Goodbye, Kentucky; hello, Macau! The final five “Top Chef” contestants are whisked to China for the finale of the season.
But, surprise! Some of their former competitors look like they are coming along to help the chefs bring their Asian cuisine dreams to life.
Here’s how we got here.
Heading into the finale, Kentucky Sara is riding high after her win with ham and soup beans in the Elimination challenge at the Brown Hotel. She’s peaking at the right time but there is a lot of tough competition still.
Including Michelle, who fought her way back onto the show through “Last Chance Kitchen.” She won the Elimination in Nashville with the dish that head judge Tom Colicchio dubbed the best all season, so you know she can really cook. But she went out the very next week, after her ribs at Rupp just didn’t work.
Then there’s Eric, who has won three Elimination challenges (Ali, Rupp and the Prohibition cocktail party) largely with his African-influenced cooking. Will he be able to translate that into Asian cuisine and retain the flavor profile that’s brought him this far?
There’s Kelsey, the other Southern belle. At first, she seemed best at desserts but she won the houseboat party challenge on Lake Cumberland with her Alabama oysters and clearly knows her seafood, which could be a big advantage.
And lastly, Adrienne comes in as the only one who didn’t win an Elimination challenge, but she’s still a strong contender with serious plating and organizing skills, last week’s mess notwithstanding.
We have a few clues about the episode, including a preview snippet that shows them working on their Quickfire challenge on a rooftop, working with some unusual ingredients like cuttlefish.
Sounds like they are using stuff from that wild market walk-through with judge Graham Elliot from the end of last week’s episode. (Please don’t make Padma eat lungs.)
Also from the end of the episode, we had a few more teasers:
Padma nearly gagging and waiving hand: “If you were trying to burn my palate, you succeeded.”
Tom: “This could have been a contemporary dish from a young contemporary Chinese chef.”
Graham: “It was so soulful.”
Padma: “It felt a little muddy.” Followed by Eric: “Respectfully, I disagree.”
The longer preview clip features glimpses of several guest judges, including Jowett Yu of Ho Lee Fook in Hong Kong, and Padma explaining they will be doing a Chinese New Year feast.
All of this sounds deliciously exciting ... too exciting to cram into one episode.
The Macau experience will actually stretch over three episodes, with the winner being determined on March 14. (Heads up, finale watch party planners.)
Stay tuned; “Top Chef” begins at 8 p.m. on Bravo.