Courtesy of NBCUniversal

It’s the beginning of the finals as "Top Chef" welcomes back the winner of "Last Chance Kitchen" and moves from Denver to Telluride.

Carolyn Lipka
February 15, 2018

The Top Chef competition has whittled its way down just four chefs who are headed to the finals in Telluride. The cheftestants prepare to face a new set of challenges and the added pressure of (hopefully competing in the Top Chef finale. 

After arriving in Telluride and basking in the upscale nature of their new digs, the chefs must knuckle down for their first Quickfire challenge in the new city. The chefs first cooking stop in Telluride lands them at an old cowboy bar just down the street from a bank that was once robbed by Butch Cassidy. Their Quickfire is presented by Padma, Tom and guest judge (and Top Chef Masters alum) Wylie Dufresne. In a season centered on rustic, simple cuisine rooted in American flavors, molecular gastronomy godfather Wylie seems like an odd choice for a guest judge, until they announce the challenge. The chefs must make a dish incorporating a specific ingredient that was once used as a medicinal component (no, it’s not what you’re thinking). On top of a knife-pull to figure out what ingredients they will be working with, the chefs must face another twist; the addition of the winner of Last Chance Kitchen. Read our recap of the LCK two-part finale below.

After a scenic Quickfire, some shade is thrown, unexpected dishes excel while others better positioned to succeed fall flat with the judges and one chef walks away with ten thousand dollars. The chefs continue flying high into an elimination challenge that takes them to new heights … literally. They must contend with the challenge in front of them and new obstacles posed by the stark shift in altitude.

Top Chef" Season 15 airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on Bravo.

Last Chance Kitchen Finale Recap

The two-part finale of Last Chance Kitchen saw Brother Luck and bears Joe Flamm and Bruce Kalman go head to head in a winner take all challenge. Bruce is surprised to not have made it to the finals and is seems a bit irked to be in this position. Brother is eager to keep his winning streak going and Joe Flamm just seems grateful to have another chance to fight his way back into the competition. After some fun trash talk, Tom says that over the course of the season they’ve had great food from Bruce but they also saw plenty of small technical mistakes and didn’t get a sense of what his vision as a chef is.   

Tom is still confused about the bear story, which has now somehow roped in Brother, Fati, and Mustache at this point. Still, the challenge before these three bear men is inspired by, what else, but Goldilocks—the chefs must prepare a modern twist on porridge. Bruce beelines for the barley and farro to redeem the dish that sent him packing while Brother focuses on building as much flavor as possible. Over on Joe’s station he throws a handful of saffron into the pot causing the peanut gallery to cringe over how expensive that handful must have been and laments that porridge is essentially a risotto, the dish he was sent home for.  

Checking on the chefs as they cook, Tom is extremely skeptical that Joe can cook barley properly in the 20 minutes, which lights a fire under him. Brother calls Tom’s visits “emotional terrorism” which is hilarious and appears to be accurate in his case. Time is called and the chefs present their dishes. Bruce makes a beautiful farro and barley porridge with seared sea scallop, poached egg, pickled mustard green, and wild mushroom. Brother offers a white quinoa porridge prepared in cream, finished with a buerre blanc and topped with a citrus seared seabass and cranberry apple chutney. Right before presenting, Brother caramelized some brown sugar on top of the quinoa to give it a sweet crunch like an “oatmeal brulee.” Joe made a seared steak atop barley porridge Milanese (he prepared it in a saffron broth) with tomato conserva and Parmigiano Reggiano.   

“I’ve got to say all these dishes were really good.” Tom loved the herbaciousness of the tomato and was shocked at the adequate cook of the barley in Joe’s dish but Brother’s balance and flavor contrast won the challenge and catapults him to the finals. Bruce’s scallops, which got lost in translation, sent him home and now it’s just Brother and Joe for a marathon cook to get back into the kitchen.  

In part two, the remaining two chefs are allowed to do whatever they want with the “best pantry” they’ve ever had. The catch is that they must prepare it for not only Tom but for the eliminated contestants that populate the peanut gallery and Top Chef 10 contestant Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson who guest judged a Quickfire challenge earlier in the season. Whoever accumulates majority vote will reenter the competition. Brother feels confident with Lachlan as a judge, after Lachlan gave him the Quickfire win and they both specialize in Colorado cuisine. Joe wants to make concise, focused, restrained food while Brother wants to make something “magic.” 

Claudette (and Tom for that matter) seems worried that Joe is leaving the skins on the fava beans which has an unpleasant texture, but Joe references his time in Italy eating fava straight out of the pods which is about as good of an explanation you can get. Brother plays around with some liquid nitrogen for the first time this season to freeze berries to put in his crema. The last dishes in LCK this season are Brother’s stuffed chicken breast with pecorino and jalapeno, roasted chili apple, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts hash, and lime crema with nitro raspberries, and Joe’s lamb shoulder with fava bean pesto, charred fava, pecorino, shallot and balsamic glaze. Tom seemed to like both dishes, but the decision of who will be re-entering the competition is unanimous. To find out who you’ll have to watch the Top Chef to find out! 

Last Chance Kitchen Comments: 

  • Claudette's pants when she walked in. So regal! 
  • Tyler looking longingly at the bears, wishing he was cooking with his brethren. Sorry Tyler.   
  • The pots look so small in their hands! Tom looks so small standing next to them!  
  • Joe singing on the line! (Ugh, do I have a crush on Chicago Joe now?)
  • Brother really cannot handle talking to the camera while he’s cooking, meanwhile Joe thrives after learning to cook in a large Italian family. 
  • When they opened the fridge and littleneck clams and whole uni were in there I got stressed about their choice to make chicken and lamb but it looked delicious and I think Fati was right that it’s a test of restraint.

Check out our Q&A with eliminated chef Bruce Kalman, and don't forget to head over to to vote for your fan favorite chef this season.