Hello, Top Chef Trashies and welcome to final, final four of season 15. Still at Alpino Vino the chefs briefly reflect on B.Funk being cut buut are mostly excited to be the ACTUAL final four of the season. Honestly, only Denver seems really sad and now watching the flashback I realize there was no goodbyes between the chefs. Le Bernardin says she is finally hit her stride and gotten her shit together since the governor’s mansion but so has Stacho and his merry bag of tricks and pasta.
The next morning over the breakfast of champions Non-mustachioed Joe ponders upon what they are going to do today. Ride an elk through an open pasture? Those city kids! That reminds me of my friends in college who liked to go out to the buffalo farm and yell at the bison. Denver doesn’t think so, they did that yesterday. She speculates that they will be making lunch for Oprah because she has a house here. Non-mustachioed Joe says that Oprah has like 28 houses and then tells a great story about serving biscuits on her now defunct show when he worked with Art Smith.
Non-mustachioed Joe waxes about being just a kid from the south side with a dream and then this picture flashes on the screen
The BFJ and his normal sized family (that kid is giving me life)
Denver jokes that Non-mustachioed Joe is like the most famous person she knows and for some reason Stacho find this hilarious.
In their BMW’s the chefs notice they are headed somewhere out of Telluride. Denver and Non-mustachioed Joe try to guess where they are heading. He says golf and she says downhill mountain biking and Non-mustachioed Joe looks terrified. As he should be he is from an extremely flat city. Instead they pull up to an open field with a canvas tent, the Voltaggio Brothers and Scar in her best Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman cosplay. Stacho of course is over taken with the greatness that stands before him because of course, he is.
They try and drop hints like, “look all around you” and “this challenge is going to take balls.”
Dirty Scar is the best Scar
She asks if any of them have ever worked with Rocky Mountain Oysters better known as bull testicles before and guess what… Denver practiced this challenge in anticipation that it might come up on the menu. Non-mustachioed Joe worked with a chef in Italy who LOVED balls, so he has. Skinny Volt does his line that eating stuff like this goes back to Roman times. Uh yeah Non-mustachioed Joe just mentioned he prepared them when in Italy. Accountant Volt says he is excited but a little squeamish too. Scar says that since good things always comes in pairs (oh Scar) they will be preparing the bull testicles two ways, they will have 30 minutes.
But I only practiced doing it one way
No immunity but the chef who wins will have an advantage in the elimination. Uh I am not going to lie, I had to advert my eyes a lot during the prep scene because I was totally grossed out. I am a real texture person, and this is my worst nightmare. Non-mustachioed Joe makes a comment about how when he worked with Stephanie Izard she wanted to do a balls dish and bulls were the worst. Le Bernardin now has me questioning if I ever want to eat dashi again when she reveals that cod sperm sacs are often used. Denver is busting her balls in the grinder and making the others into strips. Non-mustachioed Joe and Stacho are making the same dish.
For all of Stacho’s greatness he has not won a quickfire yet and really wants the advantage whatever it is, but Denver might bust out her third fancy toast and take it all. Fuck you and your dumpling pasta. I love the production on this show because right on cue they cut to Denver who is struggling with her pâté who says that right now it tastes like testicles and she wouldn’t put it on toast or anything like that. Denver, a lady never reveals her secrets.
Scar lets out an audible “OH” and not in a good way after the first bite
The skinny Volt says that they thought she was going to make meatballs and Denver is like that’s such a good idea can I have a re-do.
Accountant Volt says that the chefs did a good job given it was a difficult challenge. The least favorites were Non-mustachioed Joe and Denver. Non-mustachioed Joe protein was just hammered and there was nothing there. Denver’s puree pâté was too livery, and the dish needed more balance.
The favorites were obviously Le Bernardin and Stacho. Skinny Volt liked her dashi, the flavor she was able to build in a short amount of time was good and you could actually taste the rocky mountain oysters in her dish, she wasn’t trying to just cover them. Accountant Volt thought Stacho’s execution was great and thought the puree was great too.
