Top Chef: Finale, Part 1

E: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the battle of “who do we dislike least?”

M: I know she was your horse as of last week, but I have to say I’m a bit sad that there’s no chance the best Kelly will win.

E: Yeah.  I don’t even know what to say.  As with Tiffany, you could see it coming.  And I suppose it’s a consolation that she didn’t do anything actually wrong.  It totally bites, though.

Was it just me, or did you want to see more of Singapore than the street food market?  I thought we’d get some spectacular shots of the harbor at least, and all we saw were those jail cell restaurants (so reminiscent of Blade Runner, don’t you think?) and the Hilton Hotel.

M: OH!!  I didn’t make the connection watching it, but it looked SO much like Blade Runner!

E: Happy to be of use, bro.

M: As for showing more of the city, that’s the restriction they have of sticking with one hour per episode this year.  In the past they’ve had a few two hour or “super-sized” episodes that have allowed them a little more time, but with a quickfire and an elimination, there’s precious little time to show the city.  However, the market was very cool.

E: In the market, Padma shows up wearing a really great royal blue dress.  It can’t possibly be the dress she wore to the Emmys, but it sure looks a lot like it.  And, of course, she’s there to throw them a challenge.  And, surprise! There’s immunity in the quickfire for the first time in the finals.  That’s a bold and questionable choice.  I don’t know how I feel about that.

M: I didn’t like it.  I have to say, I’m not a big fan of someone getting immunity, it usually makes people slack off.  I’m glad it didn’t this week, or a few weeks back when Tiffany had it.  Again, reasons to like people more than Angelo, who used immunity to try to throw a competition and get Kenny kicked off.

E: Thanks for reminding me why I started disliking Angelo, after an initially (sort of) positive impression!  Funny how you can think someone is good looking until you actually get to know them…

M: Meh, I didn’t like him from the start.  He looked like the kind of guy who would hit on your wife at a party the minute you left the room.  Anyway, as for the quickfire itself, that was kind of brutal.  I mean, they’d just gotten off the plane (or so we were led to believe) from close to a day’s worth of flying, so they had to be exhausted.  Plus, they were in a place where three of the four of them were unfamiliar with the flavors and style, and for Kevin, the cooking style, who amazingly had never cooked with a wok before.  Padma took him to task for that, in one of two moments this week that one of the judges kind of snapped on the contestants, which was a little odd to see.  More on that later.

In the end, Ed out Asian-ed Angelo…

E: Ed’s done a lot of Asian cooking, and we’ve seen it throughout the season, but yeah.

M: …true enough.  Still he won immunity, which set Angelo into a bit of a bad mental place (man is he fragile!) and allowed Ed to loosen up a bit, even if it didn’t mean he dripped any less sweat into his food.

E: For the elimination challenge, Dana Cowan, the editor of Food and Wine magazine, threw a party for 80 people.  The chefs had to cook restaurant style, which is to say, make all the dishes to order, rather than in catering stations the way they usually do parties.  This proved to be quite a challenge, considering that there was no one to expedite and not all of the wait staff spoke English.

M: I thought that, and the fact that all their ingredients in the quickfire were only labeled in Cantonese, were HUGE challenges.

E: I totally agree.  The Cantonese labels – now, obviously people should have studied up on the local cuisine (Kevin!) but that’s ridiculous.  Mr. E and I laughed about what the contestants might call their quickfire dishes when they couldn’t tell what their ingredients were.  We also couldn’t help but notice that Cowan is a very deceptive eater.  We were utterly convinced she hated Ed’s food from the face she made as the first bite went in her mouth – but then we got poetic raptures instead!  She totally threw us, in addition to that party.

M: I have to say, I didn’t notice that.  What I did notice was that everyone put out food that they all really liked, which may have only happened once before this season.  Made me feel a little better about this season’s contestants, who have had a really hard time living up to last season’s bunch.

E: They liked everything last week, too – but these are the first episodes all season where the response has been largely positive. The week before that, they only liked 2 out of the 6 dishes.

A propos of nothing, I have to say I’m pissed at Ed over the whole one/two dish issue.  Now, maybe the editing was unkind, but it really looked like he told everyone they should do one dish, really promoted the idea, and then planned on doing two and smirked about what fools everyone was to their faces and in the confessional.  I know it’s a competition, but seriously.  Not cool.

M: See, I wasn’t upset with him over this.  To me it looked like all four of them were lobbying to do only one dish, and Ed was no louder or more convincing than the other three.

E: I don’t know.  Kevin agreed with him, but it really looked like it was Ed’s idea.

