• “Cook, as if your life depended on it.” Joe and Adrienne duke it out in a contentious season finale of Top Chef.
By Luis Miguel Echegaray
March 08, 2018

Welcome to the final Talkin’ Top Chef!

The finale is here and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am. I'll be happy with whoever wins as I think both Joe and Adrienne are not only extremely talented, but great people. I had the pleasure of meeting them this week at Sports Illustrated and there are not enough superlatives to describe how great they are.

Joe Flamm has had quite the adventure. To come back from Last Chance Kitchen and fight his way through is quite the accomplishment.

Adrienne, however, is the one I am rooting for. I think if we’re all being honest, no one saw this coming. She has been underestimated throughout the competition. But her food, work ethic and ability to avoid drama throughout the season have helped her immensely. The fact that she is a woman and a chef of color makes me root for her even more.

So here’s to you, Adrienne! But as I said, rooting hard for both these guys.

Season 16, Episode Fourteen; “Finale”

As the episode starts, the judges congratulate the finalists with some sound advice from Tom. “Cook, as if your life depended on it.”

Hell yeah, says Adrienne.

So here we go.

Talkin' Top Chef, Episode 13: A Trip to the Final Is on the Line

The finalists head to the top of the Aspen Mountains as they meet Padma and Tom, where the final elimination comes to realization: create the ultimate four-course, progressive meal for the judges, diners and VIP guests, including Jonathan Waxman, Curtis Duffy and Nancy Silverton.

Joe and Adrienne get some help as each gets to pick two sous chefs from a pool of past contestants. This is key for Adrienne, because one of her biggest issues is letting everyone know who's in charge.

My hope is that she’s smart to pick team players.

Adrienne goes with Chris and Carrie (good choices) and Joe goes with Sasto and Fatima. (WOOOOOAH. Awesome.)

The chefs have 30 minutes to plan. Both go with their strengths—Adrienne with Southern cooking, Joe with pasta, but his type of pasta.

The sous chef choices were the right ones, but the only issue is that Carrie and Southern cookin’ don’t quite go together. The fact that Adrienne is trusting her with the grits is a little scary…

On the other side, Sasto is in charge of making pasta dough and that’s a winner right there. 

As we watch the prepping it’s clear this is a really friendly finale. Both Adrienne and Joe love each other so there’s no bad curses here. I’m also excited to see two different sides (Southern and Italian) for the finale.

I think the issue for both will come down to the dessert.


Once they return to the hotel, they see Tom and Graham Elliot cooking for them. It’s so awesome to see this part, as Flamm reinforces it’s always great to see the judges as regular people.

But Tom is not just a regular person, folks. He is the GOAT.

Talkin' Top Chef, Episode 12: It's a Family Affair

The final day is here!

The coolest part of the morning so far is when Adrienne calls Eric Ripert, one of her biggest mentors. “It’s great to hear that voice that I heard for so many years…it’s exactly what I needed,” she says.

Let’s do this!

So the main dishes look good but the biggest problem is the dessert, and in this elevation, things are gonna be tougher.

The guests start to come in and it’s basically a who’s who of culinary excellence: Waxman, Silverton, Duffy, not to mention the judges and the Queen Gail Simmons.

The first course

Adrienne: Spoon bread, sea urchin, buttermilk dashi, ham, caviar and wheat tuile. It looks phenomenal.

Joe:  “Tonno Vitellati” raw tuna with veal demi aioli, smoked wagyu powder and capers. Another good-looking dish.

They’re well received but Adrienne might just be winning this round.

Second course

Joe:  “Tortellini en brodo” grano arso tortellini, pig head, apple, black truffle and braising liquid broth. Joe thinks it’s the best dish he has ever made and by the looks of it….I wouldn’t dispute that.

Adrienne: Blackened octopus with squid ink grits and fennel chow-chows—a classic Adrienne-looking plate.

Tom declares it the best food they’ve had in the finale. I think Joe took this one.

Third course

Adrienne: cheerwine braised short rib, black eyes peas with ham hock and cheerwin bone marrow bordelaise.

Joe: “Manzo de Colorado” roasted beef ribeye with roasted asparagus and smoked bone marrow sauce.

This might be the weakest dish for both, with Adrienne taking it, I think.

Okay, now the dessert.

Fourth course

Adrienne:  Banana pudding with yuzu, banana spears and vanilla wafers.

Joe: “Torta della nonna” brown sugar cake, whipped ricotta, blueberry thyme sauce and chocolate shards.

Both desserts had their mistakes but the judges and guests were definitely nitpicking.

In the end, Tom gives them much props, saying how it was the best food of the season and both should be proud. But as Gail says, this might just be the toughest decision in Top Chef history

Alright, enough chitchat…the winner of TOP CHEF, SEASON 15, IS:

****  JOE FLAMM!!! ****

Congrats, Joe! From Last Chance Kitchen to Top Chef!

Well, folks. What a season. I had the best time writing these recaps. I hope, if you take anything away from this, make sure you appreciate the glorious wonder that is FOOD, and the art of cooking.

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