Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Top Chef 2/25/09--"Finale pt. 2" summary

Previously on Top Chef: the first part of the finale took place in New Orleans. Bravo thought it would be great if they let one of the eliminated contestants back on the show to compete with the people that actually made the final. Jeff won the Quickfire and was then told that he had to win the Elimination challenge in order to stay in the competition. Even though he made some decent food, apparently his sterno cans flavored everything and he didn’t win. Carla made the most fantastic food ever, if you listen to what the judges say, and she won the challenge and a car. It looked sketchy for Stefan for a minute but in the end Fabio went home because his food just wasn’t right. Now no one is left to give good sound bites. (click for more)

And another thing. How many “extended” episodes did we have this season? And the damn FINALE isn’t extended? What the hell Bravo?

Everyone is excited to be in the finale. Are you surprised? The final 3 have breakfast on a paddleboat, where they chit-chat over coffee and beignets about how exciting it is. It’s the usual discussion about how important this is, aside from Stefan, who takes this opportunity to tell us his food in the last challenge was way better than Hosea’s. Yeah. Eventually they end up at the New Orleans Collection Museum, meeting Padma and Tom. The knife block is there. Each of them must make a 3 course meal, serving head to head, making whatever they want. Tom also reminds them that they don’t have to do dessert if they don’t want. I’m thinking with only 3 courses they may pass on that. The cooking will be done at Commander’s Palace. 12 judges and guests. 2 hours to prep and 3 to cook tomorrow. Of course there is a twist and some sous chefs to help out. Carla understands that they wouldn’t bring back eliminated contestants again, since they already did that. 3 figures show up under the archway and it takes forever for them to get into the light and we see it’s Marcel, Casey, and Richard. Lord. Marcel has giant 70’s sunglasses on. God he looks like a tool. The knife block is for pecking order. Hosea picks Richard (who looks like a woman today, sorry, but I look at him and think “lesbian”), Stefan picks Marcel (Jesus H. Christ that combo), so Carla gets Casey.

At the Audubon Tea Room everyone starts collecting ingredients. Hosea grabs like 3 foie gras, but Stefan is too slow to figure this out until Hosea is across the kitchen. He demands that Hosea bring them back so he can have 2. Wait…Hosea took all 3 livers, and Stefan claims he took them first so he wants 2, which would leave Hosea with one. I think. Hosea is all, finders keepers, dude, and gives him one. Heh. Stefan continues to bitch, so Hosea offers to split one with him so they each have 1.5, but Stefan gets martyred and is like, whatever keep it. That was so pointless. Richard takes scallops out of a can. No, seriously, it’s a can that says “oceans alive scallops” on the side. Hosea only has the barest outline of courses (raw fish, scallops and foie gras, and game) and he claims he’ll figure it out tomorrow. That doesn’t sound promising. Stefan is now realizing Richard and Hosea took all the caviar. Was he asleep or something? Why didn’t he grab anything he wanted? Carla is making French food and something comforting. Casey tells her to sous vide something, which Carla hasn’t done before. Stefan is making “basic” food which probably is killing Marcel. He doesn’t get to talk, Marcel. Hosea ominously interviews that they can’t screw up or forget anything.

Commercial interlude: Bravo has hired a “voodoo tarot card reader” according to Carla, to amuse everyone. Stefan wants to know about Jamie. That is disgusting, you tool. Then he says he stabbed his voodoo dolls of Hosea and Carla. See, that was amusing, while still lusting after Jamie is gross.

When everyone shows up for work in the morning, Tom is there with a giant platter with an alligator. Oh, there’s some other stuff too, but probably everyone only saw the alligator. There’s one more course coming. Why couldn’t they tell them this yesterday? I’m all for the random “make food out of this crazy” challenge, but why does it have to be sprung on people last minute? Everyone has to make an appetizer for a tray pass before dinner. Someone gets crab, someone gets redfish, and someone gets the alligator. To decide, we have…not the knife block, but a king cake. (Me and Kmanpat, in unison: “Don’t cut the baby!”) Whoever gets the baby not only gets to pick their protein, but they also assign the other chefs’ proteins. Everyone gets their sector and commences eating. Hosea wins. King Hosea. He takes the redfish, giving Carla crab and Stefan alligator. You knew that was happening. In confessional he flips Stefan off and laughs. Stefan seems annoyed but resigned, like he knew as soon as he saw that alligator that he was getting stuck with it.

