Thursday, September 16, 2010

Top Chef DC FINALE Recap!

I have one word for the finale of Top Chef season 7: Bah.

Actually, that's pretty much how I feel about the whole season.

We start out this final episode with scenes from last week: Lots of sweat. Kelly is out. The three remaining chefs congratulate themselves in the stew room. Padma enters to request the presence of all three in front of Judges' Table.

When Ed, Kevin, and Inigo go out again, expecting a twist, they find not only the judges, but that scary knife block. Padma assuages their fears by telling them them that they will be getting their final challenge right then and there so they can get a jump on things.

They must create the four-course meal of their lives. Each chef must prepare a vegetable course, a fish course, and a meat course. Tom and Eric Ripert will be getting up early in the morning to visit the market and choose their proteins.


And then Gail pipes in with, "you MUST make dessert." Nice plug for your new show, Gail (which I will not be recapping, by the way.)

Padma then introduces their sous chefs: former winners Hung Huynh, Ilan Hall, and Michael Voltaggio. Immediately we hear that Kevin and Ed both want Michael, but "Asian on the inside" Inigo wants Hung. Bad.

But is he willing to give up his Russian Mail Order Bride for him? Will they live happily ever after?

Ed, the winner of the penultimate challenge, chooses his knife first and gets stuck with Ilan. Kevin gets Michael. Which leaves a very happy Inigo with the man of his dreams.

Judge Seetoh has some final words for the boys: "Sock it to me." Guess Laugh-In has finally made it to Singapore.

The six chefs head back to their suite in the Hilton in order to get to know each other better (wink wink nudge nudge) and discuss their menus. Then we find out that Inigo is feeling sick. He excuses himself and goes to bed. Possibly to dream about Hung. (I was going to say to "pleasure himself" but that's even too gross a thought for me.)


The next morning, we find he's in pain, has been puking all night. Someone gets a doctor in to see him, and all Inigo can think of is that he might not be able to compete.


As far as I can tell, Bravo keeps a pretty tight rein on all of their competitors, so all three of them would have been together, eaten the same basic things. So what made Inigo so sick? Did he get some bad black cockles?

Ed and Kevin go to the Hilton kitchen to get started. Tom and Eric present the proteins they purchased that morning: red mullet, cuttlefish, cockles, slipper lobsters, pork belly, and duck. They *must* use vegetables, red mullet, and duck as the main course elements, and then incorporate everything else into their dishes as well.


They then grab their sous and head out to shop. Ed doesn't plan to listen to Ilan because he's aware that past competitors shot themselves in the foot by taking their sous' advice. (Hello, Carla Hall!) Meanwhile, since Inigo is sick, Hung has to shop by himself, but he keeps in contact with the patient via cellphone.

Kevin really wants to win.


Back to the kitchen where they get three hours to prep. Ed decides to let Ilan make his dessert course, which seems like a really dumb idea, especially since he said he wasn't going to let Ilan tell him what to do.

Hung has to do everything.


Later that evening, the doctor comes back to see Inigo and suggests an antibiotic shot to the butt. Thankfully Bravo declines to get close-up shots of the proceedings.

The next morning, Ed is stressing. Inigo feels better and the doc clears him for kitchen work. He's still weak but feeling strong enough to compete.

The chefs move to the kitchen at Jim Thompson restaurant, where they have an additional three hours to cook. Inigo is thankful for Hung. He should be - someone like Ilan would not likely have busted his butt for anyone. Personally, I was never a big fan of Hung during his season because he seemed unpleasant. But after watching him give his all so selflessly for Inigo, I have newfound respect for the man. And I suddenly find myself rooting for Mr Asian On the Inside, Douchey On the Outside.

Before they know it, time is up and they are feeding their courses simultaneously to the judges. First the vegetable course goes out to the multiple tables full of diners, including Eric Ripert, Susan Feniger, Gail Simmons, Seetoh, Dana Cowin, Paul Bartolotta, David Chang, Iggy Chen, Su-Lyn Tan, Vincent Bourdin, Andre Chiang, and Willin Low. Yeah, I don't know who most of those people are, either.

Everyone seems to enjoy Ed's corn velouté, but nobody is particularly impressed with Kevin's ratatouille terrine or Inigo's mushrooms and pork belly.


Next is the fish course. Everyone enjoys Inigo's Asian bouillabaisse and Kevin's rouget with cuttlefish noodles, but think Ed's stuffed rouget might be a bit too complicated.

On the ducky side, Inigo's cherry shooter confuses the diners, but Ed's and Kevin's dishes are well-received.

Finally, dessert. Inigo's coconut cream with crushed ice is called "comforting," and Kevin's "Singapore Sling 2010" excites everyone with its fruitiness. But Ed's sticky toffee pudding and whipped cream causes David Chang to say it's a big "fuck you" because it's so simple and boring. Thanks, Ilan.


After dinner, the chefs stew while Padma, Eric, Tom, and Gail head to Judges' Table to debate the merits of the meal. They found the whole thing entertaining, and surprisingly, Ripert didn't whine about anything. Too much. When the chefs come out, Inigo's cherry shooter is criticized, as is the simplicity of Ed's dessert. As they went on, it seemed to me that the only real issues they had with Kevin's dishes were with the vegetable course, which was "timid." Ed and Inigo both got complaints for various elements of their dishes.

They get sent back to stew while the judges argue some more. Then Padma says, "I think we have a clear winner," at which point my heart sinks because to me that meant Kevin, who got mostly praise. Kevin, who, not counting Restaurant Wars, won ONE Elimination Challenge, who ended up on the bottom in more than a few challenges, was clearly the winner of this particular challenge.

And Kevin wins. Bah.


While it's nice that an African-American chef finally won the competition, it really should have been Kenny or Tiffany in that spot. I know Kenny rubbed some people the wrong way, but he was my favorite and it kinda crushed me that he left so early. And I had a soft spot for Tiffany as well (I'm a fan of dimples). With them gone, I was pulling for Ed. Kevin was the very last person I wanted to win. Bah.

Next week: Top Chef DC Reunion, where we'll learn "shocking secrets" about season 8.