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'Top Chef' Goes to Hog Heaven

Ep 8: The chefs create some of the best food Tom Colicchio's had in 11 seasons.

By Monica A. Reyhani

Hello, my little Top Chefs. I use that moniker this week as it's my last recap as "Team Top Chef." After 6.5 years and almost nine seasons of Top Chef, I'm leaving Bravo. But, i want to thank my faithful readers and commenters. I'll still be one of Top Chef's No. 1 fans, but I'll be commenting from the sidelines.

How to Watch

Watch the Top Chef Season 21 premiere on Wednesday, March 20 at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

OK -- let's get into this episode! I'll keep this fairly short and sweet, so I don't cry... again.

The chefs walk in to the kitchen and see a beautiful beautiful bird with Padma. Padma introduces music legend Dr. John and the challenge for the week: to create a hot sauce. Not just any hot sauce, but one with "hip tang." All the chefs try to understand what that means, but I think it's pretty clear: make it taste good. Make it different. Now, I could never judge this challenge. As I've mentioned in the past, I have a pretty mild palate, and trying one let alone that many hot sauces would probably kill me. Nick apparently would have a similar issue as he reveals that he had his first ulcer at 20, that he's a naturally nervous person. I knew I felt a connection to him!

The chefs do their best and Dr. John has various comments for each. Some were confusing. Some were "off the hook." In other news, it's cool to say "off the hook" again. I think you could tell a lot about the sauces based on their viscosity. Hot sauces vs. BBQ sauces are generally thin, so the ones that didn't really "leak" out of the bottle, just seemed wrong to me. Brian's was perfect. Maybe he understood the "hip tang" after all.

Did I mention Carrie called herself a pirate? Yeah. She's off the hook.

Dr. John leaves the kitchen and in rolls a giant hog. For this week's Elimination Challenge, the chefs will hold their own boucherie, each of them taking various parts of the pig to create unique dishes. The chefs determine who should butcher the pig based on experience. Sara isn't butchering it, but she sure does have a lot of opinions on how it should be butchered. Justin and Carlos reveal they're both making tacos. Uh-oh. There will be two pigs heads. Hmmm. Louis is making popcorn. Red flag! Travis is going Asian with a ramen, but isn't making his own noodles. Another red flag!

The chefs go home and are treated to a boucherie of their own so they can see just what the spirit of the event is and how their food should be.

The next day the chefs present their pork dishes, and overall, the judges seem very, very pleased. Hugh is so pleased he can't seem to keep the pig in his mouth or on his plate -- as it should be. But seriously someone get this man a bib!

Before we even hear the judges' deliberation, the chefs have some own thoughts on their dishes. Nina thinks hers falls flat but she adds some cayenne, so we'll see what happens. (Spoiler alert: it works!) Stephanie thinks her dish is incomplete. Justin is convinced both he and Carlos will be on top. In fact he says, "Taco party's going to be on top. both of us." Not so fast!

Tom admits the chefs created "some of the most enjoyable food [he's] had on the show in 11 seasons." But, only half to the taco party's on top. Carlos wins with his perfect posole. Justin finds himself on the bottom and is pissed. Chefs are starting to worry about his temper. Eeek! Ultimately, though, he is saved because Louis' popcorn is that disconcerting to the chefs. His dish just wasn't edited. We've had successful popcorn-laden dishes on Top Chef before (like this one), so I don't think the popcorn itself was the issue. It was just unecessary. But y'now what? Louis is obviously really talented, sweet, and not bad-looking, so i think he'l be OK. My only question now though is: who's going to continue to give Shirley the tingles?!

And yes, I'm happy ending my final Top Chef recap with the word tingles.

Until we meet again -- Have a Nosh.


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