Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Top Chef 9/15/10--"Finale pt. 2"

Previously on “Top Chef”: the final four made it to Singapore, where they made street food and catered a “party” where the “guests” sat at different tables in a restaurant and placed orders for the dishes they wanted. Ed won both the Quickfire and also the Elimination challenge. This pleased him because he beat Angelo and furthered his mental breakdown. Kelly made good but forgettable food and was sent home. (click for more)

Back in the Stew Room the three finalists are relaxing when Padma forces them to return to Judges’ Table. The knife block is waiting for them. Padma says they want the three of them to have as much time to plan their final challenge as possible. Therefore, you get your challenge now: cook a four course meal, to be served head-to-head. You should know by now that this is the final challenge. The number of courses changes sometimes, but it’s pretty standard. So you should have planned this already. However, now we are restricting the types of courses you can serve. First course is vegetables, second is fish, third is meat (both fish and meat chosen by Eric and Tom), and fourth course has to be dessert. Tom jokes that monkey is in season. And there are helpers as always: Hung, Mike V., and Ilan. Kevin’s worked with Mike before. Sigh…Ilan. Both Kevin and Ed want Mike, while Angelo wants Hung. That doesn’t surprise me. No one wants Ilan. Ed loses that battle and gets Ilan. Ed knows nothing about him. Kevin gets Mike and so Angelo gets Hung. Not a euphemism. Seetoh says “Sock it to me!” Hee.

Everyone hangs out in the hotel, all six of them. Angelo complains of feeling like garbage and goes to bed early. He wants to impress everyone but he also knows he needs to sleep and get better. The other two get some good advice, such as “don’t do anything new, be yourself” and “make sure they know your dish belongs to you”. Ed wants to make his dad proud. Kevin wants to win for his family also.

Ed and Kevin eat breakfast in the morning and Angelo says he can’t open his eyes from the pain. Sounds like stomach flu. Ed says he hopes it’s like a 24 hour thing. Angelo doesn’t want to give up but he can’t even really move. They get a doctor, who says he can give him some drugs but it won’t make him get better faster. The doctor tells him he needs to get fluids and rest but only gives him a 20% chance of being able to cook tomorrow. If he’s got a stomach thing, he shouldn’t be anywhere around food for a while anyway. They have laws in England about that sort of thing.

Everyone comes to the kitchen except Angelo. Tom and Eric tell Hung that he’s going to call Angelo and let Angelo tell him what to prep. They’ll wait and see if he’s better tomorrow and worry about it then if he’s still sick. Ed thinks Angelo should tell his body “Fuck you” and get out of bed. For fish, the chefs will have red mullet (rouget), cuttlefish, cockles, and slipper lobster. Ed says rouget have a lot of bones. Meat is pork belly and duck. Tom says that the second course must be the rouget and the third course must be the duck. The other proteins must be incorporated into the dishes somewhere. Interesting.

1 hour and $300 at a supermarket. The sous chefs have strong opinions, which is not a surprise. Mike has suggestions, but we only see him suggest to buy something cheap. Ilan has suggestions like “there needs to be something richer in the soup”. Ilan is bossy. Ed’s totally ignoring him, as he knows listening to his sous chef can come back to bite him in the ass. Hung is super awesome and nice to Angelo.

3 hours to prep. Both Kevin and Ed wish Angelo was there, I think. Hung is skilled enough to take care of things without Angelo. He also is skilled enough to fly into the walk-in and take all the foie gras before anyone else can have any. Ed’s pissed, because Hung took a whole lobe, for tasting portions. Kevin’s menu is as follows. First course: eggplant, zucchini, and roasted pepper terrene. Second course: pan-seared rouget with cuttlefish “noodles”. The “noodles” are frozen cuttlefish cut thinly. I was thinking cuttlefish puree that you squeeze out of a pastry bag into boiling water, but that’s not what he’s doing. Third course: roasted duck with duck dumplings. Fourth course: “Singapore Sling” with coconut panna cotta. Oo, panna cotta has sunk many a chef. Hung is being Hung and tearing around like a crazy person. Ed jokingly asks him to break down his rouget, but Hung curses and says that was not fun. Ed’s like, I didn’t want to hear that. Kevin feels bad for Hung too. Ilan puts something in an oven, and Hung tells him to watch it because “my pork belly’s in there. I mean, Angelo’s pork belly.” So that brings up an interesting question. Let’s say Angelo’s better tomorrow and can do the final prep work and cooking. Should he be judged equally when he had nothing to do with an entire day of prep work?

Ed is still fighting Ilan, who is voicing too many suggestions for a sous chef, in Ed’s opinion. Ed’s menu is, first course: chilled summer corn veloute. Second course: bacon-wrapped slipper lobster and char-grilled cuttlefish. Isn’t he supposed to have rouget? Third course: duo of duck, roasted breast and stuffed neck. Fourth course: sticky toffee date cake. The dessert is Ilan’s job. Ed knows he nailed a dessert last time, but doesn’t think that a fried banana is enough to win “Top Chef”.

The doctor is back to check on Angelo, who now has a migraine. Is that what it was? Not food poisoning but a really bad migraine? The doctor wants to give him an antibiotic injection, which has a 3% success rate. That is why we have antibiotic-resistant bacteria! Because people do things like that! Gah! Angelo of course agrees. This involves shooting him in the ass. And why can’t we see Angelo’s ass? Stupid. He gets a diagnosis of “probably 2 or 3 days until you’ll be 100%, but maybe 5 days or a week”.

