Welcome back cheftestants! Last time on Top Chef, viewers and contestants were given a history lesson about Frank Lloyd Wright. At the top of the episode the chefs were told that they would be taking a trip through the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, stopping at Milwaukee’s Burnham Block, checking out the Monona Terrace in Madison, and visiting the UNESCO world heritage site Taliesin in Spring Green, where they would tour Wright’s home and studio.

By episode’s end, Milwaukee’s own Chef Dan Jacobs landed himself in the top ten. Chefs Rasika Venkatesa and Danny Garcia smoked their competition and won the final challenge, nabbing $5,000 each. Only Venkatesa won immunity, making it her second immunity win and third overall win.

On this week’s episode, the contestants are taking on another Wisconsin institution: the beloved supper club!

Quickfire In The Capital

The top ten are officially competing in Madison!

After waking up at The Post hotel, the contestants were given a challenge: head down to the Dane County Farmers’ Market (only the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country!) and spend $100 on ingredients. What would they be making? No one was sure. After the shop, they went to the rooftop of Madison’s L’Etoile and were given their assignments for the quickfire challenge.

First, the contestants met the guest judges: comedian, director, and activist W. Kamau Bell, and Madison’s James Beard Award-winning Chef Tory Miller, who owns L’Etoile. After a round of introductions, host Kristen Kish introduced the challenge that paid homage to an impactful but lesser-known Madisonian.

“When people talk about Madison, one of the first things that comes to mind is the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” Kish said. “Less well-known is a man who served as a chef in the residents halls from the 1920s to the 1950s, Chef Carson Gulley. He and his wife hosted a cooking show, the first African-American couple to host a cooking show.”

“In the ’50s!,” Bell added.

“In 1949, Chef Gulley published his early recipes in his very first cookbook,” Kish continued. “It had recipes to make everything from meat and vegetable dishes to a variety of sauces. For your quickfire challenge, we want you to take a page out of his book.”

“Literally,” said Chef Amanda Turner.

Thus the quickfire challenge unfolded. Each contestant had to grab a sauce recipe from Gulley’s recipe box, and had to pair that sauce with the ingredients they bought from the farmers’ market. The quickfire quick-cash prize went up this week, to $7,500.

Some of the sauces were commonplace like tartar sauce (which Jacobs luckily grabbed), but others were unheard of like raisin sauce, which included ingredients like ham fat.

Jacobs prepared a diced grilled vegetable salad with fried bread, and fried egg aioli with capers. His take on the tartar sauce included capers, fish sauce, and worcestershire sauce.

“It is the state condiment,” Tory Miller said.

After a round of impressive on-the-fly dishes, Chefs Charley Pierre, Laura Ozyilmaz, and Manny Barella were in the top three, with Pierre ultimately winning the challenge and the $7,500. Chefs Michelle Wallace, Turner, and Kevin D’Andrea were in the bottom three, due in part to the challenging nature of their sauces.

Supper Club Competition

The cheftestants became official Wisconsinites during this week’s elimination challenge–saddled with the task of perfecting the supper club menu.

“Legend has it that the first supper club started in the 1920s by Wisconsin native Lawrence Frank,” Kish said as she introduced the challenge. “Supper clubs started as taverns, dance halls, where fried chicken and perch were served alongside a beer.”

The chefs were introduced to Joe and Shaina Papach, owners of The Harvey House, a supper club behind Madison’s Historic Train Depot. The Papachs served up a classic supper club menu and they invited the chefs to dine with them before concocting their own menus.

After a raucous reaction (“That’s the most excited I’ve ever seen them,” Kish said), the elimination challenge was set: get into teams and prepare a classic supper club menu for a room of 40 supper club enthusiasts. Each team was responsible for making an elevated menu that included a relish tray, fish dish, chicken dish, beef dish, and a dessert.

But first they had to figure out what went into a great supper club meal. (Hint: It starts with brandy Old Fashioneds!) The purple (Jacobs, D’Andrea, Wallace, Venkatesa, and Savannah Miller) and green (Turner, Pierre, Garcia, Ozyilmaz, and Barella) teams were served an incredible meal including a relish tray, chicken schnitzel, prime rib with jus, a traditional fish fry, Brandy Alexander, and grasshopper pie.