Frantic cooking begins. Carla shrieks because the crabs have pinched her. She’s making soup for her appetizer, as is Stefan. Hosea is serving corn cakes with blackened redfish on top as his appetizer. We get a peek at his whole menu: trio of sashimi, scallops and foie gras with pain perdu, venison loin with wild mushrooms. Pain perdu is like French toast. He says dessert is not his strong point. Stefan, in addition to alligator soup, will serve halibut and salmon carpaccio with microgreens, squab with braised red cabbage and schupfnudeln, and ice cream and chocolate mousse with vanilla syrup and lollipops. Schupfnudeln are potato noodles. (Kmanpat: “Gesundheit”). Stefan has liquid nitrogen, and I hope he let Marcel play with it. Carla has crab soup, seared snapper with saffron aioli and brioche crouton, sous vide NY strip steak with a potato rod and merlot sauce, and cheese tart with apple coins and marmalade. However, Casey suggests a soufflé instead of a tart. Casey is full of ideas…I don’t know how I feel about that. Stefan wants to freeze his carpaccio to slice it thinly, and Marcel is very confused about why you would freeze good fish.

Guests begin to arrive, and are immediately greeted with cocktails. Aside from the usual judges, I manage to spy Fabio (yay!), Rocco (boo!), and also John Besh (who you may have seen most recently on “Next Iron Chef”). Those are just the people I recognize on sight. Other judges include Ti Martin, who owns Commander’s Palace, and Susan Spicer, owner of Daytona, and Hubert Keller. Hosea has plated his blackened redfish on corn cake with Creole remoulade and micro cilantro and corn shoots on upside down tall shot glasses. They look cool, especially since Richard helped him and something is (lightly) smoking on each one. When the waiter passes them out he leaves the shot glasses too. The judges seem to enjoy all of it. Stefan has alligator soup with celeriac, parsley leaves, and puff pastry, in cappuccino mugs. They like this one too. Damn, Toby is there. Carla’s “soup” is in Chinese soup spoons. Sigh. I say “soup” in quotes because even though it says shiso soup with blue crab and chayote Thai salsa, it isn’t very soupy. Oo, Branford Marsalis! Sorry, distracted. They like that you can taste the crab.

Someone decides to plate in the walk-in. I think it’s Richard and Hosea, with the sashimi. Everyone gets introduced as they serve the first course. It’s pretty swanky, lots of big names. Stefan managed to claim some caviar for his Carpaccio, which looks…fuzzy. Carla’s snapper has a grilled clam for some reason. It’s busy. Hosea’s dish gets more detail: tuna, hamachi and black bass with fennel oil, citrus and fried tempura batter bits. A lot of people praise Carla’s dish, but Tom’s comment is cut like he said something nice and then something not nice. Hosea didn’t have enough salt. Stefan froze the fish and it’s watery (only Tom seems to think that). Toby says Stefan and Hosea made perfectly executed dishes that were boring, while Carla’s dish had personality.

Round 2. Stefan’s squab has grape jus and looks fantastic. Carla’s dish is odd looking, but, steak. Hosea’s scallop and foie gras has apple preserves and foie gras foam and candied pecans. Foie gras foam? Nasty. Carla’s meat is tough and it has no soul. The squab is excellent, but Gail can’t stop eating Hosea’s dish. Rocco is complaining about not wanting any more foie gras, and there is a great shot of Gail bopping her head like she is singing “LA LA LA” in her head to drown him out. Branford says he could eat foie gras all day.