In the morning everyone is nervous. Angelo is still sick. He’s dressed but still lying in bed. His stomach is still tender, but supposedly he is clear to cook. I’m still suspicious. I think he should have another day to make sure he’s not contagious. Ed wishes it was just him and Kevin, but he’s already beat Angelo twice so he knows he can do it again.

Another 3 hours to prep. Angelo has lucked out with having the fastest sous chef alive. Ed reiterates that Ilan works for him. Kevin says the judges have not seen anything like this from him. It’s a risk but hopefully it will pay off. Angelo has diagrams of his plates that he can show Hung. First course for Angelo: royale mushrooms with noodles, pork belly, and watermelon tea. Second course: Asian-style bouillabaisse over sautéed rouget and poached cuttlefish. Third course: duck and foie gras with marshmallow and tart cherry shooter. Fourth course: “Thai Jewel” shaved ice and coconut milk. I do notice Angelo is wearing latex gloves to cook. Kevin says Ed does overkill so he wants to keep it simple. Angelo agrees, but Angelo’s chevrons for his dishes had to be put onscreen one course at a time because there wasn’t enough room. Ed thinks his food tastes more complete, even though the others plate very prettily. Plating is happening. Eric Ripert tells some other guests that he and Tom selected the menu, and the other people laugh evilly. Angelo says he can’t give any more. In his interviews he does look sickly. Pale, or something.

The finalists kind of freak out at the wide panel of famous people. Angelo’s noodles are served IN the watermelon tea, which is a strange pink in the bottom of the bowl. The pork belly is “char sui bao”, which means it’s in a steamed bun with sauce. So good. Kevin’s terrine has tomatoes, jalapenos, and also black garlic puree. It’s pretty. Ed has included fried black cockles with his corn soup. Angelo has extreme flavors, but it needs work. Kevin’s dish doesn’t have a lot of “umph” but it does take balls to make a terrene. Ed’s done very well. Everyone has done well.

Angelo is trying to keep hydrated but it’s kind of hard. Ed makes some comment of “So you’re not sick anymore.” and Angelo’s response is “sick of your attitude”. Sigh. Angelo’s soup looks pretty good. Kevin’s fish includes pork belly somewhere, and the cockles, slipper lobster, and cigala. Ed’s rouget is stuffed with zucchini pesto, with the slipper lobster and cuttlefish on the side. It looks more like a trio as opposed to rouget with accents. Kevin’s dish is “interesting”. Ed’s dish is complicated. But Angelo’s dish is the one you’ll remember.

Kevin can’t slow down and make his dish perfect. Ed and Angelo are also freaking out. Angelo’s marshmallow is cinnamon flavored. Kevin has caramelized bok choy and coriander sauce. Ed’s stuffed the neck with spinach. Kevin’s duck is cooked the best. Angelo’s cherry shooter is pointless. Ed has layers of flavor and little touches.

Ed is kind of irritated that Ilan’s dessert isn’t that complicated and the whipped cream might be salty. Well, you probably shouldn’t have left an entire course in someone else’s hands. The desserts are very pretty. Kevin’s dish goes over really well, and it’s very pretty. Angelo’s dish is almost savory. Ed’s dessert…is either great (Tom) or a “fuck you” (others). Gail thinks that all the desserts are good for a change. The finalists return to the dining room for applause.

Judgment. They start with Angelo’s seafood course. Um…OK. It was delicious and the vegetables were a nice twist. His duck course suffered from the cherry puree which was not a palate cleanser. He starts explaining you were supposed to go back to the salad and Tom doesn’t think food should be that complicated. Now we go to Ed’s duck dish, and why are we jumping around? Ed’s duck was well cooked and the spinach was delicious. Ed’s dessert was like him: “I’m not going to be something I’m not, it doesn’t look like much, but you’ll enjoy it”. Nice. Tom disagrees with Gail, saying the salt and sweet was great but this is such a close competition and Tom could get that dish at home. Ed says he was going to make lemon curd, but he could have made a disaster. Kevin’s first dish needed a little spice, because he took the seeds out of the jalapenos. His duck was a great combination, and his Singapore Sling was delicious. You guys. I’m feeling a Kevin winner edit right now.

Everyone took some influence from Singapore, and very different dishes with the same proteins. The first course: Angelo’s dish was more “pork and noodles” as opposed to “vegetable”, Kevin’s dish was timid, and Ed’s dish was flavorful. Second course: Ed didn’t feature the rouget, Kevin’s rouget had crispy skin and blended well, Angelo’s broth was wonderful. Third course: Angelo’s duck was weird and the cherry shooter failed, Ed’s duck was slightly overcooked but tasty, Kevin’s duck was the best cooked and had care. Fourth course: Angelo’s flavors worked, Ed’s dessert was too safe and he should have taken the risk of lemon curd, Kevin’s dessert was wonderful. The judges talk a little about each chef.

Why can’t Tom host the reunion? Why are we having a reunion at all when you aren’t announcing Fan Favorite because you desperately want people to watch Andy Cohen’s stupid ass show? GOD.

You guys. I called it. Kevin won. Padma tells him, and he says, “I am?” completely seriously. I’m OK with him winning, I was just rooting for Ed. But I know he has a good job being Cat Cora’s sous chef on “Iron Chef America”, because I saw him last week (him and Richard Blais, weird). And Angelo has a new car. Oo, car curse in effect! Angelo claims to have no regrets. Ed says Kevin deserves it. He is proud to be the first African-American Top Chef.

Back for "Top Chef: Just Desserts", probably tomorrow.

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