Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Top Chef 2/29/12--"Finale" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: A bunch of nonsense where this show, which is supposed to be about food and cooking, tried desperately to be several other shows, such as “Survivor: Redemption Island“, “The Mole“, and “The Amazing Race“. After a season that was SEVENTEEN episodes long (and for comparison, a regular scripted television show has a 22 episode season) we are finally done. I don’t particularly care who wins, in that I am sort of rooting for the least offensive person, but I am rooting more for being done. (click for more)

Montage of Paul winning a bunch and Sarah drama. Hey, there was a commercial for “Around the World in 80 Plates!” Oh, good, it doesn’t start until May. We’ll get a break.

We come back while Paul and Sarah are still at Judges’ Table. Tom tells them the final challenge, which is the same as it generally is: make a four-course tasting menu “in the restaurant of your dreams”. They’ll take over other restaurants for the evening to serve whatever they want. Padma promises them “outstanding” sous chefs. Sarah says this is the goal she’s had this entire competition. I hope so. She’s pushed back her wedding, so I hope her fiancée is OK with her TV persona.

Padma watches as a whole gang of people wander into the kitchen. I do not recognize any of them. Paul and Sarah sit in the hotel and discuss who might show up to be sous chefs. Sarah particularly says if Malibu is there she’ll be too distracted by his hotness to work. Oh, he’s not THAT hot. Back in the kitchen, Padma explains that some of these people didn’t even make the final cut. They were part of the 30 that got cut right away. Then why are they here? Also, two fairly famous people with James Beard awards. . Each chef will compete to be sous chefs for the final two. This is stupid. Why are we combining every possible variation of this setup? Either have eliminated contestants, or famous sous chefs. Do we really need both? And to have them compete on top of that? I didn’t get the names of the famous people and they didn’t put them up on the screen so I am taking that to mean they don’t win.

45 minutes to cook. Sarah pretends to respect Beverly’s cooking. That idiot Tyler is here, the one that got kicked out in the middle of cooking because he couldn’t butcher meat. Also I could have done without Heather. Paul is terrified of choking.

When Paul and Sarah come in, everyone applauds. Heather especially has a maniacal grin on her face as she waves. You know what? I don’t see Beverly anywhere. Or Lindsay. The finalists will each pick four dishes, and those four will be their sous chefs. Yeah, not all of the contestants are here. I wonder if they had conflicts, or refused, so they had to fill the field with these random people. 16 contestants, and Padma just said there were 11 dishes, and there are at least five random people…so over half of your contestants are not here. Did you decide they were too boring or something? No, because then Beverly would be here…this is ridiculous. Anyway, choosing occurs. Paul takes Barbara Lynch (one of the “master chefs”, so I was wrong), Ty-Lor, Malibu, and Keith. Sarah picks Nyesha, Tyler (she thought it was a dish on Heather’s menu), Heather (boo), and Grayson. When Sarah picks Tyler she tells him she’s not letting him butcher. Ha! No one picked the other master chef, Marco Canora, but this means he gets to eat. 6 hours to cook today, 3 tomorrow, to serve 100.

Sarah immediately tells her team there will be no drama. Heather agrees. Yeah. She’s going to go outside her comfort zone because she knows she has to push the limits. Paul starts to talk about his menu, and Barbara quickly starts giving him suggestions. He calmly agrees to try something out without really agreeing to do what she wants. Tyler tells Sarah to sous-vide something because it will be quicker and she won’t have to worry about the oven. Sarah says, point blank, that if she went with it and lost she’d never forgive herself. Somewhere Carla is nodding sagely. She interviews that she’s not going into something new with someone who didn’t make it through the first challenge.

Oh, Bravo. You do NOT want to know what I think. Don’t give me the chance to tell you.

Everyone goes to a sweet farmer’s market with $2500. I like this market. Sarah has given Tyler specific tasks to keep him busy. Barbara doesn’t think Paul should start making things up now. Then they all go to Whole Foods too. Paul tells us in confessional that he failed out of college and so wanted to show his parents he could succeed.

