Detroit Chef Sarah Welch in Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’ Finale

Spoiler alert ahead for those who haven’t watched Bravo TV’s Thursday episode of “Top Chef: Houston.”

Since returning to the main competition after winning her way through her companion show, “Last Chance Kitchen,” Detroit chef Sarah Welch continues to impress the judges.

Welch survived two knockout rounds and headed into Thursday’s episode, the 13th of this season, as one of four chiefs still standing.

And on Thursday’s penultimate episode in Tucson, Arizona, Welch survived again. The executive chef of Marrow, a neighborhood restaurant and butcher shop on Kercheval in Detroit’s West Village, is one of three chefs heading to the “Top Chef: Houston” finale, which airs June 2.

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On Thursday’s episode, Welch won the first “Quick Fire” challenge at El Charro, the oldest family-run Mexican restaurant in the United States. The chefs had to prepare a dish based on Carne seca, a dried beef. Welch prepared a Carne seca sauce over polenta with a soft-boiled egg and morels. While preparing the dish, Welch shouts at the use of morels which she called “Michigan’s magic ingredient.”

Welch wowed the judges, including Lakshmi who called the dish “very interesting”. She wins the challenge which gives Welch extra time in the elimination round.

In the elimination challenge, chefs had to prepare two dishes, one savory and one sweet, using cactus and chiltepin, the only chili native to the United States.

While Welch was stressing about spilling saguaro ice cream for his sweet dish, his savory dish featuring grilled lamb with chiltepin chimichurri and grape salad with chiltepin vinaigrette once again impressed the judges. Judge Tom Colicchio said Welch “succeeded this dish”.

Later, among other judges, Colicchio said Welch’s use of cactus and chili was “on par with any three Michelin star dish I’ve ever had.” I thought it was so good.”

In the end, the judges deemed Evelyn Garcia the winner of the cactus and chiltepin challenge. Welch and Buddha Lo also advance to the final. Damarr Brown and his knives have been shipped.

Earning the title of “Top Chef” means $250,000 in prize money, an article in Food & Wine magazine and an appearance at the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado.

Contact Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press food editor, and send food and restaurant news to: [email protected] Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.

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