Rocky Mountain High
Stacho is feeling good about his win but says Le Bernardin is nipping at his heels so he better watch out. MMHHMM
Scar says cryptic things about them finding inspiration in the mountains and tells them to get into the BMW’s waiting for them.
On the way there, Denver jokes with Non-mustachioed Joe about breaking Stacho’s fingers in order to stop his domination. Le Bernardin wonders where they are going but Stacho is along for the ride. Denver is so great to have on this show because she knows where she is at all times and lets us know that they have now entered a National Forest access road.
They pull up to a cabin in the woods and Scar tells them to go into the observatory cabin and explore. Non-mustachioed Joe jokes there are probably like 4 bears on the other side they have to fight for the next challenge. Nope its family!
I loved that all the ladies basically have a variation on the same haircut. But the cutest was Non-mustachioed Joe’s grandma tucking him into his chair and laying old lady guilt on him.
Le Bernaradin’s mom made gumbo, a homage to her father’s southern family cooking she spoke about earlier in the season. Non-mustachioed Joe’s grandma made rigatoni and meatballs. Stacho’s dad made pigs skin, feet and neck bones as well as lasagna a holiday meal tradition in this family of well-groomed facial hair family. Denver’s mom made beef stroganoff a meal they enjoyed at least weekly in her household.
Scar asks each family member about the chefs. Non-mustachioed Joe’s grandma says he didn’t show a particular taking to food exactly, but he liked to eat, He says it really started to take an interest when he was 10/11 and his grandfather had a stroke and he started spending more time with grandparents to help out and learn the family recipes. Scar makes a pasta joke at Stacho’s expense, His dad says he was a perfect child and their first, he started helping his mom at 5 in the kitchen.
I feel like this picture explains so much
His dad starts to mention that he really started to help out when mom got sick and he chokes up and starts to cry. Stacho explains that they lost her 7 years ago to cancer, eating meals like this and being here with everyone else mom always brings out the emos. Just like Stephanie felt when Aunt Becky had to be the stand-in mom at the troop Mother/Daughter sleepover.
Scar who knows a thing or two about and absent parent, living or otherwise and assures Stacho that his mother would be proud and the skinny Volt brother chimes in she be proud of both of them.
Scar asks about Le Bernardin. Her mom says she was always hanging out at the restaurant where she worked the front of the house and she would always end up in the back with the chefs. She says she knew she was going to go into this field eventually.
Scar asks Denver’s mom about her and she is like oh she was quite athletic and great skier, better than all her boyfriends. Scar wants to know EXACTLY how many boyfriends there were and tries to ply her wine.
Scar says they didn’t invite their families here to fill their carb quotas for the week, they also brought them here to be a key part of the elimination challenge.
They will have 90 minutes to cook and prep tomorrow before serving at 221 South Oak Bistro. However, Stacho will get an extra 30 minutes because he won the Quickfire Challenge. Not only will they be serving the judges but all their loved ones and the Voltaggio Brothers.
They have some really nice moments with their parents and grandparents. Denver says this dish is super personal because its something she made all the time with her dad. Le Bernardin’s mom gives her the sort of speech I hope to give my children when they are grown.
They receive their last hugs and kisses before they are off to the Mountain Village store to shop for the meal. This place is definitely no Whole Foods as we note Denver sniffing meat for freshness. She is also adding game meat to her stroganoff to elevate the flavor. Le Bernardin has big plans for this gumbo and is going to make some changes without affecting the flavor. Both the Joes are making a pasta variation on the Italian dishes that their families served at the family meal.
Back at the mountain suite the chefs are talking about their families and honestly, I feel bad for Stacho, losing someone is always hard but when it happens suddenly the pain of loss never really goes away.
They have the same smile and meticulously groomed eyebrows
With 30 extra minutes in the kitchen Stacho is wasting no time getting the gravy going and making pasta. I would ridicule but this time I know he had to make pasta given the dish his dad made. The other chefs are having a meet and greet with the owner of the bistro, Eliza Gavin.
I do not remember her at all
Even looking at her cast photo didn’t trigger anything, so I looked up the stats she was eliminated in the challenge where the chef hosted a party for Anna Faris and Chris Pratt.