Sarah knows she can’t make every single thing, but she can lead the team “to make it as if it was me making it”. Ty-Lor asks Paul to show him how to cut the radishes, and Paul comes over to demo for him. It worries him a bit that none of his sous chefs know Asian food that well. Paul and his team decide he should crack eggs today for one of his dishes. Sarah is pleased to have “[her] girls”. Cut to several shots spliced together of Tyler trying to help but being denied. Really, he’s trying to tell Sarah to use all the vacuum things and sous vide and whatever the hell. Just do what you’re told, dude. Grayson wants to help Sarah win.

Tom and Emeril meet Sarah and Paul to pair wines with their dishes. This is also stupid. There are like, maybe 8 wines there. And they’re all the same winery. You can probably pair them, but a real restaurant wouldn’t restrict the options like that. Emeril tells them to take a snapshot of Restaurant Wars. Yeah, seriously. Paul regrets that, because he should have been team leader and expedited, but he was afraid to step on people‘s toes. Sarah says nothing about regretting Restaurant Wars.

Sarah calls home to get calmed down by her fiancée. That was fun.

Day of the final challenge. Sarah tells Tyler to peel celery, which seems like a thing that could have happened yesterday, but whatever. She makes fun of him in confessional because he’s wearing dress pants and dress shoes. Heather says they’ll win. Paul has a to-do list broken down by person, with tasks for everyone. Nice. Barbara is proud to work with him. Sarah tells Tyler to hurry up, basically, because they need him to do other things aside from the dessert. Malibu and Ty-Lor act goofy which is random because while he was on the show, Ty-Lor was just this weird guy who would drop the strangest bits of information at random times. And he has a personality. Who knew? Keith says the crab has gone off overnight. Uh oh. Now Paul’s glad he bought shrimp yesterday on a whim. Tyler and Sarah get in a fight because she wants him to use a mixer to go faster, and he insists that will ruin it. This causes Grayson to say “we’re going to jam out with our clams out.” Both Paul and Sarah brief front-of-house staff and try not to freak out.

Paul’s family and Sarah’s family are both here, but they don’t know. Tom is wearing glasses, which is different for him but they work. Paul’s restaurant is called “Qi” and has no red meat, just seafood and eggs. Cat Cora is back, in addition to the head judge of “Top Chef: Canada”, a thing I was not aware of. However Padma is not here? Huh? Where the hell is she, she’s the host! First course is chawanmushi, edamame, pea shoots, and spot prawns. Chawanmushi is savory egg custard. Cat shakes the bowl to see if it wiggles properly. They love it. Ed is there, and says it’s great. Ah, Padma is at Sarah’s with Padma, Hugh, Emeril, and the Terlato guy. And another chef. Shouldn’t they trade off? I mean…shouldn’t all judges taste all dishes? Sarah’s first course is squid ink tagliatelle, spot prawns, and fresh coconut. It is delicious, even with pasta and shiso leaf and coconut together. Second course is rye-crusted steelhead trout with fennel sauce, pickled beets and gras pista. Gras pista is lard whipped up and mixed with herbs. The beets are raw, although the fish is great.

A waitress comes in and tells Paul table 30 wants to talk to him. This is where he finds his parents and girlfriend. He tears up, which is cute, and says he was put “at ease” which is good. So he’s not freaking out more. Second course: grilled sea bass with clam dashi, pickled radishes and mushrooms. They like the way the dish looks. Tom says it’s hard to fault this. Third course: congee with scrambled eggs, uni, fried kale, and smoked albacore. Congee is rice porridge, but I’m guessing this one is close to a risotto. Tom says it’s maybe not as interesting as the other courses. Cat doesn’t know where it fits in the menu, exactly.

Sarah has made polenta and persimmon sauce for the third course, but she doesn’t like how it looks on the plate. Somehow she decides it’s too late to deal with it, and it tastes fine, so whatever. Braised veal cheek with crispy veal sweetbreads. Yeah…it is a weird color. Hugh thinks the polenta is like oatmeal. Fourth course: hazelnut cake with kumquat and roasted white chocolate ganache. The white chocolate is fantastic. I’m not sure how you roast white chocolate. Hugh jokes about stealing it. They seem very impressed, and are headed to Paul’s, so that’s good. Everyone tastes everything. There are two sittings, so Sarah takes some time to fix the persimmon polenta problem before the other judges get there.

