Thursday, February 28, 2013

Top Chef 2/27/13--"Finale Part 2" summary

Previously on “Top Chef”: Kristen won Last Chance Kitchen, and returned to compete against Brooke and Sheldon in the first part of the finale. Each chef had to make an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert, to be served in Tom’s restaurant. Brooke didn’t know what she was doing for a very long time, but still managed to impress everyone. Kristen also did a great job. Sadly, Sheldon tried to show the judges he’d grown and changed, and didn’t make the fantastic Filipino food that got him to the finale in the first place. So he was eliminated, leaving us with an all-girl finale. (click for more)

Book of Mormon review to come…probably tomorrow. Worth the money though.

So…apparently there is a live audience? What? Full of past contestants? Is this Iron Chef or something? Whatever. Soundbites from Kristen and Brooke about how they want to win.

Tom tells the girls they have three hours to cook. Brooke is shocked by the audience so did they not tell them about that? It looks like Brooke’s team is CJ, Stefan, and Kuniko, which sounds like a pretty great team actually. Kristen has Sheldon, Josh, and Lizzie. Man, this battle sounds pretty epic. Each chef has five dishes. They’ll serve head to head. First to three wins. Interesting. Actually I kind of like this setup, similarities to other reality shows notwithstanding. Brooke says she has Stefan on her team for his speed, CJ for his “beautiful palate”, and Kuniko has a level of precision. CJ is beautiful. Kristen says her sous chefs are good people with no egos. They appear to have some of the same ingredients.

Everyone has explained themselves and then Padma says there are 300 people here. Wow. All the judges, and all 9 previous winners. Boo, that means Ilan is here. Stephanie says she is ready to share her tiara, and I just realized how it’s kind of sad that there are 9 winners and only one is a woman. Now there will be two. Brooke is making pig ear salad and Kristen has chicken liver mousse. Kristen has delegated, and so has Brooke, but CJ appears to be burning the pig’s ears. Tom and Emeril discuss how they can see them burning. Time’s up! Kristen: chicken liver mousse with frisee, mustard, prune, hazelnuts, and pumpernickel. Emeril loves the mousse and the chicory. Gail praises it too but she thinks maybe the other stuff is piled on top of the mousse so it’s hard to find. Brooke: crispy pig ear and chicory salad, six minute egg, apricot jam and candied kumquats. The flavors all worked well, but Emeril says his pig’s ears were overcooked.
Padma then tells them it’s time to find out who won. So they do it right now? I am really digging this. Not that I don’t think it’ll be a tie and they’ll have to make all five courses. Just that we didn’t have a whole long thing about who is on what team, and what they’re making, and endless interviews about how they deserve to win. Padma goes down the line of judges. Hugh, Gail, and Emeril go for Kristen so she wins the round. We don’t get to hear what Tom and Padma think.

Brooke goes back vowing not to have any more execution errors. Both finalists have scallops for round two. Also the fan favorite is being announced on Andy Cohen’s show so I am not watching that. Brooke says she’s upset to not have any votes, even though we didn’t see Tom and Padma’s vote. She is searing her scallops while Kristen is going raw. Stefan shouts over to Kristen that he chose light blue for their baby’s bedroom. Hee. Some random contestants shout at CJ, so he raises his fist in triumph? I love CJ.

Montage of “Brooke’s Road to the Finale”. She talks about her son a lot and how she is afraid of heights, boats, and helicopters. Also how she has mad skills and her fellow contestants give her props too. Gail goes over to talk to her family. Her mom says Brooke was like me and watched cooking shows on Saturday mornings instead of cartoons. That might be because I was not allowed to watch cartoons. Still. Kristen asks Brooke to save her a dish. Aww. Tom and Emeril are still talking about the pig’s ears and how Brooke should have watched CJ more closely. Brooke: seared scallop with salt cod puree, speck, black currant and mustard seed vinaigrette, and juniper. And romanesco. Everything works nicely. Gail asks if she was worried about cooking the scallops too early, which sounds like a segue into how they’re overcooked or cold, but they’re fine. Kristen: citrus and lavender cured scallop with bitter orange, Meyer lemon, and apple. Delicious. It’s simple, and Padma says there is nowhere to hide but it’s good. Gail and Emeril go for Brooke, Tom and Padma go for Kristen, and Hugh goes for Brooke, so now we’re tied at one round each.

