Top Chef All Stars: Finale Part 3: The Last Supper

E: I hate this show.  I seriously hate this show.

M: Really? I thought it was a great episode. I was glad for Richard, and while I clearly would have preferred to see Antonia in the last challenge with him, I was glad that the “twist” of the episode at least gave her a final shot at it. Without the twist it would have been an easier, more clear cut decision for the judges.

E: Well, okay, yes.  BUT.  Do you want me to list all the problems I had with the episode?

M: Why yes, I do.

E: Alright, you asked for it.

M: I’m beginning to regret that already…

E: First – and I’m willing admit this is not the fault of the actual episode – somehow my dvr missed the first fifteen minutes of the show, so I missed the quickfire entirely.

M: Since my DVR did not miss it, that is an invalid complaint.  Next?

E: Then, the wild unevenness of difficulty in the “last suppers.”  That is just not cool.

M: From everything the judges said, degree of difficulty was taken into consideration.  However, Antonia got totally screwed.  I mean, unless that is the style that you cook, you probably don’t know how to properly prepare sashimi.  Plus, unlike many dishes where you could do a spin or twist on it, traditional Japanese fare is very, very specific.

E: I know, come on!  Mike’s was in the damn book.  The producers had to know what Michelle Bernstein’s meal was.  Hell, Mike could have known what it was, considering that the book been featured on the show before!  How is making fried chicken, gravy and biscuits in anyway equivalent to making Japanese and Hungarian food like someone’s mom made it?  Morimoto’s mom used to pick grains of rice individually, for heaven’s sake!  And then for Mike to insist he had the most challenging assignment… I wanted to slap him upside the head.

M: Yeah, that was one of his more ridiculous comments, and that’s saying a lot!

E: I will say, however, that I’m impressed that his annoying risk (he doesn’t know how to make biscuits so he won’t even try) paid off.  It honestly shouldn’t have, based on everything Michelle Bernstein told him (ie, that she loved fried chicken because it wasn’t latin or kosher), but his egg yolk empanada was a hit.

M: As someone who is not a fan of eggs (and a big fan of biscuits), that disgusted me just at the sight of it.  I was rather disappointed that it worked so well.

E: Then, they’re told to make a single bite – an amuse bouche, essentially – but don’t, and that doesn’t seem to be a problem for the judges.

M: Before I get to that, I have to say I kept waiting for the envelope to come out, and as soon as they let Richard know he was in the finale, I knew that Mike and Antonia had to cook again.  As for the “one bite”, they have had challenges to make one bite before, and none of them ever make something bite sized, so that didn’t even register with me.

E: Finally, Antonia gets sent home for having too much flavor?!!!!!  Let’s say that again.  She gets sent home for being too memorable and too flavorful.

M: I don’t think it was because it was too flavorful, but because Mike’s was slightly more refined.  You know what KILLED me, though?  When presenting his “bite”, Mike ended talking about his sauces, and saying “so you’ll have some really bold flavors there”.  After Morimoto said the two dishes were opposite ends of the spectrum, I rewound back to what Mike said.  I mean, basically, he told them he was giving them bold flavors, and gave them something they all considered to be on the bland side.  How did that not submarine him?

E: I have nothing.

M: That’s a first.

E: Zip it. When this show first was advertised, I couldn’t figure out how viewers could really invest in it.  Sure, there’s a visual element to food, but the taste is the most important thing, and if they judges can’t convey their criteria and impressions of the food, then the whole house of cards falls apart.  With that final challenge, it fell apart for me.  I know they were going for suspense, but instead the judging made no sense.

M: I’m not with you there.  They made sense, they just had two very, very different dishes to compare, and were split about which they liked better.  We both would have preferred one more person throw their vote behind Antonia, but alas, that wasn’t meant to be.  I have to say, based on the way each has cooked in the Bahamas, at least, it’s hard to argue that much with their decision.

E: Well, I grudgingly admit that Mike has been cooking his brains out here in the Bahamas.  I still hate it.  Now, I will say: I have to respect Mike for wanting to compete against Blais in the final round.  Blais – right or wrong – is the one that everyone thinks is the one to beat.  He’s got everyone’s respect.  I still think Mike is an ass, and I want Blais to wipe the floor with him, but I respect him for wanting to challenge himself.

M: I agree with that completely. I just hope Richard nails it in the finale, because I really feel that when Richard is at the top of his game, no one’s food is as good as his.

E: This week, the finale finally ends.  You know what I’m curious about?  In the preview, we see Padma say “you are Top Chef.”  We can see which way she’s looking.  And we can see which chef is standing in that position.  Definitive proof of the winner?  Or have they twigged to the fact that people look at this stuff (it’s been used to correctly predict the winner of Project Runway, for one) and reversed the film?

M: They get tricksy with that all the time, actually, so even though I didn’t notice that, I’m not expecting it to have been a give away.  However, we’ll see soon enough!!

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One comment on “Top Chef All Stars: Finale Part 3: The Last Supper

  1. Jacques says:

    I am also excited for this season to finally end, although I’ve only really felt that since they kicked off the month-long finale fest.

    I haven’t done the Zapruder-analysis, so I don’t know who we should expect to win based on the preview, but personally, I can’t see Richard not having a crushing meltodwn, since he’s been teetering on the brink for so long.

    At the season’s outset, I was rooting for Blais, but honestly I’ve soured on him as the season went on. All of his talking about legacy, and when he talks about strategy and playing mindgames with the other contestants just makes him seem more whiny and petty. I think he’s a far more likeable character when he’s focused on the food, and the gadgetry, of course!

    Mike, on the other hand, is an ass, but that was set out in the first episode of the first season, and he’s come to be a more adorable ass as the seasons have gone on. He’s kinda like that friend or relative who is a bit of a trainwreck, but you can’t help but like him despite (or because of) that.

    Plus I think I’m rooting for Mike in part because he was Exec Chef at a great DC restaurant, and his new restaurant will be opening this summer, just two blocks away from my office. (Power lunch, anyone?)

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