR A— OFF.

The last few weeks have been disappointing in the eyes of Top Chef’s most disciplined judge, so he gives the remaining contestants a bit of advice that may also serve as a warning: “Get out of your comfort zone.”

If the food disappoints, then Tom might bring two people from Last Chance Kitchen.

No pressure, right?

The judges arrive at Governor John Hickenlooper’s mansion (the special guest for this week) as they’ll be cooking for him, the regular judges and acclaimed chefs such as Frank Bonanno, Steve Redzikowski and Tommy Lee.

As I think about this challenge, I think this might be one of the easiest from the last few weeks. But if we've learned anything from this show, it’s that simplicity is never as simple as it sounds.

Mustache Joe made lamb agnolotti with beets, hazelnuts and cacao pecora cheese. His meal is all about the ups and downs and focusing on what he’s truly passionate about—cooking with heart and telling a story.

So far, it hits the mark with the judges.

Adrienne’s roasted monkfish, venison jus, green peppercorn jam and roasted cauliflower puree depicts execution with detail…and again, the judges approve.

Carrie is up next, and being from the area, she gives the judges Colorado elk, roasted cauliflower, shishito peppers, blueberry poblano sauce and shepherd’s halo cheese. There’s a lot going on here but the judges can’t get enough.

So far, so good.

Bruce is up. His dish is roast duck with toasted barley and corn, topped with salsify and it’s the first plate that really doesn’t hit home with the judges. Over-seasoned and uninspired.

Chris is the last one and he made a lamb ravioli with crispy skin trout and roasted cauliflower puree. There is a mix of responses, mainly to do with the trout and lamb ravioli.

So overall, it’s between the last two.

The ones who stood out were Carrie, Joe and Adrienne, but the overall winner is Mustache Joe. Good for him, but dammit, I want Adrienne to win one! But Joe is in the final, and deservedly so.

Now…to Bruce and Chris. The main issue with both was the fact that they over-complicated the dishes, but there can only be one elimination….and that is Bruce.

Oh boy. So tough….but if there is a silver lining, Brucey can see his son! But I think he’s gonna kill it in LCK.

Go get it, Brucey.

That’s it for now…I’ll see you next week!

My top three after this episode (exactly like last week, may I add)

  • Chris
  • Adrienne
  • Carrie