Moving on… Denver is making buffalo stroganoff with a raviola. Le Bernardin has a genius idea to cook all the components of the gumbo separately. Non-mustachioed Joe is breaking down his tomatoes and is using the tomato water to cook the pasta. Denver is struggling with her pasta and honestly her raviola filling is looking at little like Alpo.
The judges arrive, and Scar is literally dressed to kill.
Stacho’s Dad says he thinks they have a new holiday lasagna. Graham says that Stacho’s dish completely captured the spirit of the challenge. Big Daddy basically says the same thing and Accountant Volt likes that it really tastes like lasagna. Skinny Volt asks Dad Stacho what he thought when he saw this dish initially and he admits he thought, “is this going to be good?”
The buffalo is for my father, the mushrooms for my sisters and the egg running down on top is how my heart felt when I saw my mom yesterday
Grandma Mary tells her its delicious and she wasn’t prepared to like it at all. Denver’s mom says she loves this dish and she can cook it every Sunday.
Accountant Volt says he likes the dish, the touch of egg brings it back to egg noodle. Graham says he likes the dish very much, in fact stroganoff is a signature dish at his restaurant and he’s never seen it made this way.
She instructs the diners was to add the rice as desired.
Skinny Volt and Big Daddy agree that they like how she cooked each component separately so that each flavor was realized. She gets an extra hug and kiss from her mom as she leaves. Tom says everything is so perfectly seasoned and making it more fancy didn’t take away from the flavor. Graham tells her mom as she beams with pride (and wine flush) that Le Bernardin has really flourished in the last two months.
Non-mustachioed Joe talks dirty to his food as he prepares to serve last.
Skinny Volt asks him about his meatball filling. Non-mustachioed Joe says he says it pork, veal and some bacon for the fat. Tom likes it and says the flavor is still is that of Sunday gravy.
Grandma Mary tells him it a keeper and eyes the table just in case she has to give the evil eye to anyone who dares speak ill of her Non-mustachioed Joe. Big Daddy says there is layers and layers of flavor he had to do to get this flavor, but it doesn’t appear that way. Accountant Volt must be a grandma’s boy because when critiquing he speaks right to Grandma Mary that their meatballs were identical, and it was so beautiful.
Then after all the beautiful words and the heartfelt moment the chefs do wine bongs.
Brought to you by Terlato Wines
Tom says everything was fantastic and stayed true to the original but were truly reimagined. Scar calls it the greatest food of all season, however there was on clear winner….
Before they move on to eliminating a chestestant, Scar wants to be clear that there are no bottoms here today. I laughed so hard.
Scar compliments Stacho on his dish and says he had the most difficult dish because he had to combine two dishes. He says once he figured out he was in a pasta safe zone it was a no brainer. Accountant Volt says Denver’s dish was really delicious. Big Daddy says that the only thing and he wished that she had done differently is add the braising liquid and mixed it with the crème fraiche. Tom compliments Non-mustachioed Joe’s dish because a sauce like that is usually broken and he found a way to keep it together in a way that only a chef could.
For the judges it’s now time to decide who will be eliminated. For Accountant Volt his favorite pasta was Non-mustachioed Joe, but he didn’t like the parmesan crisp. Graham says that the whole dish was crying out for salt. Tom says Denver dish says she missed a real opportunity to turn the crème fraiche into sauce. On Stacho’s dish the pasta was cut to early and he understands wanting to mimic lasagna but that’s not how that dish is made. Basically, they have three pasta dishes that each had problems, but one more than the others.
Denver, please pack your knives and go
She is gracious and kind as always on her way out. She is bummed to be out but not sad because it’s been a great journey for her and she proved to herself more than anything. Pollyanna right to the end and you know what? She really grew on me. I am legit sad to see her go, she’s a rare spirit on these shows.
Next episode the final three are heading to Aspen for what appears to be a catch what you make challenge. Also, a Food & Wine run through and Le Bernardin appears to be having a very bad day.
So, what did you think of the episode? Did you agree on the elimination? Were you sad to see Denver go? Have you put in your votes for fan favorite!!!! Let me know in the comments below!
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