Spoilers for the last episode of Top Chef: Colorado
Joe Flamm, the executive chef of Spiaggia in Chicago, was crowned the winner of Top Chef: Colorado last night after cooking a blow-out meal against runner up Adrienne Cheatham from New York City. For the final challenge, Flamm served a menu of luxe Italian fare that included handmade tortellini, a riff on vitello tonnato, steak with asparagus, and a brown sugar cake with ricotta. Cheatham, meanwhile, put together a haute Southern menu that had uni with ham hocks under a pastry tuille, black grits with octopus, beef over mashed black-eyed peas, and a deconstructed banana pudding. It was a close call, but ultimately, the judges thought that Flamm prepared the more impressive of the two meals.
The chef played a strong game throughout Season 15 of the show, acing several of the competitions by serving expertly cooked Italian-inspired food. Flamm’s win is somewhat surprising, though, considering that he was eliminated midway through the competition and only got back in the game after winning the online-only Last Chance Kitchen series several weeks ago. He wins $125,000 furnished by San Pellegrino, and his work will be featured in an upcoming issue of Food & Wine magazine.
While some past Top Chef champions have used the prize money to open their own restaurants, it sounds like Flamm intends to stay in the kitchen of Tony Mantuano’s celebrated Chicago restaurant for now. “I learned so much, I’ve pushed myself so hard,” Flamm remarked at the end of the finale. “I’m excited to take that back home, excited to bring that back to Spiaggia [and] see how far I can push it there with me and Tony, until I’m ready for the next chapter.”
During the finale, runner-up Adrienne Cheatham — a veteran of Le Bernardin and Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant group — mentioned that she hopes to open a Southern restaurant someday that could earn a Michelin star. Her Top Chef bio notes that Cheatham left Samuelsson’s team to “pursue the opening of her own restaurant in Harlem,” but the chef has not released any further details about this project.
Stay tuned for updates on the next moves for Flamm and Cheatham as they become available, and for more analysis of Top Chef: Colorado and other culinary competitions, head over to the Eat, Drink, Watch Facebook group, where readers and Eater editors share their thoughts on food TV.