The Finale begins with the feared Pick-A-Sous-Chef Knife Pull. The choices are, of course, previous Top Chef winners: Hung, Michael Voltaggio, and Elan Hall. Kevin knows Michael, and he wants Michael; Ed, also wants Michael. Angelo, naturally, wants Hung.
He goes to Ed, with Michael working with Kevin and Angelo getting Hung. I like the way that last one sounds, you know, just sayin’.
Create a fabulous four course meal, to include a Vegetable Course, a Fish Course featuring Red mullet, or Rouget, a Meat Course, featuring Duck, and the Dreaded Dessert Course.
A dessert? This will break someone.
First Course: Pickled Royale Mushroom, with Homemade Noodles, Pork Belly and Watermelon Tea.
Second Course:Asian Bouillabaisse over Sauteed Rouget and Poached Cuttlefish.
Third Course: Duck and Foie Gras Marshmallow, and a Tart Cherry Shooter.
Dessert: A “Thai Jewel” of Shaved Ice and Coconut Milk with Saffron Oil.
Of course, Angelo’s big head has already decided that he’s won. He’s in Asia, in the Top Three, and has Hung as his Sous Chef. He calls it The Trilogy.
I say Trilogy of Terror.
Then Angelo gets sick, and lays up in bed while Hung does his shopping and all the prep work. I don’t doubt Angelo was sick [much] but his hair always looked properly jelled when he was dying. He will be forced to bark his orders to Hung via cellphone.
It’s all drama. Will he cook? Won’t he? Will Kelly come back? Do I even care?
Angelo spends day one watching Oprah and easting chocolates at the Hilton, while Hung tears through the kitchen doing all the prep work, including stealing all the foie gras in sight. Hung, I now realize, is the Asian Angelo, to be honest wit chu, as Angelo might say.
But the doctor visits at the end of day one, and gives Angelo a shot in the ass, and, well, it’s a miracle. Angelo bounds out of bed, slides into a chef jacket, and dances to the kitchen where he works like a madman.
Sick? I’m beginning to wonder, yet, I don’t really care. I mean, he’s thrilled that Hung saved him, but if Hung cooked it, who’s food is it? Oh, I don’t care.
I do care that Angelo keeps bragging about his food, but then adding how the judges should take into consideration that he was sick. No, Angelo, they should take into consideration whether or not it’s good, and if it isn’t I’m sure you’ll blame Hung.
First Course: Chilled Summer Corn Veloute
Second Course: Stuffed Rouget, Slipper Lobster and Cuttlefish with Zucchini Pesto
Third Course: Duck Duo: Roasted Breast and Spinach Stuffed Neck
Dessert: Elan’s Sticky Toffee and Salted Whipped Cream
From the outset Ed thinks he’ll win. That makes me wonder. He’s having all sorts of problems with Elan, who doesn’t seem to realize this isn’t his season of Top Chef; Elan wants to run the show, and Ed keeps reminding him he’s the sous chef. But then Ed let’s Elan do the dessert. And not even a dessert Ed’s created. How do you expect to defend a dish when it isn’t your recipe and you didn’t make it.
Ed says he thinks he’ll win. I think differently.
The high point of the show, well, except for seeing who won, was watching Ed and Kevin sit through breakfast two days in a row while Angelo puked and moaned in the next room. The low points are listening to Ed giggling about Angelo being sick, and wishing the competition was just between him and Kevin. I don’t think Ed believes he can beat Angelo–though he did it twice last week–but he’s sure he can beat Kevin.
Ed’s dishes are strong on components and Kevin and Ed think that will be his downfall. Angelo, of the marshmallow and watermelon tea and cherry shooter, says he’s a Three Component chef, while Ed is a convoluted 100 Component chef.
It makes no difference the number of components, what matters is if they work.
And, well, if you actually made them, or let your sous chef do it.
First Course: Terrine of Eggplant, Zucchini and Roasted Peppers.
Second Course: Pan-seared Rouget with Cuttlefish “Noodles”
Third Course: Roasted Duck with Duck Dumplings
Dessert: Singapore Sling 2101 with Coconut Panna Cotta
As they begin to work, Kevin talks about winning, and says it isn’t just about him. It’s about his wife and daughter; it’s about his son; it’s about his father; it’s about his mother who passed away; it’s about the homeless guy who sleeps in the alley; it’s about the cat next door who howls at midnight.
I think it’s about time you shut up and cook.
One thing I did like about Kevin, and let’s be honest, I haven’t liked him much this season because he seems to be the angry chef a lot of the time, was that he wanted Angelo back in it. He wanted to compete against Ed and Angelo, because it makes it more of a competition and he’ll try harder.
He’s Avis like that.
But he says Ed is the Overkill Chef. Too much going on; too complicated. Kevin is simple; he’s slow and steady.
And we know what that means.
The judges loved Angelo’s Vegetable Course, though Eric Ripert wondered about noodles and pork belly being so present in a vegetable course. He got props for flavors, though Tom said it needed work. His Second course got high marks for a tasty broth, but, really, what does that mean?
The death of Angelo, was the Tart Cherry Shooter that he said was a palate cleanser. Padma said it coated her mouth–and I will go no further. Angelo then said you sip the shooter, eat the salad, eat the duck, then go back to the shooter. Tom said food shouldn’t come with instructions.
As for Ed, he was given points for his interesting, complicated [convoluted?] dishes. Padma loved a good stuffed duck neck, but all the judges thought the dessert….Elan’s dessert….was a misfire; too simple. Ed says he “chose” it because he didn’t want to do something complicated in case it didn’t work. Um, Ed, all your dishes were complicated and they all basically worked. I think Ed shot himself in the foot with a sticky toffee date cake.
And that hurts.
The judges thought Kevin’s terrine needed some salt or spice, but all agreed that his duck was cooked the best of all three. But it was his dessert, and the progression of his meal from quite simple to quite interesting, that scored highest with the judges. Finally, a dessert worth mentioning.
And mention it they did as the three chefs gathered one last time to hear the announcement. There is usually some sort of dram to keep the suspense alive. Who goes/ Who stays? Who gets Knifed, leaving the last two wondering who it will be?
This time Padma simply says, Kevin, You are Top Chef.
Yes, you are.
I was happy. I really thought Kevin’s food seemed the most interesting, and his dessert was the most spectacular. I think Ed may have rested on his laurels, and never, EVER, should have given up control of a dish to someone else. and as for Angelo.
I don’t really care.