Round 3. But before that, Carla watches her soufflés in the oven window and realizes she didn’t turn the oven down, so her soufflés boiled over and curdled. She won’t serve them, but she’s pretty bummed. Stefan’s ice cream is stracciatella flavored and the lollipop is vanilla. So when I searched for “stracciatella” the first results that come up are for “Roman-style egg drop soup” which is pretty confusing. But it’s also vanilla gelato with chocolate shavings. Poor Carla is only serving an apple tartlet with blue cheese and walnuts. It’s all Casey’s fault. The marmalade is kumquat, and Carla tells everyone her soufflé failed. Hosea’s pan roasted venison is served on chestnut and celery root puree, with blackberry demiglace and carbonated blackberries. Gail is relieved that something happened and Carla didn’t just get lazy on her third course. Stefan’s whole set of dishes was good, but Tom is under impressed with the dessert. Gail thinks the presentation is dated. It is kind of “eh”. Hosea’s dish is well done. Stefan’s final impression isn’t exciting. It kills Fabio to say, but he thinks Hosea did a better job with his last course. Hubert Keller is almost insulted that Hosea didn’t take a risk and push himself with a dessert, because this is “Top Chef”. Huh? Chefs don’t bake. Most of them.

Carla is worried but she knows that she put her heart and soul into her food. Hosea is proud of his food too. Stefan is the only one to express doubt and say it’s up to the judges. Looks like Stefan just won.

The “Top Chef” reunion will be next week at 9/8 Central, in case you were wondering. Andy Cohen will get on my last nerve and he’ll make Hosea and Leah talk about themselves. But you probably already knew that.

As I am at this point a friend of mine just instant messaged me a comment about the winner. THANKS FOR NOTHING. Judges’ table time. Carla is up first, and they praise her up until the sous vide, which made for poor texture and “anemic” food according to Toby. They ask how much Casey helped her, and she admitted that the sous vide and also the soufflé were her idea. She let Casey talk her out of the food that got her there, and also if you’ll notice the two things that failed were all Casey’s idea. Hosea is up next. He wanted big flavors. He also admits it was fun to stick Stefan with the alligator. Toby wanted more citrus in the sashimi. His second course was very well balanced and his best dish. The venison was also earthy and his dish looks so tasty. Maybe because I am hungry. Toby tries to get him to admit he can’t make a dessert, but Hosea just says he went with his strengths and it was only three courses. When Gail brings up the watery carpaccio that Stefan served, he is just like, did it taste good? As if that would make watery fish not matter. Luckily for us Tom jumps in and says no, it did not taste good. The squab gets praise and Tom calls it the strongest dish of the night. Stefan talks about how dessert ends the meal, and Gail asks if that dessert is the last thing he wants the judges to taste, and he says yes. They ask everyone why they should win, and Stefan says he is great and the best, and Hosea and Carla talk about putting themselves in their food. Carla starts to cry. Poor girl.

The judges’ deliberations start off right away with the elimination of Carla. You guys. Car curse. Stefan and Hosea come from different places, but both have their strengths. Stefan’s menu was better thought out, but his carpaccio was not well executed. His squab was the clear winner for that course, but the dessert was “pedestrian at best”. And that comment is from Padma. Hosea’s menu was thought out, and was an excellent progression from light to heavy. Gail thinks Stefan was more precise, but Hosea had more soul. Toby pipes up that if they’re giving it to the chef with the most soul they should give it to Carla. Hee. Toby’s blog says he and Tom had a giant argument about this, and Toby lost.

Tom praises everyone for doing so well, and says the decision was made based on how well the meal tasted overall from start to finish. Congratulations to Hosea! Stefan thinks if he had made another dessert he could have won. He also claims not to be bitter. Carla regrets not doing her food, but she’s very proud of competing with love. Hosea is extra glad to have kicked Stefan’s ass. Leah comes to give him a kiss but I think he dodges her a little bit. Ha.

Reunion next week!


Misty said...

OMG---thank you for that! My DVR quit taping 30 minutes in (I'm blaming my husband, he says not his fault) and I didn't get to see the ending of Part 2. After reading your blog I feel like "I" watched it and wrote those comments.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!