The chefs draw knives and divide into teams for Restaurant Wars.
Courtesy of NBCUniversal

Plus, the Three Bears reunite for a James Beard House dinner.

Carolyn Lipka
January 18, 2018

You’ve been waiting patiently for this day to arrive and come Thursday night, you’ll finally get your fix: The Top Chef Restaurant Wars are about to begin! A staple of every season, the intense, action-packed, and often drama-filled elimination challenge pits two teams of the cheftestants against each other as they execute a pop-up, one-night-only restaurant concept from menu-planning to dessert service. With a season that, so far, has been filled with pretty even-keeled, friendly personalities, we can’t wait to see what the pressure cooker of Restaurant Wars does to the usually buddy-buddy cast of season 15.

Speaking of drama, we’ll also be treated to the official aftermath of Claudette and Tanya’s heated exchange in the bottom three of last week’s Olympics-themed challenge. The rest of the cast have a variety of perspectives, as evidenced in this clip:

And, true to its usual trend, Restaurant Wars will see the chefs butting heads and struggling to pull off their typically high-concept, high-stakes menu in a timely manner while also managing a staff of servers:

But despite the competitive nature of the program, it seems the season 15 cast is sticking together post-filming the show. In addition to lovey-dovey selfies with their fellow cheftestants hitting Instagram almost weekly and the amazing outpouring of support for chef Fatima Ali as she undergoes treatment for cancer, another faction has also outlasted the shooting of the reality series: The Three Bears.

On Monday night, chefs Bruce Kalman (Union in Pasadena, CA), Joe Flamm (Spiaggia in Chicago, IL), and Tyler Anderson (Millwright’s in Simsbury, CT) reunited as the Bear trio—along with Anderson’s Millwright’s pastry chef Kristin Eddy filling in as Goldilocks—to serve a collaborative dinner at the James Beard House in Manhattan. The dinner started off, appropriately so, with three porridges—one too hot (a spicy risotto), one too cold (a faro salad), and one ‘just right’ (with black truffle), with each chef taking on one element. Then the chefs each took the spotlight for the next three course, with Anderson’s cabbage juice-baked pollock, smoked foie gras, and sweet potato puree, Flamm’s ricotta and beet casonsei, and Kalman’s melt-in-your-mouth short rib with butter-poached salsify. The meal concluded with a decadently-layered chocolate cake from Eddy.

Beard Dinner 👊🏽 with the 🐻🐻🐻

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Also in attendance were season 15 chefs Melissa Perfit and Adrienne Cheatham, showing their support for their former housemates. Cheatham told us she relished the opportunity to actually take a seat at the Beard House after having cooked there a couple of times while working with Marcus Samuelsson. As for thoughts on the season's close-knit feel, Chef Flamm said “You go in [to Top Chef] and you make a choice either to create drama or to focus on the food,” agreeing that this cast was mostly on friendly terms. “You’re already nervous and paranoid about impressing the judges,” Flamm noted as a reason to avoid interpersonal drama. Of course, all we really wanted to know from Bruce Kalman was how’s that baby doing? “He’s amazing. Eight months old and 22 pounds now. He’s a big boy.” Proud papa Kalman got word of the birth of his son while filming this season of Top Chef, and, now back with his family, is sharing the joy on his Instagram feed, including an adorable photo of baby Jude wearing, yes, little bear paw slippers.

Top Chef" Season 15 airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT on Bravo and the current season of "Last Chance Kitchen" streams weekly on BravoTV.com.