M: No no, watch it again.  Everyone said one dish was enough.  True, Ed never wavered on that and some of the others were more questioning of it, but everyone thought one was ok at first.  Now, that said, one of the things the contestants on Top Chef always say afterward is that they have to be prepared for all kinds of surprises, and Ed was the only one who really prepared for what he felt would be the surprise, so I actually gave him points for that.  However, the way Tom chewed them out for only planning one dish each surprised me.  He seemed really pissed, which I don’t think I’ve seen from him before during the competition.  In the end, everyone was not only able to put out a second dish, but for some of them the second dish was better than the first!

E: That’s true.  As much as it seemed like a big deal, the chefs came up with a second idea quickly and executed it well.  And it turned out that the controversial immunity was unnecessary.  Ed won the elimination challenge.

M: You could see that coming, as they raved about both his dishes.  They raved about almost all the dishes, but his a bit more, and Angelo’s and Kelly’s were the most critiqued.

E: It’s weird, because I am a weepy person, but I was just annoyed by Angelo’s barely restrained tears through the final judging phase.  When sarcastic, nonchalant Christian did it, waiting to find out if he’d won Project Runway, it was endearingly against type.  Here it just seemed out of proportion. Get a grip, man!

M: I felt an odd mix of emotions watching that.  I felt a bit bad for him, since he clearly thought he was going home and has put everything he has into this, but on the other hand, I kind of wanted to smack him.  Or have Cher do it and yell “Snap out of it!” at him, he could yell back “I… LOST… MY… HAND!”.  Ok, sorry, babbling.

E: Nice babbling.  He could use a little Cher in his life.  As with last week’s episode, it was clear that Kelly would be the one to go home.

M: You think so?  I was totally unsure of who it would be.  I mean, Gail said outright that she’d rather have Kelly’s soup again as opposed to Angelo’s, which no one thought was even a soup.  I felt it was leaning that way but I wasn’t convinced.

E: I did, not so much because she did anything wrong as because no one was raving about her dishes the way they did about Ed’s fritters or Kevin’s egg or Angelo’s – bah, I can’t even remember what they loved so much of Angelo’s.  Her divine apple guava slaw (since it was a lowly side and not the star of the dish, or integrated in it) was not enough to save Kelly from getting cut.

M: I suppose.

E: Now I REALLY don’t have a horse in the race.  Does this leave me with – Kevin?  I want to like Ed, I really do, and it does seem like he’s making good food and has generally been consistent, but I’m so sick of the swearing and the unsanitary-looking sweating and the self-satisfaction and the mean spiritedness about Angelo.  I don’t like Angelo either, but should that really be Ed’s defining personality trait?  I’m so annoyed with Ed it almost makes me want to root for Angelo just to spite him.

M: I think Ed himself described it well.  As he said, he’s very sarcastic, and sometimes it comes across as him being a douchebag, but a lot of the time he is being a douchebag.  At least he can admit that.

E: Ha!  I totally don’t remember him saying that.  He’s more self-aware than I thought.

M: As for who I am rooting for, I don’t know.  I think I like Kevin better, maybe, but I thing Ed might be a better chef.

E: Yeah, that’s about right, loath as I am to admit it.  It ought to be about the food, and Ed’s food has been consistently good.

M: Angelo probably has the most talent, but he’s just so insanely unlikable. I mean, in the preview for next week it looks like he gets sick and stays in bed next week and lets past winner Hung do his work for him.  I suppose I should wait for next week to know for sure, but watching the preview all I could think was “Get up you pansy, I don’t care how bad you feel, it’s the final challenge!”

E: Ouch!  That’s a little harsh.  But while I totally get what you’re saying, the idea of having a desperately sick person cook my food?  Not appetizing.

M: No, not appetizing, but that neither is Ed sweating into his food, or any of the bile that comes out of Gordon Ramsey’s mouth on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen, or Remy cooking in Ratatouille.  That’s why we don’t look into the kitchen.  Seriously, though, it’d be like someone sitting out the SuperBowl with the flu.  If there’s any possible way for you to be in the competition you get up and get it done.

E: However, I totally agree that if Angelo wins, it will leave a sour taste in my mouth.  I’ll understand it, but I won’t enjoy it.

M: Like I said, though, we need to wait until next week to know what he does for sure.

E: And with Kelly gone, may the best cheftestant win.

M: Argh!  I hate that word!

E: 🙂

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4 comments on “Top Chef: Finale, Part 1

  1. Krizzzz says:

    1. Remy always washes his hands. And walks on two legs. And runs his cousins through the dishwasher. He can cook my dinner any time.

    2. Please don’t say cheftestant.

    3. I like Ed. I don’t know why, but I do.

    • E says:

      Cheftestant cheftestant cheftestant! 😉

      Tom Colicchio uses that term on his blog, you know.

      • M says:

        I wouldn’t care if the Pope or the ghost of Ronald Reagan used it. Or if suddenly we found intelligent life on another planet and they used it. It’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad word!

  2. Krizzzz says:

    That doesn’t make it a word. =P

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