Paul’s dessert is coconut ice cream with puffed rice, kumquats, mangosteen, Thai chili foam, and jasmin gelee. The judges feel the meal was sexy. Paul brags about Barbara being so helpful.

Sarah goes to meet her family and fiancée. She talks about her mom being a single mom, and how great it is to make her mom proud. The other judges come in, and they like the first course. She asks her family (I’m pretty sure that’s who that is) how they like the food and her fiancée whispers to her he got a bone in his fish. Oops. Sarah freaks out and runs downstairs to check all the fish. Paul overcooks some of his chawanmushi, or at least, Keith does. But Paul takes responsibility, because he says he’s the one who told Keith what to do. He can’t do anything about it anyway, and plus he’s out of eggs. The judges know it’s not right. No one finds bones in Sarah’s fishes. I think everything else goes well, with random minor issues that I’m sure will come up again.

Judges’ Table. Just the regulars here. Tom tells them that this was the best food in the finale, INCLUDING All-Stars. Jeez. Paul babbles about putting himself into the food. Sarah talks about being a successful woman. Yeah. Gail absolutely loved Sarah’s pasta, it was different and perfect. They tell her the pickled beets were raw, though. The sweetbreads were a little dry, and the polenta wasn’t great the first time around. Gail brags that she’s glad she was there second to get the good polenta. Her dessert was fantastic, even to Padma, who hates white chocolate. Why is everyone talking about how the food this season is the best ever? It’s been said several times. Why are you talking so much about how fantastic the food is when you’ve wasted hours and hours on drama and gimmicky challenges that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with food!?!

Gail tells Paul his chawanmushi was fantastic, and you can see Emeril look over at her like she’s crazy. Tom asks what happened, and Paul just says some of them overcooked. No excuses. Gail wasn’t sure how the congee fit in the meal, but Hugh says he thought it was the rich course you should get after the fish course (usually provided by meat). Tom doesn’t like sweet desserts so this one was his favorite course of the night. The puffed rice maybe was too puffed? Weird.

The usual discussion about how everyone is awesome. Tom points out that they had different first courses for Paul, because one group got overcooked chawanmushi. They all liked Sarah’s pasta. Tom thinks Sarah might have a slight edge. Paul’s fish broth was so great Emeril says he’s still tasting it. They may be going with Paul on that one. Third course is hard, because Sarah fixed her polenta midstream. They do seem to agree that maybe she shouldn’t have put the sweetbreads on there. Hugh loves the congee, and maybe no one else is quite as much of a fan. Emeril would have Sarah’s dessert again, but Gail wants Paul’s. They talk about how hazelnut cake is hard to nail, and I would point out that Sarah didn’t actually make that cake, but I think Heather did and I don’t feel like giving her credit for anything. Gail feels Sarah took more risks, but Tom says Paul hit the details better. Also the usual discussion that they hate to have someone lose for such great meals.

A stupid commercial for stupid Andy Cohen, with Sarah and Paul, and Sarah is grinning stupidly while Paul is not really smiling. Goddammit, that better be misdirection.

Commercial interlude: Sarah and Paul do shots while they wait in the Stew Room. Can we PLEASE make these more interesting?

88% of people who texted Bravo think Paul should win. That’s a very high percentage.

When Sarah and Paul come back in, there are a million people there too. Families, but more than that. Padma reminds them they get a ton of money, Tom says everyone was so great, and then Padma says Paul is the winner. Oh thank God. His dad breaks down, which is very touching. Sarah cries and says she should have won.

Next week: there’s a reunion, where I’m sure they’ll ask Sarah and Heather and everyone why they were so mean to Beverly and try to make them apologize to her. I hope they have some crazy bullshit explanation and refuse to apologize. At least then it’ll be interesting.

1 comment:

adkmagz said...

I'm so glad that not-Sarah, oops, I mean Paul, won. Between the editors' emphasis on the snotty "mean girls" and the non-cooking challenges, I gave up watching this season. Not sure I'll bother with the reunion show, either.