Welcome back cheftestants! Last time on Top Chef, two Sconnie traditions were transformed into competitions for the remaining six chefs. Their quickfire elimination was a meat raffle cookoff. The judges drew names for constants to pick their meats—ranging from chateaubriand to “luncheon meat.” Chef Savannah Miller and her creative corned beef salad won the quickfire and $10,000.

The elimination challenge was perhaps the most grueling yet. The chefs prepared a traditional fish boil, but had to make it their own. Chefs Michelle Wallace, Danny Garcia, and Dan Jacobs had the top three fish boil dishes. Garcia won the competition. Newly instated Chef Soo Ahn was asked to pack his knives and go home.

This week on Top Chef

An Eleventh Hour Addition

“Man what does today have in store for us?” asked Jacobs. Well, lots of surprises.

The quickfire challenge started off a little different this episode. Before the chefs arrived, Judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and host Kristen Kish were in the kitchen. Colicchio was cooking a dish, dressed in his chef whites. He prepared a lobster stir fry salad, which the judges ate quickly then hid under a cloche (more on that later.)

The five remaining chefs walked in and quickly noticed there were six work stations. Chef Laura Ozyilmaz, who won the last ever Last Chance Kitchen, walked in and was reincorporated into the competition.

“Laura coming back is definitely the scariest,” said Jacobs. “She’s probably the biggest competition coming in, and if she can put her flavors together, she’s there in the finals.”

Takin’ On Tom

“Earlier before you got to the kitchen, I made a dish that both Gail and Kristen tasted,” said Colicchio. “I want you to make the same dish. But how are you going to figure out what I made?”

Dear readers: it was by playing a game of 20 (well, a generous 24, thanks to Colicchio) Questions.

Each chef could ask one yes-or-no question before the clock started. Once they started cooking, they could each ask an additional three questions.

Down the line, each chef asked a question that narrowed down the specifics of the dish. By the fifth chef’s question, they figured out that it was a seafood dish. Chef Manny Barella had the last question, and completely derailed the progress by asking if it was “some sort of porridge.”

“What the fuck?” asked Jacobs. “When’s the last time you ate a seafood porridge?”

The chefs started cooking a flurry of ingredients and questions, many of which really didn’t narrow down the parameters of the dish. One by one the chefs presented their lobster/stir fry dishes, with Miller, Wallace, and Jacobs getting call-outs for the accuracy and taste of their dishes. Miller won; she’s quickly adding up the wins, and becoming a real contender for Top Chef.

Thinking Beyond The Plate

“For your elimination competition, we want you to create a dish that is directly plated on the table top,” said Kish.

The chefs conceptualized, then headed back to the North Ave. Whole Foods to shop for their tabletop dishes.

“Instead of giving us one great plate of food, give us one great table of food,” said Simmons.

They weren’t going to any location in the city, but making their elimination dishes in the Top Chef kitchen. During prep day, several chefs ran into an issue that would make cook day more difficult. Jacobs’ beets weren’t cooking through, Miller regretted boiling and not pressure cooking her octopus, and Wallace had trouble figuring out how to put her table together.

Cook day arrived and Garcia got to the kitchen 30 minutes early (a reward from winning last week’s elimination challenge), and the others soon came in to get to work. The three judges and guest judge, Chef Curtis Duffy, sat at four chairs, and each chef’s dish/table got wheeled in and out between the chairs.

The Dishes

Garcia: Black rice seafood paella with piquillo pepper puree inside a “frame” of black garlic, zucchini, and creme fresh dips.

Jacobs: Smoked beet tartare with fried kale and pumpkin seed puree, scallion powder, black garlic labneh, harissa oil, horseradish emulsion, and flat bread.

Barella: Squid ink seafood risotto with calabrian chili oil, sundried tomato puree, and Sicilian pesto.

Wallace: A brunch plate with cured salmon, salmon mousse, beet biscuits, pickled beets, and capers served in a tight “mosaic” on the table.

Miller: A tasting table of nigiri with wasabi, tempura with yuzu, grilled octopus with wasabi, seared tuna with a black garlic soy glaze, oysters with aji amarillo sauce, champagne gelee, and caviar.

Ozyilmaz: Rose, sour cherry, pistachio, and honey sauces with ice cream, honey maras, baklava, and meringues.

The Deliberation Table

“Overall we had a really fun time,” said Kish.

Ozyilmaz, Garcia, and Jacobs were pulled to the front and praised for their delish dishes. “You three all really went for it, and the cooking was all really good,” said Colicchio.

Jacobs’ table of beet tartare with a range of dips and a “puffin” (pita meets english muffin) was praised for its beauty and creativity. Colicchio stated that meat wasn’t missing from the vegetarian dish; the veggies shined.

“Every time you took a bite, it changed,” he said.

Ultimately, Ozyilmaz won the elimination challenge with her dessert-focused table with a filo baklava that “demanded respect,” according to guest judge Duffy. This was her first day back from Last Chance Kitchen, and further positioned her for a win.

Chef Wallace and Barella were called to the bottom. Chef Wallace, with her unsuccessful play on a brunch plate, was asked to pack her knives and go home.

Noteworthy Moments

• Back at the hotel, the chefs were talking about how much they all missed home, and missed their partners.

• We learned that though Chef Jacobs lives in Milwaukee, he is unable to see his wife.

• The chefs all became artists after prep day as they took pen to paper to sketch out their table top designs.

• Chef Ozyilmaz was the only person who decided to do a sweet table.

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

Want more Milwaukee Record? Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and/or support us on Patreon.


All things Milwaukee (and fish boil) in ‘Top Chef’ Episode 10

All things Milwaukee (and indigenous Wisconsin) in ‘Top Chef’ Episode 9

All things Milwaukee (and Restaurant Wars) in ‘Top Chef’ Episode 8

All things Milwaukee (and baseball) in ‘Top Chef’ Episode 7

All things Milwaukee (and chaos) in ‘Top Chef’ Episode 6

All things Madison (and supper club) in ‘Top Chef’ Episode 5

All things Wisconsin (and Frank Lloyd Wright) in ‘Top Chef’ Episode 4

All things Milwaukee in ‘Top Chef’ Episode 3

All things Milwaukee in ‘Top Chef’ Episode 2

All things Milwaukee in the premiere of ‘Top Chef’ Season 21

Stuff We Missed: ‘Top Chef’ announces premiere date, Milwaukee competitor for Wisconsin-based season

Season 21 of Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’ will be filmed in Wisconsin

About The Author

Avatar photo

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