“This is classic as fuck,” Jacobs said.

After their meal, the teams had $1,000 and 30 minutes to shop at the (notably not-North-Avenue) Whole Foods. Each team had a lot of financial restraints, with the last person to check out on each team having to return ingredients.

The next day, the teams headed back to The Harvey House to prepare their meals for the large group. The green team was up first. Garcia created a North African relish tray with pickled veg, black garlic tahini, labneh with za’atar, smoked whitefish, and frena bread. Pierre had the fish dish and presented an epis-rubbed fried trout with a coconut epis sauce and preserved lemon pikliz. Turner created a hot kitchen katsu with a szechuan mala spice, apple miso mustard sauce with red cabbage and sauerkraut. Barella had the beef dish and presented his ancho-crusted New York strip loin, served with pommes puree and an epazote and almond salsa verde. Ozyilmaz finished up the green team’s meal with a four-leche cake, inspired by the Old Fashioned cocktail.

The purple team finished the night. It started with Jacobs’ Wisconsin-inspired relish tray which featured raw vegetables in a bread “soil,” steak tartare, chicken liver mousse, pickled shallots, and fried seed toast. Venkatesa presented her spin on the fish dish which included a semolina fried snapper with a peanut and jaggery dip and smoked sturgeon herb sauce.

“What strikes me about both of these dishes, especially Dan’s, is that it’s lively,” said judge Tom Colicchio.

“I think Dan hit the nail on the head with this relish tray,” added Joe Papach.

“I love the way that the liver mousse melts in your mouth. It adds great acidity to the pickle,” said Tory Miller.

After that round of dishes, Chef Savannah Miller brought out her chicken dish, a chicken tonkatsu with a white sturgeon caviar emulsion and sweet pickled cabbage. D’Andrea made a beef tenderloin with sherry jus and confit potatoes. Wallace finished out the competition with a coconut bread pudding with a pineapple cream sauce.

“This felt very of the supper club,” said Simmons.

After deliberation, the hosts and judges called the purple team front and center. “Purple team, you’re standing here because you were our favorite team of the day,” said Kish.

The judges started with notes on the relish tray.

“The liver mousse was absolutely delish, luscious, and smooth,” said Shaina Papach.

“This is one dish that I thought was executed, start to finish, flawlessly,” said Colicchio.

The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For

After nine competitions over five episodes, our hometown hero Chef Dan Jacobs won a competition for the most Wisconsin dish we’ve seen so far. He has immunity in the next elimination challenge, and therefore we will see him in at least the next two episodes. Jacobs will make it into the top eight.

“Even though I have physical limitations, my brain is sharp as a pencil,” Jacobs said. “It just reaffirms the fact that I belong here.”

The Chopping Board

The green team was brought to the deliberation table and given their critiques. Turner had some stomach issues and had to lay down, so she wasn’t there when the judges said that she had the best dish of the team. Ozyilmaz was criticized for hoarding a larger portion of the budget than she should have. Pierre ultimately went home after winning the quickfire challenge earlier in the day.

Noteworthy Moments

• We got our first video message of the season. Kish sent a video to the cheftestants welcoming them to the Dane County Farmers’ Market before they were off for their quickfire competition.

• Chef Tory Miller kept the Madison-Milwaukee rivalry alive this episode. “I know you guys spent a lot of time in Milwaukee, but Madison is the capital of Wisconsin for a reason.”

• Bell said Wallace’s dish was “Taylor Swift and Slipknot happening at the same time.” Wallace had perhaps the hardest sauce to work with: raisin sauce.

• Simmons loved Jacobs’ dish so much she considered “pawing” it into her mouth, as she ran out of vegetables to dip.

New episodes of Top Chef will be released Wednesday nights on Bravo. Episodes can be streamed on Peacock or Bravo TV the following day.

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Carmella is a local copywriter. When she's not typing behind the computer, you can catch her at a local show or thrift store.