Top Chef season 16, episode 13 recap: Kentucky moves to Holy Macau!


Top Chef: Kentucky moves to Macau, China for the final challenges.

Bravo’s Top Chef test contestants range and knowledge of cuisine by mixing things up. The final five chefs have been thinking of dishes made for the Appalachian Mountain palette, which is far from the Mandarin and Macanese sourced ingredients that will be used in the new Top Chef locale, China. The elimination challenge is a celebration of the Chinese New Year, which is a bigger shift in the kitchen than time zones.

Justin was eliminated last week, leaving only Michelle, Kelsey, Eric, Adrienne, and Sara to knife it out in China. Macau based judge Graham Elliot gave a tour of local market offerings that would be used in the Quickfire Challenge. For the elimination challenge, the chefs had to honor the Year of the Pig with dishes featuring pork. Hong Kong chef Jowett Yu joined Tom, Padma, and Graham for the final judges’ table.

Michelle was worried about her dish twisting and curling in the pan so quickly, but her judgment on taste and texture was spot on. Winning the Quickfire challenge gave Michelle the chance to choose her ingredients for the elimination challenge.

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Michelle had yet to impress this season, even since rejoining from Last Chance Kitchen. Winning the quickfire and being in the top two for the elimination challenge shows Michelle is finding a comfort level now. With only one more quickfire challenge left this season, Michelle may have pulled an Ali-inspired rope-a-dope move on this season of Top Chef: Kentucky.

Kelsey was actually scared away from her original dish because of Brian working with Adrienne. Two contestants doing the same dish usually means one of those chefs are sent to pack their knives. Someone should tell Kelsey that Brian was eliminated, and did meat from a hot tub in the sun.

Kelsey used that fear to re-imagine her dish. The judges loved her fully loaded broth and gave her this week’s Elimination Challenge win. Until now, Kelsey has been a middle of the road contestant, not really standing out in either way. Now she has her second elimination challenge win, the first coming in week 8.

Eric though had won two of the past three eliminations leading into this week. That did not help much in China. His chili topped dish received some harsh words from Padma going into the commercial break and that edit proved telling. Eric was defensive at the judges table when his dish was called muddy. This reaction should immediately give pause to those betting on the literal last man standing. Eric needs to bring heat well past regular hot sauce, but the judges do not like being called wrong.

Sara has been a judges favorite five of the past six weeks, winning one elimination challenge. Sara had Eddieas sous chef, who was smiling, but isn’t now that he is peeling shrimp for 200 guest. Now, Sara is facing the judges for all the wrong reasons. Too much salt almost left her feeling salty as the most recent chef eliminated.

However, Adrienne is the chef packing her knives and leaving the competition just as it lands in China. Adrienne had been on the low end the past few weeks. Adrienne got to choose her ingredients and sous chef second, and she picked Brian, for the ginger she says. Brian’s meat artistry definitely was not enough to save her. Adrienne had faced the elimination table in the past two weeks. This third time she did not survive.

Eric had a rough week, and along with Kelsey are the two favorites to win Top Chef this year. Sara has the talent, but just comes off as a bit too stubborn and that will cost her in the end. Michelle has started to show her talents, but her overall performance this season has been a level below the others.

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Next week is the last quickfire challenge. The preview clip showed the chefs working with something that might as well be called Stinkfish. It always sticks to be the last chef eliminated before the finale. Losing in the semi-finals is a stinky way to go out, but someone has to be the last to pack. Tune in next week on Bravo at 8 PM EST to see who must pack their knives and go.

What did you think of this Top Chef episode? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!