Next plates come out in 34 minutes. Brooke is making fried chicken. Heh. Kristen says “crispy bone marrow” which sounds delicious. Tom says Brooke has unusual flavor combinations, while Kristen’s stuff is a little more subtle. Kristen’s montage includes how that first elimination, that first episode, Kristen knew one of the other girls because they were friends and roommates. The girl makes sure to clarify that they are not lesbians. Then we are reminded of stupid Josie and how it turned out OK anyway. Kristen’s family is proud of her, you guys. I know you’re surprised. Someone says “umami bomb”. Awesome. Brooke: vadouvan fried chicken wings with sumac yogurt-tahini sauce and pickled kohlrabi fattoush. Fattoush is salad made with crispy pita (similar to croutons made with stale bread). Vadouvan is an Indian spice blend. Some winner says it’s “fucking boss”. I think it’s Harold. She’s trying to redeem herself from the fried chicken fiasco. Tom is not sure about the salad, but the wings are great. Kristen: celery root puree with bone marrow, mushrooms, bitter greens, and radishes. Emeril says he loves it all, but Tom looks confused and asks why she stewed the mushrooms. Padma’s wasn’t hot. Emeril, Tom, and Padma go for Kristen so she’s up two to one. Hugh clarified on Twitter that sometimes he’s the tiebreaker and sometimes he doesn’t get to vote, so that answers that question.

Commercial interlude: previous winners have advice, all of which is dumb. Either it’s dumb, or something everyone says. Ilan breaks something during the finale. Good job, dumbass. Also there’s a commercial for stupid Andy Cohen but both girls look irritated to be next to him so no hints there. Plus last season Sarah was grinning like an idiot on that commercial and she lost.

Brooke is worried because she says the chicken wings were a big mistake. No more mistakes. Both of them have red snapper for round four. Kristen is poaching hers, while Brooke is going for pork cheeks and surf and turf. Aaaaannnnddddd now there is a montage of all nine winners. Eh. Everyone is successful. Padma goes to the table of winners and asks them random questions. The best is she asks Ilan what it was like to watch himself on TV. He says he looked fat and oily. Padma responds that nothing has changed. Burn! Some random girl shouts things at Stefan, who responds and gets yelled at by Brooke. Brooke: braised pork cheek and red snapper with collard green slaw and sorrel puree and pine nut cream. It’s well cooked and the combination goes over really well. Kristen: red snapper with leeks, Little Gem lettuce, tarragon, uni, and shellfish nage. Nage is a poaching liquid. It’s tasty but Gail says the leeks are long, so it’s hard to cut them. Hugh is all, I’m good with the leeks because I’m good with a knife. Gail looks irritated.

So they cut to commercial, and I’m thinking “Tie, right? I mean clearly.” But then do they have time for another round? That is the drawback to this format. Gail goes for Kristen (do you think Hugh’s burn swayed her?). Emeril goes for Kristen. Padma acts like it all comes down to Tom even though she and Hugh haven’t voted yet. But Tom goes for her and Kristen wins! Aww, I wanted to see dessert. But I knew when they came back from commercial at 56 minutes that’s what must have happened. Brooke’s disappointed but she is proud of herself. Aww, I know her son’s proud. Kristen’s taking a trip to Korea. She thanks Tom for having Last Chance Kitchen. Heh.

Thanks for reading, you guys! See you next season!  

ETA: Apparently both finalists had to use scallops in their second round and snapper in the fourth round, so that's why they both used the same protein. Also Sheldon won Fan Favorite, which is awesome because I like Sheldon.

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